Apple accused of feeding intellectual property to patent troll

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
According to a new report, Apple has transferred some of its patents to patent-licensing firm Digitude Innovations, prompting accusations that the company is aiding a so-called "patent troll."



Digitude Innovations filed suit against a slew of tech giants this week, including Research in Motion, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Amazon and Nokia. Apple was noticeably absent from the list.



Further investigation by TechCrunch revealed that two of the patents wielded in the lawsuit had belonged to Apple earlier this year. The report noted that documents had been uncovered confirming a license agreement between Apple and Digitude, though the actual details of the agreement were not available to the public.



Apple apparently transferred a dozen patents to a shell company, called Cliff Island LLC, earlier this year. Though little information was available on Cliff Island, report author Jason Kincaid was able to ascertain that the company's address is the same as Digitude investor Altitude Capital. Cliff Island subsequently transferred the patents to Digitude.



A Forbes report from June noted that Digitude Innovations was "put together" by Altitude founder Robert Kramer. Altitude then went on to invest $50 million for the purpose of purchasing consumer electronics patents that would be used to sue big tech companies.



At the time, Kramer said he had "reached out to many of our prospective customers to encourage them to become early strategic licensees," while a formal licensing program was set to launch in the fourth quarter. Kramer also noted that Digitude is utilizing a new investment strategy of allowing investors to contribute patents instead of money. Participating companies would then receive a license for all of the firm's patents.



Given that Digitude is in the business of acquiring patents to sue others, the company has been labeled a "patent troll." However, Kramer asserts that he is a financial investor with legitimate claims.



Though it's not completely clear whether Apple has entered into a more formal agreement with Digitude beyond a licensing agreement, Kincaid offered several plausible scenarios for its relationship with the company. According to him, Apple could be using Digitude as a "hired gun" in its patent battles. However, he did point out that Apple not hesitated to sue its competitors outright when it felt its intellectual property was being infringed on.



Alternatively, Apple may have traded its patents to Digitude as part of a settlement. Kincaid noted that this scenario "seems more likely," while noting that it was hard to see Apple in a "positive light" if that was the case.



"The idea that the company didn?t have any options other than handing over valuable patents to a patent troll ? knowing full well that it would then use those patents to sue other tech companies ? seems ludicrous," he wrote.



Also worth noting is the fact that Apple, with $81 billion in the bank, is by no means strapped for cash.



The patent troll issue became a hot topic for debate earlier this year when non-practicing entity Lodsys went after a number of independent iOS and Android developers over an patent related to in-app purchasing. Apple has asked the court to allow it to intervene on behalf of the developers in the suit. The iPhone maker has asserted that iOS developers are covered under its pre-existing license with Lodsys.



Apple rival Google has been vociferous in its complaints about the current patent system. In August, David Drummond, the company's chief legal officer accused Apple and Microsoft of "banding together" to use patents to attack its Android operating system.



"Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it," Drummond wrote.



Google has also said that "anticompetitive" patent lawsuits from Apple and Microsoft against Android vendors had forced the company into purchasing Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The handset maker has nearly 17,000 issued patents and more than 7,000 filed patent applications.
«13456714

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 270
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    They shouldn't have done that, it's disrespectful to the legal system as such.
  • Reply 2 of 270
    I guess this justifies what Intellectual Ventures/Lodsys have been up to.



    Very disappointing that Apple have chosen to engage in such acts.
  • Reply 3 of 270
    adamcadamc Posts: 582member
    The question to ask is why are they doing this?



    Did they really transfer the patents to the troll and ripping off others patents which is a norm with google is legal?



    Did patent related suits really kill off innovations or ripping off others invention really killing off innovation.
  • Reply 4 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GalaxyTab View Post


    I guess this justifies what Intellectual Ventures/Lodsys have been up to.



    Very disappointing that Apple have chosen to engage in such acts.



    Very disappointing to have people judging something without all the facts.
  • Reply 5 of 270
    I agree completely :-)
  • Reply 6 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    Very disappointing to have people judging something without all the facts.



    Ironic statement of the century
  • Reply 7 of 270
    Forget the Apple involvement for a second. How the hell is this shit even legal period?
  • Reply 8 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    Very disappointing to have people judging something without all the facts.



    If you can refute anything reported by all means do so and change my judgement (judgement isn't finite and peoples opinions can change).

    Are you wishing for me to wait for "all the facts" before passing judgement because it's regarding Apple or because it's the right thing to do?



    I wonder where the people were who cry for "all the facts" were when the carrierIQ story recently blew up lately?



    This "all the facts" policy could also be applied to: Antennagate, Smaung vs Apple patent cases, PSN Network hack e.t.c
  • Reply 9 of 270
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    Just another way to make money. So much stupid law suits going on. I bet we are gonna hear allot about this here. I am discussed in this whole legal patent law suit crap. I wonder if some day the Government is gonna change the laws on this kinda crap and make it so they can't continue this.
  • Reply 10 of 270
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    If true, then this is great news!



    How can anybody whine about this? Why do these people insist that Apple brings a knife to a gun fight?



    How is this any different than Google buying Motorola and then giving some patents to HTC, which they then use to sue Apple with?



    Google gives HTC patents so it can sue Apple



    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/n...sue-Apple.html



    As long as it's legal, then I say good for Apple! Apple should use every method that they can to crush it's enemies. Apple should make friends with every patent troll in the world and then band together to sue the hell out of everybody, while Apple is protected.
  • Reply 11 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    If true, then this is great news!



    How can anybody whine about this? Why do these people insist that Apple brings a knife to a gun fight?



    How is this any different than Google buying Motorola and then giving some patents to HTC, which they then use to sue Apple with?



    Google gives HTC patents so it can sue Apple



    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/n...sue-Apple.html



    As long as it's legal, then I say good for Apple! Apple should use every method that they can to crush it's enemies. Apple should make friends with every patent troll in the world and then band together to sue the hell out of everybody, while Apple is protected.



    What's the difference?



    HTC = not patent troll.

    Digitude = patent troll.

    The fact that Apple is trying to get back at Lodsys for exactly the same behavior is quite telling.



    I guess you're in support of Lodsys attacking developers that bolster iOS and Apple's platform?
  • Reply 12 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post


    Ironic statement of the century



    Amen to that.
  • Reply 13 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GalaxyTab View Post


    What's the difference?



    HTC = not patent troll.

    Digitude = patent troll.

    The fact that Apple is trying to get back at Lodsys for exactly the same behavior is quite telling.



    I guess you're in support of Lodsys attacking developers that bolster iOS and Apple's platform?



    I'm not taking a side on this issue because I'm unclear on what's actually going on, but with regards to the Lodsys issue, their efforts to attack the iOS and Android developers was not inappropriate because they were a patent troll but because their claim to require licensing fees from those developers is disputed - Apple & Google maintain that their 3rd Party Developers are covered by the licensing agreements already in place between Lodsys and Apple & Google
  • Reply 14 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    If true, then this is great news!



    How can anybody whine about this? Why do these people insist that Apple brings a knife to a gun fight?



    How is this any different than Google buying Motorola and then giving some patents to HTC, which they then use to sue Apple with?



    Google gives HTC patents so it can sue Apple



    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/n...sue-Apple.html



    As long as it's legal, then I say good for Apple! Apple should use every method that they can to crush it's enemies. Apple should make friends with every patent troll in the world and then band together to sue the hell out of everybody, while Apple is protected.



    Google, Motorola, and HTC all manufacture product, Digitude does not. They are a patent troll in every sense of the term, and Apple set them in motion.
  • Reply 15 of 270
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post


    Google, Motorola, and HTC all manufacture product, Digitude does not. They are a patent troll in every sense of the term, and Apple set them in motion.



    Is it illegal to be a patent troll? I don't think so. I wouldn't mind being a patent troll if I held many patents. The legality of some of the products that certain companies make is also in question, as they infringe upon other people's intellectual rights, so I don't think that makes them any better than a so-called patent troll.
  • Reply 16 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    Is it illegal to be a patent troll? I don't think so. I wouldn't mind being a patent troll if I held many patents. The legality of some of the products that certain companies make is also in question, as they infringe upon other people's intellectual rights, so I don't think that makes them any better than a so-called patent troll.



    I totally agreed! Who says Apple has to play nice when everyone else plays dirty. Who says Apple has to be "politically correct" all the time. It's time for Apple to behave like a Microsoft or a Google. Yeah, I say bring it on!
  • Reply 17 of 270
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    If true, then this is great news!



    How can anybody whine about this? Why do these people insist that Apple brings a knife to a gun fight?



    How is this any different than Google buying Motorola and then giving some patents to HTC, which they then use to sue Apple with?



    Google gives HTC patents so it can sue Apple



    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/n...sue-Apple.html



    As long as it's legal, then I say good for Apple! Apple should use every method that they can to crush it's enemies. Apple should make friends with every patent troll in the world and then band together to sue the hell out of everybody, while Apple is protected.





    I agree. I found the article amusing. It's good to see Apple playing as dirty as the leeches.
  • Reply 18 of 270
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by UncleSteve View Post


    I totally agreed! Who says Apple has to play nice when everyone else plays dirty. Who says Apple has to be "politically correct" all the time. It's time for Apple to behave like a Microsoft or a Google. Yeah, I say bring it on!



    'Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war, That this foul deed shall smell above the earth.'

    - "Julius Caesar," William Shakespeare, Act 3, Scene 1



    Apple is just using someone else's dogs.
  • Reply 19 of 270
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Google has also said that "anticompetitive" patent lawsuits from Apple and Microsoft against Android vendors had forced the company into purchasing Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The handset maker has nearly 17,000 issued patents and more than 7,000 filed patent applications.



    Didn't Google purchased Motorola Mobility (for $12.5 billion) to prevent "anticompetitive" patent lawsuits from Motorola Mobility against the other Android venders? MM was bleeding a lot of cash while the other Android venders were making a ton on money selling Android phones that was using patents from MM. It was MM that was going to become a "patent troll" if Google didn't step up and purchased them for way, way more than what they're worth.
  • Reply 20 of 270
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GalaxyTab View Post


    HTC = not patent troll.



    So how are the S3 Graphics cards that HTC is presumably going to use in their phones working out?



    HTC = patent troll
Sign In or Register to comment.