Patent 'trolls' hit Apple with 171 lawsuits in last 5 years

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
After being hit with 171 lawsuits from non-practicing intellectual property owning entities in the last five years, Apple has further solidified its place as the No. 1 target for so-called patent "trolls."

Patents


The latest data from the group PatentFreedom reveals that Apple faces another 24 patent suits that were filed through June 30 of this year. With more than 170 lawsuits filed since 2009, Apple is well ahead of second-place target Hewlett-Packard, which has seen 137 complaints.

Apple has increasingly become the most popular target for intellectual property complaints. Data from PatentFreedom detailed by AppleInsider in March found that Apple and HP were separated by 22 complaints. That number has since grown to 34.

Coming in third in the latest data is Apple's rival Samsung, facing 133 suits over the last five years. AT&T took fourth in the poll, with 127 complaints ??30 of those filed in 2013 alone.

Rounding out the top ten, in order, were Dell (122 lawsuits), Sony (110), HTC (106), Verizon (105), LG (104), and Google (103).Apple has been the No. 1 target of patent "trolls" for some time, but the distance between it and other companies has been widening.

The latest figures show that Apple has separated from the pack with regard to intellectual property lawsuits, becoming the top target for non-practicing entities. Through 2011, both Apple and Hewlett-Packard were tied in first place with 131 lawsuits filed since 2007.

"Patent trolls," as they're commonly known on the Internet, are referred to by PatentFreedom as "NPEs." The group feels the term "troll" is "unhelpful," as it is frequently used to refer to individuals or corporate entities who wish to enforce their patent rights.

PatentFreedom, however, draws a distinction by defining certain groups as "non-practicing entities." To them, an NPE is "any entity that earns or plans to earn the majority of its revenue from the licensing or enforcement of its intellectual property."

As Apple faces more intellectual property lawsuits than any other company, its former patent chief recently left his position earlier this year.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook spoke with members of the U.S. Senate about patent issues during a testimony in May. But the CEO spoke of his own interest in strengthening companies' abilities to protect their own intellectual property, rather than warding off lawsuits from non-practicing entities.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,817member
    Mr Mueller was quite complimentary to Intellectual Ventures, an NPE aka Patent Troll, in an article today. Intellectual Ventures is who made Lodsys lawsuit against iOS developers possible.

    Back in the day Apple, Nokia, Yahoo eBay and Google were some of the IV investors (Bill Gates still actively arms them with IP) but Google dropped out once it became apparent what the plans really were. I believe Apple did the same and probably for the same reason but can't find a reference right off.

    I've no idea how NPE's should be dealt with, and I don't believe there's even general agreement in Congress or the administration on how to respond to a problem they both have acknowledged.
  • Reply 2 of 45
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,634member
    I wish Apple would innovate instead of being a target of patent troll lawsuits. /s
  • Reply 3 of 45
    Troll by any other name is still a TROLL! So, please everyone call them what they are Patient Trolls... period. Maybe if enough people keep that up others will take notice and can boot these silly trolls to the curb.
  • Reply 4 of 45


    HewlettPackard number is surprising! Really? In second position?

  • Reply 5 of 45
    This issue made me angry enough that I decided to do something about it. The president has convened a panel to make recommendations on patent law reform and I'm petitioning them to get a specific item added to their proposal. If we get enough signatures on this petition, it'll go live on the White House web site and then, if we get enough they'll make an official response. If we're lucky, it may become law.

    The idea is to let companies void out licensing agreements when the licensed patents are found to be illegitimate or fraudulent.

    Here's a link to the petition: http://wh.gov/lg5vW
  • Reply 6 of 45
    bleh1234bleh1234 Posts: 146member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by HawkBlade View Post



    Troll by any other name is still a TROLL! So, please everyone call them what they are Patient Trolls... period. Maybe if enough people keep that up others will take notice and can boot these silly trolls to the curb.


    Poor medical fields. They have no more "customers"

  • Reply 7 of 45
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    How many turned into a verdict for the Plaintiff where Apple had to pay a settlement? And the others? What's the average settlement amount?

    You know what's worse that a stupid article? Lack of information that would make it interesting.
  • Reply 8 of 45


    Where's the forum-troll that says there's no such thing as a patent troll?

  • Reply 9 of 45
    What if we changed the law so a patent was protected like a trademark: use it or lose it. Trademarks lose legal protection if they aren't actively used in commerce. There would have to be a trade-off with this change, however. Patents currently expire after 20 years (an eternity in computers). Trademarks can be owned indefinitely as long as they are kept in use. It would be a major change to let patents be protected forever as long as they are being applied: a useful patented drug would never have a generic version. On the other hand, patent trolls would be wiped out.
  • Reply 10 of 45
    I just want to point out that not all NPEs are bad. ARM is the company that designs and licenses all ARM processors (CPUs, GPUs, compilers, subsystems, and more). That company only designs and licenses. They don't actually produce anything. Regardless, without that them we would have iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, etc. ARM is always widely regarded in the industry as providing fair and reasonable licensing terms for their licensees.

    For every ARM, however, you end up with a thousand other NPEs that don't further develop their patent portfolios, but rather buy patents solely to use them in litigation for the purpose of securing licensing and/or settlement awards.

    The point I'm making is that not all NPEs are bad, just the ones that operate in the second manner described above. Even those, however, are arguably not all bad because they provide inventors with a means to sell their inventions when no one else is looking to buy.
  • Reply 11 of 45

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post



    What if we changed the law so a patent was protected like a trademark: use it or lose it. Trademarks lose legal protection if they aren't actively used in commerce. There would have to be a trade-off with this change, however. Patents currently expire after 20 years (an eternity in computers). Trademarks can be owned indefinitely as long as they are kept in use. It would be a major change to let patents be protected forever as long as they are being applied: a useful patented drug would never have a generic version. On the other hand, patent trolls would be wiped out.


     


    That's an interesting idea, actually. 


     


    The only thing I don't like is the foreverness of it-- many every day drugs we all rely on (aspirin and ibuprofen, for example) would've cost exorbitantly more than it costs now.  And I suspect even the 'expensive' brands would cost substantially more if they didn't have to compete at some level with the generics.  That's just one small example, but otherwise I generally like the idea of "use it or lose it".

  • Reply 12 of 45


    Last time i checked Apple is also a 'Troll' - suing Samsung. Remember Nokia and BB probably hold more mobile related patents than all the others combined. I would not be surprised to learn that Apple has cross platform patent licenses with either of them.

  • Reply 13 of 45
    The number of patents do not tell me anything. Were have all those 'more patents' led Nokia and BB?
  • Reply 14 of 45
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,634member
    I just want to point out that not all NPEs are bad. ARM is the company that designs and licenses all ARM processors (CPUs, GPUs, compilers, subsystems, and more). That company only designs and licenses. They don't actually produce anything. Regardless, without that them we would have iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, etc. ARM is always widely regarded in the industry as providing fair and reasonable licensing terms for their licensees.

    For every ARM, however, you end up with a thousand other NPEs that don't further develop their patent portfolios, but rather buy patents solely to use them in litigation for the purpose of securing licensing and/or settlement awards.

    The point I'm making is that not all NPEs are bad, just the ones that operate in the second manner described above. Even those, however, are arguably not all bad because they provide inventors with a means to sell their inventions when no one else is looking to buy.

    But ARM made the designs. Trolls just own patents just for licensing.
    Last time i checked Apple is also a 'Troll' - suing Samsung. Remember Nokia and BB probably hold more mobile related patents than all the others combined. I would not be surprised to learn that Apple has cross platform patent licenses with either of them.

    Perhaps you don't know what a patent troll is. Apple uses its patents and developed them in the first place.
  • Reply 15 of 45

    Originally Posted by Peter Cranstone View Post


    Last time i checked Apple is also a 'Troll' - suing Samsung.


     


    Check again. Actually, check for the first time, since it's blindingly obvious you did absolutely nothing in the way of research on this topic.

  • Reply 16 of 45


    You must have missed the billion plus settlement that Apple won in their patent lawsuit against Samsung. That makes them a Troll.

  • Reply 17 of 45

    Originally Posted by Peter Cranstone View Post


    You must have missed the billion plus settlement that Apple won in their patent lawsuit against Samsung. That makes them a Troll.


     


    Please just leave our website. We're sick of dealing with this crap.

  • Reply 18 of 45
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member


    Originally Posted by Peter Cranstone View Post


    Last time i checked Apple is also a 'Troll' - suing Samsung. Remember Nokia and BB probably hold more mobile related patents than all the others combined. I would not be surprised to learn that Apple has cross platform patent licenses with either of them.



     


    Last time I checked, I read that a "patent troll" is "a person or company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question," according to Wikipedia.  (Emphasis mine.)  And yeah, you might say that Apple manufactures quite a few products and supplies quite a few services based upon the patents they protect in court.


     


    Here's the full Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_troll


     


    While you're at it, you need to brush up on Apple and its many products and services: http://www.apple.com

  • Reply 19 of 45
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    magic_al wrote: »
    What if we changed the law so a patent was protected like a trademark: use it or lose it. .

    That would be a horrible idea.

    Let's say that your father owns a widget factory and leave it to you in his will. You don't want to make widgets, so you close the factory down. You also don't want to deal with the hassle of trying to find someone to run it or buy it, so you sell it to a real estate investment firm.

    Does the fact that you're not making widgets mean that you have no right to the factory? Should someone who wants to make widgets be able to simply move in and take over your factory since you're not using it? That's exactly what you're advocating in the realm of patents.

    And the real estate investment firm is the equivalent of what people are calling a patent troll. They serve a useful purpose just as NPEs do. An inventor may not want to commercialize the product or may think that he'll get greater value by selling it to someone who has the expertise to get value for the invention. What's wrong with that?
  • Reply 20 of 45

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Chandra69 View Post


    HewlettPackard number is surprising! Really? In second position?



     


    Perhaps even more surprising is that Microsoft isn't on the list at all. 


     


    Here's a theory: Maybe M$ secretly owns a bunch of those trolling companies and are partly behind this whole "use non-performing patents as a revenue source" thing.

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