Apple wins DRM patent lawsuit leveled by ContentGuard

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2015
Apple came out unscathed from a legal battle involving digital rights management IP owned by ContentGuard, a subsidiary of non-practicing entity Pendrell Corp. that sued the iPhone maker for infringing on five patents.




The jury handed down its decision in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Friday, finding Apple not in infringement of five DRM-related patents owned by ContentGuard, reports Reuters. While not responsible for damages, Apple was not able to prove the patents-in-suit invalid.

Apple was accused of illegally applying patented DRM technologies to its digital content distribution services, including music, movies and TV shows sold through iTunes and e-books marketed in iBooks. The Cupertino, Calif., company denied those claims.

Today's decision comes after ContentGuard first asserted its clutch of patents in a fishing expedition against big tech industry players in 2013, including Amazon, Samsung, BlackBerry, Motorola and HTC, among others. Google and its online music, movie and eBook storefronts were added to the list of defendants in 2014, according to Law360.

ContentGuard saw limited success in its endeavors, however. Aside from a favorable ruling from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board in June, which spurred Amazon to settle a month later, the patent holder lost cases against Google and Samsung. Like Apple, both Google and Samsung were unable to convince juries that ContentGuard's patents are invalid.

Now owned by Pendrell and Time Warner, ContentGuard is the result of a DRM business partnership between Xerox and Microsoft struck in 2000.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,349member
    If you can't win in Texas, you may as well just give up.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    Re:
    - "the patent holder lost cases against Google and Samsung."
    "Like Apple, both Google and Samsung were unable to convince juries that ContentGuard's patents are invalid."

    Aren't these two sentences contradictory? If Google and Samsung were UNable to convince the jury, then it seems the patent holder would WIN the cases. Am I misunderstanding this?
  • Reply 3 of 20
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slprescott View Post



    Am I misunderstanding this?

    It means they weren't found to infringe on the aforementioned patents, yet they were also unable to invalidate them.

  • Reply 4 of 20
    ksecksec Posts: 1,551member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hmm View Post

     

    It means they weren't found to infringe on the aforementioned patents, yet they were also unable to invalidate them.




    Thx

     

    I am thinking how much money do Apple pay for its legal system and patent dispute.

  • Reply 5 of 20
    slprescott wrote: »
    Re:
    - "the patent holder lost cases against Google and Samsung."
    "Like Apple, both Google and Samsung were unable to convince juries that ContentGuard's patents are invalid."

    Aren't these two sentences contradictory? If Google and Samsung were UNable to convince the jury, then it seems the patent holder would WIN the cases. Am I misunderstanding this?

    It means that the patent holders may have valid patents but the method that Apple and others used is different than what their patent protects.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ksec View Post

     



    Thx

     

    I am thinking how much money do Apple pay for its legal system and patent dispute.




    I really have no idea regarding that. Apple's size probably affords them some protection in that patent holders are unlikely to sue if they don't think they have a sufficiently strong case. The litigation itself is expensive for both sides, and in Apple's case they could simply outlast a lot of smaller companies.

  • Reply 7 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post

     



    I really have no idea regarding that. Apple's size probably affords them some protection in that patent holders are unlikely to sue if they don't think they have a sufficiently strong case. The litigation itself is expensive for both sides, and in Apple's case they could simply outlast a lot of smaller companies.


     

    On the other hand, I'm sure non practicing patent holders are collecting licensing fees, for some of their patents, from smaller companies because those companies don't have the resources to fight it in court. And these non practicing patents holders would be taking a chance with filing a patent infringement suit against the likes of Apple, Google or Microsoft as they could ending up having their patents invalidated and thus lose the licensing fees they are already collecting from the smaller companies that couldn't afford to put up a didn't fight. So the patent holders could end up losing more than just the court cost. 

  • Reply 8 of 20
    ksec wrote: »

    Thx

    I am thinking how much money do Apple pay for its legal system and patent dispute.

    I'd be more interested in how much I pay with every Apple product for covering all these legal fights.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,302member
    davidw wrote: »
    On the other hand, I'm sure non practicing patent holders are collecting licensing fees, for some of their patents, from smaller companies because those companies don't have the resources to fight it in court. And these non practicing patents holders would be taking a chance with filing a patent infringement suit against the likes of Apple, Google or Microsoft as they could ending up having their patents invalidated and thus lose the licensing fees they are already collecting from the smaller companies that couldn't afford to put up a didn't fight. So the patent holders could end up losing more than just the court cost. 
    Apple has a policy of not responding to licensing offers from outside parties. For that reason alone it would be difficult to know which patent holders would have a legitimate claim and which are simply golddiggers. Getting a big tech's attention may require a lawsuit but as you pointed out companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft can simply outlast/outspend the smallest of them so the deck is stacked against success. IMHO the likelihood of a small inventor licensing a patented tech to them just isn't great IMHO. The best hope is someone comes knocking at the inventors door with an offer. Politely approaching some of these techs first would be a exercise in futility IMHO.
  • Reply 10 of 20

    If you can't win in Texas, you may as well just give up.

  • Reply 11 of 20

    If you can't win in Texas, you may as well just give up.

  • Reply 12 of 20

    If you can't win in Texas, you may as well just give up.

     

    Adult Emojis | Dirty Emojis | Love Emojis | Christmas Emojis

  • Reply 13 of 20
    I'd be more interested in how much I pay with every Apple product for covering all these legal fights.

    It's all just a part of doing business. When I first started a business I received some very smart advice: Above all else, become good friends with the two most important people in your life...your accountant and your lawyer.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    It's all just a part of doing business. When I first started a business I received some very smart advice: Above all else, become good friends with the two most important people in your life...your accountant and your lawyer.
    Exactly. My Grandpa and Dad spout that all the time. Looking at a s.load of, often, litigation firms seeking clients, it would be poor management not to be covered.
    Don't understand why anybody wants to know how much the cost of their MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, ear buds or whatever, is due to their legal division? Next???....how much do glass stairs/glass walls/spaceship campus/magic display counters/trees in stores.....add to cost?? Though A could operate without those things, they couldn't operate one day without legal..and this is from a guy who def is NOT a fan of lawyers, in general.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,985member
    These patent trolls need to be put down permanently. It's exactly the kind of "capitalism" that makes capitalism look as bad as it does. I'd think a lot of sensible capitalists would be on board for saving their beloved system from abusers of it...?
  • Reply 16 of 20
    It's all just a part of doing business. When I first started a business I received some very smart advice: Above all else, become good friends with the two most important people in your life...your accountant and your lawyer.

    I can only confirm this, too.
    Still, I wonder just how much exactly the number is.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,937member
    slprescott wrote: »
    Re:
    - "the patent holder lost cases against Google and Samsung."
    "Like Apple, both Google and Samsung were unable to convince juries that ContentGuard's patents are invalid."

    Aren't these two sentences contradictory? If Google and Samsung were UNable to convince the jury, then it seems the patent holder would WIN the cases. Am I misunderstanding this?

    Yes, yes you are. Part of the process is showing you've not infringed, but also attaching the validity of the other party's patents themselves. Take it from someone who has a family member who is a firmer patent office examiner and now an IP lawyer.
  • Reply 18 of 20

    @hmm, @genovelle, @SDW2001:

     

    Thanks for your explanations.  I wasn't aware of that distinction.  Learned something today!

  • Reply 19 of 20
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,302member
    http://www.morningstar.com/news/benzinga/BenzBZW_5861426/jury-finds-pendrell-patents-valid-but-samsung-google-did-not-infringe-on-patents-8k.html
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.law360.com/articles/688539/google-loses-bid-to-kill-contentguard-patents-under-alice

    Google argued that the SCOTUS Alice ruling applied to ContentGuard's patent claims making them invalid. Judge Gilstrap (you heard that name before) didn't buy into it. Neither did the Patent Appeal Board with the USPTO.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WonkoTheSane View Post





    I can only confirm this, too.

    Still, I wonder just how much exactly the number is.



    It's very difficult to determine the full cost of litigation until after all activity related to the case is closed. Much more than the cost of salaried lawyers is involved. The discovery process alone can consume hundreds of thousands of dollars. A case I'm involved with now is entering its second year and all the data is under a legal hold; however because the infringement occurred several years prior we are obligated to preserve the environment in which the action took place. This means retaining old servers, OSes and software so we can reproduce the use case in situ. This in turn means providing items like periodic risk acceptance reports and additional non-intrusive layered monitoring to cover EOL servers without vendor support in our data centers.

     

    A follow-on process to discovery is data auditing to ensure that current and future work contains the finding from the action in its scope. Part of this may be documented in the category of system compliance and/or revised policy and procedure. The legal cost is allocated only in the drafting of the documentation; actual implementation is the responsibility of the engineering and production teams.

     

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