Patent holding firm picks up Sony & Nokia IP, files suit against Apple

Posted:
in iPhone
Non-practicing entity Ironworks Patents has filed a lawsuit against Apple, hoping to claim up to 12.5 cents per iPhone for U.S. patents originally belonging to Sony and Nokia.




One of the patents, from Sony, covers the ring silencing feature on cellphones, and was filed in 2001 with a 1994 priority date. Two Nokia patents cover silent alarms, including vibrations, and were filed in 2000 and 2004.

The suit is effectively a continuation of a case brought by MobileMedia, which won $3 million in damages last year, later raised to $10.7 million. Apple is appealing that verdict, but earlier this year MobileMedia -- in which Sony and Nokia had minority stakes -- sold its portfolio to the newly-created Ironworks.

The latter firm is looking to collect royalties from more recent iPhones, stretching from the iPhone 4S through to the iPhone X. The MobileMedia suit focused on older hardware, namely the iPhone 3G and 4.

Back in May, Apple and Nokia settled a major patent dispute through terms such as a multi-year licensing agreement and a $2 billion cash payment by Apple.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,076member
    There's gotta be prior art on this one.  
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 22
    "Thus, such a fear that persons in the surroundings may be troubled by the continuous ringing of the alert sound can be remarkably reduced. Further, since the situation that a power supply is cut off forcibly during all origination can be avoided, the fear that a person on the call origination side may be given an unpleasant feeling can be eliminated."

    It's literately a patent on avoid hurt feelings. Where were the political correctness gone mad people when this was issued?
    pujones1[Deleted User]SoundJudgmenticoco3
  • Reply 3 of 22
    Damn low-lifes. 
    pujones1GG1viclauyyc
  • Reply 4 of 22
    I see no problem with this. 

    The bar for an inventor has never been “you can only sell or license or defend your patent by first becoming a practicing entity.

    I have several patents (owned by my former employer) but I’d rather talk about my friend, a classical self-employed inventor, who lives by inventing better devices and then selling or licensing his patents. He would never think to go into manufacturing as this not his dream. He has invented many useful things during his life and were he not able to sell or license them he wouldn’t have been prolific. His patents have value, and like a thing of value, they can be sold. 

    When end you put “non practicing entity” into the discussion, it is an attempt to render such companies illegitimate. If successful, this removes value from the patent’s originator, or anybody else who may have purchased it from him (because it removes a potential acquirer out of the competition.)

    i don’t know who has been been beating the “a patent should not be honored if owned by a non practicing entity” drum but it diminishes the value of all patents, inventors and the system in general. I can only conclude that the fans of this argument either don’t know the law, are aligned with entities trying to avoid patent royalties or defense suits, or are not or have never known an inventor. 

     
    mizhou[Deleted User]cropr
  • Reply 5 of 22
    Patents sold by legitimate patent holders to non practicing entities should have been legislated against years ago, because 'damages' are impossible, unless the 'damages' refer to patent extortion. 
    pujones1jony0
  • Reply 6 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,297member
    Patent law needs to change to eliminate “non-practicing entities.” It’s okay for the original patent holder to want royalties from others if they themselves do not have the capital to make a working product. It’s not okay for these other outfits to buy patents with no intention of acting on them but to just collect money.
    rob53jbdragonbobby88pujones1SoundJudgmentjony0
  • Reply 7 of 22
    ...
    i don’t know who has been been beating the “a patent should not be honored if owned by a non practicing entity” drum but it diminishes the value of all patents, inventors and the system in general. I can only conclude that the fans of this argument either don’t know the law, are aligned with entities trying to avoid patent royalties or defense suits, or are not or have never known an inventor. 
    I think it’s safe to say that most people would support what your friend does. There are also legitimate cases where genuine patents are sold and defended by the purchasing party in good faith, but even that is not what people criticise.

    The problem is when a company with little personal investment in an invention sits on a patent hoping another company will accidentally create a successful product which may infringe on their acquired patent and then wait to sue in order to maximise damages which can be extorted from the infringing company. That’s what people mean by non-practicing entity when referring to it in the negative. That’s also not in the spirit of why patents were created. It’s an abuse.
    macseekerradarthekatpujones1mizhoujony0
  • Reply 8 of 22
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,528moderator
    I see no problem with this. 

    The bar for an inventor has never been “you can only sell or license or defend your patent by first becoming a practicing entity.

    I have several patents (owned by my former employer) but I’d rather talk about my friend, a classical self-employed inventor, who lives by inventing better devices and then selling or licensing his patents. He would never think to go into manufacturing as this not his dream. He has invented many useful things during his life and were he not able to sell or license them he wouldn’t have been prolific. His patents have value, and like a thing of value, they can be sold. 

    When end you put “non practicing entity” into the discussion, it is an attempt to render such companies illegitimate. If successful, this removes value from the patent’s originator, or anybody else who may have purchased it from him (because it removes a potential acquirer out of the competition.)

    i don’t know who has been been beating the “a patent should not be honored if owned by a non practicing entity” drum but it diminishes the value of all patents, inventors and the system in general. I can only conclude that the fans of this argument either don’t know the law, are aligned with entities trying to avoid patent royalties or defense suits, or are not or have never known an inventor. 

     
    I’m a patented inventor.  Here’s my short essay outlining my thoughts:

    Non-practicing patent pricing reform

    I've grappled with the dichotomy presented by the need to protect intellectual property versus the drag on invention that the non-practicing entity lawsuits represent.  

    Perhaps the answer is to limit the royalties that can be demanded from patents that are not being applied (non-practicing) versus those that are applied in some product or service.  This would give greater protection and rewards to those who own patents and are using the patented technology in their products, because damage from infringement is higher versus damage to a non-practicing patent holder.  If you've gone through the expense of utilizing a patented process or mechanism, then you should be compensated greater when someone infringes that patent and potentially harms your revenues.  But if you haven't, and therefore also haven't brought a new product or service to market that allows society to benefit from the invention, then perhaps you shouldn't receive the same compensation for infringement. 

    There's perhaps a bit of precedent here in the  FRAND royalty calculations for patents that are considered standards essential.  The whole notion of SEP is that there's a greater good to society to allow multiple parties to utilize an invention as part of a standard and therefore it should be affordable for all to utilize the patented invention. Same here.  Patented inventions that are sat upon don't benefit society, so there should be incentive to get those inventions into use.  

    To give time for a new patent holder to develop products and services around a patented invention, perhaps the first few years after the patent is granted, it can be exempt from the rules I'm suggesting here.  The current status quo would remain in effect.  But after, say, three years, if you haven't shown that the patent is being developed into a product or service, then licensing limitations go into effect so that the amount you may charge for your invention will be limited, ala FRAND-type pricing guidelines.  So, if you don't intend to utilize a patented invention, either accept the lower royalty rates so that others can utilize it, or sell the patent to a company that will utilize it and therefore retain full royalty and infringement power over it.

    mizhoufotoformatrob55jony0
  • Reply 9 of 22
    The phone we had hardwired to the wall when I was growing up had a switch on the bottom to turn off the ringer...That would be in the late 60's when AT&T, or in our case Southwestern Bell, actually owned the phone and you just used it as part of the service.  Wouldn't it be "obvious" to duplicate wired features on a wireless device?  Later cordless (wireless) phones had the same feature.
    viclauyycloquiturSoundJudgmenticoco3jony0
  • Reply 10 of 22
    crofford said:
    The phone we had hardwired to the wall when I was growing up had a switch on the bottom to turn off the ringer...That would be in the late 60's when AT&T, or in our case Southwestern Bell, actually owned the phone and you just used it as part of the service.  Wouldn't it be "obvious" to duplicate wired features on a wireless device?  Later cordless (wireless) phones had the same feature.
    Does not matter. The USPTO just sees words like 'in a computer network', 'on a wireless device' and rubber stamps the application.
    Besides, any patent granted to AT&T in the 1960's will have expired long before the mobile phone became a reality.
  • Reply 11 of 22
    lkrupp said:
    Patent law needs to change to eliminate “non-practicing entities.” It’s okay for the original patent holder to want royalties from others if they themselves do not have the capital to make a working product. It’s not okay for these other outfits to buy patents with no intention of acting on them but to just collect money.
    What if the inventor die and his/her family has no idea what is the patent about. Can the family sell their right for big money? And if the company is rightfully collected royalties? 

    Not to mention some patents may takes year for other technologies to catch up in order to make it happen. Do these investors has the right to collect their royalties?

    eg, I develop a theory and a device that can generate electricity from water under $100. But the technology to make it happen won’t realize in 20 years. 15 years later someone use a similar theory but totally different techniques to make it work. Will I able to collect my royalties? Remember a lot similar cases happened to Apple and other big tech companies. So who is in the right?
  • Reply 12 of 22
    crofford said:
    The phone we had hardwired to the wall when I was growing up had a switch on the bottom to turn off the ringer...That would be in the late 60's when AT&T, or in our case Southwestern Bell, actually owned the phone and you just used it as part of the service.  Wouldn't it be "obvious" to duplicate wired features on a wireless device?  Later cordless (wireless) phones had the same feature. 
    Does not matter. The USPTO just sees words like 'in a computer network', 'on a wireless device' and rubber stamps the application.
    Besides, any patent granted to AT&T in the 1960's will have expired long before the mobile phone became a reality.
    Which makes it prior art under Alice vs. CLS Bank (2014), which was supposed to send software patents (at least the "old idea, but
    on a computer" type) straight down the rabbit hole.  (See https://www.eff.org/alice). Alas, the rubber-stamp USPTO stuff pre-Alice are returning like zombies.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 13 of 22
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 548member
    Filing non-practicing patents must be the new 'collecting baseball cards' like my dad used to do.  At my age card collecting is worthless, now the money is in patenting general ideas like a mute button.  
  • Reply 14 of 22
    viclauyyc said:

    eg, I develop a theory and a device that can generate electricity from water under $100. But the technology to make it happen won’t realize in 20 years. 15 years later someone use a similar theory but totally different techniques to make it work. Will I able to collect my royalties? Remember a lot similar cases happened to Apple and other big tech companies. So who is in the right?
    If they are using different techniques then probably they won't owe you a dime. You patent an implementation of an idea not the idea.
  • Reply 15 of 22
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,776member
    They're called "patent trolls". Stop using the euphemisms they want you to use.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    eriamjh said:
    There's gotta be prior art on this one.  
    The implementation is what matters, not just the general idea.
  • Reply 17 of 22

    dysamoria said:
    They're called "patent trolls". Stop using the euphemisms they want you to use.
    It's not quite that simple. A patent is property (IP) and those property rights are protected in the US. A company that acquires patents may be a non-practicing entity, but that doesn't mean they should not attempt to gain the maximum value of those patents. Let the courts sort it out.
    viclauyyc
  • Reply 18 of 22
    I see no problem with this. 

    The bar for an inventor has never been “you can only sell or license or defend your patent by first becoming a practicing entity.

    I have several patents (owned by my former employer) but I’d rather talk about my friend, a classical self-employed inventor, who lives by inventing better devices and then selling or licensing his patents. He would never think to go into manufacturing as this not his dream. He has invented many useful things during his life and were he not able to sell or license them he wouldn’t have been prolific. His patents have value, and like a thing of value, they can be sold. 

    When end you put “non practicing entity” into the discussion, it is an attempt to render such companies illegitimate. If successful, this removes value from the patent’s originator, or anybody else who may have purchased it from him (because it removes a potential acquirer out of the competition.)

    i don’t know who has been been beating the “a patent should not be honored if owned by a non practicing entity” drum but it diminishes the value of all patents, inventors and the system in general. I can only conclude that the fans of this argument either don’t know the law, are aligned with entities trying to avoid patent royalties or defense suits, or are not or have never known an inventor. 

     
    I’m a patented inventor.  Here’s my short essay outlining my thoughts:

    Non-practicing patent pricing reform

    I've grappled with the dichotomy presented by the need to protect intellectual property versus the drag on invention that the non-practicing entity lawsuits represent.  

    Perhaps the answer is to limit the royalties that can be demanded from patents that are not being applied (non-practicing) versus those that are applied in some product or service.  This would give greater protection and rewards to those who own patents and are using the patented technology in their products, because damage from infringement is higher versus damage to a non-practicing patent holder.  If you've gone through the expense of utilizing a patented process or mechanism, then you should be compensated greater when someone infringes that patent and potentially harms your revenues.  But if you haven't, and therefore also haven't brought a new product or service to market that allows society to benefit from the invention, then perhaps you shouldn't receive the same compensation for infringement. 

    There's perhaps a bit of precedent here in the  FRAND royalty calculations for patents that are considered standards essential.  The whole notion of SEP is that there's a greater good to society to allow multiple parties to utilize an invention as part of a standard and therefore it should be affordable for all to utilize the patented invention. Same here.  Patented inventions that are sat upon don't benefit society, so there should be incentive to get those inventions into use.  

    To give time for a new patent holder to develop products and services around a patented invention, perhaps the first few years after the patent is granted, it can be exempt from the rules I'm suggesting here.  The current status quo would remain in effect.  But after, say, three years, if you haven't shown that the patent is being developed into a product or service, then licensing limitations go into effect so that the amount you may charge for your invention will be limited, ala FRAND-type pricing guidelines.  So, if you don't intend to utilize a patented invention, either accept the lower royalty rates so that others can utilize it, or sell the patent to a company that will utilize it and therefore retain full royalty and infringement power over it.

    But your argument is essentially cherry-picking.

    Society benefits the moment the patent is published, even if it is not immediately, or ultimately, utilized because a published patent gets an idea of of a single head into many more heads.  From the moment of publication, all other parties have a chance to invent an even better mousetrap that either utilizes the patent, or works around the patent; whichever path is chosen, the insights and potential inspiration for further advancement is free.  This allows society, or "those skilled in the art", to immediately build upon that idea.  This is a tangible benefit.

    The FRAND concept was to essentially award a working monopoly to a certain given technology owned by a given entity.  When new tech starts to emerge, there are sometimes multiple entities offering essentially competing tech, as well as multiple parties wanting to implement that tech.  A FRAND choice by a standards body (which in part represents potential users) basically allows users to bundle their buy down to the tech of single tech owner who is willing to conform to the FRAND idea in order to become the preferred solution supplier (the supplier commits to play nice with potential users, in order to secure a preferred market position, once the standard is accepted.)

    By cherry-picking the idea of patents apart, this reduces the incentive for inventors, be they like my friend, or a company, to invest time and money into multiple different solutions, which are then not delivered into society's consciousness via the patent mechanism (only a subset of these ideas are developed, or some are held as trade secrets and not published at all.)

    As to your last paragraph, this is like saying to a farmer, don't let your field lie fallow else it will be seized or taxed at a higher rate.  Why should an IP owner, regardless of type, be so coerced to use, license, or sell his IP?  If we already established that society has already benefitted from the patent bargain at the time of publication (the embodiment of a particular implementation is available to act as a point of departure for the next creative step for everybody, some may license it, or buy it, or work around it.)  Once one starts cherry-picking the exclusive rewards of the patent bargain between society and any inventor, all patents are devalued and they lose value.

    I didn't finish this reply as quickly as I wanted to, and saw some later replies, essentially trying to draw a distinction between owners ... again, if you start cherry-picking one owner against another, IP loses value.

    I still thing the patent-troll /NPE meme is something cooked-up by big business to try and whittle away at IP owner's defense of their IP.  Because if big business can limit the rights of IP defense for all but the independent inventor, then it is pretty much green lights all the way down Infringement Boulevard, because the small inventor is almost guaranteed not to have the resources to fund a competent defense of their IP.
  • Reply 19 of 22
    I see no problem with this. 

    The bar for an inventor has never been “you can only sell or license or defend your patent by first becoming a practicing entity.

    I have several patents (owned by my former employer) but I’d rather talk about my friend, a classical self-employed inventor, who lives by inventing better devices and then selling or licensing his patents. He would never think to go into manufacturing as this not his dream. He has invented many useful things during his life and were he not able to sell or license them he wouldn’t have been prolific. His patents have value, and like a thing of value, they can be sold. 

    When end you put “non practicing entity” into the discussion, it is an attempt to render such companies illegitimate. If successful, this removes value from the patent’s originator, or anybody else who may have purchased it from him (because it removes a potential acquirer out of the competition.)

    i don’t know who has been been beating the “a patent should not be honored if owned by a non practicing entity” drum but it diminishes the value of all patents, inventors and the system in general. I can only conclude that the fans of this argument either don’t know the law, are aligned with entities trying to avoid patent royalties or defense suits, or are not or have never known an inventor. 

     
    I’m a patented inventor.  Here’s my short essay outlining my thoughts:

    Non-practicing patent pricing reform

    I've grappled with the dichotomy presented by the need to protect intellectual property versus the drag on invention that the non-practicing entity lawsuits represent.  

    Perhaps the answer is to limit the royalties that can be demanded from patents that are not being applied (non-practicing) versus those that are applied in some product or service.  This would give greater protection and rewards to those who own patents and are using the patented technology in their products, because damage from infringement is higher versus damage to a non-practicing patent holder.  If you've gone through the expense of utilizing a patented process or mechanism, then you should be compensated greater when someone infringes that patent and potentially harms your revenues.  But if you haven't, and therefore also haven't brought a new product or service to market that allows society to benefit from the invention, then perhaps you shouldn't receive the same compensation for infringement. 

    There's perhaps a bit of precedent here in the  FRAND royalty calculations for patents that are considered standards essential.  The whole notion of SEP is that there's a greater good to society to allow multiple parties to utilize an invention as part of a standard and therefore it should be affordable for all to utilize the patented invention. Same here.  Patented inventions that are sat upon don't benefit society, so there should be incentive to get those inventions into use.  

    To give time for a new patent holder to develop products and services around a patented invention, perhaps the first few years after the patent is granted, it can be exempt from the rules I'm suggesting here.  The current status quo would remain in effect.  But after, say, three years, if you haven't shown that the patent is being developed into a product or service, then licensing limitations go into effect so that the amount you may charge for your invention will be limited, ala FRAND-type pricing guidelines.  So, if you don't intend to utilize a patented invention, either accept the lower royalty rates so that others can utilize it, or sell the patent to a company that will utilize it and therefore retain full royalty and infringement power over it.

    But your argument is essentially cherry-picking.

    Society benefits the moment the patent is published, even if it is not immediately, or ultimately, utilized because a published patent gets an idea of of a single head into many more heads.  From the moment of publication, all other parties have a chance to invent an even better mousetrap that either utilizes the patent, or works around the patent; whichever path is chosen, the insights and potential inspiration for further advancement is free.  This allows society, or "those skilled in the art", to immediately build upon that idea.  This is a tangible benefit.

    The FRAND concept was to essentially award a working monopoly to a certain given technology owned by a given entity.  When new tech starts to emerge, there are sometimes multiple entities offering essentially competing tech, as well as multiple parties wanting to implement that tech.  A FRAND choice by a standards body (which in part represents potential users) basically allows users to bundle their buy down to the tech of single tech owner who is willing to conform to the FRAND idea in order to become the preferred solution supplier (the supplier commits to play nice with potential users, in order to secure a preferred market position, once the standard is accepted.)

    By cherry-picking the idea of patents apart, this reduces the incentive for inventors, be they like my friend, or a company, to invest time and money into multiple different solutions, which are then not delivered into society's consciousness via the patent mechanism (only a subset of these ideas are developed, or some are held as trade secrets and not published at all.)

    As to your last paragraph, this is like saying to a farmer, don't let your field lie fallow else it will be seized or taxed at a higher rate.  Why should an IP owner, regardless of type, be so coerced to use, license, or sell his IP?  If we already established that society has already benefitted from the patent bargain at the time of publication (the embodiment of a particular implementation is available to act as a point of departure for the next creative step for everybody, some may license it, or buy it, or work around it.)  Once one starts cherry-picking the exclusive rewards of the patent bargain between society and any inventor, all patents are devalued and they lose value.

    I didn't finish this reply as quickly as I wanted to, and saw some later replies, essentially trying to draw a distinction between owners ... again, if you start cherry-picking one owner against another, IP loses value.

    I still thing the patent-troll /NPE meme is something cooked-up by big business to try and whittle away at IP owner's defense of their IP.  Because if big business can limit the rights of IP defense for all but the independent inventor, then it is pretty much green lights all the way down Infringement Boulevard, because the small inventor is almost guaranteed not to have the resources to fund a competent defense of their IP.
    Agree completely. Who benefits most from the weakening of patent protections? Those who are currently violating them or those unwilling to do the hard work of innovating and inventing.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 20 of 22
    viclauyyc said:

    eg, I develop a theory and a device that can generate electricity from water under $100. But the technology to make it happen won’t realize in 20 years. 15 years later someone use a similar theory but totally different techniques to make it work. Will I able to collect my royalties? Remember a lot similar cases happened to Apple and other big tech companies. So who is in the right?
    If they are using different techniques then probably they won't owe you a dime. You patent an implementation of an idea not the idea.
    How about a mobile device that use a wireless technology to access remote media library to play music on a device. 
    I think Apple had been sued for that.  
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