Apple sued over spellcheck functions on Mac, iPhone & iPad

Posted:
in General Discussion
An app developer for Apple's older Macs is suing, arguing that a large number of Apple devices and apps violate patents related to spellchecking technology.

A Performa 6400. | Image Credit: Vectronic's Collections
A Performa 6400. | Image Credit: Vectronic's Collections


The plaintiff is Sentius Corporation, now Sentius International, which says it was a Newton developer and also created the "Sentius Electronic Book Player" for Mac. Apple reportedly bundled Player with all of its computers shipped in Japan between 1996 and 1998. Sentius also produced a series of "RichLink enabled" books called "Epistola," which Apple promoted through a brochure included with its Performa series.

The suit centers around U.S. Patents No. RE43,633 and 7,672,985, which together document the "red squiggly" highlights of a system spellcheck system and its associated dictionary. Most of the infringing products cited are legacy models, including iPhones as old as the iPhone 5, and iPads reaching back to the third-generation model. Listed Macs go back as far as 2012.

Sentius also cites specifics apps, among them Mail, Messages, Notes, TextEdit and Safari. It also mentions versions 5 through 7 of Pages, and 6 through 8 of Keynote, plus their iCloud equivalents.

"Defendant has had knowledge of infringement of the '633 patent at least by July 21, 2015," a court filing reads, noting that Sentius sent a letter explaining its belief that Apple is using its spellcheck engine. Apple is said to have been aware of the '985 patent since June 2018, when a second letter was sent.

Sentius' lawyers are requesting a jury trial, an injunction against violating the '985 patent, and costs and damages including pre- and post-judgment interest.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,085member
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.

    When I misspell something, Apple has no ideas.  I frequently type it again into Safari’s address bar, powered by Google, to get the correct spelling.  With Google I usually don’t even need to type in half the incorrectly spelled word to get the correct one.

    Apple doesn’t catch the most basic mistakes, using a “d” rather than “t” using one wrong vowel, using “ss” rather than “cc” etc.
    edited August 1 doctwelvemacguibigtds
  • Reply 2 of 39
    Woh neds selpchk? Yuo cna porbalby raed tihs esaliy desptie teh msispeillgns.  :p 
    gilly33jeffharrismattinozjavacowboywaverboyfotoformatFileMakerFellervirtualshiftCarnagecharlesgres
  • Reply 3 of 39
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,085member
    Woh neds selpchk? Yuo cna porbalby raed tihs esaliy desptie teh msispeillgns.  :p 
    I think I found my spelling brother.  Wipe away tear....
    jeffharrisvirtualshift
  • Reply 4 of 39
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,667member
    Without more data, this certainly seems like an attempt to cash in. Waiting almost exactly four years to file your complaint after notifying Apple that you think they are using your spellcheck engine suggests you simply got a response you didn’t like (“no we’re not”). Also, where ya been since 2012, when this “theft” of “your” spellcheck engine first occurred?

    It’s extremely unlikely that Apple has been using “their” spellcheck since 2012 and just not licensing it, so the chances of them getting everything they’re looking for there is less than zero.

    Not to mention that writing a spellcheck engine consists mostly of loading in a dictionary and then hooking in system calls, so ... good luck, fellas.
    pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 39
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,667member
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.
    I’m an excellent speller, but I’m not here to brag: I want to pass on a tip to help you avoid “bad” spellcheckers and save a lot of time.

    Make a list of the words you routinely misspell. For me, one of them was “obsolesecence.” Once you see the correct spelling, strike through the word on your list and put in the correct spelling. Practice writing it a few times — for me, the key was remembering that the middle part was SOLE like the bottom of a shoe (or the fish). This will train your brain towards the correct spelling.

    Hope that helps!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 39
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,368member
    chasm said:
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.
    I’m an excellent speller, but I’m not here to brag: I want to pass on a tip to help you avoid “bad” spellcheckers and save a lot of time.

    Make a list of the words you routinely misspell. For me, one of them was “obsolesecence.” Once you see the correct spelling, strike through the word on your list and put in the correct spelling. Practice writing it a few times — for me, the key was remembering that the middle part was SOLE like the bottom of a shoe (or the fish). This will train your brain towards the correct spelling.

    Hope that helps!
    Thank you Cahms.
    gilly33jeffharrisFileMakerFellerpscooter63bigtdswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 39
    GG1GG1 Posts: 276member
    MacPro said:
    chasm said:
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.
    I’m an excellent speller, but I’m not here to brag: I want to pass on a tip to help you avoid “bad” spellcheckers and save a lot of time.

    Make a list of the words you routinely misspell. For me, one of them was “obsolesecence.” Once you see the correct spelling, strike through the word on your list and put in the correct spelling. Practice writing it a few times — for me, the key was remembering that the middle part was SOLE like the bottom of a shoe (or the fish). This will train your brain towards the correct spelling.

    Hope that helps!
    Thank you Cahms.
    MacPro, add "Chasm" to your list. :p
    gilly33seanismorrisjeffharrispscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 39
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 1,006member
    I had a 6400/200 with that 15" AppleVision display 😁 Quite an upgrade from the 60MHz 6100/60 i had before
  • Reply 9 of 39
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,141member
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.

    When I misspell something, Apple has no ideas.  I frequently type it again into Safari’s address bar, powered by Google, to get the correct spelling.  With Google I usually don’t even need to type in half the incorrectly spelled word to get the correct one.

    Apple doesn’t catch the most basic mistakes, using a “d” rather than “t” using one wrong vowel, using “ss” rather than “cc” etc.
    If you highlight the word and right clickit will look it up in google for you.
    Very handy
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 39
    GeeAyeGeeAye Posts: 6unconfirmed, member
    chasm said:
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.
    I’m an excellent speller, but I’m not here to brag: I want to pass on a tip to help you avoid “bad” spellcheckers and save a lot of time.

    Make a list of the words you routinely misspell. For me, one of them was “obsolescence.” Once you see the correct spelling, strike through the word on your list and put in the correct spelling. Practice writing it a few times — for me, the key was remembering that the middle part was SOLE like the bottom of a shoe (or the fish). This will train your brain towards the correct spelling.

    Hope that helps!
    I don't deny that is good advice but it doesn't help with typos.

    I am also a good speller but not such a good copy editor of typos. Fortunately, spell checkers excel at typo checking as it is more about probabilities based on keyboard position and word patterns rather than guessing how a human mind might guess at the spelling of an unfamiliar word.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 39
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 200member
    chasm said:
    . For me, one of them was “obsolesecence.” 
    And still is!
    JustSomeGuy1watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 39
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.

    When I misspell something, Apple has no ideas.  I frequently type it again into Safari’s address bar, powered by Google, to get the correct spelling.  With Google I usually don’t even need to type in half the incorrectly spelled word to get the correct one.

    Apple doesn’t catch the most basic mistakes, using a “d” rather than “t” using one wrong vowel, using “ss” rather than “cc” etc.
    Blame Apple because you can’t spell.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 39
    chasm said:
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.
    I’m an excellent speller, but I’m not here to brag: I want to pass on a tip to help you avoid “bad” spellcheckers and save a lot of time.

    Make a list of the words you routinely misspell. For me, one of them was “obsolesecence.” Once you see the correct spelling, strike through the word on your list and put in the correct spelling. Practice writing it a few times — for me, the key was remembering that the middle part was SOLE like the bottom of a shoe (or the fish). This will train your brain towards the correct spelling.

    Hope that helps!
    Not really.  I don’t have time to write out the 1000+ words I misspell occasionally and study them.  Because I’ll just forget the correct spelling before the next time I use them.

    For example, I wrote cocain in another article and Apple made no suggestions.  Google kindly told me to add an “e” on the end.  

    How about rather than me doing the work, Apple fix their crappy spellchecker? These are the kind of things personal computers were invented for...  Microsoft hasn’t had a problem fixing my spelling since my first computer decades ago...

    My iPhone has the computing power to run hundreds (thousands?) of moon landing simulations at the same time... but it can’t spellcheck?
  • Reply 14 of 39
    I have a love-hate relationship with Apple spellcheckers.
    1. Apple to this today refuses to implement a context menu keyboard shortcut, in a flagrant violation of desktop computing standards supported by Windows and Linux.  Instead, Mac users for the longest time were forced to suffer the indignity of reaching for the mouse or trackpad to right-click on the misspelled word, unlike their Windows and Linux counterparts, who could simply invoke the context menu key.  It's incredibly inefficient and breaks the workflow of all Mac typists.
    2. In response to several complaints from new Mac users, Apple decided to add an API to its first party apps that allow choosing suggested spelling corrections using the keyboard arrow keys.  The problem is, third party apps like Firefox don't support this functionality, forcing their users to suffer the indignities detailed above.
    3. To this day (I can't speak to iPadOS since I haven't tried it), iOS does not support the above spell checking API.  When using an iPad with an attached physical keyboard, you're forced to reach for the screen to correct spelling errors.
    4. To be fair, Mac first party apps do spellchecking pretty well.  Most blunders are caught by autocorrect, most others present a single option, selectable by hitting the space bar, and multiple possible corrections can be selected using only the keyboard arrow keys.  It actually feels smoother to me than hitting the context menu key and moving down with the arrow keys to select the correctly spelled word.
    beowulfschmidtdysamoria
  • Reply 15 of 39
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,669member
    So Sentius is trying to claim the 'red squiggly line' is a patent infringement? Isn't that used by basically every app out there?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 39
    The GregThe Greg Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    chasm said:
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.
    ...Make a list of the words you routinely misspell. For me, one of them was “obsolesecence.” ...
    You mean "obsolescence" I think? ::scratches head::
    FileMakerFellerpscooter63charlesgresgatorguybigtdswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 39
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,141member
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.

    When I misspell something, Apple has no ideas.  I frequently type it again into Safari’s address bar, powered by Google, to get the correct spelling.  With Google I usually don’t even need to type in half the incorrectly spelled word to get the correct one.

    Apple doesn’t catch the most basic mistakes, using a “d” rather than “t” using one wrong vowel, using “ss” rather than “cc” etc.
    or the way it gets overzealous correcting the first word I type in ever email.
    Ie. The recipient's name which is often not a dictionary word but the Spell checker should be able to see it in the email address to know it's not a mistake. 
  • Reply 18 of 39
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,414member
    Ahhh the Performa 6400! That was my second computer. It was a pretty good Mac for that time. If only that darn SRS knob didn't break off.

    This was 1997, why is this relevant today? RE43,633 was created in 2012, yet the squiggly was definitely used before then. Prior art? Also the description is insanely generic. http://patents.com/us-re43633.html
    genovelleravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 39
    Yesterday I texted someone: "He is completely out of his ming."
    It should have read: "He is completely out of his mind."
    iPhone corrected: "He is completely out of his Ming."

    If they're suing because iPhone's predictions are crap, I support them. 
    dysamoria
  • Reply 20 of 39
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,464member
    I don’t know about the strength of the case, but Apple’s “spellcheck” is crap.

    When I misspell something, Apple has no ideas.  I frequently type it again into Safari’s address bar, powered by Google, to get the correct spelling.  With Google I usually don’t even need to type in half the incorrectly spelled word to get the correct one.

    Apple doesn’t catch the most basic mistakes, using a “d” rather than “t” using one wrong vowel, using “ss” rather than “cc” etc.
    That's exactly what I do. If I get two letters wrong, it gives up. And there are a ton of words that you'd find in the OED or any similar source that Apple assumes are incorrect, but aren't. So I have to 'Learn...' it a lot.
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