Apple, AT&T sued over iPhone's Visual Voicemail feature

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple and AT&T on Monday were hit with a hefty patent infringement lawsuit from Klausner Technologies, which charges the pair with treading on patented technology by offering Visual Voicemail service to iPhone customers.



The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, asserts that sales of that iPhone, Visual Voicemail and other visual voice messaging services implemented by AT&T infringe Klausner?s U.S. Patents 5,572,576 and 5,283,818.



Klausner is seeking damages and future royalties estimated at $360 million.



Owned by a group of private investors, the firm has successfully defended and then licensed the same patents to other industry heavyweights that provide visual voicemail services, including Time Warner?s AOL for its AOL Voicemail services and Vonage Holdings for its Vonage Voicemail Plus services.



In the latest suit, Klausner specifically alleges that the iPhone violates its intellectual property rights by allowing users to selectively retrieve voice messages via the iPhone?s inbox display.



"We have litigated this patent successfully on two prior occasions," said Greg Dovel of Dovel & Luner, counsel for Klausner. "With the signing of each new licensee, we continue to receive further confirmation of the strength of our visual voicemail patents."



Separately on Monday, Klausner also filed similar claims against Comcast Corporation, Cablevision Systems Corp. and eBay Inc.?s Skype with damages and future royalties estimated at $300 million.



In that case, Klausner?s alleges that Cablevision?s Optimum Voicemail, Comcast?s Digital Voice Voicemail and eBay?s Skype Voicemail each violate intellectual property rights by allowing users to selectively retrieve and listen to voice messages via message inbox displays.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 69
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I'm curious about AT&T's non-iPhone visual voicemail services. I hadn't heard of them. If they already existed before the iPhone then that certainly would have given Apple reason to want to work with AT&T.
  • Reply 2 of 69
    dr_lhadr_lha Posts: 236member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    I'm curious about AT&T's non-iPhone visual voicemail services. I hadn't heard of them. If they already existed before the iPhone then that certainly would have given Apple reason to want to work with AT&T.



    I believe the other "Visual Voicemail" might be non-related to cell phones, for example AT&T's VOIP phone systems (much as these guys are also suing cable companies over VOIP "visual voicemail").
  • Reply 3 of 69
    It seems to me like the way to make it rich these days is invent something and patent it. You don't have to create it or produce it, you just have to know how to patent it. Then wait for someone else to make it and sue them.



    All these stupid things I think up that I don't know how to make I'm just going to patent. Sooner or later someone will create it and I'll be rich.
  • Reply 4 of 69
    ahahah i swear... we are undoing ourselves while the Asian manufacturers kick our collective dum-basses, laughing all the way to the tech bank.
  • Reply 5 of 69
    To many greedy people in the world.
  • Reply 6 of 69
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,069member
    How can that be patented at all? I know at least 3 different analogue and ISDN modems from 3 different companies from 1994/1995 that came with "visual voicemail" software - it is a simple list of caller IDs and voice recordings... just putting same on a server and the interface on a mobile cannot make that a new invention. This whole patent thing is getting more and more ridiculous.
  • Reply 7 of 69
    rickagrickag Posts: 1,626member
    Here's hoping Apple had some strategy concerning these patents as they were developing the iPhone. I kind of scanned the patents and they seem very general mostly talking about what visual voicemail should be doing, but not much about the technical aspects or programming needed to accomplish it. Maybe Apple has some interesting technical information that may break these patents. (shrug) Otherwise these patent squatters will get that much more wealthy.
  • Reply 8 of 69
    People mad at others for making life more simple.



    For shame.
  • Reply 9 of 69
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    So basically you're implying that while Klausner Technologies invented the technology and spent thousands of dollars patenting it, they should just let AT&T have it?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ckollars View Post


    To many greedy people in the world.



  • Reply 10 of 69
    suhailsuhail Posts: 192member
    That's why 50% profit on the iPhone is not really 50%. You'll see many more lawsuits popping-up in the near future.



    I don't know how our spineless patent-office could approve such basic common-sense patents.
  • Reply 11 of 69
    agreed. sitting on patents w/o development is almost deplorable. if you come up with an idea, make it dummy! at least there will be a product/feature to sell...



    anyway I don't think visual voice mail should be a patentable commodity. it seems like more of an evolutionary feature. like cable channel guides, email and umm... voice mail.

  • Reply 12 of 69
    suhailsuhail Posts: 192member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    So basically you're implying that while Klausner Technologies invented the technology and spent thousands of dollars patenting it, they should just let AT&T have it?



    Klausner did not invent anything, they were lucky enough to be awarded such a simplistic common-sense idea. it's like patenting hand soap, "a liquid to clean your hands"
  • Reply 13 of 69
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    And had you invented that common-sense, billion dollar hand soap idea that every household and company uses, and someone decided they were going to use it instead without paying you anything, you would be on one hell of a journey in the courts.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by suhail View Post


    Klausner did not invent anything, they were lucky enough to be awarded such a simplistic common-sense idea. it's like patenting hand soap, "a liquid to clean your hands"



  • Reply 14 of 69
    crees!crees! Posts: 501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post


    How can that be patented at all? I know at least 3 different analogue and ISDN modems from 3 different companies from 1994/1995 that came with "visual voicemail" software - it is a simple list of caller IDs and voice recordings... just putting same on a server and the interface on a mobile cannot make that a new invention. This whole patent thing is getting more and more ridiculous.



    This patent was filed in 1992.
  • Reply 15 of 69
    I'm all for patents but this is nonsense. It's about as close as patenting an idea as you can get and still get the certificate.



    If you read the patent, it's like patenting the idea of writing: marks on paper that represent words.
  • Reply 16 of 69
    lantznlantzn Posts: 240member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    And had you invented that common-sense, billion dollar hand soap idea that every household and company uses, and someone decided they were going to use it instead without paying you anything, you would be on one hell of a journey in the courts.



    You're still not hearing what he's saying. He's suggesting that if you DON'T actually invent a product from your patent, then you should NOT be given the patent. So sure if he invented the hand soap then yes he should fight it out in court. If he only patented the idea and never made hand soap then he's a squatter.
  • Reply 17 of 69
    This would be comical were it not so stupid. The patents claim a "means for providing" visual voicemail, not visual voicemail itself. You can hardly get a patent for an idea like "review messages out of sequence arbitrarily", but you can patent an electronic mechanism for downloading and displaying messages in a certain way that allows it. Unless Apple copied some software downloading protocol, this suit isn't going anywhere.
  • Reply 18 of 69
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    Ok can understand, but that is a horrible business idea. If they didn't patent it, then someone else would have. That's like having a winning lottery ticket and not cashing it in because they are too many rich people in the world.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lantzn View Post


    You're still not hearing what he's saying. He's suggesting that if you DON'T actually invent a product from your patent, then you should NOT be given the patent. So sure if he invented the hand soap then yes he should fight it out in court. If he only patented the idea and never made hand soap then he's a squatter.



  • Reply 19 of 69
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,073member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crees! View Post


    This patent was filed in 1992.



    But they didn't defend their patent for 15 years, so they lost it long ago.
  • Reply 20 of 69
    Not certain, but it seems to me that the infringing is happening on at&t's side, not Apple's side.
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