Apple sued for promoting iPhone as eBook reader

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
An overseas communications firm is suing Apple for promoting its iPhone handset as a touchscreen digital book reader, a concept it claims to have patented over seven years ago.



In a 7-page complaint filed with a Virginia district court Monday, Berne, Switzerland-based MONEC Holding Ltd accuses the iPhone maker of patent infringement, unfair trade practices, monopolization, and tortious interference for allegedly treading on its January 2002 patent No. 6,335,678 titled "Electronic device, preferably an electronic book."



A self-described "leading innovator for mobile, globally usable communication solutions," MONEC claims to be in the business of "developing and marketing equipment for the transmission of data to mobile electronics communication systems, managing and utilizing patents in this area and awarding licenses."



In its lawsuit, the firm takes issue with Apple's move to distribute digital book reading applications through the App Store, which it subsequently sees as an endorsement by the Cupertino-based company that its touchscreen handset can serve as a capable eBook reader.



MONEC believes those advances directly violate its patent, which describes a "light-weight" electronic device with a "touch-screen" LCD-display having the "dimensions such that [...] approximately one page of a book can be illustrated at normal size, this display being integrated in a flat, frame-like housing."



The Swiss firm maintains that Apple is "well aware" of its patent and claims the ongoing infringement has caused injury to its property and business in an amount to be determined as damages at trial. It's also seeking attorney's fees and an injunction to preventing Apple from further infringement.



Although MONEC does not identify the specific eBook reading applications that prompted its lawsuit, the complaint was filed just weeks after Apple began distributing Amazon.com's Kindle eBook reader software through the App Store. Another eBook application called Classics has been available since last year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 84
    I'm all for protecting the specific implementation of a software idea through copyright, but granting "intellectual property" for an idea is madness. The fact that Amazon has a patent on one-click shopping is absolutely insane.
  • Reply 2 of 84
    morkymorky Posts: 180member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post


    I'm all for protecting the specific implementation of a software idea through copyright, but granting "intellectual property" for an idea is madness. The fact that Amazon has a patent on one-click shopping is absolutely insane.



    I believe one-click was reexamined and rejected by the USPO in 2007. I agree with you about patenting an idea, especially one as silly and obvious as this.
  • Reply 3 of 84
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Morky View Post


    I believe one-click was reexamined and rejected by the USPO in 2007. I agree with you about patenting an idea, especially one as silly and obvious as this.



    Actually, Amazon is tying up the process with endless appeals. They won't ever actually lose their patent.
  • Reply 4 of 84
    hillstoneshillstones Posts: 1,490member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Morky View Post


    I believe one-click was reexamined and rejected by the USPO in 2007. I agree with you about patenting an idea, especially one as silly and obvious as this.



    Then why does Apple continue to pay licensing fees to Amazon for the use of one-click purchasing through iTunes? Do "About iTunes" and read the list of licenses, with Amazon included.
  • Reply 5 of 84
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    In US law at least, this description:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... describes a "light-weight" electronic device with a "touch-screen" LCD-display having the "dimensions such that [...] approximately one page of a book can be illustrated at normal size, this display being integrated in a flat, frame-like housing."...



    Would seem to fail the "non obvious" clause as well as being far too generalised of a description.



    It also doesn't describe the iPhone as you cannot describe a 2x3 screen as displaying "one page of a book ... at normal size."
  • Reply 6 of 84
    I swear, I think sometimes these people just do it for the publicity.



    Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?
  • Reply 7 of 84
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Just curious... In general, how does it work when any illegal content appears on the app store? Maybe an eBook reader that violates a patent, maybe some copyrighted photography or art or music that was stolen, maybe a pirated app re-sold by someone else... whatever the case may be. If Apple were sued over the matter and lost (ridiculous though it might be) would Apple then seek to collect in turn from the individual app maker?



    I assume this must have come up by now (maybe in relation to stolen music for a game or something) but I've never heard of any instances.
  • Reply 8 of 84
    milkmagemilkmage Posts: 152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hillstones View Post


    Then why does Apple continue to pay licensing fees to Amazon for the use of one-click purchasing through iTunes? Do "About iTunes" and read the list of licenses, with Amazon included.



    ...not defending anoyone, but that license could have nothing to do with one click. it might have to do with audible content in iTMS. amazon owns audible, no?
  • Reply 9 of 84
    knightlieknightlie Posts: 282member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marc OSX View Post


    I swear, I think sometimes these people just do it for the publicity.



    Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?



    Exactly. Kindle is sold specifically as a book-reading device, the iPhone is not.



    Sounds like a load of arse to me.
  • Reply 10 of 84
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marc OSX View Post


    Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?



    No LCD screen, they use e-paper.
  • Reply 11 of 84
    kerrynkerryn Posts: 87member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marc OSX View Post


    I swear, I think sometimes these people just do it for the publicity.



    Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?



    They can't sue the Kindle as it is not a "touch screen" device, whereas the iPhone/iPod Touch is.



    Seriously, these Patent trolls should all be rounded up a shot. Come on, the mentality of thinking up any kind of software idea and patenting it is ridiculous. Only physical hardware and (perhaps) processes should be patentable, software, art (images and audio) should only have copyright.
  • Reply 12 of 84
    kerrynkerryn Posts: 87member
    Rats, e1618978 beat me to it...
  • Reply 13 of 84
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marc OSX View Post


    I swear, I think sometimes these people just do it for the publicity.



    Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?



    It looks like the patent is for a touch screen ebook device, which the Kindle does not have!
  • Reply 14 of 84
    milkmagemilkmage Posts: 152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    Just curious... In general, how does it work when any illegal content appears on the app store? Maybe an eBook reader that violates a patent, maybe some copyrighted photography or art or music that was stolen, maybe a pirated app re-sold by someone else... whatever the case may be. If Apple were sued over the matter and lost (ridiculous though it might be) would Apple then seek to collect in turn from the individual app maker?



    I assume this must have come up by now (maybe in relation to stolen music for a game or something) but I've never heard of any instances.



    ...well, the RIAA hasn't filed suit against MS or Apple because there are bit torrent clients available for those platforms. in other words, in this situation, you can't go after the hardware manufacturer because someone wrote software that violates a patent or copyright. at the most, Apple would get a C and D to remove the offending app (i think there was an unoffical version of Tetris out there for a while, Nintendo went after them for Duck Hunt, and Namco for an unofficial PacMan)
  • Reply 15 of 84
    I'm going to patent something called "click and confirm", its much better and saves the consumer from making unnecesary buys.
  • Reply 16 of 84
    Prior art kills this claim, which was filed in 1999.



    Apple made a series of movies about "Knowledge Navigator" in the 1980s that exactly fit this description. In most of the movies, the navigator is a book-sized device that folds open (like two hinged Kindles) with voice and touch navigation, a camera, scanner and telephone connectivity. In one of the movies the user is shown reading a newspaper (or book, can't recall exactly) using the device and interacting with it via touch and voice. This is a direct demonstration of the concepts in this patent, over a decade earlier.



    Note also that the patent specifically states "approximately one page of a book can be illustrated at normal size". The iPhone/iTouch clearly does not fit this bill.



    Maury
  • Reply 17 of 84
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,624member
    Patents are just insanely stupid these days. It started with patents for software. Patent law should be rewritten so that only innovations embodied in a physical device (e.g. a new type of touch screen) or substance (e.g. chemical compounds, etc.) can be patented. Innovations that result from cobbling together existing component technologies (such as an e-book reader) should not be patentable.
  • Reply 18 of 84
    lamewinglamewing Posts: 742member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kerryn View Post


    They can't sue the Kindle as it is not a "touch screen" device, whereas the iPhone/iPod Touch is.



    Seriously, these Patent trolls should all be rounded up a shot. Come on, the mentality of thinking up any kind of software idea and patenting it is ridiculous. Only physical hardware and (perhaps) processes should be patentable, software, art (images and audio) should only have copyright.



    So are they going to sue Sony as well since the new Sony reader has touch-screen capabilities? Jeez.
  • Reply 19 of 84
    I am sure Sony tried to sell eBook readers over 7 years ago and my old HandSpring Visor had an eBook application.
  • Reply 20 of 84
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post


    Patents are just insanely stupid these days. It started with patents for software. Patent law should be rewritten so that only innovations embodied in a physical device (e.g. a new type of touch screen) or substance (e.g. chemical compounds, etc.) can be patented. Innovations that result from cobbling together existing component technologies (such as an e-book reader) should not be patentable.



    I agree - you should be able to patent a specific device or even a particular implementation - but a general concept?
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