Patent suit targets Apple over iTunes' 'information distribution'

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple and its iTunes store has been grouped with a number of mainstream media outlets in a new lawsuit regarding a patent of distribution and processing of information online.



Online News Link, a California-based company, holds claim to U.S. Patent No. 7,508,789, which covers the transmission of digital information through a broadcast channel and bi-directional channel. The company has alleged that Apple has infringed on that patent.



"Defendant Apple infringes, either directly or indirectly, through its operation of iTunes and the email and Web-based products, systems, and services offered via iTunes," the suit, filed in a U.S. District Court this week, reads.



The patent was granted on March 24, 2009. It describes a system that allows quick search and retrieval of broadcast information via the Internet.



"The amount of information delivered is preferably sufficient to satisfy the needs of a large number of subscribers so they do not have to obtain additional information using the bi-directional channel," the patent reads. "The broadcast information is stored on fast storage media located at subscriber sites."



In addition to Apple, Online News Link's suit targets Dow Jones & Company, Investor's Business Daily, Forbes Media, Forbes.com, TheStreet.com, Morningstar, A.H. Belo Corporation, and The Dallas Morning News. The suit was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, where complainants often file in hopes of a favorable outcome.



Online News Link patent: "Information Distribution and Processing System."



"Each Defendant has committed and continues to commit acts of patent infringement, directly and/or through agents and intermediaries, by offering for sale, selling, and distributing certain infringing products, services, and systems in Texas and, particularly, the Eastern District of Texas," the suit reads. "Each Defendant has purposefully and voluntarily placed one or more of its infringing products, services, and systems into the stream of commerce."



Online News Link has requested a trial by jury, and asserts that it is entitled to damages and costs incurred by the company.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "Each Defendant has committed and continues to commit acts of patent infringement, directly and/or through agents and intermediaries, by offering for sale, selling, and distributing certain infringing products, services, and systems in Texas and, particularly, the Eastern District of Texas," the suit reads. "Each Defendant has purposefully and voluntarily placed one or more of its infringing products, services, and systems into the stream of commerce."



    Quick fix here, just don't allow the infringing products, services, and systems to be sold in Texas, and, particularly, the Eastern District of Texas.
  • Reply 2 of 29
    "Information Distribution" You're F***in kiddin me? That covers every communication ever. He should sue Tim Berners Lee for inventing the internet.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    guarthoguartho Posts: 1,208member
    Yeah... reads to me like someone was granted a 2009 patent on networking computers.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    Quote:

    "(...) and distributing certain infringing products, services, and systems in Texas and, particularly, the Eastern District of Texas,"



    This would be the district of texas with the patent-suit-friendly judge, right ?
  • Reply 5 of 29
    djrumpydjrumpy Posts: 1,116member
    Hopefully the Supreme Court will put a stop to this madness. You have to wonder at some point if someone doesn't poke their head into the Patent Office management headquarters and simply say WTF are you guys doing? Getting a patent on an 'idea' without any tangible means (infrastructure/manufacturing) to produce a product or tangible product resulting from the patent is just stupid.
  • Reply 6 of 29
    How about we allow North Korea to do their next nuke test in east Texas? They'll get a kick out of it, and we'll be rid of a problem.



    Win-win.
  • Reply 7 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Guartho View Post


    Yeah... reads to me like someone was granted a 2009 patent on networking computers.



    Ok, but when was the patent FILED? That's the date that counts, not the issue date. It could have been filed in 1977 and only now been granted. Read up on "submarine patents" on google to see how companies do that on purpose in order to ambush people later on with infringement.



    MadCow.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    djrumpydjrumpy Posts: 1,116member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MadCow42 View Post


    Ok, but when was the patent FILED? That's the date that counts, not the issue date. It could have been filed in 1977 and only now been granted. Read up on "submarine patents" on google to see how companies do that on purpose in order to ambush people later on with infringement.



    MadCow.



    Doesn't matter. This is a basic method of doing business in a technological age. The patent law was never designed to limit business in this way.



    From the link above:



    The patent system is intended to protect and promote advances in science and technology, not ideas about how to structure commercial transactions. Claim 1 of the application . . . is not eligible for patent protection because it is directed to a method of conducting business. Affording patent protection to business methods lacks constitutional and statutory support, serves to hinder rather than promote innovation and usurps that which rightfully belongs in the public domain. State Street and AT&T should be overruled.

    Pointing to the Statute of Monopolies and the public hostility to the ?odious monopolies,? he concluded that when Congress enacted the first patent statute (in language substantially unchanged to this day in regard to patent-eligibility), Congress did not want the system to allow patents on methods of conducting trade.[12] State Street was a grave error. ?Before State Street led us down the wrong path, this court had rightly concluded that patents were designed to protect technological innovations, not ideas about the best way to run a business.?
  • Reply 9 of 29
    This patent was filed in July, 2007. I don't think Apple would have a hard time citing previous work considering the iTunes store was around for more than 4 years prior to the filing date.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cranfordio View Post


    This patent was filed in July, 2007. I don't think Apple would have a hard time citing previous work considering the iTunes store was around for more than 4 years prior to the filing date.



    From the patent:

    Quote:

    This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/073,124, filed Feb. 9, 2002 now abandoned; which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 09/812,003, filed Mar. 19, 2001 (now U.S. Pat No. 6,349,409); which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 09/434,413, filed Nov. 4, 1999 (now U.S. Pat No. 6,317,785); which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/939,368, filed Sep. 29, 1997 (now U.S. Pat. No. 6,021,307); which is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 08/644,838, filed May 10, 1996 (now abandoned); which is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 08/279,424, filed Jul. 25, 1994 (now abandoned); and application Ser. No. 08/255,649, filed Jun. 8, 1994 (now abandoned); which is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 08/224,280, filed Apr. 7, 1994 (now abandoned); all of which are incorporated herein by reference.



    It's a continuation of multiple filings. I'm guessing that all the abandoned ones were due to the filer(s) realizing the complete lack of novelty in the patent. Technically, one could say that port 80 is the broadcast channel, and port 443 is the bi-directional channel for one-to-one communication(which could route to a different server). This patent should be invalidated. It's not novel, nor is it non-obvious. Streaming media is another application of this. Port 80(http) displays the references to the streams served up by another piece of hardware to a specific user on a different channel(port).



    If they are granted a jury trial, the only way to win is with a completely ignorant and/or stupid jury. If the jury awards them a win, the judge should smack them down and say they are incapable of understanding the evidence.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    I know I should study this more, but I swear that patent image just looks like a standard network drawing.



    "It like, we store stuff on our server that people want--and then people access it. If they don't find what they want, they can email us."



    I love our patent office.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple and its iTunes store has been grouped with a number of mainstream media outlets in a new lawsuit regarding a patent of distribution and processing of information online. ...



    This is probably beyond the capabilities of the "automated slave," but this article hasn't got enough information on what the patent is to make any judgement or comment on the article.



    On the face of it, it covers all broadcasting everywhere, yet the patent is specifically not mentioning podcasts, which by Apple Insiders description of the patent would seem central to the issue, but it somehow isn't? There just isn't enough information here to have an opinion one way or the other on who is right.
  • Reply 13 of 29
    What do they at the USPTO consider subscribers, and storage/retrieval from a network? Would any website anywhere be guilty of this infringement? I think they would grant a patent for something like watching TV these days. Someone stop the madness please
  • Reply 14 of 29
    I'd have to read the patent in detail, but this seems to be the most ridiculous patent I've seen in a while... There is so much prior art it would blow this patent away at the slightest challenge. Completely absurd.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,702member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    I'd have to read the patent in detail, but this seems to be the most ridiculous patent I've seen in a while... There is so much prior art it would blow this patent away at the slightest challenge. Completely absurd.



    You probably don't have to read the patent in more detail. I think your analysis from afar is adequate. The problem here is that such a patent was ever granted.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DJRumpy View Post


    Hopefully the Supreme Court will put a stop to this madness. You have to wonder at some point if someone doesn't poke their head into the Patent Office management headquarters and simply say WTF are you guys doing? Getting a patent on an 'idea' without any tangible means (infrastructure/manufacturing) to produce a product or tangible product resulting from the patent is just stupid.





    more and more cases like this (idea with no practical implementation)are being shot down. a kin to the notion that you can't copyright an idea only the form you give it. which is why you can have twilight, true blood, moonlight etc all out there for the world to get their vamp on.



    Also, when they did they apply for this patent. it seems in July 2007. When was itunes and even dot mac started. these are the services they say violate their patent. the itunes store was April 2003. dotmac as itools was 2000.



    and as someone else pointed out, the whole of the internet, especially the web, could be said to be in violation. although it has existed well before July 2007
  • Reply 17 of 29
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    I don't know who works at the Patent Office but they really need to rethink the applications they receive regarding universalness of the idea... That's like awarding a patent for breathing or electricity! What then? Is God going to sue for infringement of His breathing idea and Mother Nature will sue for the alteration of lightening altered to use as electricity?!
  • Reply 18 of 29
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by azcodemonkey View Post




    It's a continuation of multiple filings. I'm guessing that all the abandoned ones were due to the filer(s) realizing the complete lack of



    not a single one of which predates the Internet or the World Wide Web,which is the model for how the 'offending' services work.



    in the end, all Apple has to do it dig up the various cases where a patent for a vague idea has been rejected, put together a statement showing that in fact that is what this new patent is and file for a summary judgement.



    as you say unless the judge is a moron it is a win for Apple



    And then perhaps all these targeted companies could ban together to get it determined and stated once and for all that you can not patent an idea but must have the method and technology spelled out, and perhaps even get the filing laws changed so that you must file all suits in the district where one of the parties actually is (as is typical of all other lawsuits) and stop this East Texas nonsense
  • Reply 19 of 29
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 964member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JSmith View Post


    How about we allow North Korea to do their next nuke test in east Texas? They'll get a kick out of it, and we'll be rid of a problem.



    Win-win.



    why stop with just eastern texas? as far as i'm concerned, we could do without the entire state.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 483member
    Wait, I have an idea - the USPTO sucks, but that's a 'real world' idea and not patentable. Now if I do this:



    Figure 1



    10 PRINT "THE USPTO SUCKS"; GOTO 10



    An algorithmic approach, as shown in Figure 1, with which the USPTO sucks and then continues to suck over and over again.





    See, I can actually patent the concept of the current patent system.



    Anyway, at least someone finally patented the idea of a table of contents - the shopping cart idea wasn't asinine enough.
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