Lawsuit targets Apple over patented software licensing restrictions

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A new lawsuit accuses Apple's iOS mobile operating system of infringing on a patent related to restricting the operation of software through licensing.



The complaint from Ancora Technologies was filed in a U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. The company, based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., claims ownership of U.S. Patent No 6,411,941, entitled "Method of Restricting Software Operation Within a License Limitation."



The invention awarded on June 25, 2002, notes that illegal copying of software costs billions of dollars in lost profits. Ancora's solution is to restrict software operation with a license limitation.



Apple is accused of violating the '941 patent with devices that run the iOS operating system, including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch -- all of which are specifically named in the complaint. Ancora is arguing that it has suffered damages as a result of Apple's alleged infringement of the patent.



"Apple had knowledge of the '941 patent at least as early as December 11, 2002 and has not fulfilled its duty of care," the complaint reads. "Thus, Apple's infringement is willful, wanton, and deliberate."







Ancora has asked the court to prevent Apple from further alleged infringement of the '941 patent with its products and services. The company also seeks damages three times more than the federal government's recommended patent infringement damages law.



The '941 patent was first applied for in 1998 by Beeble, Inc., of Newport Beach, Calif. The credited inventors are Miki Mullor and Julian Valiko.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,373member
    What else is new? Someone suing apple for software. Yay.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    Someone should make a list of all the lawsuits against Apple since 2007.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    What a second. Am I reading this right. Someone got a patent on using serial numbers??????
  • Reply 4 of 31
    rbonnerrbonner Posts: 635member
    I wonder if you can patent the patenting process?
  • Reply 5 of 31
    Shouldn't this have been filed in East Texas?
  • Reply 6 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    What a second. Am I reading this right. Someone got a patent on using serial numbers??????



    Not exactly. They have a patent on using the host ID as a verification of the software license. This was the way UNIX software was licensed back in the 80s and early 90s - not so much anymore. For example if you purchased a copy of some piece of expensive software like a CAD or 3D modeling application, before you could use it you would have to call up the publisher of the software and tell them your Host ID of the machine that it was going to be running on. They would run that number through an encryption algorithm and give you a serial number which you would enter into the application registration setup. That way the application could only run on a specific host.



    Anyway, as far as I know Apple has never used the Host ID for registering software, at least not any that I have used.
  • Reply 7 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rbonner View Post


    I wonder if you can patent the patenting process?



    Somebody already tried something similar.



    The writer of this blog entry didn't realize that Haliburton was attempting to make a point rather than to defraud the American taxpayer:



    http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2008...k-patents.html



    I don't know if the patent was accepted or not. I suspect strongly that it would have been rejected as being obvious to anyone skilled in the art. Still, their point is a valid one. There needs to be intellectual property law reform to decriminalize the act of operating an innovative and successful company in the United States.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rbonner View Post


    I wonder if you can patent the patenting process?



    IBM did that a couple of days ago.

    No, really, see for yourself.
  • Reply 9 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Not exactly. They have a patent on using the host ID as a verification of the software license. This was the way UNIX software was licensed back in the 80s and early 90s - not so much anymore.



    This would (if I'm reading this right) mean Prior Art, which in turns means it gets thrown out.
  • Reply 10 of 31
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,492member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kirkgray View Post


    Shouldn't this have been filed in East Texas?



    Yes, my thoughts too... filed in CA not Texas, maybe this could be for real!
  • Reply 11 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Random Walk View Post


    This would (if I'm reading this right) mean Prior Art, which in turns means it gets thrown out.



    Well that is the beauty of vague language when comes to patents. They have a patent on the means of verifying the license of software running on a computer. The way they do is not really as important. To cover all possible future methods they patent the desired result not the actual steps involved with achieving that result. In their non-restrictive example, however, they do it the same way the UNIX guys were doing it for ages.



    Edit: Their patent relates primarily to PCs of the time with BIOS and Eproms- Something that Apple does not use.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    alandailalandail Posts: 702member
    how can you patent something that has been in use by others for decades before you file for the patent?
  • Reply 13 of 31
    wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    Apple's response will be to ask the court to invalidate this patent..
  • Reply 14 of 31
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,774member
    ^ As they should.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Not exactly. They have a patent on using the host ID as a verification of the software license. This was the way UNIX software was licensed back in the 80s and early 90s - not so much anymore.



    There are many software packages that are still licensed in this way.



    CPU IDs are often used for keying licenses on systems where they are available. It's been done that way for a very long time on mainframes, going back at least into the 70s; that alone would seem to blow up their patent.



    For the last couple of decades using the ethernet address was often the technique (I think this might have been what you meant by "host ID"), it's a pretty good unique host identifier. I worked on software that used this scheme, too, back in the late 80s and early 90s. I've seen a bunch of other kinds of things used for unique IDs too.



    Virtualization has made unique hardware identifiers a heck of a lot harder to determine, alas. Licensing schemes that use such mechanisms have largely fallen by the wayside for this and a few other reasons.



    Anyway, like so many other software patents, this patent should not have been granted. There is far too much prior art that, so far as I can tell in a quick reading, is a perfect match. The Patent Office is in serious need of having its bell rung, it is ridiculous to be handing out boatloads of obviously bad patents (to an average practitioner of the art) and forcing the invalidation of those patents into the courts.



    There are some signs that it will improve, that the PO might start taking public input regarding prior art during the patent approval process and making it easier to challenge patents outside of court. It remains to be seen if such things will become real practice, though.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    They would run that number through an encryption algorithm and give you a serial number which you would enter into the application registration setup. That way the application could only run on a specific host. .



    So it is for serial numbers, but just ones linked to a particular machine. Not just a general number in the box (that you could use over and over)



    Seems to me that this is more similar to Microsoft than Apple. curious there was nothing about that
  • Reply 17 of 31
    A couple of things...they say that Apple has known about this since late 2002. How exactly did they know? Second, assuming they did know and tell you to go to Hell, why didn't you sue in 2003-2004? Or when App store appeared in 2008? Why wait 8 years?



    Let's assume for a second the patent is legitimate (a huge stretch). There is legal precident for "You snooze, you lose". Xerox sued Apple over the UI to the Mac in 1990 and was thrown out for basically waiting too long.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jimafrost View Post


    For the last couple of decades using the ethernet address was often the technique (I think this might have been what you meant by "host ID"), it's a pretty good unique host identifier.



    Host ID in the old Solaris days was based on the network MAC address of eth0 but slightly modified using the first two digits and then hexing the remaining ones.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    mactoidmactoid Posts: 112member
    Let's face it, this lawsuit has much more to do with Apple's recently announced market cap (http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...0_billion.html) than anything else. When you're sitting on a big pile of gold, the thieves will be out to try to steal some!
  • Reply 20 of 31
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,631member
    Being the most sued company in the world means you're doing something very right.
Sign In or Register to comment.