'Automated browsing tool' patent holder sues Apple over iTunes, Apple TV

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
The owner of a patent related to "automated browsing" of Web content in a television-style format has accused Apple of stealing his ideas through products like the Apple TV and iTunes.



A new lawsuit was filed this week in a U.S. District Court in Delaware by the company Robocast against Apple. Robocast is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 7,155,451, entitled "Automated browsing system for publishers and users on networks serving internet and remote devices."



In its complaint, Robocast notes that the company's founder, Damon Torres, "pioneered the use of automated web browsing" in the '90s. It credits him for creating a "new paradigm" in the Web browsing experience.



"Mr. Torres foresaw the far broader potential of the Web as a medium for content delivery that functioned more like television, but with the significant benefits provided by user interactivity and control, and the vast resources accessible via the Internet," the complaint reads.



Torres originally filed his patent application in September of 1996, and by 2001 customers included Internet publisher Hachette Filipacchi and InfoSpace. Robocast was apparently also highlighted as part of the Microsoft TV developer program in 2001.



The lawsuit claims that Robocast technology was shown off at the Spring Internet World show in Los Angeles, Calif., in April 1999. At that show, it is claimed that Apple employee Fred Reynolds visited Robocast's booth and saw its product.







"Apple has since incorporated Robocast's patented automated browsing technology into a number of its products and services, including at least the following: Apple TV, FrontRow, and iTunes," the complaint reads.



Robocast has asked that the court find Apple in violation of the '451 patent. The company seeks either a permanent injunction against Apple, or that the court award Robocast a compulsory ongoing licensing fee.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    povilaspovilas Posts: 473member
    Not again ...
  • Reply 2 of 38
    schmidm77schmidm77 Posts: 223member
    What web content is Apple TV displaying? It is fetching data over the Internet, but the web is only a small subset of the Internet.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    Huh? Over the past 12 years, did he forget that he had this patent and, suddenly, have an epiphany? Wonder what the statute of limitations is for this particular area? And, what about other entities that employ very similar presentation methods?



    I dunno; it sounds rather trollish to me. It way past the time that patent and IP law be revisited around software development...
  • Reply 4 of 38
    dannshdannsh Posts: 24member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SixPenceRicher View Post


    Huh? Over the past 12 years, did he forget that he had this patent and, suddenly, have an epiphany? Wonder what the statute of limitations is for this particular area? And, what about other entities that employ very similar presentation methods?



    I dunno; it sounds rather trollish to me. It way past the time that patent and IP law be revisited around software development...



    Just because you see an idea does not mean you stole the source code for that idea. How may different ways can an idea be implemented? Gee if I patent every idea I have programmed I could be rich. But that does not mean someone cannot implement the same idea using a different method.

    Let's get real. These type of lawsuits are a waste of everyone's time and money.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,772member
    I don't like patent trolling. He should've sued when the products were first introduced now years and years later after they've been proven to be successful.
  • Reply 6 of 38
    emc32emc32 Posts: 1member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SixPenceRicher View Post


    Huh? Over the past 12 years, did he forget that he had this patent and, suddenly, have an epiphany? Wonder what the statute of limitations is for this particular area? And, what about other entities that employ very similar presentation methods?



    I dunno; it sounds rather trollish to me. It way past the time that patent and IP law be revisited around software development...



    The patent was "only" granted at the end of 2006, so it's only been 4 years and change. IANAL, but I believe you can sue for past damages until a patent expires.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    From my reading of the patent, it describes a system of making linear programs out of web content. Basically playlists. It talks about the user rearranging a list of 'nodes' and the possibility of these being adverts. It talks about sharing these playlists with other people. I can't really think what apple has that does this, certainly not with web content. There may be a more specific clause that he thinks he can get apple on, but I'd say they're not infringing on the invention in it's entirety...
  • Reply 8 of 38
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Well at least the patent holder is the original inventor, not a patent holding company and it is filed in the State of Delaware, not Eastern Texas.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,772member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eAi View Post


    From my reading of the patent, it describes a system of making linear programs out of web content. Basically playlists. It talks about the user rearranging a list of 'nodes' and the possibility of these being adverts. It talks about sharing these playlists with other people. I can't really think what apple has that does this, certainly not with web content. There may be a more specific clause that he thinks he can get apple on, but I'd say they're not infringing on the invention in it's entirety...



    Are you saying that they are suing over people using a playlist. Trivial lawsuits like this hurt innovation.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    ivkivk Posts: 46member
    When Apple sues = good

    When Apple gets sued = bad



    Most of you are against this lawsuit, I bet if the roles were reversed there would be 50 replies already about how this is a "slam dunk for Apple" and how they need to defend their patents. One only has to look at the trademark lawsuit threads and past threads of Apple being sued to know this would be the case.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    [greg][greg] Posts: 78member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SixPenceRicher View Post


    Huh? Over the past 12 years, did he forget that he had this patent and, suddenly, have an epiphany?



    No -- my guess is a patent-trolling lawyer found this patent, decided he could make a half-case against... AppleTV! That's it! Apple has a lot of money! This scuzbag lawyer then contacted the patent holder and told him he could sue Apple et al for large sums of money.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    rivertriprivertrip Posts: 117member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Well at least the patent holder is the original inventor, not a patent holding company and it is filed in the State of Delaware, not Eastern Texas.



    You don't think inventors should be able to sell their intellectual property?
  • Reply 13 of 38
    jdsonicejdsonice Posts: 156member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The owner of a patent related to "automated browsing" of Web content in a television-style format has accused Apple of stealing his ideas through products like the Apple TV and iTunes.



    Robocast has asked that the court find Apple in violation of the '451 patent. The company seeks either a permanent injunction against Apple, or that the court award Robocast a compulsory ongoing licensing fee.





    Why does CA not open a "Sue Apple Court" in Cupertino and anyone whoever thought of anything can go there and sue Apple?



    This is getting ridiculous beyond words.



    JDS
  • Reply 14 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by IVK View Post


    When Apple sues = good

    When Apple gets sued = bad



    Most of you are against this lawsuit, I bet if the roles were reversed there would be 50 replies already about how this is a "slam dunk for Apple" and how they need to defend their patents. One only has to look at the trademark lawsuit threads and past threads of Apple being sued to know this would be the case.



    If you don't understand the legal differences between trademark and patent, do us a favor and instead of posting useless drivel on stuff you know less than jack about, just go enjoy a hot, steaming cup of STFU.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,752member
    Well... in the 90's weren't we all using CRT "tube" monitors for our PC's??? The same as the TV sets of that era? So weren't we all violating his patent?



    Pass the settlement basket around. $1 per violator please.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,591member
    As long as Apple don't do exactly what his patent entails then there is no case. Unless his patent is vague, in which case Apples lawyers can argue that it is not focused, is vague and overreaching. If Apple do infringe then they will settle.



    Anyhow, shit like this goes on everyday fir a multitude of companies and is just business.
  • Reply 17 of 38
    ivkivk Posts: 46member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shadow415 View Post


    If you don't understand the legal differences between trademark and patent, do us a favor and instead of posting useless drivel on stuff you know less than jack about, just go enjoy a hot, steaming cup of STFU.



    Awww, how mature of you! I can tell that lack of maturity impacts your ability to read an entire post thoroughly. Go skim through threads where Apple are suing because their patents being violated, suddenly the patent system isn't so evil. Since you clearly have selective reading and ignored the other part of my post, Apple has been sued for violating trademarks too, plenty of times. The responses in those threads are just as predictable as what your next response is going to be.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,323member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by IVK View Post


    Awww, how mature of you! I can tell that lack of maturity impacts your ability to read an entire post thoroughly. Go skim through threads where Apple are suing because their patents being violated, suddenly the patent system isn't so evil. Since you clearly have selective reading and ignored the other part of my post, Apple has been sued for violating trademarks too, plenty of times. The responses in those threads are just as predictable as what your next response is going to be.



    Apple's rate of suing to protect their IP is at or near the bottom in the entire Industry. On the other hand, the level of companies attempting to sue Apple since the release of the iPhone is at or near the highest level in the entire industry.



    I'll leave you to build a list of active lawsuits Apple is pursuing compared to third parties pursuing lawsuits against Apple.
  • Reply 19 of 38
    ivkivk Posts: 46member
    When Apple does something to someone, be it sue for trademark/patent violation, people here think "MMM GOOD!"

    When the roles are reversed "GRRR BAD!"



    I could careless about who sues Apple, who Apple sues, that is not my point at all. All I want is consistency, but I'm looking at the wrong place for that apparently. So continue on thinking when Apple does something, it's good but when it happens to them, it's bad. Sorry folks, generic trademarks from both aisles are stupid, and so are the majority of software patents that are granted. That includes patents issued to Apple as well.



    The inability to read here is sad sometimes. It doesn't surprise me given the lack of consistency of most Mac users and their defensive nature because of their loyalty to a company that honestly, doesn't care about any of us; just our money. Brand loyalty breeds stupidity. One only has to look at a majority of blind nationalist posing as Patriots of America to understand that.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    normmnormm Posts: 575member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by IVK View Post


    When Apple does something to someone, be it sue for trademark/patent violation, people here think "MMM GOOD!"

    When the roles are reversed "GRRR BAD!"



    Trademarks are used to make it clear who a product comes from, so companies can't sucker people into thinking their product comes from someone else when it doesn't, and ride on someone else's reputation. To make sure there's no chance of confusion, only one company in a given product area can use a particular trademark. It's just words, and doesn't require payments or prevent products from being sold under some other name. Since no one used the term "App Store" before Apple started to, its perfectly reasonable for them to want the trademark.



    Patents are a somewhat outmoded idea, originally intended to promote disclosure of how inventions work so everything wouldn't be a trade secret. They're also supposed to encourage investment in technology, since others can't simply copy your invention when you get it working. For a company like Apple with deep pockets, patents are mostly a way for everyone to sue them to try to get some of their money. Apple files its own patents so it can countersue, but this doesn't work with patent trolls, who's only business is to sue. The only ones who really benefit from the patent system are the lawyers. Apple originates very few patent lawsuits, and would be very happy if the whole patent system just went away.
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