Apple-licensed iPod navigation patent invalidated by US regulatory agency

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
A patent that Creative Technologies used in the beginning of the century against the iPod forcing a $100 million payout by Apple has been invalidated, saving the rest of the smartphone industry from costly settlements and protracted legal battles.




First spotted by Law360, Administrative Law Judge David Shaw of the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) has ruled that Creative Technology's patent that addresses music library navigation and sorting in the iPod, and now iOS overall, was too abstract to be eligible for a patent.

In August 2006, Apple reached an out-of-court settlement with Creative Technology for the patent just potentially ruled invalid by the USPTO. Apple paid Creative a single license fee of $100 million to use Creative's software interface patent, which had just been awarded to Creative at the time, for all Apple products.

Creative defended patent number 6,928,433 before the USPTO earlier this year by claiming that as a result of the 2006 agreement forged over the iPod's software, thousands of jobs at Apple were created, and would be in danger if the patent was invalidated.

"These innovative inventions of the '433 patent have now become ubiquitous in the industry," Creative's complaint to the USPTO said in May. "While Apple Inc., which uses these inventions in its iPod and iPhone products, has taken a license, others in the industry have made use of Creative's invention without permission."

Creative filed for the patent violation investigation against Blackberry, HTC, Lenovo-owned Motorola, LG, Samsung, Sony, and ZTE and was seeking a wide array of products be banned from sale in the U.S. The ruling on Friday was made under the USPTO's new 100-day program to streamline the patent complaint process, which can stretch on for years, well after the products alleged to be infringing patents are irrelevant in the marketplace.

Judge Shaw's ruling is still reviewable by the full USPTO commission of judges, and may be overturned upon examination. The ruling will not stop Creative's lawsuits against several of the manufacturers in the federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, also known as the "rocket docket" for patent trials.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,272member
    One down, hundreds of thousands to go
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 2 of 20
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,074member
    When you read the patent, all they're doing is detailing a simple use of a standard database, in this case they're using song names. I'm sure you could find database templates that could do the same thing in just about every database application available on the market today. I believe patents should be accepted for very specific and technical implementations of database implementations that are unique but this patent was far from unique and actually overly simple. It would have been something students had an an example in Computer Databases 101.

    If the full USPTO commission on judges decides to review Judge Shaw's ruling and agree with him, will Creative be on the hook to pay Apple back all of the licensing fees they paid or will Creative simply be shut down, finally ending their crusade against all the other companies?
    pscooter63mwhite
  • Reply 3 of 20
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,275member
    Their name is an oxymoron. Being a patent troll is the opposite of being creative. Those who can, do; those who can't, sue. I agree with the above, they should be forced to pay back their extortion. 
    mwhitewilliamlondonnolamacguy
  • Reply 4 of 20
    gwydiongwydion Posts: 1,073member
    Their name is an oxymoron. Being a patent troll is the opposite of being creative. Those who can, do; those who can't, sue. I agree with the above, they should be forced to pay back their extortion. 

    As fair I know, Creative is a company with a lot of different products. How can be a troll? Or are you saying that every company that sues others for patent infringement is a troll?

    Another different tale is the validity of a lot of patents, that shouldn't being granted.
    singularitycalironnmac fan
  • Reply 5 of 20
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    It's fu**ed up that Apple licenses these patents($100 million wow) and other companies steal without paying a penny(samscum). I can't believe these other companies are allowed to sell products in the U.S. for decades without consequence.

    If the patent is invalidated will Apple get their money back? Or will they be screwed of $100M while the other scumbags get away Scot free?
    mwhitewilliamlondonbaconstangmagman1979topper24hourspscooter63
  • Reply 6 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,208member
    cali said:
    If the patent is invalidated will Apple get their money back? Or will they be screwed of $100M while the other scumbags get away Scot free?
    I would bet they get nothing.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    gwydiongwydion Posts: 1,073member
    cali said:
    If the patent is invalidated will Apple get their money back? Or will they be screwed of $100M while the other scumbags get away Scot free?
    No, when USPTO invalidates a patent, companies that paid in lawsuits for that patent get nothing.

    By the way, what other scumbags are you talking about?
  • Reply 8 of 20
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,643member

    I love this justification

    "Creative defended patent number 6,928,433 before the USPTO earlier this year by claiming that as a result of the 2006 agreement forged over the iPod's software, thousands of jobs at Apple were created, and would be in danger if the patent was invalidated."

    So Creative wanted the court to believe people will loose their jobs at Apple if the patent is thrown out. I am having a hard time see how this maybe the case, but give them credit for trying this argument. What I think they meant to say is the fact Apple paid them in 2006 means the patent must have been valid otherwise Apple would not have hire so many people to work on. Plus the fact that Apple paid them means they had the right to sue everyone else. I am kind of surprise Apple did in fact settle.


  • Reply 9 of 20
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,074member
    maestro64 said:

    I love this justification

    "Creative defended patent number 6,928,433 before the USPTO earlier this year by claiming that as a result of the 2006 agreement forged over the iPod's software, thousands of jobs at Apple were created, and would be in danger if the patent was invalidated."

    So Creative wanted the court to believe people will loose their jobs at Apple if the patent is thrown out. I am having a hard time see how this maybe the case, but give them credit for trying this argument. What I think they meant to say is the fact Apple paid them in 2006 means the patent must have been valid otherwise Apple would not have hire so many people to work on. Plus the fact that Apple paid them means they had the right to sue everyone else. I am kind of surprise Apple did in fact settle.

    It's been 10 years since this happened but I believe Apple paid them because they had no choice at that time and didn't have a ton of money like they do now. The iPod started Apple's resurgence/recovery. Creative's first part of the sentence is halfway true. If Apple hadn't licensed this mediocre patent, the iPod would have been shelved and Apple employees would have been let go. As for the second part of the sentence, you're right, it makes no sense. If anything Creative will be in danger now that the patent has been invalidated.
    Solironn
  • Reply 10 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,208member
    rob53 said:
    maestro64 said:

    I love this justification

    "Creative defended patent number 6,928,433 before the USPTO earlier this year by claiming that as a result of the 2006 agreement forged over the iPod's software, thousands of jobs at Apple were created, and would be in danger if the patent was invalidated."

    So Creative wanted the court to believe people will loose their jobs at Apple if the patent is thrown out. I am having a hard time see how this maybe the case, but give them credit for trying this argument. What I think they meant to say is the fact Apple paid them in 2006 means the patent must have been valid otherwise Apple would not have hire so many people to work on. Plus the fact that Apple paid them means they had the right to sue everyone else. I am kind of surprise Apple did in fact settle.

    It's been 10 years since this happened but I believe Apple paid them because they had no choice at that time and didn't have a ton of money like they do now. The iPod started Apple's resurgence/recovery. Creative's first part of the sentence is halfway true. If Apple hadn't licensed this mediocre patent, the iPod would have been shelved and Apple employees would have been let go. As for the second part of the sentence, you're right, it makes no sense. If anything Creative will be in danger now that the patent has been invalidated.
    That's a succinct and, as far as I can tell, accurate summation. A+++ would read again.
    topper24hoursfrac
  • Reply 11 of 20
    holyoneholyone Posts: 390member
    rob53 said:


    If the full USPTO commission on judges decides to review Judge Shaw's ruling and agree with him, will Creative be on the hook to pay Apple back all of the licensing fees they paid or will Creative simply be shut down, finally ending their crusade against all the other companies?
    My question exactly
  • Reply 12 of 20
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,731member
    holyone said:
    rob53 said:


    If the full USPTO commission on judges decides to review Judge Shaw's ruling and agree with him, will Creative be on the hook to pay Apple back all of the licensing fees they paid or will Creative simply be shut down, finally ending their crusade against all the other companies?
    My question exactly

    To answer the first question: no, Apple will not get the money back. The licensing deal they made was between them and Creative and really had nothing to do with the courts since they chose not to fight it. 

    Secondly, I think people are mistaking Creative for a patent troll. They were pioneers, making some of the first MP3 players on the market. The market got too crowded, MP3 players were replaced by smartphones and the rest is history. 
    Solironngwydionpscooter63
  • Reply 13 of 20
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,643member
    rob53 said:
    maestro64 said:

    I love this justification

    "Creative defended patent number 6,928,433 before the USPTO earlier this year by claiming that as a result of the 2006 agreement forged over the iPod's software, thousands of jobs at Apple were created, and would be in danger if the patent was invalidated."

    So Creative wanted the court to believe people will loose their jobs at Apple if the patent is thrown out. I am having a hard time see how this maybe the case, but give them credit for trying this argument. What I think they meant to say is the fact Apple paid them in 2006 means the patent must have been valid otherwise Apple would not have hire so many people to work on. Plus the fact that Apple paid them means they had the right to sue everyone else. I am kind of surprise Apple did in fact settle.

    It's been 10 years since this happened but I believe Apple paid them because they had no choice at that time and didn't have a ton of money like they do now. The iPod started Apple's resurgence/recovery. Creative's first part of the sentence is halfway true. If Apple hadn't licensed this mediocre patent, the iPod would have been shelved and Apple employees would have been let go. As for the second part of the sentence, you're right, it makes no sense. If anything Creative will be in danger now that the patent has been invalidated.

    The Ipod was on the market for a while before the lawsuit was brought, and they were making lots of money. Apple did not seek the patent to use it in their design they made their design independent of what Creative was doing at the time, plus Apple would have just designed around the patent. I think it was during the time when Apple legal team was not at its best, since then Apple lawyers have been very aggressive and not settling anything.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    herein lies the problem with software patents -- in the real world ideas aren't patentable, implementations are. thus you can't patent a broad idea (flying car), but you can patent your specific anti-grav engine. 

    code is copyrightable. if no theft of code (implementation) occurred, then other ways of coding the idea should be A-OK. that's how it works for other speech products such as novels and film. you can't patent your car chase or heated argument scenes, but you can copyright the written details. 
    edited August 2016 Solipscooter63
  • Reply 15 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,208member
    herein lies the problem with software patents -- in the real world ideas aren't patentable, implementations are. thus you can't patent a broad idea (flying car), but you can patent your specific anti-grav engine. 

    code is copyrightable. if no theft of code (implementation) occurred, then other ways of coding the idea should be A-OK. 
    Is there a path for a hybrid of the copyright and patent systems applicable only to software as it's both written and "a solution to a specific technological problem [...] or a process" and therefore an invention?
    edited August 2016
  • Reply 16 of 20
    PLEASE UPDATE THE STORY!

    It did not tell us what the patent was for!  Was it for the physical click-wheel navigation system?!  If so, then the USPTO committee made a big blunder invalidating it.  That's hardly an obvious way of navigating a music and song database.   How long do patents last these days anyway?!  Originally, it was 17 years, right?!  In the hurly-burly fast-paced tech era, it shouldn't be any longer!

    if it's for the specialized database scheme as a poster indicated, that would depend, right, on what its form was and how widely it was already being used?!   How obvious would an underlying scheme be, anyway?!


  • Reply 17 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,334member
    apple2c said:
    PLEASE UPDATE THE STORY!

    It did not tell us what the patent was for!  Was it for the physical click-wheel navigation system?!  If so, then the USPTO committee made a big blunder invalidating it.  That's hardly an obvious way of navigating a music and song database.   How long do patents last these days anyway?!  Originally, it was 17 years, right?!  In the hurly-burly fast-paced tech era, it shouldn't be any longer!

    if it's for the specialized database scheme as a poster indicated, that would depend, right, on what its form was and how widely it was already being used?!   How obvious would an underlying scheme be, anyway?!


    "Automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata 

    Abstract

    A method, performed by software executing on the processor of a portable music playback device, that automatically files tracks according to hierarchical structure of categories to organize tracks in a logical order. A user interface is utilized to change the hierarchy, view track names, and select tracks for playback or other operations."

  • Reply 18 of 20
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,932member
    rob53 said:
    When you read the patent, all they're doing is detailing a simple use of a standard database, in this case they're using song names. I'm sure you could find database templates that could do the same thing in just about every database application available on the market today. I believe patents should be accepted for very specific and technical implementations of database implementations that are unique but this patent was far from unique and actually overly simple. It would have been something students had an an example in Computer Databases 101.

    If the full USPTO commission on judges decides to review Judge Shaw's ruling and agree with him, will Creative be on the hook to pay Apple back all of the licensing fees they paid or will Creative simply be shut down, finally ending their crusade against all the other companies?
    Nope. that's a problem with patents, infringement, and subsequent invalidation. Neither licensees or "infringers" get their money back. That holds true whether it's Apple on the receiving end (Apple v. Samsung for example) or giving end as in this case. Invalidation following a finding of guilt doesn't matter except perhaps in any on-going royalty payments. Anything paid up to that point is gone and not recoverable*

    *tho Samsung did make possible recovery a stipulation in agreeing to give Apple their court-awarded payment in December last year even tho the case is still under appeal and some utility patents asserted may be ruled invalid.  We'll have to see how that actually works out. 
    edited August 2016
  • Reply 19 of 20
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    Soli said:
    herein lies the problem with software patents -- in the real world ideas aren't patentable, implementations are. thus you can't patent a broad idea (flying car), but you can patent your specific anti-grav engine. 

    code is copyrightable. if no theft of code (implementation) occurred, then other ways of coding the idea should be A-OK. 
    Is there a path for a hybrid of the copyright and patent systems applicable only to software as it's both written and "a solution to a specific technological problem [...] or a process" and therefore an invention?
    I'd ague that's unnecessary. code is speech. there's more than one way to code a solution to the same problem/process. if my keys are different than yours then there's no theft. just like if a manufacturer builds different parts to achieve the same functional end (an ice shaver, an auto, whatever)
  • Reply 20 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,208member
    Soli said:
    Is there a path for a hybrid of the copyright and patent systems applicable only to software as it's both written and "a solution to a specific technological problem [...] or a process" and therefore an invention?
    I'd ague that's unnecessary. code is speech. there's more than one way to code a solution to the same problem/process. if my keys are different than yours then there's no theft. just like if a manufacturer builds different parts to achieve the same functional end (an ice shaver, an auto, whatever)
    OK, so Samsung looks at the results of what Apple has created and then creates—using their own code—copies of all apps, services, and even the look-and-feel of Apple's devices, which only minor changes to the look so that one wouldn't be confused by what they looking at, like having round icons in TouchWiz instead of rounded squares in iOS. Would that be protected as freedom of speech since TouchWiz isn't even the same programming language so it's clear that Samsung didn't steal Apple's code?
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