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Companies Claim iTMS, iPod Patent Infringement 506

Posted by timothy
from the willie-sutton-working-overtime dept.
ryan_fung writes "A Hong Kong based company, Pat-rights, is claiming that Apple's iTunes Music Store is infringing their patent on 'Internet User Identity Verification' and is demanding Apple pay 'a reasonable license fee, 12% of gross sales of iTunes music tracks and iPods.'" (They also claim infringement by eBay, porn sites, and others.) Reader bblazer links to a Register article which mentions both the Pat-Rights claim and another suit entirely. From the article: "Apple has found itself facing a pair of intellectual property challenges that separately claim its FairPlay DRM system and its iPod music player contain technologies to which the Mac maker does not have a right. First up, Lake Forest, Illinois-based Advanced Audio Devices (AAD) alleges its patent, number 6,587,403, for a 'music jukebox,' filed in August 2000 but granted in July 2003, covers the kind of thing Apple has brought to market as the iPod."
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Companies Claim iTMS, iPod Patent Infringement

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  • ..in august 2000 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:01PM (#11873131) Homepage Journal
    I already had my rio.

    which still works,btw..

    (does the patent say something about hd then or something? seems like you can patent just about anything)
    • ok, so there is obviously prior art for a portable music player.

      Does that matter? Prolly not.
      • Re:prior art (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Qzukk (229616)
        Considering that the Rio performs more than half the claims in that patent, yes, it does.

        The remainder of the claims could be performed on any PC with a cdrom drive and winamp before 2000 as well, leaving a patent good for a voice-controlled media player with the ability to record voice and attach those voice files to tracks and to rip DVD-Audio, and which has separate physical gain controls for left and right channels, as well as a physical gain control for line in.
    • by pbranes (565105) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:08PM (#11873209)
      Read the article dude. They are claiming a patent on user login. Straight from their site:

      Everyone knows that iTunes allows a user to play purchased music tracks to up to 5 computers, without repeated payment, under the condition that the computers are registered. The computer registration involves a process of identity verification in which a user is required to key in into the computer the correct Apple ID and password he used to purchase the song. This is certainly a patentable technology. If iTunes does not patent it, there must be a very good reason for them not to do so- someone else has patented this.

      This company is patenting USER LOGINS OVER THE INTERNET ! This is a basic, fundamental technology of today's Internet. Obviously they are full of crap, but how do we stop patent-whoring companies who can steamroller anyone using the US Court system?

      • by Taladar (717494)
        but how do we stop patent-whoring companies who can steamroller anyone using the US Court system?
        Simple, by steamrolling the US Court System (and the rest of the government along with it) first?
      • by damiam (409504)
        Read the summary, dude. The parent was referring to a different patent suit, the one over portable jukeboxes.
      • ... and "how do we stop this" and other Olive Oil style screams.

        And in the end, most of them are sent packing for the jokes that they are.

        Easy with the drama, people.

    • My father purchased a rio 500 for me the first year they were released. A testament to the popularity of the rio 500 was the fact that it was ordered in november of 99 (X-Mas present) and it wasn't off backorder (direct from Diamond) until sometime around may.

      So yeah I guess I had one in August 2000, still I remember being pissed it took so damn long to get one.

      Not dissimilar to the problems people have had with the original Ipod and more recently the Ipod mini.

      Still, this guy hasn't got a leg to stand
      • Re:..in august 2000 (Score:3, Informative)

        by jokell82 (536447)
        Yeah I had the original Diamond Rio (later named the Rio 300) back in late 98. I was able to store a whopping 32 megs worth of mp3s on that bad boy!

        I still have it, and it still works (although the serial cable it came with doesn't work with my Mac and I never use it since I own an iPod).
    • Re:..in august 2000 (Score:5, Informative)

      by LoadStar (532607) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @02:09AM (#11874514)
      I already had my rio. which still works,btw.. (does the patent say something about hd then or something? seems like you can patent just about anything)

      The patent for the Music Jukebox's primary claim is as follows:

      1. A music jukebox configured for storing a music library therein, said music jukebox comprising: a housing; an audio data receiver arranged to receive audio data from outside the housing; audio output structure located at least partially within the housing for outputting audio signals; data storage memory in the housing for storing audio data received from outside the housing through the audio data receiver, said music jukebox including a user interface comprising a display device located at least partially within the housing, said display device providing a display which is viewable from outside the housing, and a plurality of manually operable function controllers on the housing, said music jukebox configured such that a music library of sound tracks is storable in digital form in the data storage memory as a result of audio data being received from outside the housing through the audio data receiver, said music jukebox configured such that said music library is organizable into a master song list and at least one group of sound tracks wherein each group comprises at least one sound track selected from the master song list, wherein said music jukebox is configured such that indicia of said master song list and indicia of at least one group of sound tracks are displayable on said display, wherein said music jukebox is configured such that said plurality of manually operable function controllers is useable to select a group of sound tracks stored in the data storage memory and operate the music jukebox such that said music jukebox outputs audio signals through said audio output structure.
      They then go and describe variations upon this claim, including players that use flash memory, players that use hard drives, etc.

      I think that it's pretty obvious the patent doesn't hold water - the first MP3 player sold in the US was the Eiger Labs MPMan, released in the summer of 1998. It was followed by the Rio, released in late 1998. Both players follow the same general form as the device described in the patent - they receive audio data, store it, and play it back out the headphone jack; they both have a screen where you can select a specific track from your library, and both have controls that allow you to do the selecting.

      CNET described [com.com] these early MP3 players, even tracking down a 6 gig USB based MP3 player with a large screen that was released in 1999.

      The IL company doesn't have a hope in the world of defending their patent.

  • Arg (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CableModemSniper (556285) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .odlapacnagol.> on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:01PM (#11873133) Homepage Journal
    I'm so sick of this shit.
    • Re:Arg (Score:3, Funny)

      by thulsey (723471)
      args *.shit | argdo %s/shit//g | update

      problem solved :)

      if it were only *that* simple...

    • Re:Arg (Score:5, Insightful)

      by yog (19073) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:52AM (#11874055) Homepage Journal
      No kidding.

      It gets worse. This pat-rights outfit has retained some patent lawer:
      Mr. Joseph J. Zito, demanding Apple a reasonable license fee, 12% of gross sales of iTunes music tracks and iPods, and Apple will have to accept it in 21 days. Mr. Zito is a well-experienced patent counsel, and has actively engaged in intellectual property litigation in District and Appellate Courts.
      Well, a search on Attorney Zito reveals that he was the patent attorney for some guy who has patented gravity [epimedia.com]! Talk about an all-encompassing patent. So this is the nut they've hired to enforce their patent. Somehow, I suspect Apple doesn't have a whole lot to worry about from these opportunists.

      ;-)
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:01PM (#11873134)
    So they can't come up with their own products, they just decided to sue Apple?

    Ohh and a patent for a digital jukebox? Hello ever hard of the Nomad Jukebox?!?

    Ohh and then, umm 12% of sales form iPods? Holy shit thats a lot of fricking money...
    • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheKidWho (705796)
      Ohh and this is just another reason why software patents are completely useless... Just used to stifle competition completely.

      They really need to do something about software patents, like set them to only 3 years.
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:24PM (#11873343)
        Not in this case. This has nothing to do with suppressing competition, since "Pat Rights" or whatever doesn't have a music download service nor do they manufacture a music player ... they just have a patent. So this isn't an anti-competitive measure at all. It's just a blatant attempt to extort money from a successful company, and that makes it even worse.

        But you're right ... something does need to be done about software patents. As in "eliminating them completely." So far as improving the economic health of the nation, or "promoting the useful arts and sciences" goes, or indeed anything other than "enriching the few at the expense of the many" they serve no purpose and should never have been permitted.
        • Re:Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mosb1000 (710161)
          I don't know. There are cases where software patents are valid. For example, a new, intuitive interface that cost a great deal of money develop. But there definitely needs to be a better standard for patents in general. Perhaps, a company should be fined for bringing a patent infringement case with no merit? I think that could go a long way to prevent patent abuses. Just develop a standard for which cases have no merit (like patenting interfaces and internal workings that are already in common use), a
          • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

            by nmos (25822) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:35AM (#11873942)
            There are cases where software patents are valid. For example, a new, intuitive interface that cost a great deal of money develop.


            What makes you think that is deserving of a patent? Are companies going to stop trying to make their interfaces better just because they can't stop others from taking their UI ideas? That hasn't stopped anyone so far. How exactly does being able to do one thing and then just sit back forever better (in terms of encouraging progress in arts and science) than being forced to keep on innovating in order to stay ahead? What do you think the state of spreadsheet software would be like today if someone had patented the whole concept of laying out data in the form of, well of a spreadsheet?
        • by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:53PM (#11873621) Homepage Journal
          So far as improving the economic health of the nation, or "promoting the useful arts and sciences" goes, or indeed anything other than "enriching the few at the expense of the many" they serve no purpose and should never have been permitted.

          Somewhere down the line, government stopped being about the people, and became about capital.

          The usefull arts and sciences are those that increase profits.
          The economic health of the nation obviously is directly linked to the economic health of the owners of the nation's infrastructures.

          When people are obsessed over the enemies abroad, they don't notice the enemies within.
          • Somewhere down the line, government stopped being about the people, and became about capital.


            Somewhere down the line? Governement has ALWAYS been about capital. Governments have always been of the few by the few and for the few. Any benefits the small guys may have expierienced at any time were likely unintended side effects.
            Most modern free market theories hold that the purpose of government is to facilitate commerce and NOTHING else. They hold that taxation is theft, social programs are criminal, and g
            • The current problem is not that governments are suddenly just about capital. The problem is that they are taking a very shortsighted view on what capital is and choosing to allow short term profiteering at the expense of long term intellectual capital development.

              Copyright as originally intended was all about maximizing capital.
      • Re:Wow (Score:4, Informative)

        by back_pages (600753) <back_pages&cox,net> on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:16AM (#11873816) Journal
        Ohh and this is just another reason why software patents are completely useless...

        I'm not trying to say that maybe (Slashdot in general | you in particular) don't really have a clue, but compare your informational content to mine.

        MPEP 2106(II)(A) states that, among other things, a software process must produce a "useful, concrete, and tangible result". The definition of "useful" is given a lot of ink, but later in that chapter it is made clear that a "concrete and tangible result" meets the "useful" requirement. Looking at the independent claims of this patent (6665797), I don't see anything that could be reasonably interpreted as a "concrete and tangible" result. While the idea of the claimed methods are useful, the "access" that is provided is by no means concrete or tangible. Therefore, were I defending against an infringement suit, I would attack these claims as directed to nonstatutory subject matter, not in compliance with 35 USC 101, and hopefully have the suit dropped.

        The next thing I see is language like "in such a manner" in the claims. Oh really? Exactly what manner is that? Claim 14 says

        wherein said identity information existing in such a manner that said identity information being capable of being used in enabling electronic commerce operation(s) for which rightful user(s) of said software desired to be protected has to be responsible;
        Uh, wtf? If my attack on these claims under 35 USC 101 wasn't enough, I would use 35 USC 112. What the hell kind of limitation is that? Exactly WHAT "identity information" is covered by this? That one example is so vague that I couldn't begin to tell you what it covers. A user name? A credit card number? A DNA sequence? Give me a break.

        The third attack I would make has to do with the disclosure, and falls under 35 USC 112 as well. Just take a quick glance at the supposedly enabling disclosure. It's marginally better than Engrish. I certainly don't see every claimed feature depicted in the drawings. Exactly where in the drawings is "said operation being operation related to making payment from an account of said rightful user(s) and said first information being a password"?

        I don't see what the fuss is about. Here's the real story.

        "Inventors" hire lawyer to get patent.
        Lawyer writes up a crap ass patent application.
        Lawyer annoys an examiner, examiner looks at application, examiner smirks. (Issued now with flaws is far, far worse for the "inventor" than issued later after the application has been strengthened (and the opposite is true for humankind, which should make the limp-wristed hippy socialists happy.))
        Examiner allows patent - lawyer gets paid - "inventor" gets patent.
        Next comes the infringment and some publicity for the litigants. I wish them luck with that USPTO-issued wallpaper. Better hope Apple can't afford decent lawyers... oh wait.

        I'd put odds on Apple not paying a cent for infringing this patent. I'd also put odds on never hearing about this patent after Apple's lawyers are done with it.

        Seriously, all the alarmist talk around here about "OMGWTFLOLBBQ!!!11one just more evidence that software patents are eilv!" is nothing more than silly if you have half a clue. There are definitely problems with the system, but THIS is not indicative of THAT problem.

        Disclaimer: I hold a BSCS, BS Mathematics, and work entirely in IP.

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:31PM (#11873423)
      Well ... if the courts and/or Congress needed a reason to rethink the whole idea of software patents, this is certainly a good one. So they want to force Apple to license their "patent", and pay a twelve percent fee for the privilege. Is that off the top or after taxes? Either way, that would probably eliminate any incentive Apple would have to continue in that market. *poof* No more iPods, no more iTunes ... probably no more portable music players since this outfit would presumably go after anyone else in that market if they are successful with Apple.

      In the same vein as Microsoft's indirect funding of SCO to make trouble for the competition, Apple should follow the money here too. Is this strictly about enforcing a probably-bogus patent in order to extract money from a successful company (can you say, "submarine"?) or is this an attempt by a third party to bring Apple to heel. Seems kind of fishy right on the heels of the RIAA wanting to jack up iTunes prices. In fact, speaking of the RIAA, and assuming that Apple were to lose this case ... what would you bet that the RIAA would buy that patent outright, and only license "oligopoly friendly" players after that?
      • by mp3phish (747341)
        That Apple already caved in when they licensed 1-Click shopping.

        That was only the begining. They caved in once, now they are a target. It is their own fault...look at them going crazy sueing journalists because they are (LEGALLY I might add) protecting their sources. There is no end to apple's foolishness. Maybe this will be the nail in their coffin. (I wish)
        • by 2nd Post! (213333)
          You only think it's legal. That's beside the point though. They aren't being sued for protecting their sources. They are being sued for publishing trade secrets [com.com]. If you are going to vilify Apple, get the story right.

          Trade secrets [nsi.org] are protected by the law.

          Publishing information you have reason to believe is a trade secret (protected under NDA in this case) is therefore reasonably illegal.
  • by Mr.Coffee (168480) * <Mr.CoffeeNO@SPAMnewyorkcity.com> on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:01PM (#11873136) Homepage
    Verbatim, the second line of the article is: "Pat-rights named the technology as 'Internet/Remote User Identity Verification', earned a US Patent 6,665,797 therefor, and world-wide patents pending"

    now, i'm not a patent lawyer, but since this company is based in hong-kong, and has no worldwide patents, wouldn't that mean that the patent does not apply? or is an overseas company holding a us patent still able to enforce it's us patents from offshore?
    • by millahtime (710421) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:09PM (#11873218) Homepage Journal
      The actual patent is interesting to read. Click here to read it [uspto.gov]
    • is an overseas company holding a us patent still able to enforce it's us patents from offshore?

      About 50% of US patents are granted to foreign companies. However they can't enforce them from offshore, they have to sue in US court.

      By world-wide patents they mean patents granted by other countries, say Australia, Japan, Canada etc. There is no one all-encompasing single worldwaide patent.

    • The US patent is enforcable in any country upholding the WIPO agreement.
  • by sanityspeech (823537) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:03PM (#11873153) Journal
    I guess the "patent pending" avatar used in the story was a tongue-in-cheek joke when it was created. However, with these kind of stories, I fear that it may someday become a reality.

    I hope breathing fresh air is never patented.

    from the willie-sutton-working-overtime dept...

    Q: Who is Willie Sutton?

    A: This is Willie Sutton. [fbi.gov]
  • This is sad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by natrius (642724) * <niran&niran,org> on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:03PM (#11873155) Homepage
    Reading the linked claim made me want to cry. Based on the reasons they say Apple is infringing on their patent, they must have patented password protection. Or at least password protection over the internet. Novel. The article's worth reading though. It made me giggle and tear up at the same time. Not many things do that.
  • Suspicious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kebes (861706) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:04PM (#11873162) Journal
    Is it just me, or is it kinda suspicious that these companies are only getting angry now. I mean, iTunes/iPod is new and hip, but it's been around long enough for other companies to notice patent violations earlier. Seems like these companies only decided to file suits once they saw how much money was being made off the idea (whereas their somewhat similar patent was a total waste...). On a first pass, it sounds like silly lawsuits that will go nowhere.
    • Mugging: you don't go thump the tourist while he's jogging in the park (maybe get a watch and some smelly sneakers), you wait until he's gone back to the hotel for breakfast and comes out again with his camera, Rolex and a wad of cash.

      Similarly, if you're going to go litigate against a company for IP damages, you wait for the right moment to strike.

      Wait until they've sold many units. This way you can claim the most damages ("By selling xxx units, Apple prevented us from selling xxx units"). And you get the

  • by Staplerh (806722) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:04PM (#11873166) Homepage
    So the company wants "Apple [to] pay 'a reasonable license fee, 12% of gross sales of iTunes music tracks and iPods."

    Hmm, who wants to bet that their version of reasonable differs from their view? That is an outrageously large amount. Let's examine their claim.. From the blog (complete with poorly written English):

    It is related to using a payment account information to verify the identity of a user, the payment account may be a credit account, before providing the user access to computer software/apparatus.

    Probably you have use it before .

    Certainly sounds like their dubious claim is worth 12%, eh? Does anybody think this is legitimate, and shouldn't be laughed out of court ASAP? Basically, they can't even be bothered to formulate their case well - the article is actually worth reading in this case, if only for a chuckle.
    • Looking at the patent there is a bit of prior art to it. Apple can afford to fight this one so they prolly will.

      It's sad that another patent with prior art has to be handled in the courts because of the USPO.
    • Certainly sounds like their dubious claim is worth 12%, eh? Does anybody think this is legitimate, and shouldn't be laughed out of court ASAP? Basically, they can't even be bothered to formulate their case well - the article is actually worth reading in this case, if only for a chuckle.

      These guys are clowns. There is no way 12% of gross can be considered reasonable. And the fact that they state their demands publically - when has an IP claimant ever stated their proposed licensing terms in public? Laug

  • Outstanding (Score:3, Interesting)

    by panxerox (575545) * on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:04PM (#11873170)
    Perhaps we will get some action now on dealing with the concept patent issue. Piss off enough of the company's that actually (unfortunalty) run this country and they might have to fix it despite themselves. (IMHO,IANAL)
  • I remember using MusicMatch at least as far back as 1999...if not longer. I'm sure there were other jukebox programs that date further back.
  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:06PM (#11873184) Homepage
    The more big companies that get sued for patent infringment, the faster the law will change.

    Go scum, inflict some pain!
  • How ironic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by offensiveweapon (761301) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:06PM (#11873185) Journal
    Does anyone else find it incredibly ironic that a Hong Kong-based company is suddenly concerned about patent and IP rights, when China as a whole often turns a blind eye to the whole matter? Yes, I know Hong Kong is a special case within China, but still...talk about a double standard here...
    • Yes, and if you look at the bigger picture, I'd say that you have, in a nutshell, described what is wrong with the way U.S. companies do business with China.
    • Re:How ironic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by eraserewind (446891) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:20AM (#11873841)
      The US is the one insisting they take IP rights seriously. So some company takes it seriously, and suddenly everyone is up in arms. Rather than "double standard", I'd call it "deliciously ironic".

      Just wait until China starts enforcing patents it decides to grant to it's own companies on any foreign company that wants to operate there. The fun'll really start then.
  • by Vandil X (636030) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:06PM (#11873186)
    Internet/Remote User Identity Verification

    So much for ssh, telnet, FTP, terminal services, and remote desktop.

    These patent lawsuits must stop. They're getting ridiculous.
    • These patent lawsuits must stop. They're getting ridiculous.

      I hope they grow exponentially. Once every business discovers they can't even type on a keyboard without paying a fee for the "method for entering symbols on a plastic interface and converting to binary numbers" patent maybe they'll lobby to get rid of the damned things.
    • Would it kill you to read the damn patent instead of just conjecturing from the title? IANAL, but I can't see any way you could construe this patent as applying to any of those things.
    • by truesaer (135079) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:12AM (#11873786) Homepage
      I really wish people would at least read the links...I've seen 10 posts just like yours, and all it does is distract any discussion away from the actual issue being raised. The apparent claim is that using credit card information to verify identity (ie, you tell eBay your address and give them a credit card number, then they run a CC authorization to see that your information was correct). It is at least specific, if inane. This doesn't even seem like a software patent, more like a business process patent.
  • Plain English (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mv2s (729020) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:07PM (#11873192) Homepage

    From the "press release":

    The US Patent 6,665,797 is written in plain English, even a layman can read and understand it.

    Too bad the press release isn't in plain English.

  • This is almost the mother of all bogus patents. They patented the "login" as far as I can tell. Revolutionary. Very Revolutionary. Looks like a patent date of 2003? I bet no one implemented a "login" earlier than that.
  • The computer registration involves a process of identity verification in which a user is required to key in into the computer the correct Apple ID and password he used to purchase the song. This is certainly a patentable technology.

    It shouldn't be.

    User names and passwords go back to at least the 60's, if not earlier.
  • Woo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by theparanoidcynic (705438) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:08PM (#11873211)
    Time for Apple's Ninja Attack Lawyers to do something productive! They've been kinda bored and . . . . suey lately. Now they'll be distracted kicking an ass that deserves it for awhile.
    • Re:Woo! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolic (11752)
      If they really want to get busy, they should line up every elected representative that voted in favor of the law(s) that allow for software patents, and kick THEIR asses. It is an ass-kicking that is well-deserved.
  • by aitsu (592587) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:11PM (#11873238)
    1. Take out patent on "FUD".
    2. Take out patent on "Prior art".
    3. Profit!

  • I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:12PM (#11873249) Homepage
    I wonder if maybe Apple will be the first big American company to finally break the silence and speak out against software patents. Microsoft had their "see, bad law affects you too" moment with Eolas, but their reaction (quietly settle the matter in court and suddenly start jacking up the size of their patent library) has been so odd it almost seems like "Whoa, you mean patent law can be abused? Cool!"

    But now that Apple's finding themselves up against a frivolous patent suit, maybe it will finally occur to them they aren't really getting anything out of patent law but they're having to pay for frivolous patent lawsuits and only have to pay more and more as IP abuse looks more and more like a growth industry...
    • Unlikely - Apple has a huge portfolio of software patents which they put together at considerable expense. In order for them to come out against them they'd have to write off all the money that they spent. And the execs who decided that making lots of software patents would have egg all over their faces.
  • by Fitzghon (578350) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:14PM (#11873259)
    From their website:
    "It is related to using a payment account information to verify the identity of a user, the payment account may be a credit account, before providing the user access to computer software/apparatus."
    Apparently, Pat-Rights has a patent which covers ANY logins in which a payment account is used to verify the user. So companies such as shareware companies, online websites that accept subscribers (redvsblue.com, slashdot.org, userfriendly.org, etc.), Amazon, Buy.com...
    Who hasn't violated their patent rights?

    Fitzghon
    • by johnd (8375)
      Have a look at their patent "Vehicle Smart Window Safety Control".
      They actually admit they don't know how to do this, but they have taken out a patent so that when someone does do it, they can claim royalties.

      There is something seriously wrong here.
    • ...apparently, Pat-Rights has a patent which covers...

      Please be advised that Martin Heidegger appears to own a world-wide patent on the use of hyphens to form larger word-entities.

      Should you lay claim to this piece of IP, prior-art in the form of Heidegger's book Being and Time (Sein und Zeit) has a great deal of prior-art.

  • Coming soon to EU member states, unless *you* write to your MEPs and request that they attend (and vote against) the European Parliament's second reading of the computer-implemented invention laws.
  • Sue away... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Usefull Idiot (202445)
    I for one, welcome our patent hording overlords...

    Hopefully this will lead some people with influence into realizing the patent system needs an overhaul. Probably not though... Has anyone patented the binary numbering system yet? Just imagine how many companies could be sued...
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the conditions for a patent being valid that there must be no prior art and that the invention must not be obvious for those versed in the art?

    If so, what could possible be more obvious than verifying customer info using a credit card account? Seriously, who would not think of that idea?

    I don't understand how people can possibly miss the absurdity of software patents with cases like these...

    • by darnok (650458)
      > Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the conditions
      > for a patent being valid that there must be no
      > prior art and that the invention must not be
      > obvious for those versed in the art?

      Ah, clearly you missed the all-important qualification "...on the Internet", which instantly created a whole new area of patentable IP.

      "Sir, we're suing you for patent infringement"

      "On what grounds?"

      "Not sure yet, but since you've done things on the Internet we're pretty sure you'll have infringed a patent some
  • You all owe me money!

    Peace

  • by Paco23 (555645) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:24PM (#11873336)
    From their own website:

    "Pat" stands for PATENT, "Pat-rights" means patent rights.

    Early in 1995, Founder of Pat-rights, Mr. Philip H.K. TSE visualised Internet as the most promising environment for digital content distribution and began to develop ideas and technologies essential for these changes.

    As a result of his long term efforts, several national patents are being issued. And, some of them are being infringed by Global Industrial giants."

    http://www.pat-rights.com/

    The company's whole business model is built around going after companies over IP.

    Darl, is that you?

    Paco23
  • Excellent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JerkyBoy (455854)

    This ridiculous, inhibitive patent suit should be thrown in the faces of the European Parliament prior to their ratification of software patents in Europe as an example of the damage that patents cause to businesses. If they don't see the problems with software patents now, they never will.
  • by kidgenius (704962) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:26PM (#11873369)
    The Hong Kong patent doesn't apply to Apple according to the "Field of Invention."

    The present invention relates to protection of software, and particularly, to protection of software against unauthorised use or copying.

    Let's see, iTMS does not use logging in to protect software. It only "protects" files such as the MP3's that you download. iTMS also doesn't care about unauthorised copying of iTMS because you can download it whenever you want, for free, from Apple. Lastly, iTMS doesn't use logins to prevent the unauthorised use of iTMS, but instead, only the unauthorised use of the music. The biggest distinction is that this patent is to protect a software program (from what I can gather). iTMS, and many other website, etc., use login to protect either A) Information or B) Files of some kind. A file is not necessarily a piece of software. Hell, I know that every word document I have ever written is a file, but it is most certainly not a piece of software. Yes, we all know that this is a bogus patent, but this shows that it definitely does not apply.

    • The Hong Kong patent doesn't apply to Apple according to the "Field of Invention."
      The "Field of Invention" is irrelevant. The only thing that matters in a patent is the set of claims. All the rest is merely illustrative.
  • Totally disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Artega VH (739847) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:27PM (#11873386) Journal
    Everyone knows that iTunes allows a user to play purchased music tracks to up to 5 computers, without repeated payment, under the condition that the computers are registered. The computer registration involves a process of identity verification in which a user is required to key in into the computer the correct Apple ID and password he used to purchase the song.

    This is certainly a patentable technology. If iTunes does not patent it, there must be a very good reason for them not to do so- someone else has patented this.


    Certainly patentable? Perhaps apple's version is although it's a bit of a stretch. It's a huge assumption to make that because apple didn't patent it then someone else must have. Perhaps apple considered this to be an obvious technology and therefore NOT patentable? Perhaps they didn't patent it because they wanted everyone to be able to use this technology?

    Pat-rights named the technology as "Internet/Remote User Identity Verification", earned a US Patent 6,665,797 therefor, and world-wide patents pending. In the end of 2003, Apple indicated in its communication to Pat-rights that Apple had no interested in licensing it and remain silence ever since then.

    As far as I can tell it's called "Protection of software again against unauthorized use" who knew we could "again" protect against unauthorized use?

    "We have kept a close watch on every development of iTunes. We believe this is willful infringement", said CEO of Pat-rights, Mr. Philip H.K. Tse,"We lose face. Apple shows no respect to us and our patent rights!"

    The US Patent 6,665,797 is written in plain English, even a layman can read and understand it. "They are playing unfair to their customers, not us." Mr. Tse further commented.


    Plain english is debatable, here is the abstract: "A central program comprising a EI sub-program for providing identity information of the rightful user thereof for accessing a network central computer to obtain service(s) or software product(s) or alike, in which a secure operation on an account of the rightful user for payment therefor involved; and a AS sub-program for using the existence of the EI sub-program in a computer as a precondition for authorising use of those software products obtained on that computer. The central program is for managing the use of the individual sub-programs therein so that the AS sub-program can be protected from being copied individually."

    That's a whopping TWO sentences! Although I guess it is "plain" english.

    To me this seems overly broad and stupidly obvious. Authentication is a security mechanism covered in any undergrad network security course so it seems a bit of a stretch that this isn't obvious to anyone skilled in the arts.. hmmph.. disgusting.
  • by Caspian (99221) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:30PM (#11873409)
    When will a company have the balls to respond to such a patent claim by FedExing a piece of paper containing two words: "Fuck off"?

    It's about time someone did something like that in response to this sort of BS.
  • by hakr89 (719001) <8329650d-c1bd-41 ... 28NO@SPAMfaku.me> on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:34PM (#11873450)
    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm &r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6665797.WKU.&OS=PN/6665797&RS=PN/ 6665797 [uspto.gov]
    There's definately some prior art for this one. Amazon is a likely one, they came to exist in 1996, while the patent was filed in 1998. Hmm...
  • I would say that Jukebox is dead in the water on technical merits. Not just prior art. The patent is for :

    "music jukebox which is configured for storing a music library". The device includes a "housing, audio input structure... for receiving audio signals, and a data storage structure... for storing audio signals".

    This is the big question in the register story. I would argue that iTunes does not receive audio signals but digital data. iTunes does not have any means to directly record audio signals, only to convert data from one format to another (either from a digital medium known as a CD, or from another file format) , and of course to output audio signals. Same with an iPod. They both do not except input of audio signals only input of digital data. Maybe i'm making too much of a connection between acoustic sounds and audio signals

    Anyone with a better background in audio want to weigh in?
    • A digital audio signal is still an audio signal, honestly. Even if it wasn't, the iPod *does* accept audio signals for recording and storage (the voice recorder add-ons).

      However; my statement regarding digital audio signals should be construed to apply solely to real-time digital audio over such mediums as SPDIF (coaxial or optical, either way), ADAT-O, TDIF, AES/EBU, and similar. A audio data file is not a digital audio signal; it is a digital audio signal that has already been received and processed.
    • I wasn't copying their copyrighted music your honour, I was only receiving "digital data".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:15AM (#11873802)
    First Patent: 6,665,797 [uspto.gov]:
    - Originally filed on 7/14/1998 as a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 08/587,448, which was filed on Dec. 1, 1995 (This is the most likely date you will have to beat for prior art).

    - The application was rejected 3 times prior to allowance (see here [uspto.gov]).
    - The applicant filed 0 disclose statements citing known prior art.
    Second patent: 6,587,403 [uspto.gov]
    - Originally filed on 8/17/2000 as a continuation of application Ser. No. 09/111,989, filed Jul. 8, 1998, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/051,999, filed Jul. 9, 1997 (This is the date you will have to beat for prior art).

    - The applicant was rejected 2 times prior to allowance (see here [uspto.gov]).
    - The applicant filed 2 disclose statements citing prior art.
    What all this means is left as an exercize to the reader. Posted AC to avoid karma whoring.
  • by havaloc (50551) * on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:56AM (#11874080) Homepage
    They say [pat-rights.com] they are entitled to treble [reference.com]damages. Next thing they'll be asking for bass damages.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @01:14AM (#11874204)
    It was only a matter of time before a patent holding company case came to the attention of Slashdot.

    Patent holding companies are a relatively new phenomenon. The main complaint about them by traditional companies is that they are immune to cross-license agreements. This tends to make "defensive portfolios" useless for negotiation, since there's nothing that the holding company wants, except to extort money.

    The only good news is that *usually* a patent holding company - one that exists solely to hold patents, and does not produce products of its own - will not actually try to charge more for their patent royalties than some amount smaller than what it would cost to litigate the patent. That prevents them from having to defend and potentially lose a shaky or questionable patent.

    The bad news is that they can't be scared off by claims that the patents are invalid, either through obviousness, prior art, or that their patent is, in fact, not being infringed. Admitting that would be admitting that their business model is fundamentally unsound.

    The other bad news is that if a patent is valid, they can "camp" on an idea, and prevent anyone else from bringing a product to market, at least for the term of the patent.

    You could argue that they permit small inventors to band together, and allow them to press suits against giant corporations that they would otherwise have no hope of winning. This is true, but this is not the way these companies are typically being used, at least in the software industry.

    If used correctly, a patent holding compnay would permit a small inventor to not be squeezed out of markets by large companies who cross-license defensive portfolios amount themselves, effectively stifiling their competition.

    IMO, the one good thing that will come out of cases like this, particularly when their opening royalty request is unrealistically high - enough that surely it'll be worth litigating, rather than simply rolling over - is that there will likely be enough cause here for companies like IBM, Apple, Sun, Microsoft, and others who depend on their defensive portfolios to encourage real reform of the patent system.

    -- Terry
  • Excellent news. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by localman (111171) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @02:30AM (#11874653) Homepage
    Every time I see a corp get attacked by another corp over patent crap, I say hallelujah. If it happens enough some of these corps will start pushing to get the law changed. God knows it takes a corp to do that.

    I wait patiently for the day that intellectual property law is reined in.

    Cheers.
  • by yeremein (678037) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:43AM (#11877495)
    So some company pops up waving a spurious patent and demanding a "reasonable" fee of 12% of gross iPod and iTunes sales.

    Forget the RIAA, MPAA, and BSA. This is the real piracy that's going on in the world today.

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