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Luxpro Sues Apple for Damages and 'Power Abuse' 62

Posted by Zonk
from the not-sure-they-would-have-made-a-hundred-million dept.
Dystopian Rebel writes "The Financial Times reports that Taiwanese company Luxpro (discussed on Slashdot last year) intends to sue Apple for US$100M for 'lost revenue caused by Apple's abuse of their global power.' In 2005, Apple obtained an injunction against Luxpro's Super Shuffle/Super Tangent but the Taiwanese Supreme Court has overturned the injunction, opening the door to Luxpro's legal action. From the article: 'The [Luxpro] product had almost the same measurements and weight, came in a white plastic casing and had similar buttons on the front. Its name, Super Shuffle, also closely resembled the original.'"
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Luxpro Sues Apple for Damages and 'Power Abuse'

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  • Next thing you know, the have-nots will rise up and overthrow their oppr^H^H^H^Hbenevolent paternal overseers.
  • Ahem (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Awww.. poor widdle Asian company can't get away with producing knockoffs. Cry me a river.
    • by feijai (898706)
      How did this get modded insightful, when you misread both the article AND the slashdot summary? The poor little asian company CAN get away with producing knockoffs.
  • by rlp (11898) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:09PM (#17476578)
    Taiwanese companies aren't allowed to copy Apple designs, only Microsoft is allowed to do that.
  • Gimme a break (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alta (1263) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:16PM (#17476702) Homepage Journal
    That thing is SUCH a rip off, I don't care what makes it different, looking at the pic, it's obvious that they're trying to capitalize on apple's product by copying it.
    • Re:Gimme a break (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Thansal (999464) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:27PM (#17476906)
      Image [luxpro.com.tw]

      Taken directly from their website, it apears that they are flat out stating "YES, WE RIPPED OFF APPLE COME BUY FROM US!"
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fbjon (692006)
        But they also improved the design. 3 colour options, a screen, still the same same size.
        • I would say one of the designs is way too close to the original Shuffle. They other two are a bit in the gray area. They offer screens and have changed the layout so they may be in the clear.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It certinaly is a knockoff, but normally knockoffs are perfectly legal. The only reason knockoffs can really get in trouble is patents, trademarks, etc. So unless the Taiwanese Gov gave Apple a patent on white plastic and play/pause/next/last buttons it probably fine legally (as thier high court said). There is nothing inherently bad or illegal at least about knockoffs.
      • by TiMac (621390)
        Not a Taiwanese patent, but this is the patent for a "White Electronic Device" that resembles a Shuffle :)

        http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPATD530340&id= CCJ7AAAAEBAJ&jtp=1#PPA2-IA1,M1 [google.com]
        • by dwater (72834)
          the above two posts, IMO, summarise this whole issue.

          does it look significantly similar to Apple's product? yes.
          is that a problem? only if apple have a valid patent on it.
          do apple have a patent on it? yes
          is it valid? ...

          that question was left hanging, I think.

          1) is the patent valid in the US? I mean, it does seem kind of generic. I notice from the patent diagrams, that the most significant difference, the buttons, is not detailed at all (just two concentric circles).
          2) is this valid in Taiwan (and/or other
  • Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Divebus (860563)
    What possible mystery could there be here? I thought the Taiwanese were smarter than that. Here's a case where the Chinese don't mind delineating Taiwan as a separate entity.
  • Not abuse of power (Score:5, Interesting)

    by necro81 (917438) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:42PM (#17477154) Journal
    Just about anyone who looks at the two devices [mp3newswire.net] side by side [luxpro.com.tw] will acknowledge that the Luxpro product is a clear knockoff of the original. Since that is the case, Apple was justified in seeking the injunction - it was not an abuse of power.

    The injunction was granted but later overturned. FTFA:
    Luxpro appealed and won subsequent lawsuits in the Taiwan High Court and the Taiwan Supreme Court. Last month, the Shihlin District Court lifted the original injunction, saying that "the appearances of the two products are significantly dissimilar".

    Now, I don't actually think they are all that dissimilar, but that's only tangentially related to this countersuit. Apple's original suit, seeking the injunction, was not a frivolous move by a monopolistic juggernaut - just a company defending its interests. Apple's shareholders could have sued if Apple hand't sought the injunction.

    Had Luxpro's device pre-dated Apple's, or if the two devices really were dissimilar, that would be another thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iamhassi (659463)
      I'd love to read what the District Court said to come to the conclusion that "the appearances of the two products are significantly dissimilar" because to me they look near identical.
      • by Valthan (977851)
        What are you talking about! They are soooo dissimilar! Look at the buttons! The one on the Luxpro has little ridges on them, not just flat buttons like the iPod!
    • by Thansal (999464)
      poking around an playing with babelfish led me to a few articles that seemed to say that the segnificant change was the existance of the disply. Only problem is that the disply is only on the 2 higher end units.

      Picture [luxpro.com.tw] - this used to be a picture of all 4 items (from their own web page) atm it seems to be dead to me, not sure if it still is.
    • by belmolis (702863) <{billposer} {at} {alum.mit.edu}> on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:52PM (#17478540) Homepage

      Luxpro seems to have three models. The two higher-end ones are quite different from the Apple model due to their displays. The low-end one is much more similar but is nonetheless readily distinguishible from the Apple model due to the prominent Luxpro logo. Insofar as they are not infringing any Apple patents or copyrights and there is no way a reasonable consumer could confuse the two products, Apple has no case.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pdboddy (620164)
        Ah, so we *can* blatently rip off any one we want, just slap on our own "prominent" logo and it's all free and clear.
        • by Al Dimond (792444)
          You can do what you want unless you're violating some specific law. My understanding is that in the US at least copyright (which would automatically belong to Apple) doesn't cover situations of even extremely similar design like this one. That's what the Taiwanese court decision was, right, that the design was different enough that it wasn't covered by Apple's copyright? So unless there's a specific patent or trademark that they're using without permission then they're probably OK.
          • by alienw (585907)
            That's what design patents are for, and Apple certainly has a design patent on the Shuffle (and all of their other products). Hence, Luxpro would not be allowed to sell the product in any country that recognizes US design patents. I have no idea whether or not Taiwan is one of these countries.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by dosius (230542)
              They certainly don't recognize international copyrights. That's why companies like Son May Records are allowed to exist in Taiwan, where they would be illegal anywhere else.

              -uso.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by belmolis (702863)

          Yes, if you want to put it that way. Nobody has a monopoly on making small music players. Anyone who wants to is entitled to take that idea and run with it. If they want to use patented features in their hardware they need a license. Similarly, if they want to use somebody else's software they need a license from the copyright owner. If they can design the hardware without infringing any patents and write their software from scratch, they are beholden to no one. The only other thing they can't do is name t

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by solafide (845228)
      I find Luxpro's Super Shuffle a significant UI improvement, with those more prominent buttons; my biggest complaint with the actual Shuffle is that it's hard to tell when you've hit the buttons. Not a problem with Luxpro's.
  • by davidwr (791652)
    Create a player SMALLER than the one you want to copy, then create a "case" that makes your gizmo look "kind of like" the Apple model, but not so close you are violating any laws.

    Then wait for the judgement-proof street-corner vendors and we-don't-care-about-trademark 3rd-world toymakers to smell cash and create their own "shell" that exactly mimics Apple.

    Word will get around and sales of your product and the third-party shells will both skyrocket.

    When the trademark police come, they will come for the toyma
  • If you ask me (Score:1, Insightful)

    by El Lobo (994537)
    If you ask me and looking at Apples history of monopoly and abuse of power, it would not be a surprise to me that the story has a real base. I mean, look at the whole PowerPC situation when Apple just used his power to cut off the power to their competitors and remain the monopoly with the Macintosh hardware. Apple is a very closed company and clearly likes to use the advantage of their little monopoly (little by numbers , but a monopoly anyway). Anyway, time (and lawyers with tons of $$$) will tell.
    • by MysticOne (142751)
      Well, for starters, they don't have a monopoly. Sure, only Apple makes Apple products, but what company isn't in charge of their own products? Does Dell have a monopoly on Dell machines? Does Adobe have a monopoly on Photoshop or other Adobe products? You're confusing issues here.

      Apple, just like anybody else, is well within their right to prevent people from copying their trademarked or patented designs and creations. In the case of the Luxpro player, it's a blatant rip-off. Apple has never prevented
    • by Divebus (860563)

      Um.. that's a little twisted from the whole story. Because Apple chooses to not license their boxen, that doesn't make them a "monopoly" at their level of market penetration. Once anyone makes a product the planet can't live without and starts yanking everyone around because they can [think "Microsoft"], that triggers the "monopoly" flag. Apple is getting dangerously close with the iPod/iTunes connection but nobody has shown significant, damaging abuse, like jacking the prices way up or suddenly making you

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ClosedSource (238333)
        I'm all for a broad interpretation of the marketplace with respect of monopoly issues, but the marketplace was deliberately narrowed in order to make the case for MS to be a monopoly and the same reasoning could be applied to Apple as well. The difference is only a matter of degree.
        • by Divebus (860563)

          Whether Microsoft is or is not a monopoly is not up for interpretation - it's the law which has a series of tests to determine if there is a monopoly condition. The only legal monopoly by a private interest is one which agrees to have Government monitored policy and price regulation. Microsoft had neither of those and in fact thumbed its nose at the law for years. Most of that has changed. Microsoft is subject to inspection, fines and corrective action, even as they respond with hostility and attempts to su

          • "The only legal monopoly by a private interest is one which agrees to have Government monitored policy and price regulation."

            Then I guess IBM had an illegal monopoly since their monopoly had no such government intervention.
            • by Divebus (860563)

              Then I guess IBM had an illegal monopoly since their monopoly had no such government intervention.

              No intervention? There have been decades of intervention. Check out one list of IBM Antitrust Suit Records [lib.de.us] which claims a printed length of 41 linear feet - and that list ends in 1980. You might also want to read up on the most famous case with Telex v. IBM. [sdsu.edu] It's kind of interesting. The last linked article was written in 1974 before all the appeals started.

              Synopsis: The Government mopped the courtroom floor with IBM for a dozen years ending in 1982 with the slowest, most expensive bureaucratic paper cha

    • Ah yes, the classic troll "Apple has a monopoly on their own products."

      It's been a while since that particularly specious reasoning appeared. I thought we'd all moved on a bit.

      I particularly like the bit where you call it a little monopoly and then say "little by numbers," contradicting what a monopoly actually is. Well done, good troll!
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:27PM (#17478038) Journal
    Luxpro (discussed on Slashdot last year) intends to sue Apple for US$100M

    My first thought is that this is just the 2007 update of the old Austin Powers joke:

    Dr. Evil: I demand the sum... OF 1 MILLION DOLLARS.

    --MarkusQ

  • code of knockoffs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:44PM (#17478390) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that knockoffs are not a problem, and are quite profitable, as long as they do not try to masquerade as the original. However, if a knockoff is trying to masquerade as the original, I as a consumer would like it to be a problem. I want to know that the product I am buying is made by the people I think it is, and not by some fly by night operation, and i don't want to waste a lot of time trying to figure it out. For instance, if I go and buy a montblanc pen, I don't want to be confused by the montblanch pen. Likewise if I so choose to pay for the unique design and quality of LV luggage, I don't want to be confused by some knockoff.

    In this case if seems like these two player are nearly identical, which is no problem. Aiwa came out with walkman clones, which I considered better quality and a much better value. This was not an issue because there was a clear branding difference between the Sony and Aiwa product. What is a problem is the name super shuffle is confusing with the shuffle. Such confusion reducing the ability for consumers to efficiently acquire products, which is bad. Certain agents benefit at the expense of society.

    • by RingDev (879105)
      Agreed. This is a nock off. nothing suprising nor new. It is clearly labeled as non-Apple, and has some visible differences. While I would expect Apple to have grounds to sue for any patent infringement they can detect, the visible similarities I don't feel are worthy of an injunction. As for the $100M in damages, I think someone is going to need to do some math on that one. What was the geographic market the company was looking at? What was the revenue per unit? What were iShuffle sales like during the inj
    • Aiwa came out with walkman clones, which I considered better quality and a much better value. This was not an issue because there was a clear branding difference between the Sony and Aiwa product.

      I thought Aiwa was a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony?

  • Who care if they look similar or not. People buy iPods because of the Apple brand name, not looks or features. There are other mp3 players with more features that cost less, and yet the iPods continue to sell better due to the "coolness factor" of it being an iPod.
    • I buy iPods because of the superior user experience. That means having the integrated iTunes store, the click wheel UI, and the fact that since I'm a Mac user, it's a pain to even TRY and use a different mp3 player.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    604 WiFi [archos.com] is better!

    Really? You mean running a blatantly monopolistic business practice and then stomping the guts out of your competition is bad?

    Who let these socialists in here anyways?

    This is almighty Capitalism were are talkin' bout here!

    It's all about the ... [google.com]
  • When Apple went after them for the injunction, Luxpro was calling it the "Super Shuffle", not the "Super Tangent", and they were using iPod-style advertising when it was introduced at CeBIT right after Apple introduced the Shuffle. Here's their original advertising material: LUXPRO's Super Shuffle images and promotional materials [macdailynews.com].
  • Why is it the Slashdotters hate copyright and patents .. unless Apple is the holder of the IP.
  • Luxpro would get a little more sympathy from me if they had avoided copying the shuffle so literally. That's not even a legal question (there's nothing innovative about the old iPod Shuffle, and Apple copied a lot from other designs), they just lack common sense. They should at least have changed the shape of the pseudo-click wheel to square or something.

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