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Patents Media Media (Apple)

No PodBuddy for iPod lovers 389

dniq writes "It appears that DLO (Digital Lifestyle Outfitters) are using their patent #6,591,085 to keep a PodBuddy, designed by DVForge, a product, competing with DLO's TransPod, off the market. Another example where patents are interfering with innovation and in the end - the end users are suffering the consequences, because far more superior product can't see the light due to dirty tricks of the patent owners :("
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No PodBuddy for iPod lovers

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  • PodBuddy vs TransPod (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Seumas ( 6865 ) * on Sunday June 26, 2005 @02:32PM (#12915095)
    I'm conflicted about such things.

    I see the point in protecting someone who has an idea so that they can have time to research, develop, test, produce, market and distribute their products without a competitor moving in on their idea. That is, if I come up with a great idea and Microsoft finds out I'm working on it and puts all their clout behind their own version of the product and, thus, beat me to the punch simply because of their sheer size, it isn't fair and I would tend to say it isn't right.

    On the other hand, if people come up with an idea independently - meaning one did not steal the idea from the other - then whoever gets to market first gets to market first. Whoever dominates.. dominates. That's all there is to it.

    Of course, the problem is in proving that you came up with the idea on your own, too. So we have this silly patent system that only allows "one true originator" of an idea. And that seems to be stifling the ass off of innovation and progress.

    This PodBuddy thing seems like a reasonable idea. And it does seem unique enough to be excused from the patent (just a total layperson's opinion). It seems like the competition just doesn't want competition and it's sad that a country that prides itself on promoting innovation and small-business would so readily let one company just roll over the other to eliminate the competitive market. And not on any justifiable premise, either. Just "we have more money than you - you can't afford to contest us in court". And you're fucked.

    Then again, if the DVForge guys thought they had a chance, I would think they'd push it in court (they could always recover the costs, right?). So they must feel they are actually on shaky ground, too.
  • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Sunday June 26, 2005 @02:33PM (#12915104) Journal

    If I have an idea for a device that hasn't been made before, I can patent the idea then openly market it without fear that someone else will come along and out-muscle me in the marketplace.

    It seems to me that the PodBuddy is a blatant copy (presumably it's the second-to-market given the other guys have the patent), with a sexier-looking arm for attaching it to the car. The functionality looks to be identical.

    You could argue whether the patent itself ought to have been issued (is it *really* a non-obvious invention?) but I don't think you can argue the patent-holder is doing anything wrong. I don't particularly like the idea of patents (especially software patents), but given we have them, it seems to me this is what they're supposed to be there for....


  • by grqb ( 410789 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @02:50PM (#12915208) Homepage Journal
    This is what patents are for! Everybody in their right mind knows that they should be doing a patent search before coming up with a technology like this. The patent was filed on July 17 2002, it's DVForge's own fault.
  • by Markmarkmark ( 512275 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @02:50PM (#12915209) Homepage
    No, you cannot usually recover your costs in defending a patent claim.

    Also, the expense of defending this type of claim is on average $750,000 to trial and $1.5 through appeals. Just not worth it for the potential return.

    At least in this case the guys blocking them are actually shipping a similar product. Many times the patent holder hasn't made a product and does't intend to, they just want to make anyone who does pay. Sadly, these patent holders are often not interested in licensing a small company to make a product. They are basically waiting hoping that a big player stumbles into their patent trap.

    --- Mark
  • Re:"One-click"? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by syukton ( 256348 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @02:51PM (#12915223)
    I like the idea of patent meta-moderation.
  • Re:MP3 player? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bhtooefr ( 649901 ) <[gro.rfeoothb] [ta] [rfeoothb]> on Sunday June 26, 2005 @03:12PM (#12915340) Homepage Journal
    Well, since the MP3 playing is a secondary function of the iPod (it's an AAC player that happens to play MP3s), they could fight it... However, it's the traditional big-business-wants-the-little-guy-out-so-they-sue- them-so-that-they-shrivel-up-because-of-legal-fees game. Microsoft's played it with Digital Research in a way - they did something that they knew would get them sued (have Windows 3.1 refuse to run on DR-DOS, and not for technical reasons). DR won the case, but the legal fees drove them under.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26, 2005 @03:25PM (#12915395)
    The transpod is a bulky piece of shit that has creaky plastic and a horrible FM transmitter. It surrounds your ipod on three sides with up to an inch of plastic, and scratches the hell out of it when you can successfully use the sticky "eject" mechanism.

    I'd welcome a competing product.
  • by slashkitty ( 21637 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @03:28PM (#12915413) Homepage
    Our JamPlug products are patent-pending implementations of a clever, but very simple idea: one musician, one instrument, one connection. The JamPlug mission is to create tiny, convenient products that interconnect one instrument, one microphone, one channel of sound. And, the growing family of JamPlug products presented here is a good look at the direction that we are headed with this brand.

    So it looks like DVForge is patenting their other ideas. It means they know about patents and can afford the lawyers. I'm guessing they were dumb and didn't patent this device and are now must trying to get some publicity.

  • Re:"One-click"? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @04:28PM (#12915769) Journal
    suppose I spend a lot of time and money developing some computing method that drastically reduce, say, the number of transistors in a CPU and its power consumption: why wouldn't I be able to patent my software method and make money out of it, if only to recoup my initial investment?
    Because if I develop the said method independently without knowning of your patent, I would still be violating it. Which clearly shows how the patent system is obviously broken by design. If you were the first to come up with this thing, it definitely doesn't mean that you should be able to stop others from inventing the same by themselves.
  • by lp-habu ( 734825 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @04:51PM (#12915911)
    But more beneficial would be allocating funds away from the War Machine and instead towards the Innovation Machine.
    You might want to consider that a little longer. Ever since Ogg the caveman picked up the first rock to improve his chances in a dispute with the guy in the next cave a rather large percentage of technological advances have come about because of their utility to the War Machine. Attempts to build a comparable Innovation Machine have been largely unsuccessful.
  • by CapnRob ( 137862 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @06:16PM (#12916320)
    Before you get all worked up about this ... do a little research on Jack Campbell and DV Forge. As listed in other posts in this thread, the guy has had a long career of being Less Than Forthcoming about his products, their origins, and their real manufacturer, to the point where not only do I not believe him when he says his product is superior, I don't believe him when he says the other company is using the patent to keep his product off the market.
  • Problem? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mblase ( 200735 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @06:28PM (#12916380)
    According to the designer's site, they believe that their product is not infringing on the patent, but can't afford the court case that would follow. Clearly this is a problem with the justice system.

    Actually, it's a problem with the high cost of legal expertise. And that's something that's simply unavoidable, because patent law isn't something you can brush up on in a summer mail-away course.

    The legal system works just fine. The world simply favors those who can buy things over those who can't, and to find blame for THAT, you have to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
  • Re:"One-click"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zhe Mappel ( 607548 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:36PM (#12917506)
    Good argument. However, little to nothing in the US justice system can be accomplished without spending a lot of money. Such is justice by and for the rich.

    What is needed immediately is for a white hat to endow a fund that would pay the legal bills for patent challenges.

    Elsewhere in this thread, a poster proposes using a meta-moderation system to weed out ridiculous patents. It's a sensible idea that, under our anti-meritocratic government, will never see the light of day. But such peer-based moderation, publicly established by an NGO, could be used to inform and direct the Unfair Patents Challenge Fund.

  • Re:"One-click"? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 27, 2005 @12:02PM (#12921153)
    But I routinely invent things outside of work. Your quoted figures are out of my price range. I guess I don't have the right to challange pattents (or protect my own).

    Do you routinely patent your inventions? I doubt it, since it costs around $15-25K to submit and prosecute a patent before the USPTO, including attorney time and government fees.

    There is a threshold below which it is not economical to obtain a patent, it is not economical to sue someone for patent infringement, and it is not economical to defend a suit for patent infringement. That threshold is well above what it costs to request a reexamination proceeding before the USPTO. That was the entire point of the original post. Feel free to argue that it should be cheaper to obtain a patent, as I'm sure that will be a popular opinion with the Slashdot crowd.

    But I would argue that this is something that companies should NOT have to spend money on.

    As opposed to what? You claim to have run a business that employs a significant number of people with no attorney contact? Importing and manufacturing at times requires patent advice, just as media publishing at times requires copyright advice and accounting at times requires tax advice and running a gasoline station requires environmental advice.

    More to the point, when have you ever been threatened with a suit for patent infringement? Are you also one of these people that rail against the so-called "Death Tax" because you have the teeniest, tiniest hope that you will die with more than the $2 million that would have triggered an actual tax on your estate before that portion of the law was temporarily tweaked? ( [])

    Of course you are. Poor, innocent DVForge ( [])... they can afford to set up a C corporation, at least one CNC machine, a 20,000 square foot facility, and a law firm but they can't afford the $2520 that it would cost to contest the nasty patent using all of the killer prior art that has been brought up in these Slashdot comments.


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