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What the Mobile Patent Fight Is All About 222

GMGruman writes "Nokia, Apple, and HTC are all suing each other over mobile patents. Google and Microsoft are also in the game. InfoWorld's Paul Krill explains what the fight is all about: control over multitouch, the technology that enables gesture interfaces on iPads, iPhones, and other smartphones. And he explains the chances that the companies will settle their dispute as they jockey for advantage, why Apple has been playing hardball, and why competitors are fighting back just as hard."
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What the Mobile Patent Fight Is All About

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @02:06AM (#32204258)

    Ready, set, go!

    I know these aren't software patents, but this is profoundly stupid, and I'm sure we'd all enjoy watching Apple and MS get fucked over by their own greed.

  • by crazybit ( 918023 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @02:27AM (#32204360)
    I remember using touch interfaces at Epcot Center in 1985. The difference here is the size of the device and he applications I can run (not only browse info about pictures), but other than that I see no difference.
  • by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @02:35AM (#32204406)

    There is a slight difference between an idea being new and the implementation being new.

    Just because Star Trek has used it for years wouldn't make the invention of a real transporter any less patentable, knowing that a transporter would be cool isn't the same thing as knowing how to do it.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @03:15AM (#32204538)

    Apple is suing because it's being eclipsed by it's competitors.

    Based on what? Having more android phones sold (how many models on how many carriers)?

    They're probably suing because they thought they had an edge with multitouch, having bought fingerworks around 2006ish and having implemented it in their laptops, magic mouse, iPad, and iPhone.

    Now sure they're correct on this, but I don't think it's because they've been eclipsed yet.

  • That depends. The existence of the transporter in Star Trek shows that the platonic ideal, the very concept of a transporter, is not original. However, many patents are so absurdly vague that they indeed give the holder rights over such abstract platonic concepts. A good example of this is the Amazon shopping basket--the one-click patent. It doesn't matter what programming language or technology you use to make your one-click shopping possible. Amazon own the very idea of one-click.

    The patent system is not about encouraging innovation. It's about obtaining a wide and far reaching a monopoly as possible, with actually inventing or discovering something being totally beside the point. I wouldn't be surprised if someone already has a patent on the concept of transportation from the USPTO, waiting patiently for someone to actually develop such a device so they can strike and reap in unearned rewards. Because that's what patents are all about.

  • by peti ( 95564 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:37AM (#32204858)

    The real problem with patents is the exclusivity.

    Historically the precursor of (western) patent law was called Statute of Monopolies []. At that time it was quite common for kings to reward their subject with various monopolies. But monopolies have no place in modern free-market democracies. In this sense patents are going against the basic principles of modern societies.

    Since we need inventions, patents should still be rewarded, but not with exclusivity. Instead some kind of royalty system should be put in place, that would grant appropriate compensation to inventors, but not limit others to actually use the invention.

    Pust my two .


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:32AM (#32205080)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:13AM (#32205252)

    It's getting tiresome to watch Apple fanboys distorting the facts. Go do the court filings in Nokia vs. Apple and read the statements of facts. Nokia stated they asked 'their standard rate' in cash for the essential patents Apple uses and Apple refused. Then they stated Apple offered some (non-essential, as they have nothing essential to GSM) patents in exchange, but when Nokia judged their value insufficient and asked for more, Apple again refused. Bottomline, Nokia never asked for anything multitouch in the first place. Show me a goddamn court filing where Apple disputes that, as they can twist any lies in their PR but lawyers tend to be much more careful with the truth towards a judge. Otherwise, kindly STFU. The signal-to-noise is bad enough already.

  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:37AM (#32205350) Homepage Journal

    One thing that my fellow Slashdotters aren't paying attention to is that this is an Infoworld story. If you don't know what that means, spend a few minutes at their web site reading stories and it should become apparent to you. If you're going to troll, you should know who you're trolling for.

    Once you've done that, observe that it's the major players in the cell phone market all suing each other - this isn't a story about multitouch or GPS or anything like that, it's a story about how patents are used as weapons against competitors. There's a few mouth breathers making this into an "Apple hate" story but it's not - it's a "patent malfunction" story.

    Maybe this one will be the one that catches the Patent Office's attention - or maybe not. But making it into anything more than a patent abuse story is intellectually dishonest and not worthy of a Nerd.

  • Re:too much cool-aid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Flipao ( 903929 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @07:52AM (#32205652)

    In a sense, they are unique. While I've never owned an Apple device, there's still this myth about their products, quality and usability.

    Who cares if there existed mp3 players before, if the iPod is the only one with a button that still works after a year of use? And who cares if this is actually true, as long as it's shiny enough?

    It might be a myth, but in my old HTC touch pro I'd open the browser and have to wait for it to load, and scrolling showed nothing but an empty checkerboard for what seemed like an eternity. On my 3GS Safari loads instantly and scrolling is buttery smooth.

    I don't care if it's shiny, it's not my fault HTC churn out devices with 1GHz processors but no hardware acceleration on the UI, Palm can't put a decent SDK out to save their lives, or Google have only just started to get their act together.

    I'm not an Apple fan, in fact, I tried pretty much every alternative before giving up and getting an iPhone and promptly jailbreakin it.

    I love the damn thing, and I feel dirty all over.

  • Re:Useless shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by abigor ( 540274 ) on Friday May 14, 2010 @10:19AM (#32206894)

    It's not that simple. Nokia is enforcing its patent on GSM and making everyone pay. Meanwhile, companies are infringing on Apple's multitouch in order to stay competitive, so Apple wants them to pay too - including Nokia, who don't want to. So Nokia countersued. Etc. etc.

    Patents are just a part of the technology biz. This is totally normal stuff.

    I know it's currently cool around here to blame Apple for everything, but as usual things are much more complicated than that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @11:05AM (#32207434)

    It is supposed to be jargon for the sphere it is written for. An engineering patent should use jargon FROM ENGINEERING. If it's written in legal jargon, how can an ENGINEER read the patent and learn how to do the patented item? If the engineer cannot do it, then it isn't describing the tech for the one "skilled in the art" and therefore is an INVALID patent.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine