Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012We live in a free country and Apple is free to play the best legal strategy against those plas... moreSo that also means that Apple is free to sue all smartphone makers?
It appears that Apple has made a deal with patent troll Digitude Innnovations to help the company's efforts to sue nearly every major mobile device maker. Digitude earlier this month launched one of its first legal attacks against Nokia, RIM, Motorola, HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony, and even Amazon, filing a patent infringement claim with the International Trade Commission. Conspicuously absent from that list is iPhone maker Apple, which until late November owned two of the patents being used to target "certain mobile devices" from its competitors.
As discovered by TechCrunch, Apple recently transferred ownership of a dozen patents to a shell company called Cliff Island LLC, which happens to share a New York office with the investment firm Altitude Capital Partners. Like Virginia-based Digitude, Altitude was founded by investor Robert Kramer.
According to a Forbes report, Kramer's Altitude has in the past funded efforts to extract large settlements from the likes of Microsoft, RIM, and eBay over patent disputes. Earlier this year, Kramer put up $50 million of Altitude's funds to found Digitude. The money helped fund its acquisition of over 500 "consumer electronics patents" to both license and litigate.
"Our goal is to generate great returns for our investors," Kramer told Forbes in June. "We have reached out to many of our prospective customers to encourage them to become early strategic licensees."
Similar in some respects to Intellectual Ventures, Digitude makes deals with licensees for blanket access to its patent portfolio. Instead of money, however, Digitude prefers payment in patents it can use to either entice new licensees or sue the pants off them in court.
Digitude claimed in April to have made its first strategic deal with "one of the world's leading consumer electronics companies." Though it didn't name the company specifically, the dozen patents Apple turned over to Cliff Island were acquired in April this year from Mitsubishi, and generally involve functions of "mobile communications devices" or "mobile terminals."
Those patents were then transferred to Cliff Island in late November, with the two patents involved in the ITC dispute being transferred to Digitude the following day. Days later, Digitude filed its compliant with the ITC. Further cementing the connection between Apple and Digitude is the existence of a confidential license agreement involving both companies and filed as evidence in the ITC case.
It's not clear just how complicit Apple is in Digitude's business, but EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels told TechCrunch that if Apple was deliberately aiding Digitude's patent trolling, "it would be horrifying." And even if Apple were somehow coerced into settling with Digitude, Samuels doubts that "Apple didn't have any other options."
As we noted recently, Apple has a tendency to use its intellectual property in ways that seem inconsistent. For instance, an Opera developer claims that Apple has a pattern of using patents to slow down the W3C's open standards process, while promoting open standards when it gives Apple leverage against its competitors. This situation with Digitude seems similar; Apple opposes the tactics of patent trolls when they come after iOS developers, but seems to support them if it aids its ongoing legal battle for dominance of the smartphone market.
Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012Over the last two years,Apple has been engaged in vicious legal battles over smartphone patent... moreThe foundations of US patent law were firmly established with the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Article I, section 8, the U.S. Constitution states:
Congress shall have power . . . To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.
Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012That's a different story and far from Apple's trolling of getting through patent applications.So Google buys Motorola just for the fun of it, Motorola has no value besides their patents.
I know this business from the inside, having manufactured millions of Motorola phones.
You are shortsighted, wait and see how Apple is going to win all of those legal actions, the USA is based on innovation and patent protection.
Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012Apple is a notorious patent troll suing every smartphone maker obviously to monopolize the bus... moreApple is NOT a paten troll, but the most successful and valuable company on the planet.
Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012Over the last two years,Apple has been engaged in vicious legal battles over smartphone patent... moreWe live in a free country and Apple is free to play the best legal strategy against those plastic copies.
Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012Why is it patented by the US patent office then ?
You cannot patent prior art,
obviously the... moreOver the last two years,Apple has been engaged in vicious legal battles over smartphone patents, many of which are aimed at squelching (or squeezing money out of) manufacturers of devices running Android. And now,for some reason,it has given valuable patents to a patent troll —which is using them to sue many of the top technology companies in the world.
Meet Digitude Innovations,a firm based in Virginia that recently filed suit with the International Trade Commission alleging patent infringement by technology companies including RIM,HTC,LG, Motorola,Samsung,Sony,Amazon, and Nokia (note that Apple is not on this list). The ITC is a favorite for companies litigating over mobile phone patent disputes,as it can block the import of products long before a case has actually concluded.
Digitude was founded in 2010 and raised $50 million from Altitude Capital Partners,with aims to “acquire,aggregate,and license key technology areas within the consumer electronics and related technology fields in a patent consortium” —in other words,it buys up patents and then sues other companies until they settle and agree to pay licensing fees, because it’s generally less expensive than actually going to court.
From a Forbes article this past June:
Digitude is a new kind of patent investment vehicle because it seeks to team up with strategic players that can invest in Digitude not with money,but by contributing patents. The contributing entity would then get a license for all of Digitude’s patents,[Digitude Chairman Robert] Kramer says.
In April,Digitude announced the “completion of its first such strategic partnership with one of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies” —which it didn’t name. The company later announced that additional (unnamed) parties have jumped on board as well,who will receive a portion of Digitude’s proceeds based on the value of the IP each party contributed.
Apple appears to be one of these participants,and may be the unnamed leading consumer electronics company that Digitude boasted about this past spring. Of the four patents that Digitude included in its claim this week,two were owned by Apple earlier this year,before they were transferred to Digitude.
The patents in question:
USPTO #6208879 —Mobile Information Terminal Equipment and Portable Electronic Apparatus
USPTO #6456841 —Mobile Communication Apparatus Notifying User Of Reproduction Waiting Information Effectively
In both cases,Apple transferred ownership of the patent to a company called Cliff Island LLC, which in turn transferred it to Digitude Innovations. In fact,Apple has transferred a dozen patents to Cliff Island LLC this year (though only two of these were named in this ITC suit).
You probably haven’t heard of Cliff Island LLC,because it appears to exist in name only. There is a next to no information about the company available online —though the patent filing does include an address: 485 Madison Avenue,Suite 2300 in New York City.
I was unable to find a phone number for the company,so I attempted to pay a visit to their office,only to find that it doesn’t appear to exist. But there are other tenants on the twenty-third floor of 485 Madison. One of which is Altitude Capital,the same IP-focused private equity firm that happened to lead Digitude’s $50 million funding round.
Put another way,Apple appears to have transferred its patents to the patent troll Digitude,though it first routed them through a shell company that shares the same office as Digitude’s lead investor and Chairman. Further evidence of the relationship between Apple and Digitude can be found on the ITC’s own website,where a list of files relevant to the lawsuit can be found. Many of these files are marked confidential,but it appears someone mistakenly left the file names intact. One of which is “Digitude-Apple License Agreement” (see screenshot below).
So what is going on? There are a pair of scenarios that seem plausible —though both of them are strange.
The first is that Apple is using Digitude as a hired gun of sorts in its patent offensive,giving the company valuable patents to wield against its opponents (while avoiding the waves of press that are spurred by each new lawsuit). But Apple hasn’t exactly been quiet about suing its rivals over smartphone patents,so it’s not clear what they’d gain from this.
The alternative is that Apple has given some of its patents to Digitude because the patent troll came after it first. The dozen patents Apple has handed over may have been part of a settlement with the firm,along with the license agreement (which would presumably give Apple the rights to its patents,and additional Digitude patents). This seems more likely.
But even if Digitude shot first,so to speak,it’s still hard to see Apple in a positive light here. This is Apple we’re talking about. The idea that the company didn’t have any options other than handing over valuable patents to a patent troll —knowing full well that it would then use those patents to sue other tech companies —seems ludicrous.
I spoke with Julie Samuels,Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who focuses on patents,who points out that in some cases certain companies will sell their patents to other parties when they’re under financial stress. But Apple clearly doesn’t fall into that bucket.
If Apple were deliberately aiding Digitude,Samuels says “it would be horrifying —the patent troll problem is completely out of control. Apple has every legal right to sue over its patents,but it should be the one to do it”.
And if Apple was indeed threatened first by Digitude,and only handed over its patents as part of a settlement,she says she “cannot imagine any reasonable scenario where Apple didn’t have any other options”.
Both Apple and Digitude declined to comment.
Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012Why is it patented by the US patent office then ?
You cannot patent prior art,
obviously the... moreApple is a notorious patent troll suing every smartphone maker obviously to monopolize the business and take control of the smartphone market. Wikipedia's description of patent troll very well describes Apple's behavior:
Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012How do you define Google buying Motorola for the patents ?That's a different story and far from Apple's trolling of getting through patent applications.
[deleted post]How do you define Google buying Motorola for the patents ?
Apple’s iPhone 4S is fastest iphone yet. I Am Using Apple Iphone 4S... iPhone 4S is a Touch screen multimedia mobile from Apple... In Apple Iphone 4S Have Many features Like ->
Processor & Chipset - : Dual Core A5 Processor
Additional Features - : * SIRI *iCloud
Camera - : * 8MP
* Tap to Focus
* LED Flash
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* Face detection
* Front camera with VGA Resolution
Video Recording - : * Improved Video HD recording
* 1080p 30FPS
* Tap to focus while recording
* LED light
* Video stabilization
Video Calling - : FaceTime (iPhone 4S to any FaceTime enabled device over Wi-Fi)
Display - : * High Resolution Retina Display
* 960 x 640 resolution
* 326 ppi
Cellular and Wireless - : * UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA/GSM/EDGE
* CDMA EV-DO Rev A2
* Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
* Bluetooth 4.0
Battery Life - : * Talk time upto 8hrs on 3G / upto 14hrs on 2G (GSM)
* Standby upto 200hrs
And many more ...This is the best handset i ever seen...And I Am using Also.. :)
what is the best advantages for i phone 4s actually ?i really want to get it sooner.
I believe the iPhone 4S is as good as it gets (for now).
Would you people like to know why we buy iPhones?
So that we can all act snobbish, and laugh at your non-Apple phones (nearly all other smartphones are copied crudely from the iPhones, or come a far second, sadly), and look down at you, and laugh again.
Is that a satisfying enough answer?
Alright, toodles, lovelies.
Anonymous, 29 Jul 2012Invented by Apple??? IPhone is also a copy from another invention:
http://www.macworld.com... moreWhy is it patented by the US patent office then ?
You cannot patent prior art,
obviously there was nothing like it before
Still don't understand why peeps use apple products. There are other brands that come with beta features at a much lower cost
IRFAN, 24 Jul 2012I'm confused, which one to buy? iPhone 4S or HTC One X ?htc one x bro