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Apple, Microsoft sued over touchpads in Zune, iPod

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 19 Jul 2009 19:21 User comments (10)

Apple, Microsoft sued over touchpads in Zune, iPod Microsoft, Apple, LG and 20 other similar companies have all been sued this week for patent infringement by Tsera, a Texas-based business that is claiming to have invented the touchpad used today in many media devices.
In the filing, Tsera alleges that they own "all rights, title and interest in" patents related to "methods and apparatus for controlling a portable electronic device using a touchpad." The patents were filed in 1999 and granted in 2003.

The complaint claims patent infringement on the Apple iPod classic and Nano, the Microsoft Zune, and a plethora of other devices including the LG Chocolate VX8500.

According to the Register, it seems Tsera does not have a strong case. More in depth, the patents describe the touchpads as those that can "interpret commands made by detecting the patterns of strokes made by a user upon it, with each of several patterns corresponding to a predefined function or command of the device." Additionally, the patents say: "No immediate visual feedback is provided as a command pattern is traced, and the user does not need to view the device to enter commands." None of that sounds like Zunes, or iPods.

From all the defendants, Apple has the most to lose, as Tsera says the company deliberately disregarded the patents, knowing of them as early as 2004. In the suit, they seek "enhanced damages, up to treble damages" from Apple, while only asking the others for standard damages and "compulsory future royalty" payments.

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10 user comments

119.7.2009 19:44

Another gold mining operation.

I think if they loose MS, Apple and lot should get treble reimbursement of court costs. What a waste of resources.

219.7.2009 19:48

Quote:
Another gold mining operation.
exactly...honestly would they be pursuing this if the companies involved werent reaping huge profits from said devices? Probably not.
And I agree. Frivilous lawsuits should have a penalty when they lose.

319.7.2009 20:02

So sick of these ridiculously broad patents.

419.7.2009 20:50

If the company has a patent on the technology, and they've held the patent PREVIOUS to the product's recreation by the competitors, then it's really an open and shut case.

Companies that are proven to have KNOWLEDGABLY violated Tsera's patent rights are obligated to pay royalties and/or surrender product production rights (very rarely). Companies that can prove they DIDN'T KNOW of the patents, will likely be assigned a trivial 6-figure patent rights licensing fee, which will allow them patent usage rights on future products as well as pay for their patent usage on past products.

I understand there are a lot of companies out trying to scam over the big corperations out there, but let's not forget about the little guy, either.

How would you feel, for instance, if you had spent years working on an electric engine in your garage and then one day you get it working? You patent the designs (which is very expensive) and then go from motor company to motor company trying to sell your patent, but no one buys. You'll be upset, yes -- but no where near as devestated as you'll be when you find out that Ford's new Electric Roadster was built using YOUR engine. You'd be outraged, and most importantly ripped off.

Patents and copyrights are very expensive to get, they usually take a long time to acquire, and involve lots of documentation. Any inventor who's ever sold a design, though, will stress to you the importance of getting patents because these big corperations out there (who most of you are so willing to coem in and defend) make money by spending as little of it as possible. This means if they can make something for $10 cheaper, they're going to do it - quality be damned. And will you see that $10 of savings on the price tags at the store? Most likely not.

I enjoy the products that these major companies produce for us consumers, but let's not forget that there's not a major player out there today who's corperation has not ripped of the ideas of independant engineers and inventors, as well as the ideas of rival companies.

When you're an inventor, you have to approach your customers (these big companies) with ideas they've never had, and explain to them how it is your product works and all the good things it could do for their business. Most will even try to talk you in to leaving a prototype or sample with them so they can review whether or not they want to buy it. But the fact is, when you leave that building, you've GIVEN them all of your ideas and explained how your invention works -- they can have their engineers recreate it, tweak it, and mass produce it, without ever so much as giving you a phone call saying they've declined the purchase. -- This is why you need the patents.

So, before we all go and bash on a company we don't know anything about, remember: If they have these patents (submitted, filed, and dated), odds are they're not lieing. And I for one feel that if someone (whether it be one person or a company) gets ripped off by anyone else -- they're entitled to justice.

519.7.2009 21:28

The problem here is the patent is equivalent to an input method, like the steering wheel or chalk board. It's just not a strong patent and many people can come up with the idea at the same time.

We already have the track pad that was a replacement for the mouse. You have gestures on a palm, even Apple Newton. How is this patent any different than these older devices? (I believe there is a Newton device by a slightly different name that had a touchpad (1996/7) It was for education.)

This is all a natural course of evolution of technology, I don't think any specific company should earn controlling rights to. The US Patent Office is really to blame for some of these crap legal actions.

Also if a company earns a patent, then they have an obligation to use it, produce something or it goes to public domain. You can't sit on a patent and then claim rewards later because someone else developed it. It is ethically wrong, to sit on progress, unless you can prove that marketing an under developed technology could be too soon for public benefit, or damage it's value because consumers wen't able to understand it's benefits. (This happens all the time.)

Can you imagine a company patents a workable solution to cold fusion and then sits on it, oh because they are selling oil, then sues the pants off anyone else trying to use the method to actually produce energy, and it so happens that the method is invariably based on natural physics, a logical solution that there may be only one or so very few possibilities?

I am not right or wrong, it just stinks and the rules need to be changes a little bit.

620.7.2009 0:47
H08
Inactive

Originally posted by Vicious88:
If the company has a patent on the technology, and they've held the patent PREVIOUS to the product's recreation by the competitors, then it's really an open and shut case.

Companies that are proven to have KNOWLEDGABLY violated Tsera's patent rights are obligated to pay royalties and/or surrender product production rights (very rarely). Companies that can prove they DIDN'T KNOW of the patents, will likely be assigned a trivial 6-figure patent rights licensing fee, which will allow them patent usage rights on future products as well as pay for their patent usage on past products.
etc (cut to save space)

i would agree accept Tsera knew about the ipod since 2004, if this was some buisness trying to protect its product (if they even made any) they shouldve of done it atleast by 2005 not 4 years later,

but noooo its just another company that probaby hasnt done anything with its patent just waiting for a big company to use something similar, then wait if its a success, then goes ahead and goes to court and sues for a large amount.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 20 Jul 2009 @ 0:50

720.7.2009 4:07

@ Vicious88
copyright is free. If you paid for copyright, you got duped.

Tsera sounds like a patent troll, no surprises they're from Texas.

821.7.2009 4:42
jingzao99
Inactive

spam edited by ddp

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 29 Jul 2009 @ 23:30

923.7.2009 7:22

They will soon have to realize that the touch pad like the Bluetooth device will become generic and will not really be owned by anyone but will be a universal format available to all devices wishing to have it as part of their device.

However the initial idea needs to be credited to the original and official creator.

1024.7.2009 17:34

Hrmm up down left right on a pad without having to look at said pad etc etc etc. That sounds like an original Nintendo controller...... and a fraudulent patent.

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