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Apple outsources patent infringement

by Alistair Lowe on 12 December 2011, 15:20

Tags: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabaev

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Perhaps tired of being in the news all the time as it sues every company with a lock screen or a modern touch-based OS, Apple appears to have done something quite terrible this time around.

The firm has, slowly but surely, been transferring patents over to Patent Troll, Digitude. Digitude chairman, Robert Kramer, claims that "Digitude is a new kind of patent investment vehicle because it seeks to team up with strategic players that can invest not with money, but by contributing patents. The contributing entity would then get a license for all of Digitude's patents." Sounds like a good plan but where do we draw the line? Can this writer offer up his patent for a bendy fork and expect to receive access to the firm's entire patent portfolio? It seems rather unlikely and the same reality will ring true for any smaller firm, as Digitude grows, so too does its only possible business plan become increasingly transparent, which is to collect lots of patents, sue businesses or force them to licence an increasingly large number of patents and take commission on the value of those patents. As opposed to Patent Troll, perhaps Patent Succubus better describes the nature of such a company.

The firm's initial investment came from Altitude Capital, a group that itself claims to specialise in the "valuation and enforcement of intellectual property rights," at least with Altitude, as a traditional Patent Trolling group, it should have been possible for smaller firms with strong patents to seek Altitude's investment, so to speak, enabling these firms to enforce their patent rights against larger companies; though in practise, as with most Trolls, the group tends to actively seek out patents it knows can be used to stir up trouble and turn a profit.

Surely enough, less than two years since its founding and now with Apple as an active licensee with potential investment links, providing the much needed patent fuel, Digitude has filed a suit with the International Trade Commission, ITC, alleging patent infringement by RIM, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Amazon and Nokia. The ITC is a good starting point as it has the power to enforce embargoes on products long before disputes are settled. Should Digitude win such a case or provide sufficient intimidation, it will gain either the money or patent contributions necessary to continue the whole process all over again.

As the scale of damages, fees and settlements increases, as products are threatened with import restrictions and Patent Trolls continue to drain money from other industries, despite any claimed intentions of good will, the end result is likely only to bring harm to the end consumer. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this writer appeals for a more sensible approach to patents, with note to the US but also to the world-wide community as a whole.



HEXUS Forums :: 17 Comments

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Sad news. How can this be allowed. This doesn't make any sense with regard to what patients exist for. They should ban companies from owning patients they don't use. It would stop all this rubbish.
agreed cheese, this is a stupid organisation and shouldnt be allowed to exist... bloody ruining the technology sector (and probably many more) with this stupid thing :*(.

I hope all the open handset alliance members decide together to stop producing tech for apple, that way apple would be well and truly screwed and they could then force Apple to leave this pathetic organisation and stop trolling :P.

I pray to god Motorola can push their patent to the limits and do some damage, i really didnt think the patent system would get this corrupt/stupid.
Said it before

Moto, Nokia, Ericsson and all the other pioneers of mobile tech should get together and sort Apple out once and for all. They have been around much longer and the tech has been evolved by them in the first place, Apple have come along and started creating various devices then essentially claiming that they are the origional creators of various tech.

Esentially, what they are trying to do is reduce choice to the consumer to sell more of their devices. Its no way to conduct business and not good for us the consumer.

What a lot of companies like Samsung etc should also do is stop supplying ram, screens and everything else. That would make Apples life a bit more difficult in the short term and slow them down.
Ferral
What a lot of companies like Samsung etc should also do is stop supplying ram, screens and everything else. That would make Apples life a bit more difficult in the short term and slow them down.


How much money would Samsung lose from doing this though? I can imagine the deals are well into the tens of billions.
Ferral
What a lot of companies like Samsung etc should also do is stop supplying ram, screens and everything else. That would make Apples life a bit more difficult in the short term and slow them down.

Wouldn't Apple then be able to argue that it's anticompetitive, and then force (via courts) said companies to sell to them again anyway?