Patent Troll Sues Apple – Film at Eleven
There’s a news story going around today that Apple is being sued (again) by a patent troll. I read about it at Forbes:
Software developer Intertrust Technologies filed a patent infringement suit against Apple over 15 patents related to security.
The lawsuit covers almost all of Apple’s products and services, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac computers, Apple TV, iTunes, iCloud, and the Apple App Store.
Could someone please tell me how this is news? I just don’t see it.
As far as I am concerned there are exactly 3 things worth saying about patent lawsuits. The first is that the vast majority are filed by patent trolls and have no merit. The case mentioned above is almost certainly in that group.
The second important detail about patent lawsuits is that they aren’t important. They happen all the time, and pretty much any major tech company has been sued numerous times. Check the 10-q statement for Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, anyone. They’ll all mention patent infringement lawsuits. These lawsuits are so common that their absence would be noteworthy.
And the third important detail is that the fact this troll has won in the past does not prove that it has a valid case. It is equally likely that previous defendants decided that settling was cheaper than fighting the lawsuit in court.
Just to be clear, I see all patent lawsuits as ipso facto trolling until proven otherwise. And that goes for even legitimate tech companies. There’s a big difference between developing a tech and selling it vs shaking down someone who happened to come up with the same idea.
The only newsworthy detail in this lawsuit is why it got coverage at all. My guess is that someone had an axe to grind, owed a favor, or perhaps this is part of a plan to diddle with Apple’s stock price. The lawsuit certainly is not news.
image by darkuncle
fjtorres March 20, 2013 um 7:44 pm
Uh, it might be news because Intertrust has actually been around for over 20 years, delivering actual digital security products and services. I remember them as a source of SSL security certificates…
Regardless of the merit of their case against Apple, they *are* in the digital security business. If you go looking for prior art in some DRM and other digital security areas, *they* are the prior art.
Not quite patent trolls.
Nate Hoffelder March 20, 2013 um 7:59 pm
Perhaps, but one problem with pointing to InterTrust’s past works is that there’s no guarantee they’re not trolling here. Take Microsoft, for example. They’ve been blatantly trolling Android for a couple years now while at the same time developing Windows, Office, and other apps/services.
Nate Hoffelder March 20, 2013 um 8:14 pm
And just to be clear, I see all patent lawsuits as ipso facto trolling until proven otherwise. And that goes for even legitimate tech companies.
There’s a big difference between developing a tech and selling it vs shaking down someone who happened to come up with the same idea.
fjtorres March 20, 2013 um 8:52 pm
Shaking down whoever follows in your footsteps *for 17 years* is exactly why patents exist.
So the only way you stop the legitimate suits is by abolishing patents.
And as to Android’s liabilities, I’ll just point you here:
Martin Feldman May 23, 2013 um 4:41 pm
Intertrust is absolutely patent troll. They haven’t had a profitable product in the 20 years they’ve been around. 100% of their revenue is derived from licensing agreements. They’ve created shells of products like Marlin, but they are generally unsupported and garbage implementations. A single victory against microsoft in 2004 set the stage for other big companies to sign a license rather than take the risk of going to court and losing.
Interesting to note they’re owned 50% by Sony and 50% by Phillips, which both use Intertrust as a proxy for dirty business.
Any wonder why Marlin is required to be installed on all TV sets in Japan, or why it’s been included in the Hbbtv spec? Look no further than arm twisting by intertrust.