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Apple And AT&T Sued For Infringement Over iPhone Haptic Patents (computerworld.com) 71

Haptic technology company Immersion has accused Apple and carrier AT&T of infringement of three of its patents in the latest iPhone models and Apple watches. Immersion, which claims over 2,100 issued or pending patents worldwide covering various aspects and commercial applications of haptic or touch feedback technology, has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the import of the specified iPhone and Apple Watch models in the U.S., besides suing for damages in a Delaware federal court, company CEO Victor Viegas said in a conference call Thursday. Immersion decided to include AT&T and subsidiary AT&T Mobility in the action because the carrier is the most significant distributor of the iPhone in the U.S.
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Apple And AT&T Sued For Infringement Over iPhone Haptic Patents

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  • by Iconoc ( 2646179 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @09:05PM (#51503409)
    They both will be around forever
    • Not true! Patent trolls can be eliminated with the stroke of a pen.

    • by Holi ( 250190 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @01:41PM (#51506329)
      I'm not sure you can call Immersion a patent troll, They have been making haptic devices for years, and licensing out their tech to other companies. Look at he logitech ifeel mouse, it used immersion tech back in XP days.
  • by aberglas ( 991072 ) on Saturday February 13, 2016 @11:30PM (#51504079)

    This is never covered in any coverage of patent cases. The actual substance. Because it is too hard for journalists to understand. So we just get the fluff.

    I miss Groklaw.

    • FWIW, Immersion had been around for a while now. They have reduced their patented technologies to practice and have worked a legitimate licensing model. These are not patent trolls by any definition. Just a technology company working to get paid for the IP they developed first.

      • Do they own patents used by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo? Controllers have had haptic feedback since quite some time now.

        • From what (little) I know, they have a patent portfolio that likely goes back more than ten years. So it's quite possible some of that reads on Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and Apple products. Patent suits take a lot of time and a common strategy is to take on one big company, win that case, and then collect license fees from the rest using that judgement as a club.

        • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @01:40AM (#51504579)

          The haptic feedback in the Apple watch is not like the devices found in the Playstation 4 or Nintendo controllers. (Can't speak for XBOX One, sorry.) It feels like a tap, as opposed to the vibration motor modern game controllers use. The practical difference is that in a very short space of time you can count how many times you've been tapped. The vibration motors take long enough to spin up they're very sluggish in comparison, at least in the case of counting the actual buzzes.

          I'm too lazy to look it up but I vaguely recall a lawsuit that affected the XBOX and PS2 for the vibration motors in their controllers, but it didn't affect Nintendo because they actually use a different configuration. If memory serves that fueled the rumors that the real reason the PS3 didn't originally have rumble in their controllers was to avoid further litigation. (They claimed it interfered with their SIXAXIS sensors, but the Wii controller showed that was bunk.)

          • From what I can tell, all of Immersion's patents are just software patents that are somehow dealing with algorithms or methods of interfacing with haptic devices. Their IP has nothing to do with the actual physical implementation of haptic actuators, be they "rumble" style or linear "tap" style. Additionally, they do have a product line they sell (thus making them more than just patent trolls), which appears to be a kind of SDK for implementing haptics on Android devices, like a haptic studio of sorts.


            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
              I also took a brief look through the referenced patents. The first 2 were barely ideas, no invention at all. Considering that the "haptic" concept as laid out in these "patents" predates all filing dates with any linear or off-center oscillating mass having a controller attached to it, I'd say these are equivalent to the "x but on the internet" type patents.
          • The haptic feedback in the Apple watch is not like the devices found in the Playstation 4 or Nintendo controllers. (Can't speak for XBOX One, sorry.) It feels like a tap, as opposed to the vibration motor modern game controllers use.

            They are both the same thing. They only differ in the frequency of the vibration.

            Unless there was some new engineering required to create a driver capable of a more tap-like vibration (higher frequency, more like a square wave), there is no difference here. It's like clai

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        You don't get (or deserve) a patent for doing it first. You must do something useful and novel. Haptic feedback isn't novel. It's doing something that's been done since the beginning of time - *on a computer*. Any patent that's stupid when not *on a computer* should be rejected. Key clicks are prior art going back hundreds of years.

        That's why the exact patents matter so much. They are generally invalid (in the opinion of people, even if not the courts). And that's the first line of disgust with the
    • Haptics Patents (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FTA - "Feedback based on pressure-sensitive interactions with the touch screens."

      The real question is, "Did "Immersion" actually invent anything novel, did they regurgitate an obvious concept, or did they describe something that they could not actually pull off?" IANAL, however upon examination of the three patents in question:

      8,619,051 [uspto.gov] should be invalidated by prior art of a force feedback joystick.

      8,773,356 [uspto.gov] is a meaningless over-broad software "method" patent.

      8,659,571 [uspto.gov] is another meaningless over-broad

      • At the risk of responding to an AC, I have to point out that you are most likely new to patent law and naive how it is applied.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Well, how about refuting his points then? Oh, you can't. Not impressed.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        First, you clearly state that you're not a lawyer. This indicates that you're not a lawyer and certainly not one in the patent arena. It's what you said. You then go on to make some claims and yet you already indicated that you're not actually an authoritative figure.

        Now here's what I find concerning... Rather than uphold the law or wait to see what evidence is introduced in court, you seem to think it's okay to go into a courtroom with your mind made up as to how you'd cast your vote.

        So you have no skills,

        • by Anonymous Coward

          No software patents period. The US patent office does not have the ability, staff, or expertise required to provide proper scrutiny. The patent office has said this themselves. No one is shedding a tear for Apple. They have a huge legal team and an even larger cash reserve to routinely play as both plaintiff and defendant. They will continue with nary a disruption.

          What myself and others deeply care about are the 1-, 5-, 10-, 30-, and 100-person companies who work to bring a product or service to market and

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            I can understand that but this doesn't appear to be just software related. It does appear to include software.

            I could see still allowing software to have design patents. I'm not sure that I agree but most open source software is protected by copyright. (Calling it copyleft doesn't change that.) At least patents expire.

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @01:34AM (#51504563)

      Popular misunderstandings about Apple's "rounded corner" patent make Slashdot's ad-counter spin. Slashdot thrives in commenter ignorance.

      • Popular misunderstandings about Apple's "rounded corner" patent make Slashdot's ad-counter spin. Slashdot thrives in commenter ignorance.

        You should put the scare quotes around patent not rounded corners. It was on rounded corners, but it was only a "patent", being a design patent.

      • Are you saying that the complaint wasn't about rounded corners after all?
        • In a manner of speaking. Apple doesn't actually have the patent many people around here think they have. My Galaxy S6 has rounded corners, for example.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          Apple does not have a patent on rounded corners. They have a "look and feel" patent that includes rounded corners as one of the identifiers.

          There is a difference.
          • A difference in semantics perhaps. Doesn't make it any less ridiculous.
            • I mean, if someone put an apple symbol on the back of the device, yes that should not be allowed. It is a trademarked symbol. But patenting the shape of a device? Just dumb.
              • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
                The rounded corners claim is the same as if grocery stores claimed that they couldn't sell apples any more because Apple could sue them. Rounded corners aren't patented by Apple. Nor is the Apple. But deliberately copying Apple's logo to put above food apples to sell could be seen as a IP infringement. As is deliberately copying the look and feel of the iPhone. That is all.
                • But rounded corners doesn't 'make' the look of the iphone, so that's why it's silly.
                  • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
                    No, they don't. Only you are saying they do. You are arguing they do so you can argue they don't. The phone has them. The look and feel of the phone is protected. The rounded corners aren't specified in the look and feel, but are depicted in the diagrams. You are indicating that's important. Not me.
  • by X10 ( 186866 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @06:51AM (#51505197) Homepage

    We should abandon patents altogether.

    • We should abandon patents altogether.

      At least software patents. It is also really hard to feel sorry for Apple, since they are the only tech giant not in favor of a patent reform. They seem to like the current patent hell, so it feels appropiate they suffer it.

    • At least have "real" patent reform, probably along these lines:

      1. Adjust patent periods to two or three times the typical new-product release cycle in the target industry. Pharma or manufacturing tech? Yeah you can have a 15 or 20 year patent. Computers: Here you go, 24-36 months.

      That's it, that's all you'd need to do. Even if there was an "obvious" patent in this case, who cares, because the duration is short enough that only really valuable patents would even make it into the system, reducing the worklo

  • ... against a material's proper use? It begs the question why the materials' provider aren't sued.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.