May 232011
 

According to Jim Dalrymple at The Loop, Apple has sent a letter to patent troll legitimate businessmen Lodsys stating that it believes its developers are covered by the license Apple has (and Lodsys confirmed) relating to in-app purchases.

My objective advice would be for Lodsys to change their recently-soiled underwear and resume their post under their bridge, but I’d really love to see Lodsys persist and have Apple nuke the site from orbit.

It’s the only way to be sure.

May 162011
 

Want to know where our country of ambitious entrepreneurs went? The descendants of the ones who navigated the seas to settle a new country because their freedoms were being trampled?

They’re dealing with bullshit from patent trolls.

Yes: they’re at it again. This time it’s a company called Lodsys, LLC, an East Texas “company” that “strategically purchases” patents. Now Lodsys thinks it has a patent that covers in-app purchases, a major method of upgrading most Apple iOS apps, but also a common upgrade mechanism utilized by other platforms. Nevermind some of the patents date back to 1992. To clarify why what they’re attempting could be considered anything but trolling, Lodsys took the time to explain patent law to the haters. It’s bad enough that they said anything, but check out the pedantic taco spray analogy Lodsys is using to describe the “value added” by their patent:

“…the owner of the hotel… is responsible for the overall service (value proposition) that guests pay for, not the owner of the land that the hotel may be leasing, not the travel agent that sold the reservation, not the manufacturer of tools such as hammers, nor the provider of materials such as nails or steel beams, which may be used in building the hotel; nor is it the outsourced linen washing service or the architect of the building who is responsible. Lodsys’ patent portfolio is being used as a part of an overall solution and we are seeking to be paid for the use of patent rights by the accountable party.”

That may be the worst explanation in the history of using words illustratively. So your bullshit patent is the…land in this metaphor? Or the nails? Or the…seriously: what the fuck is it? You’re trying to compare physical assets with a bunch of bullshit hand-waving, which, make no mistake my friends, is the closest you come to a relationship with the current practice of in-app purchases. A more fitting analogy would be if someone thought up an idea for being paid for providing shelter before the invention of the hotel, described it to a friend, then had that friend sell the description to a third party who in turn tried to cash in on the applied concept once “hotels” were brought into the physical universe.

And as for the claim that “Apple’s covered, but 3rd parties aren’t”, nice try. Did you really think Apple thought “well, my shit’s covered!” and willfully left iOS developers to twist in the wind? You’re either ducking Apple like the slithering scumbags you are or you’re looking to double dip. If you believe Apple is going to let you fuck with its App Store on an atomic level by going after its developers, maybe you were actually born in West Texas.

It is TMA’s prayer that Bruce Sewell is measuring the strike of Apple’s legal hammer – a weapon no doubt forged from the fires of white-hot hatred for patent trolls – and that it is brought down on these scumbags with such extreme prejudice their mutated spawn will be born deaf from the sonic blast created from their smiting. Sorry if wishing ill on you and your kind “isn’t cool”. Neither is stifling innovation with greed, so go suck shit through a straw.

The next time you wonder about where the cure for cancer or AIDS is, look no further than the periodically refraining punchline that is our patent system. And please do teach your children that trolls are real.

Apr 202011
 

A lot of people roll their eyes when they catch wind that Apple is suing someone over “look and feel”.  And when TMA says “roll their eyes”, he means “holler soprano through knotted panties”. To wit:

“This just in.. Ford sues the whole motor industry for copying the Model T. 4 wheels.. Check! Steering wheel.. Check! Combustion engine.. Check! I know.. Crazy huh?”   –Some Engadget douchebag

“Clearly subjective. The “user interface” is nothing like IOS outside of the square app options. This suit is rediculous and I hope Steve Jobs dies already.”   –Classy Gizmodo commenter (currently “unstarred”, but with SJ comment and rediculous spelling, it’s only a matter of time)

So why does Apple continue to fire lawsuit salvos from behind its “walled garden”?

Because you didn’t design the iPhone. Neither did Samsung (LOL@the Samsung fantards, BTW). Apple did. And the way the intellectual property protection system works in technology, if you invest in something, you patent it. It could be highly technical and difficult to reverse-engineer or not so technical and trivially easy to rip off. Sometimes, the “easy to rip off” stuff is harder to get right than the components that support it. The particularly uninformed have a hard time grasping this. Someone had to do more than think of this stuff. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t you. That’s why you’re not bringing products to market and “trade dress” is a part of what’s protectable.

*ahem*

Like any system designed to protect, the trademark and patent system in this country can be abused. TMA isn’t claiming to agree with the specifics of every Apple claim with regard to “look and feel”, but the overarching rationale behind them is hard to knock. This isn’t about Apple trying to extort annuities in the form of licensing agreements from companies, a strategy that dying whales like Microsoft and Nokia are clinging to. This is about protecting the enormous investment Apple made in developing a product that was unlike anything before it, but is serving as the copy-glass original for everything since.

Mar 302011
 

Paul Allen invented modern computing. All of it. In fact, between Allen and Al Gore, our entire society of connected computing was birthed. You’re welcome. Allen also patented a bunch of it, and he’s in the process of getting people to pay. I wonder how many of Allen’s infamous patent claims will be substantiated by “Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft” slated for release April 17. I say “wonder” because I have no intention of buying it. Continue reading »

Mar 292011
 

There’s a popular analogy in consumer technology that maintaining intellectual property (IP) is like maintaining a nuclear arsenal: sometimes having an impressive portfolio is enough to act as a deterrent. Then there’s the companies that like to whip their IP like some sort of gold-shitting donkey. These are usually companies whose days innovating have passed them by. Companies like Nokia.

In October, Nokia called Apple to the carpet over patents ranging from power management to the conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen via photosynthesis. OK, I made one of those up. Those claims were filed with the ITC, an international organization that possesses the unique ability to actually stop devices from shipping to a country if a claim is found to have merit, which is why most idea-bankrupt companies choose to cry to them. In a typical IP piss-war countermove, Apple subsequently filed a suit against Nokia over 13 of its patents. Yesterday, the ITC dismissed the five Nokia claims. What does any self-respecting technology company do after tasting the humiliating sting of ITC’s backhand? File more claims, of course! This morning, Nokia filed another claim with the ITC claiming infringement on seven more of their patents. Apparently they found some patents under the area rug in the executive cafeteria that they forgot they had.

According to Paul Melin, Nokia’s VP of Intellectual Property “Our latest ITC filing means we now employ more lawyers than engineers have 46 Nokia patents in suit against Apple, many filed more than 10 years before Apple made its first iPhone.” He added “Nokia is a leading innovator in technologies needed to build great mobile products and Apple must stop building its products using Nokia’s proprietary innovation”, a line that, according to bystanders, was delivered deadpan. Investors should take note that regardless of the venue – consumer product market or courtroom – Nokia is absolutely fearless when faced with the prospect of thoroughly embarrassing itself. That’s gotta have some value.

Mar 222011
 

Poor MG Siegler. He’s a writer for TechCrunch, which is pretty bad in itself. Two words: Mike Arrington. When your site’s founder isn’t hyping a tablet project that ended up getting yoinked by his partner, only to have it launch DOA, its filling its RSS feed with doth-protest-too-much entries about maintaining its journalistic integrity after selling out to AOL. So, you may ask, what’s worse than writing for TechCrunch? Writing the de facto Apple beat and liking the company you’re writing about. Perusing the comment sections of one of his articles is like watching a predator-prey scenario unfold on the Serengeti, except in this case the hyenas are retarded. Continue reading »

Mar 062010
 

This Time It’s Personal
Steve Jobs was not leading Apple when the company lost the infamous “Look and Feel” lawsuit waged against Microsoft. Based on the existence of an ill-advised licensing agreement struck by then-CEO John Sculley, the courts ostensibly  gift-wrapped the Macintosh UI for Microsoft to pillage. When you listen to Jobs talk about the loss, he absolutely seethes. All of the marketing about Apple’s role as the innovator that Microsoft copies stems from something that was entirely out of Steve’s control.  It was much worse than if Jobs himself had lost the Mac’s GUI. But he didn’t. The person he personally recruited to put a Mac in every household – the person who ultimately betrayed him gave it away. This theft may not be all there is to Apple’s assault, but it’s definitely present. Consider the phalanx of patents cited, the unannounced nature of the attack (according to HTC) and Jobs’ own words about the lawsuit: they all suggest some of this came from a place that wanted to avenge a loss – and prevent another. To some, the “belligerent-feeling” nature of the suit is enough to detract from its virtue. It feels “evil“, “bullying” or “unnecessary“. The core of this sentiment, made by some of the smarter people on the tubes, is that this kind of whack-a-moling inhibits innovation, which leads me to my next point.

Apple is not Microsoft
Apple is not motivated by market share, earnings per share or number of markets entered. Apple’s motivation begins and ends with the design of excellent user experiences. The perception that Apple will get to a place in the industry where it stops innovating, sits on its cash cows and perpetuates its existence by bludgeoning more dextrous upstarts with its patent portfolio is simply never going to happen, at least not while Jobs is alive. Jobs relentlessly whips the crop at Apple, pushing innovation like WiFi, Firewire and DisplayPort to the point where comfortable technologies like floppy disks, serial connections and removable media drives are phased out with pundit (and occasionally fanboy)-wrankling regularity. Apple outpaces any other computer or consumer electronics maker in terms of version hustle. Anyone who believes that Apple is capable of laying off the gas at the expense of bleeding-edge innovation does not know the company.

Which, as usual, focuses the discussion not on the playa, but the game. The patent system is busted, but it’s the only game in town. If you’re in the computer business, if you’re not playing, you’re losing. This isn’t a case of Apple vaguely threatening *nix users with unspecified patents in an attempt to ward of people from using open-source OSs (*cough* Microsoft *cough*) or Apple trying to leech innovation and cash from competitors (*cough* Nokia *cough*). Jobs said “We’re not in the technology-licensing business”, which is different than “We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas”. If you listen to how Jobs describes what his company is about, you’d have no trouble understanding why Apple is defending its IP. That doesn’t stop pundits from slapping other companies’ motivations on the things Apple does, but then again, without drama, there are no pageviews.

In the 1990′s Jobs had to watch from the shore as his rudderless ship was boarded, plundered and almost sent to the bottom of the ocean. Regardless about how you feel about the means or the intent, he sure as hell isn’t going to let it happen again – not on his watch.

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