back to article Apple fined $19m in 'Predictive Snooping' case

Apple has been ordered to pay $19m (£12.9m/€14.3m) in damages after losing a patent infringement case which its lawyers hoped might only cost the firm $270,000. In 2007, Opti, a technology holding company, brought the case against Apple, alleging that the Mac maker makes and sells products incorporating three “Predictive …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    So they don't make anything, they just sue everyone in sight? Miserable twats...

  2. WinHatter

    Opti Good

    at post-dictive snooping at least ... and Apple rubbish at predictive fining and Apple's lawyers are complete crap at previous art-dictive.

    But how come you may be fined for infringing something you can re-invent yourself ... if you don't snatch the details of the implementation and anyway comes up with something similar how come it infringes some patents you may have heard about but never had access to?

    This nonsense really has to stop.

  3. raving angry loony


    Another fail for the unethical application of "cost-benefit analysis". Instead of doing the right thing and licensing the tech, it did a cost-benefit analysis and figured getting caught doing something unethical was cheaper than doing it right. The same idea that made Ford not fix its Pinto. I'm glad they were proved wrong.

  4. system


    So the kings of patenting prior art assume that prior art will invalidate a claim? With their latest claim on volume control for browsers, I'd say it serves them right.

  5. Franklin
    Thumb Down

    @raving angry loony

    "Another fail for the unethical application of "cost-benefit analysis". Instead of doing the right thing and licensing the tech, it did a cost-benefit analysis and figured getting caught doing something unethical was cheaper than doing it right. "

    That assumes the patent was valid to begin with and that no prior art existed. I'm not sure I trust a jury to make that assessment; are you?

  6. P. Lee
    Thumb Down

    Three companies developed the same tech independently?

    The patent seems to fail the "non-obvious" test.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Without knowing the details of the patent and the technology, if the technology already existed ( and presumably developed by someone else), how can another company patent it and then sue people for infringement of that patent?

    Wasn't the idea of patenting to protect original ideas from being stolen?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    F**k me, these patent writers need to get their act together. I've just read - or should I say, tried to read - the patent description, guys, what's wrong with a timing diagram? It's just verbose textual description of the sequence of events and transactions on a data bus.

    It makes it so hard to really understand what the patent is really about.

    But then the patents aren't written by engineers are they!

  9. James O'Brien
    Jobs Horns

    Can I?

    Can I patent the the art of trying to patent prior art? Well Can l? CAN I???

    /god CrApple is getting lame

  10. Wortel
    Thumb Down

    And this is why

    Software patents stifle innovation. Same for hardware patents really. What is the bloody point in innovating when you're not allowed by some obscure, vaguely described 'patent'?

    To augment today's farce in patenting, It is time inventors' ideas are rigorously contested before a world jury (world, yes, thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands from all technology branches) before a patent is even considered an option.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Apple should have hired a lawyer

    Obviously Albritton knows little about US law. As fascinating an idea as it is, its not up to the person being sued to decide what fair damages should be.

  12. Tris Orendorff


    Why is apple being sued? They don't use any custom chips, do they? Are they being sued only because they use someone's infringing chip?

  13. Andy ORourke

    In 2007, Opti, a technology holding company

    In 2007, Opti, a patent troll

    There, fixed that for you!

  14. Henry Wertz Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    not just a patent troll

    i don't know what opti does NOW, but historically they were not just some lame "intelectual property" firm (in other words patent trolls). They DID make high-performance motherboard chipsets in 286-486 days, smoking the competition due to the advanced cache controllers they made (possibly using the very tech they are suing over now.)

    Is there prior art? Maybe. But it's possible they really DID invent the tech they patented... Speculative caching, bus snooping, etc. Were just not done "in the old days" even on large-scale systems -- it was too complicated.

  15. raving angry loony


    @Franklin: I consider the existing state of the US patent system (and, by extension, most of the patent world since they're very much driven by the US lobbyists) to be completely and irredeemably broken. I'd say most patents were "invalid" based on the original definition and purpose of "patent". Therefore, anyone using the system to benefit themselves is, by definition, gaming a broken system that benefits solely the rich and powerful over the actual inventors. Given that conclusion, what I consider a jury capable of doing is irrelevant.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Just rewards...

    Apple file stupid patents, such as a volume control in an application (wow that's new), so they shouldn't cry when someone else sues them over crap patents...

  17. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Andy ORourke

    Damn. You beat me to it.

  18. Rob Stiles

    Farce :(

    Patents... what a farce they are! They've been abused forever :( They're a fat waste of time and hinder technical advancement.

  19. James Pickett
    Jobs Horns

    Moral hazard

    Hmm. If the lawyer really thought that the tech existed before Opti claimed to have invented it, why did he think they would lose? I think I agree with the Ford Pinto argument (i.e. no moral component)..

  20. Britt Johnston

    Brief History of Patents

    In the olden days, you got a patent by grovelling before a monarch. If he saw something in it for the nation, i.e. himself, he gave you a national monopoly of undefined scope and duration.

    Today, the duration part is almost solved, except for add-ons. The scope is what the lawyers keep fighting about. But who is the Emperor of USA?

    ...the ermine flak-jacket, please

  21. Steve B

    When I learnt digital techniques in the 70s ....

    I am sure the UK course dealt with this sort of thing.

    One technique was to preload a chunk of program into memory and as the processor actioned the current program step the hardware would look ahead to see if more memory manipulation was needed by a jump or data access instruction and trigger the event. The action was then at least halfway accomplished by the time the processor had moved on to the next program step.

    As stated ,if these things are obvious development, how are they patentable outside of the US, where nothing seems to be obvious!

  22. Dave

    @Stu Reeves

    That is the problem here - because of Trolls like Opti, real innovators like Apple have to spend all day trying to think what ridiculous patent some one else might come up with, and patent it first.

    How the patents are used is what matters - Apple carries out lots of R&D, leading to plenty of real products, and only occasionally sues other manufacturers. Opti do not make anything, have no R&D spend (this patent was bought from someone else) and will use any profit from this lawsuit to buy more dodgy patents. As a result, I am sure that Apple would be more than happy if the majority of their patents were thrown out.

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