back to article Apple lays claim to expired patents

A Texas IP attorney who spotted Apple laying claim to expired patents is planning to see the company in court, or get a few dollars anyway. It's not just Apple at fault – the suit names Sprint, Samsung and Cellco too - but the Apple patents are the most obvious, with four of those referenced in the iPod documentation expiring …


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  1. Herby

    Are they (John McEnroe) Serious?

    Look, all it takes is a simple search plugin to pull up a patent and see its issue date, and from there extrapolate the expiration date. Lots of things also say "Pat. Pending" which can mean anything from "It was issued yesterday" to "I thought it was a good idea, but the wheel is already invented".

    This is down right silly. Lots of things cite patents (current and expired). I think of it as a "How it works" documentation.

    Get real!

  2. paulf


    All this patent stuff does amuse me. Apple have been so aggressive in throwing $h1t around re: patents in the last year or so, so its nice to see so much of it coming back to splat them squarely in the face. What goes around and all that.

    Like Bill Ray I'm not sure exactly how this harms consumers, but it could be that a competing device was suppressed because the manufacturer felt that they would have violated a patent(s) that Apple were claiming, when those patent(s) had in fact expired. That would be kinda hard to prove - at least in a court - without protracted legal wranglings that may not be worth the hassle.

    At the end of the day - only the lawyers will benefit, although I'm sure the US Gubb'ment wont turn down their promised 50% share of the booty.

    Pint - all these rich lawyers can buy me a drink sometime - I can hope!

  3. Tigra 07

    Breaking rules again apple?

    "Quite how much that hurts consumers is debatable"

    Bring on chinese Ipods!

    I believe Jobs already sued a company making copies of the Ipod mini

  4. g e

    Does that mean

    Someone could refile the same patents under their name and sue those co's for infringement or does the original filing, even though expired, constitute prior art?

    1. Neil Brown

      Fail for prior art

      The claims in the re-submitted patent applications would not be novel - they have been published already, as you say, in the form of the previous patents.

    2. Reg Varney

      The Merkan patent system is stupid, but...

      ... even there, a previously filed patent must be prior art, by definition. The clues are in the words "previously filed"

  5. Tom 35


    Big surprise there.

    They should change the state animal to the patent lawyer.

    Even if this harms consumers, how is giving a pile of cash to a few lawyers going to make it right?

    1. Brett Brennan 1

      Texas State Animal... the Armadillo: a tough little guy with an armored body, sharp claws on the front and back, that hides in holes it digs in the ground.

      Sounds like the patent lawyers are already covered here...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Not quite

        Armadillos are actually cute. Not so much for lawyer-bugs.....

  6. JaitcH
    Jobs Horns

    Apple - the patent troll

    If the US Patent office did more than rubber stamp Apple claims it would be better for all. Maybe they are trying to live off licensing?

    Of course Apple along with Microsoft, et al, have all been caught pinching patented work from others as well as registered names such as IPAD and INTERNET EXPLORER.

  7. max allan

    $500 ???

    Did I miss something? They're trying to get $500 per patent per product.

    So, if there are 4 expired patents mentioned on the iPod docs, they get $2000.

    Surely Apple will just pay them out of the petty cash.

    The only way I can see this making much of a dent would be if they wanted $500 per iPod sold. Which is about 4 times more than the product costs in the first place... So unlikely to be granted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I think it's $500 per product type + informing consumers of the invalidity of the claims. They're doing it "for the public interest".

  8. jsk
    Thumb Down

    False Labeling?!?!?

    I'm guessing that Apple will simply argue that none of its products are "labeled" with any patents, if the claimed patents are only listed in the fine print in the printed manual. My iPods only mention trademarks and copyrights on their cases and nothing specific at that.

  9. Charlie van Becelaere


    we kill all the patentards.

  10. P. Lee

    Why not do something useful?

    Like get a court to rule that 99 pages of T's&C's for itunes is unreasonable and therefore unenforceable and should be condensed down to less than one page.

    They could go with the classic, "All your base are belong to us!" and be done with it.

  11. RobotHead

    Just for once...

    I wish some bugger would NOT settle out of court, and take the buggers all the way!

  12. Hans 1

    Genetically modified patent troll

    Hardware patents do not harm consumers, they only harm the competition.

    BTW, manuals also have a fine print that reads that the manual is not expected to be accurate and that it can be revised. I know, I was a tech writer ... ;-)

    If only they legalized abortion in Texas, I'm sure we would have many less idiots on the planet ...

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