back to article Single-patent lawsuit hits Apple, Google, Amazon, Priceline...

A Texas-based company known as H-W Technology has sued Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Verizon, Expedia, Priceline,, and 20 other companies and sister companies, claiming infringement of a single patent. And this is not April's Fool prank. This sort of thing goes on all the time in …


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  1. GuyC


    is there anything that this patent doesn't cover...maybe if I get it to make toast as well it won't be covered. Just shows how rotten to the core the US patent system is

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      FFS indeed.

      I've had another one of my "Great ideas". (pat. pending)

      Why don't we let the septics carry on with their litigious ways, while we in the rest of the world just carry on ignoring them?

      The EU and Asian markets are far larger, and must surely be less of a worry to sell to. UK patents, I believe, only apply to tangible things, not vague block diagrams or "a means of" bullshit.....

      Everything is made in China these days anyway. They don't seem so worried. If the yanks ban all imports of "possibly infringing" goods, they will soon have nothing left to buy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        China aren't worried at all.

        "Everything is made in China these days anyway. They don't seem so worried. If the yanks ban all imports of "possibly infringing" goods, they will soon have nothing left to buy."

        America wouldn't dare block Chinese imports, China might ask for it's loans back and that would pretty much bankrupt the USA. Why do you think they're doing nothing more then moaning about China fiddling the exchange rates?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Miss the Mark As Usual in Bashing China

          Demanding their loans back would also bankrupt China. In fact it would have such a serious effecton overall global stability that it may bankrupt us all.

          Regarding China fiddling with their exchange rates. It is actually the oposit. China has kept their exchange rates stable as they should. What we are doing is asking or rather demanding that China fiddle with their exchange rates to make our goods more competitive, or rather to make China produced goods less competitive.

          Purchasing power parity theory on which Real Effective Exchange Rates and related theories are based is a nice elegant theory. But thats all it is. It has not been shown empirically to hold true between major economies at least not in any horizon less than 8 years and at best very weakly.

          If the Chinese Govt. devalues their currency to increase their competitiveness then we would have a point. But that they have kept it stable in spite if their increase competitiveness over the past decades is not something we should knock them for. It is not the value of the Chinese currency that drives their competitiveness. So why do we try to bully them into appreciating their currency to make us more competitive.

      2. raving angry loony


        The trouble with letting the septics get on with their ways is that their ways are being introduced as "standard" elsewhere. They have huge, well funded lobbying machines that try to force their way on other countries.

        So be afraid, because that kind of bullshit can, and probably will, become standard in the UK. And Canada. And elsewhere, because there's huge profits to be made from having such a broken system, and profit at the expense of everything is all that matters to those doing the lobbying, and sometimes to those passing the laws.

  2. Randy Hudson

    Toaster Oven?

    Hey, people like toasters, and they like ovens, maybe I should file a patent for something that is both a toaster and an oven.

    This is about as creative as TiVo's patent for a dual-tuner DVR, upon which they successfully claimed infringement by Dishnetwork. [imagine Brian Regan recounting a patent-mining session] Uh, OK... people like DVRs. So, I have a patent idea… TWO, …TWO DVRs. Yeah, two – that's my patent.

  3. Mectron


    1 Another proof that the USA patents/copyright law is completly broken.

    2. The suing company is a patetns troll Shut the company down and jail all owners for life.

    1. Arctic fox

      No no - much to good for them.

      "Shut the company down and jail all owners for life."

      Send them to the scorpion pits.

      1. bobcat


        we can't send them to the scorpion pits. they own the patent on those too.

        1. Arctic fox

          No, their mistake.

          Only the Patrician owns the scorpion pits.

        2. Poor Coco

          I know!

          We could rip off Chairface Chippendale's idea and put them into a pit full of alligators and cows.

          MOO! HISS! MOO! HISS!

    2. Charles Manning

      Sue the USPTO, not the companies

      The USPTO will continue to crank out crap patents until they get to be held responsible. Uncle Sam loves them because they actually generate federal income. The only measure being applied to the USPTO is number processed and how much cash they generate.

      If the USPTO had to bear the costs of defending crap patents then the quality might improve.

  4. Highlander

    OFFS, what a bunch of overly broad BS that is

    That's a ridiculously broad patent definition, they are not *supposed* to be that broad in the first place, and the court should *never* have accepted the case, it's pure BS and frivolous.

    The sooner someone ends the patent system nightmare with some sweeping legislation the better, because until then this kind of patent troll behavior will continue.

  5. bubba-bear


    This is one reason Americans put Canadian flags on their luggage.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer


      >>This is one reason Americans put Canadian flags on their luggage.

      Do you know an American with a passport?

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Blofeld's Cat

      Prior art

      Dear Sir,

      I see that you are infringing our client's patent covering 'the patenting of anything'. Our client is however prepared to settle the matter out of court for a mere $100 billion.

      Dr. A. Troll,

      Billy, Goat & Gruff, Attorneys at Law

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @ Dr A Troll....

        ..feel free. As I own the patent on the method of receiving payments from a court for infringements of patent, I will then sue you for infringement. As you are willfully infringing my patent I claim 3x your award and fees.

        As I also own the method patent of defending agains a patent lawsuit, so therefore willingly defending yourself will also result in a wifull breach of patent, so therefore, we will sue you for that as well.

        Yours lovingly.

        A.S.S. Wipe and Sons.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Before people go off on one...

    The actual granted patent claim is a little bit more specific: see the pdf at <a href="" target="_blank">espacenet</a>.

    That said, it'll be destroyed by at least one of these companies; but the US patent troll system has definitely got out of hand...

    1. slooth

      Said Document

      I went and had a look at the drawings (well, lots of blocks) on the given link. Seems as if they took the books Computer Networks by Tanenbaum and Computer networks and internets by Comer and said " Ooh, pretty pictures! Lets combine the chapters on VOIP and then patent our new drawings in the hope that one day we can sue the pants off everybody in the VOIP market".

      Oh look!!! It worked!!!!

      Stupid US patent system

  8. ~mico

    Prior art?

    If my memory serves me right, first Windows Mobile phones appeared before 2005, and PalmOS phones even before that. Both had internet browsing capability. And of course every phone since the dawn of sms could be used to receive advertisements and perform purchases without making a call.

    I hope someone in the jury remembers "AvantGo"...

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Prior art

      The Nokia 9000 communicator had web browsing facilities in 1996.

    2. LateNightLarry

      Prior Art?

      No, you hope at least one of the lawyers representing all those various companies defending themselves against this patent troll remembers "AvantGo"...

      Flames, hoping the patent troll goes down in flames...

  9. hendersj

    AvantGo as Prior Art

    Doesn't matter if the jury remembers AvantGo - the defense attorneys need to present that as evidence. Jurors aren't really permitted to consider facts that are not presented as part of the case.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Every time you think the last patent brouhaha was the most stupid one, someone else comes tops it...

    Bunch of muppets

  11. John Tserkezis

    It's not just the US patent system that's broken.

    A guy in Australia applied for an innovation patent for a wheel.


    They're claiming it won't stand up in court if he actually tried it, but that doesn't appear to matter anymore.

    Give us money, we give you patent number.

    What you do after that is your bloody business, we sure as hell don't care.

    How can things possibly get any more broken than this?

  12. Jdoe1

    What about suing Al Gore...

    ..for starting this mess?

  13. Goat Jam

    This Is Great News!

    I mean, the more totally retarded patent claims that we see against the major tech incumbents the better. Hopefully, with enough of these lawsuits being filed a tipping point will be reached and US patent reform will become a real issues to the powers that be.

  14. Herby

    Prior art?

    The biggest problem with the US patent system is that the patent examiners only think that "Prior Art" (the basis for allowing claims and such) is previous patents. In the case of software, there is LOADS of "prior art" that exists that is NOT patented. The patent examiners don't deal with this at all, and something that is unknown to the examiner, but is common knowledge to us computer guys, is treated as "novel" and a patent is issued.

    While not the cause for the problem, the court of the eastern district of Texas is a nightmare. Wonderful courts to be a plaintiff.


  15. jake Silver badge

    Prior art, definately. Thirty years old, even.

    I was making VOIP telephone calls with my Sun Workstation in ~1982 on equipment that could definitely view adverts & make purchases without making said voice call. Wirelessly, even, in some cases.

    This was IBM's world-wide internal network, which was vastly larger than the then fledgling Internet[1]. The adverts & purchases were from inside sales (with a little help from ComDesign & N.E.T).

    All a smart-phone + telephone network is is a scaled down version of the same thing. I'll be shocked if the judge allows this to proceed past pre-trial motions.

    [1] I had full access to said Internet from the same system ... IBM's network connection in my office was T-3 ... my Internet connection was Switched-56. I could make a voice call over the Switched-56, or I could move data, but not both at the same time ... The T-3 was a trifle more flexible, allowing dynamic bandwidth allocation & time division multiplexing for voice, data and video :-)

  16. Dodgy Dave

    Not a snowball's chance...surely?

    Presumably, somwhere in their archives, Google have records of searches made from Pocket Internet Explorer dating back to - what - 2000? And when did Amazon first think about a 'mobile' site? Only after they stole H-W's brilliantly original ideas in '05? C'mon.

  17. Dino

    This is good ... very good

    As the claims get more and more obvious they begin to expose how stupid the patent system has become and the more unacceptable it becomes to everyone...

    If all those diagrams showing all those processes are relevant to its application then won't they have a devil of a time matching them up to actual processes used by the other companies?

  18. Robin Bradshaw


    So they have basically patented the amstrad emailer 5 years after it went on sale?

  19. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Just one question

    What does H-W Technology produce ?

    The basis, the very reason of existence of the patent system is to protect the owner for a limited time during which said owner can profit from his idea by bringing said idea to the market before anyone else.

    So, where are the H-W Technology mobile phones ? Has anyone seen them ?

    I don't think so. I think this "company" is just another troll, a wart on the economical system that should be excised with liquid nitrogen.

    The very first check from a judge on any patent claim should be "does the complainant make anything with his patent". If not, hit him with contempt of court charges and throw him out.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    What is claimed

    The key bit of the claim seems to be using the IP phone to buy from a merchant "wherein [the] user's contact and payment information is not transmitted to [the] merchants [but this] information is available to [the] merchants" (legalese stripped for readability)

    So much narrower than "its a smartphone".

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: What is claimed

      I can't be bothered to read the actual patent application, but I'm pretty sure a phone with a web browser using 1-click or similar will instantly satisfy demonstration of prior art.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Very possibly...

        ... although, could you do such a thing in 2005? (I'm not really up with mobile technologies)

        But I wasn't claiming that the patent was valid or even a good idea. Just that, as always, there is more to these things than even an august journal like El Reg would have you think.

        I know that reading patent applications is mind-numbingly dull (you wouldn't want to do it for a living ... oh, hang on ... that's where I went wrong) but I do think the article could have been just a wee bit more specific about what the patent is actually for.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: could you do such a thing in 2005?

          I'm not au fait with mobile stuff either, a quick search suggests you could probably do this sort of thing in 2002, but as you say, the devil is in the detail.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Jury Duty

    Has anyone ever tried to bribe their way *into* Jury Duty? I want to know if I'll be setting a precedent or not.

  22. Brian 6

    Get Off your High Horses

    Why dont all u fuck wits just get off your high horses. If u came up with a great idea (unlikely I know) and u went to the trouble and expense of patenting it, and then the likes of Apple decided to use your idea to make a few million are u saying u wouldn't have a problem with that ??

    1. Dave Murray

      Brain dead or troll?

      Are you a completely brain dead? If this company had come up with an original idea and then people stole it fine but they didn't, they patented something that already existed then decided to sue 6 years later. As someone who has held patents myself I very much have a problem with that, they're ruining the system for the rest of us.

      I've had a great idea. I'm going to patent "a system of moving by placing one foot in front of the other" then sue the entire human race for walking!

      1. Brian 6

        Get your facts straight Dave

        So are you saying the Iphones and Arnold smart phones that breach this patent all came out pre 1995 ?? Did u actually read the patent ?? I know most people commenting could not be bothered to. the first internet phone was 1996 "" So there was NO PRIOR ART. And the early wap phones certainly couldn't do one click payments. Just because u think something has been around forever doesn't mean it has.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Get your facts straight Brian

          This patent was filed on 17 March 2005; phones that could use the IP protocol (for searching and advertising and loads of other stuff) were available long before then. In the UK the O2 XDA (manufactured by HTC, a real company that really makes phones) was launched in June 2002 so presumably this counts as prior art?

          This patent is vague, obvious, based on existing technology and probably filed by people who couldn't make a damn thing if their lives depended on it!

        2. jake Silver badge

          @Brian 6

          "the first internet phone was 1996"

          Uh ... no. It wasn't. I, personally, was making telephone calls world-wide over TCP/IP in late 1982 or thereabouts[1]. And with my Motorola Dynatac about a year later ... and during the meanwhile, the Sun Workstation in my office could switch between voice, data & video, at random, as I saw fit, in the same time frame (maybe a year or so later).

          And yes, I could "one click" on IBM's "internal sales" offerings, thus re-supplying my group ... It wasn't today's WWW, but it acted exactly the same way.

          [1] Yes, I know, FlagDay came later ... My group was an early TCP/IP adopter ;-)

          1. Brian 6


            No names, no details, pure bullshit. And U personally never owed a Motorola Dynatac. They didnt come out until after u said u owed one, and u couldn't afford one anyway, and that phone could do NOTHING mentioned in the Patent in question.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Brian 6

              The Dynatac came out in '83. Did you see where I said "about a year later", referencing 1982? I bought one new; it was my Solstice present to myself. I had Pilot and Beta build versions prior to that, thru' work ... which is why I was offered one of the first commercial units.

              The phone couldn't do much more than make and receive 'phone calls, true. But thanks to bridging[1], it did work across the same TCP/IP network that I could access IBM's internal sales thru' (I was in advanced engineering at a lab I refuse to name; we had 115,000 square foot Faraday Cage that masqueraded as an office building, with access to all kinds of cutting edge gear). Using the phone, I could manipulate a prototype menuing system allowing me to order paper, printer ribbons, white-out, and the like using the Dynatac's numeric keypad. The back-end was based on early (late '70s) BBS code. Portable phone, Voice over TCP/IP, and purchasing. Sound familiar?

              A year or so later (late 84ish?), my Sun Workstation at another company could make voice telephone calls over POTS and over TCP/IP, transfer data and video over POTS or TCP/IP, and also make "one click" GUI purchases from IBM's inside sales over POTS and TCP/IP, regardless of whether or not there was a voice call in progress. Essentially, the Sun-2 was a large, heavy, "smartphone" in that configuration. Sound familiar?

              You might not have been there in the early days, Brian, but that doesn't mean nobody else was. And please note that "you" is spleled "you", not "u". Makes "u" look like an idiot.

              [1] phone cell signal <-> lab "tower" <-> bridge <-> TCP/IP <-> elsewhere

        3. Old Tom

          R U confusing 1995 & 2005

          Who mentioned 1995? You admit there's been internet phones since 1996. This patent was filed in 2005.

          1. Brian 6

            @OLD TOM Read My POSTS

            Read my posts and the actual patent. The internet enabled phones of the mid 90's in no way breached this patent. I was just acknowledging that they existed, but AS I SAID, they DIDNT breach this 2005 patent. Dont u remember how crap WAP phones were ?

    2. Robert Hill

      No idea...

      The problem is that this isn't "come up with a great idea". It is patenting ideas that have already been used and brought to market YEARS before the patent was applied for, by a bunch of different companies. There IS NOTHING NEW in this patent...not even at the time it was filed.

      This is just a bunch of lawyers patenting any idea they can get approved, and then filing lawsuits against 20 companies and hoping that one or more will settle out of court for cash, rather than spend money on lawyers defending themselves. It's a "get rich quick" scheme for IP lawyers, and one that has been used before, many times.

      Basically, if you can't see that, you are an idiot.

    3. Old Tom

      Solutions, not ideas

      Patents should be about solutions, not ideas.

      Anyway, H-W Technology have not come up with a great idea, they've merely stated both what was already happening and what was clear to a doughnut what was in the process of happening.

      Oh, and please use proper words - so u (sic) Dont (sic) loof so daft ??

    4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      I shall remain seated on my high horse, thank you!

      as I have a patent to my name (together with a number of colleagues) based on doing research, and getting something to work as a solution to a problem. In the patent application, there is a clear distinction between prior art used by our patent, and the novel idea. This was needed because it went through the European (Dutch) patenting system, in which prior art is investigated properly. As such the patent is worth more than the paper on which it is printed, unlike the H-W "effort". It was consequently bought from the university by a start-up company.

      Trying to patent the bleeding obvious, let alone the previously existing is waste of everybody's time.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      re: Get Off your High Horses

      You would have a perfectly valid point if it weren't for the fact that this patent, filed in 2005, is probably for something that you could do with a Blackberry and eBay/PayPal in 2002, but they've obfuscated it with a load of network layer diagrams and jargon to make it appear non-obvious. Which makes you look a bit of a twat really, don't you think? No, of course you don't, because that would require a brain.

  23. drengur

    Maybe I should patent...

    Maybe I should patent 'using a patent to attack another company or otherwise tie up the legal system'

    should be able to make a fortune in royalties!

  24. Eddy Ito

    Blind greed, stupid attorney & lazy troll == lost cause

    I predict this suit goes down in flames, as it rightly should. This scatter gun strategy of targeting so many at once I believe is going to severely bite them in the arse. I always thought trolling 101 taught folks to pick them off one at a time because paying off was cheaper than fighting. That math changes when the fight is split 30+ ways. The defendants should right now be assembling and petitioning the court to get these suits joined, unless of course the plaintiff was stupid enough to file a single suit against all these companies. It is one thing for each company to fight it out alone but to beg them to gang up and split the cost of pounding you into troll burger takes either minimal brains or maximal testicles.

  25. Bod

    Patent trolls should be kneecapped

    Or at least there should be a ban on companies that only exist for the purpose of patent trolling. They quite obviously have no intention of implementing their patent and thus the patent is invalid.

  26. Scott 9

    I had an idea

    To start my own business, but the cost of researching all the possible patents and keeping a lawyer on retainer to fight off lawsuits I would only be incidentally involved in nixed the idea.

    Seriously, how was this patent ever granted? It's so vague that it could almost mean anything, and the patent appears to describe an IP phone as one of those gizmos mounted on your desk and hard wired to a network, not a cellphone......but never mind.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prior Art?

    I think the patent troll is is missing quite a fundamental point here: We've had platforms that communicate with each other using IP for a long time. We've had advertising spewed through these for the last 15 or so years; all in the name of providing free services that are paid for by advertising. Sometimes, it is possible to click through these advertisements and make financial transactions without "making a voice call".

    The mobile phones we carry today are really just another form of computing platform with computer operating systems that do operating system type things.

    This has to be the single worst patent since since the one about looking up someones photo in the address book using the incoming phone number (i.e. "looking something up" and then "doing something vaguely useful with the result").

    The solution? Punitive sanctions against the state of Texas; just to remind the government and judicial system of the good state that Texas can indeed be messed with for fun and profit.

  28. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    HW are absolute genuises!!!

    The cost of getting the case to court and then accepting the loss will be tiny compared to the interest this will drum up for the company in free PR!

    Basically the company produces next to nothing and merely wants to get some free advertising. They shout their mouth of about some patent they believe they have a claim on, knowing full well it won't really have a snowball's chance, next thing their company name is all over 'da toobs'. Imagine if you had some crappy little company that is barely scraping by, you have some vague patent claim, you threaten the big boys and you get loads of interest from variosu parties all trying to find out about your company an hopefully some money comes in for the products you do make!

  29. MJI Silver badge

    I could see hit squads on this

    I reckon in the medium term some of the large companies might take a less legal way of dealing with these patent trolls.

    Actually I am surprised it has not yet happened.

    <- Portrait of H-W s lawyer

  30. The Nameless Mist

    is an "IP Phone" the same as an "iPhone" ?

    The patent refers heavily to the concept of an IP Phone.

    Question - is this the same as their legal target of "iPhone" / etc.

  31. John I'm only dancing

    Patent trolling

    My patent: "The means by which Patent trolls must work" Seeing as they all in breach of my patent, pay me now for your infringements.

  32. NoneSuch Silver badge

    In order to qualify for any patent court case...

    ...the applicant must provide a WORKING product that follows the outline of the patent described.

    You should not be able to sue unless you can demonstrate the technology clearly with the logic that your business is being threatened by unlicensed competitor product(s). In most cases these cases are brought by companies that only own the patent and no ability to produce even one item.

    If you cannot produce the item your patent describes then you cannot be hurt financially when others make it. Sitting on a patent with no intent of using it should invalidate it or even better, toss it into the public domain for the benefit of all.

  33. Madgwick

    And what did the European Patent Office do?

    It can be a useful indication of the long term outcome to check what happened in the corresponding application EPA 05729211.

    Here you have it. Examiner commented in a letter dated November 21, 2007 that there was a lack of novelty, and it was not apparent which part of the application could serve as the basis for an allowable claim. The applicant abandoned at that stage. Cost kept to a minimum.

    Maybe in the USA the procedure takes a little longer and the Examiner's job is ultimately done by the Supreme court.

    Same outcome expected?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      The EPA...

      ... is often much more on the ball with this sort of thing.

      Unfortunately, the US PTO can go completely the other way and bring up all sorts of utterly bogus objections to something that is genuinely novel ("this hardware includes a state machine; it is well known that a state machine can be implemented in software therefore this is not novel" WTF!)

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