back to article FaceTime now on patent troll list

A Texas-based company, Intercarrier Communications, is lining up its lawyers against a small throng of companies over a messaging patent. Apple is on the list, with FaceTime and Apple Messages accused of infringing its patent, but the company has been far busier than that. Similar suits have been filed against Iris Wireless, …


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  1. stephajn


    Surely this has to be something that is obvious isn't it? Hardly an innovative idea! Doing intercarrier messaging has really been done for ages. Just look at the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo partnering up and using only an email address as the identifier for pairing MSN Messenger users with their Yahoo Messenger friends. Or perhaps other IM programs that tied all of these different services together and within the program selected which carrier to use?

    I swear that if this goes any further than the first hearing where the judge tells them to sit down and shut up, then I am hanging up my software development hat forever because obviously nothing can be built without someone having a patent on it and having them turn around and sue you.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Seriously???

      Lets look at prior art.... Ummmmm the whole freaking internet is based on messaging between different carriers

      Someone just shoot the stupid patent office for granting this crap.

      1. frank ly

        Re: Seriously???

        Many years ago, I got a fax from the USA delivered to the fax machine where I worked in the UK. I wonder how that happened?

        1. Elmer Phud

          Re: Seriously???

          "Many years ago, I got a fax from the USA delivered to the fax machine where I worked in the UK. I wonder how that happened?"

          When you consider that data was sent via wires before voice then they really are micturating in a non-leeward direction.

          1. cortland

            Re: Seriously???

            " micturating in a non-leeward direction."

            Urine good company!

  2. solidsoup

    Oh the Irony!

    Apple has opened a Pandora's Box that will be its downfall. Apple is not a technology company, it's a marketing company. It is, therefore, profoundly stupid for Apple to use patents offensively. They were starting a fight they couldn't win in the long run. Moreover, I'm sure Apple knew that most of its patents would be found invalid upon reexamination. Yet they still used them to cause nuisance to Android/Samsung. Now world+dog is making a nuisance for Apple with mostly invalid patents, hoping Apple will pay up for them to go away. Apple didn't pioneer this tactic, but certainly popularized it. Karma's a bitch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh the Irony!

      Please, do you really think that the trolls would have left Apple alone if Apple only ever used its patents defensively? The reason there are more patent trolls going after Apple today than five years ago isn't because Apple has damaged its corporate karma by using patents offensively, it's because they've added over $100 billion to their cash hoard and thus have a target on their backs the size of Jupiter. It's a wonder some troll doesn't sue them for violating their patent on a 12 digit bank balance.

      1. solidsoup
        Thumb Down

        Re: Oh the Irony!

        No, but there would've been a lot fewer of 'em. Apple lawsuits made everyone pay attention and gave trolls quite a few useful precedents in terms of product injunctions. What Apple did was pouring water of Gremlins.

        Lookie here:

        Notice how the number of patent filings jumped in this chart around the time Android litigation started.

        As to your assertion that trolls go after Apple because its top dog. Well, that's bollocks. Apple is a hard nut to crack given the warchest of their legal department. A troll is better off picking up the low hanging fruit as Apple is more likely to litigate.

        In the long run, Apple will lose because they are do not invent new technology. They take other people's technology and repackage it into a stylish and ostensibly easy to use product that's brilliantly marketed. As such they are more reliant on other people IP being made available to them in the long run. Their opening salvo in patent war was also one that blew their own foot off.

    2. Thorne

      Re: Oh the Irony!

      Trolls were around long before Apple started trolling. It's just Apple's trolling has made trolling news worthy

      1. cortland
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Oh the Irony!

        == Apple's trolling has made trolling news worthy ==

        But in industrial quantity, might we not rebrand it "Trawling?"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So is this going to be found to be standards-essential, and therefore should have been FRAND, and come back to bite them on the arse?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      God will you morons never learn?

      Patents aren't "found" to be standards-essential, patents become FRAND one and one way ONLY - when the owner of the patent submits it to a standards organization that specifies the new standard. No one can ever be surprised if their patent is FRAND, there is no process by which a patent can become FRAND without the full knowledge and prior consent of its owner.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, these retards patented intra network routing

    Presumably the patent covers computer to computer messaging over ARPANET?

  5. Chads

    Prior art in Europe?

    As the article points out, SMS has been able to do this in Europe for years. It seems to be the case (reading more than just the abstract) that in the US you have to (or had to) append a domain name when sending an SMS to a phone on a different network and the invention appears to be a database to determine which carrier a particular number belongs to (something the carriers must already have had surely otherwise cross-network calling wouldn't work) and the use of an IP network to connect the two telcos, something for which European prior art must surely exist.

    In any event the age of the company screams TROLL!! Given that the patent system is supposed to protect inventors, why is it even possible to buy patents? As soon as a patent is sold it no longer protects the inventor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Prior art in Europe?

      The reason a patent can be sold is to allow the inventor to make money out of it without having to put the cash up to use or develop it themselves. Selling it without giving the new owner protection is worthless.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Prior art in Europe?

      The patent is wider ranging than SMS. It includes SMS between CDMA and GSM (Which, I'm not sure is covered by the current messaging system) and between mobile phones and IP addresses. (There were gateways in the late 90s that did allow you to send SMS messages to GSM phones - but this is more a bidirectional thing)

      1. Alexander Vollmer

        Re: Prior art in Europe?

        Our company used a gateway between telex and MHS, depending only on the phone number and a table mapping the service type and address, from the midst of the 80s to the end of the nineties, over time telex was replaced by SMS and fax, MHS by SMTP. It was done by the IT department and never patented, cause it lacks the amount of invention which was needed to get a German patent at that time. Obvious usage of prior art is a exclusion criterion to get a patent in many countries.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Prior art in Europe?

        The patent is wider ranging than SMS

        And it covers routing email addressed by phone number as well. Basically it's "use a phone number as an address for all sorts of messaging services, by using it as a key in a database of messaging services, providers, and addresses".

        I'm not going to claim that's novel or interesting, but it would be nice if more than one or two of the people who comment on these Patent Troll of the Week articles could be bothered to read a few paragraphs of the patent, before coming here to wave their ignorance about. For that matter, Richard could have spent five minutes reading the claims of the patent, and another five explaining why it's not just "sending SMS to another carrier".

  6. Resound

    Any respose to this should describe the litigant as "adorable" and the action itself as "so cute, almost like real patent law".

  7. JaitcH

    What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

    It's about time someone other than the usual suspects started chasing Apple around.

    Apple still has between 800-900 claims against it outstanding.

  8. I Am Spartacus

    Iconic mess

    Report on FaceTime being under patent threat. Use FaceBook icon for story.

    "Time? Book? Ohh,. it's an IT newsboard, no one will notice".

    Come on Reg, you can do better than this.

  9. Darkwolf


    Prior art may exist in US 6085100 , issued in Jul 4, 2000, a full 3 years before their patent.

    At a minimum, they should have cited this in their patent , however they do not appear to do so.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err stuff SMS

    The bloody Telegraph system did this...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err stuff Telegraphy

    Before telegraphy, human messengers did this using nothing but a person's name

    This patent should have belonged to the postal service.

  12. Cyberspice

    Apple bashing, how original!

    Actually the reason they're going after Apple is because as a *sole* manufacturer they sill have one of the biggest shares of the mobile/tablet market there is!

    As for Apple never innovating. You guys crack me up!

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. arober11

    All standardised in the 1990's by the GSM and IDEG/WP4

    I'm sure this wall all standardised by the GSM and IDEG/WP4 working groups in the mid to late 1990's.

    Some background reading:

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