back to article You've accused Apple of patent infringement. You want to probe the iOS source in a closed-room environment. What to do in a pandemic?

A judge has approved the use of so-called remote review laptops in a patent battle between Apple and Japanese tech manufacturer Maxell so lawyers can continue their case during the coronavirus pandemic. In the order this week, the US federal district judge noted the courts may require "unconventional practices and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Software patents

    Just say "NO!".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      There really are people who think these are a good idea.

  2. Steve Todd

    A quick scan and they look like BS to me

    I’m not a patent lawyer, but things like producing a ringing sound on an incoming call/message doesn’t strike me as new or innovative.

    Many of the patent are also old and either expired or due to expire shortly.

    Not the US patents system’s finest moment I think.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: A quick scan and they look like BS to me

      Has the US Patent System had a fine moment in the last 50 years? Has it had a good moment? Actually i'll accept an OK moment. Has it had one of those?


  3. Michael Hoffmann

    ... of the eastern district of Texas ...

    ... oh, that sort of patent lawsuit. Their reputation precedes them. Patent trolls paradise.

  4. Empire of the Pussycat

    Ceiling cat will still be watching

    some words

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    > [Maxell must give] Apple at least an hour's notice before they start up the machine, so they [can] access the computer for that session... "At all times, all network and USB ports and wireless transmitters of each Remote Review Laptop shall be and remain disabled..." the rules state.

    Eh? How does Apple access the remote laptop if all network and wireless gubbins are disabled?

    I'm assuming that since method has been agreed to by Maxell, this apparent contradiction must lie in how the agreement has been reported on.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Well, you could for instance use that hour to walk into the room, log into the laptop as an administrator, and change the password of the user account that the reviewer will log into, and set that account to expire in, say, 8 hours.

      Although quite why they're using a laptop instead of a screen and wireless keyboard/mouse so that the computer itself can be locked in a cupboard, I do find confusing.

      1. Donn Bly

        Why not use a screen and wireless keyboard?

        1) It is trivial for me to install an HDMI recorder between a PC and a monitor

        2) I can monitor wireless communications, including keystrokes, outside of the viewing area

        1. joesomeone

          Re: Why not use a screen and wireless keyboard?

          Because lawyers are also officers of the court. While the proceedings are adversarial, they are not without scruples.

          Plus their license to practice law in that state could be on the line for any shenanigans detected by Apple after the devices are returned.

          And we're talking about Apple here, not Fazio Mechanical Services. I'm sure these are self-contained laptops and have some decent auditing cranked up on them.

    2. joesomeone


      Did you like intentionally misquote the article? I also checked the court filing and don't find your quoted text anywhere.

      Here is the paragraph, copy-pasted verbatim from the article with the emphasis mine -

      "The reviewers also have to give Apple at least an hour's notice before they start up the machine, so they can be given a single-use password to access the computer for that session, and inform them the moment they have finished. "

      So it's done with a TOTP code that probably has a 60 minute lifespan.

    3. emag

      Think OTP

      It's probably a time-based one-time password setup. Could be anything from a SecurID-style token to the TOTP apps like Google Authenticator. Apple would hold the token, and give them the valid login code for the next X hours.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and two days (or less) later

    A dark web auction will start with the prize being the whole IOS source code.

    Just my prediction. There will be some on the other side that will make sure that Apple gets stiffed in any way that they can and hang the consequences.

    This case aside, I hate it when you have to expose all your underwear to the opposition even with controls in place, there is no guarantee that a none of it will appear in public. The sanctions imposed on lawyers who spill the beans are AFAIK, laughable. By then it is too late. those lawyers are sunning themselves in places without extradition treaties with the USA and counting the millions they have in the bank. Temptation does get the better of people who should know different.

    1. joesomeone

      Re: and two days (or less) later

      With all those lines of code, I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to put in a small haikyu buried somewhere deep within that specific copy of code it that'd allow Apple to finger Maxell post-leak.

  7. Youngone

    Is this courtroom 3?

    ...relying on its arm of lawyers and vast financial resources to protect it from infringement claims.

    Oh yes. It's good to see IP laws working the way they should.

  8. DS999

    Is this the same Maxell

    That made 5.25" floppy disks back in the 80s?

    1. joesomeone

      Re: Is this the same Maxell

      And the dude in the chair being blown away by the audio from a tape -

      Now I wonder what came first... the commercial or Apocalypse Now. Based on a two-second google, seems that the movie came first. And of course the song predates the commercialization of electricity or the discovery of viruses, so that came first.

  9. Neoc

    I've often wondered...

    "...receive laptops from Apple containing the source code of Apple's iOS mobile operating system..."

    How do Lawyers (or the Techs whose shoulder the Lawyers are looking over) know that what they are getting reflects what actually exists? Lawyers request paperwork and are given boxfulls of the stuff: how do they know the defendant hasn't "misplaced" the incriminating evidence? Same with software: how do the Techs know that what they are reviewing is the actual source-code used by Apple? Are they allowed to compile it and compare the resulting executable with what is downloaded by iOS users?

    1. aki009

      Re: I've often wondered...

      They won't know for sure. But the "experts" reviewing the code are also looking to see if what they are reviewing seems out of place in some manner. If they can make a case that Apple gave them incomplete materials, there are other steps that they can take in court. However, for these kinds of lawsuits the probability of the respondent not producing the full set of materials is low. There is little to be gained from gamemanship, except the disfavor of the judge.

      1. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: I've often wondered...

        I would have thought that the risks of tampering with the material and being caught far outweigh the implications of any court outcome.

        If this tampering of evidence or material were to be uncovered the penalties are probably greater as well as the impact on any future cases that the company may bring. This being Apple, the likelihood is that then need to protect their reputation as being squeaky clean because this will not be the only litigation they they are involved in.

        1. DS999

          Re: I've often wondered...

          Yeah judges have a tendency to throw the book at parties who withhold evidence from the discovery process, and anyone who has done so would have a really hard time convincing judges in future cases that they were being fully honest.

          Plus I imagine the lawyers and executives involved in the process have to swear they are providing complete and accurate information, making it in the interest of no one involved to do this or knowingly allow it to happen.

  10. aki009

    Those patents seem pretty trivial to me...

    I eyeballed the patents and they seem to be just the kind of stuff that isn't supposed to get through the patent process. No wonder Apple is fighting them, as I'd expect Apple to be on the winning side on this one.

  11. Archivist

    In the viewing room....

    Those are elegant looking glasses Mr Hashimoto, oh Mr Kimura has the same taste!

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