Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll That Targets its Competition

December 13, 2011 -

According to this Ars Technica report, Apple has allied itself with a known patent troll to take out its enemies. The company has had some covert dealings with Digitude Innovations, a company that enjoys being paid in patents so it can beat the hell out of companies in court.

Digitude launched one of its first legal attacks earlier this month against some of the biggest mobile hardware players in the world including Nokia, RIM, Motorola, HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony, and even Amazon. The company filed a patent infringement claim with the International Trade Commission. Apple was not on that list, of course. Apple owned two of the patents that are being used in the legal action as recently as November.

The iOS device maker recently transferred ownership of a dozen patents to a shell company called Cliff Island LLC, which shares a New York office with the investment firm Altitude Capital Partners. That company was founded by Altitude investor Robert Kramer, who also owns a big chunk of Digitude.

Altitude has funded efforts in the past to win settlements from Microsoft, RIM, and eBay over patent disputes. Earlier this year, Kramer put up a whopping $50 million of Altitude's funds to found Digitude. The money helped the company get over 500 "consumer electronics patents" for licensing and litigation.

"Our goal is to generate great returns for our investors," Kramer told Forbes in June. "We have reached out to many of our prospective customers to encourage them to become early strategic licensees."

According to Ars, Digitude makes deals with licensees for blanket access to its patent portfolio. Digitude prefers payment in patents instead of money so that it can either garner new licensees or sue them in court.

In April Digitude said that it had signed its first strategic deal with "one of the world's leading consumer electronics companies." It did not mention Apple specifically, but the dozen patents Apple turned over to Cliff Island were acquired in April of this year from Mitsubishi. These patents relate to "mobile communications devices" or "mobile terminals."

Those patents were transferred to Cliff Island in late November, with the two patents involved in an ITC dispute being transferred to Digitude the following day. Days after the transfer Digitude filed a complaint with the ITC. Further proof of a relationship between Apple and Digitude is a confidential license agreement involving both companies that was filed as evidence in the ITC case.

While its unknown just how deep of a relationship the two companies have at this point, Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Julie Samuels told TechCrunch that "it would be horrifying" if this story is true. Samuels also doubts that there was any coercion aimed at Apple either because the company is quite comfortable suing when it needs to. When you are as big as Apple you always have options.

Source: Ars Technica


Comments

Re: Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll ...

Come on, Apple.  You can do quite well for yourself simply by continuing to exploit your inexplicably fanatical legion of iTools.  No need to try to trash your competition with this kind of shady bullshit.

Re: Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll ...

Disgusting, yet not surprising in the least.

Re: Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll ...

I told everyone that Apple would become "big brother".

Re: Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll ...

I wonder if tech companies will ever get enough of their lobbying act together to finally kill software patents....

Re: Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll ...

Who do you think uses software patents?

Re: Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll ...

Patent trolls mostly. Most really software developers are against software patents.

Re: Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll ...

Though they are generally against them, a lot of them still own them in huge numbers to protect themselves from patent trolls. IBM started soaking up all the Unix related patents it could during the SCO mess to keep them from finding their way into SCO's hands and spawning more expensive litigation.

The legitimate big boys aren't above patent trolling themselves. They've been on the victim's end lately, but in the 90's most of them loved them some software patent lawsuits. Apple and Microsoft kept going back and forth with software patents over CD drive features they both used - autoplay, music play, insert detection, software eject, auto eject, boot-from-CD... I don't even remember who sued who on most of them anymore.

Re: Report: Apple's Strange Relationship with Patent Troll ...

SO basically Apple is being anti-competitive again, much to the surprise of no one I suppose. They do seem pretty determined to make sure you can't take your money elsewhere.

 
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ZippyDSMleeEh still rather subjective… the haters would be better off going after teen and beauty rags and magazines than fiction, fiction follows reality and going after fiction tends to turn into a bullying fest’s… plus its fiction its unrealistic to start with….02/27/2015 - 1:10am
MechaTama31That's a pretty difficult anatomy to break.02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
MechaTama31"the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy" <-- I'm sorry, but we are talking here about the woman who can roll up into a little ball and live to tell the tale, yes? ;)02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
Andrew EisenAs far as examples that could be culled from female game characters though, that one's pretty mild.02/26/2015 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenNot as much the heels or the suit in and of themselves but certainly the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy to show off her lady bits.02/26/2015 - 9:10pm
E. Zachary KnightWell, Samus's heels are certainly impracticable, but I wouldn't really call her Zero suit objectified. I don't really feel that the new Lara Croft is objectified either, but that is my subjective opinion.02/26/2015 - 9:08pm
Andrew EisenTomb Raider: No but we haven't seen much of anything yet. Samus: Yes.02/26/2015 - 9:07pm
ZippyDSMleeWould you call the new tomb raider objectified? WOuld Samus Aran from the new Smash bros be objectified?02/26/2015 - 9:02pm
WonderkarpI'm hoping they put the rest of the comic book ghostbusters in there. Ortiz and Rookie(From GB the game)02/26/2015 - 8:38pm
Wonderkarpghostbusters board game is doing great. getting close too a 3rd extra playable Character. Ron Alexander.02/26/2015 - 8:37pm
Andrew EisenSmurfette is not subjective. If there's more than one female character, it's not Smurfette. Anyway, as with everything on the list, Smurfette is, in and of itself, not necessarily a bad thing.02/26/2015 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI think there's 5 women (out of 15, I think) but other than one being a bit more "hippy" than the others, they pretty much all have the same body type. Especially when compaired to the huge variety of male body types.02/26/2015 - 8:31pm
Wonderkarpso I dont see Smurfette as a bad thing. Unless like all your female characters are Smurfette. remember the Smurfs also had Sassette02/26/2015 - 8:29pm
E. Zachary KnightOne good example of the larger issues is one Anita used in the presentation, Blizzard's Overwatch game. There are a dozen men in the game with a dozen body types. But there are only 4 women with 2 body types, but 3 of them have the same one.02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
Wonderkarpthe smurfette thing is subjective to how many female characters you have. Take Sonic for example. You have Amy, who is obvious smurfette, but there's several other female characters now without that. Including the original animated seriescomics with Sally02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
E. Zachary KnightAE. Very true. I think that is where I was going, but it didn't come out right. Jack Harkness is sexy but not objectified. Whereas, a women would have to be objectified in order to be "sexy" in most games.02/26/2015 - 8:26pm
E. Zachary KnightAnd as Andrew pointed out, there is a big difference between a sexualized man, and an idealized man. But for some reason, there is no distinction between women in games. For the most part.02/26/2015 - 8:25pm
Andrew EisenI think one of the issues we run into repeatedly with these conversations is the confusion over "sexy" and "sexually objectified."02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightYet, for some reason, in orde rto have a sexualized women, she must be wearing lingerie or a bikini. Can't women be sexual and still dress for the job at hand?02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightThe problem I have with complaints of "sexualized men" is that men don't have to wear speedos to be sexualized. Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood/Doctor Who, was one sexy man, but he spent 99% of his time in a WW2 soldier's trenchcoat.02/26/2015 - 8:23pm
 

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