Apple and Samsung find themselves on the same side in patent fight

Apple and Samsung find themselves on the same side in patent fight

Summary: In an ironic twist, Apple and Samsung, bitter patent foes, find themselves on the same side of a battle against Enterprise Systems Technologies, a patent troll.

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Apple and Samsung fighting the same foe? What's next? New York Yankee and Boston Red Sox fans singing "Kumbaya" together? Manchester United and Liverpool FC supporters taking up joint knitting lessons?

Patent Absurdity

It's actually just another case of businesses being attacked by the same patent troll. In this case, Luxembourg-based Enterprise Systems Technologies (EST) SARL. This newly formed company owns five patents formerly owned by Siemens.

These patents cover technology used for automatic downloads, hands-free telephonynetwork bandwidth optimization, an audio jack that can be shared by a telephone and media player, and an instant message routing system.

In each complaint, EST claims that the companies it's suing create devices that are "communications or computing devices, or components thereof, including for example but without limitation, smartphone handsets, tablet computers, e-readers, media players, laptop computers, and other communication- and/or computing-capable consumer electronic devices...embodying the 5,870,610 Patent."

EST says that the company has known of this "infringement since at least, and through, the filing and service of the Complaint," and that EST is entitled to recover damages to compensate for the infringement. The wording is the same for each company EST is suing.

The businesses being sued by EST, besides Apple and Samsung, include HTC, LG, and Cirrus Logic. Microsoft, it appears, has paid the troll off.

If the companies don't pay off, EST has asked the Federal Trade Commission to ban the import of all infringing products such as Samsung’s Galaxy S5, Apple’s iPhone 5S, the Apple Macbook Air, the LG Nexus 5 and HTC One M8.

EST is also suing Apple, Cirrus, and Qualcomm and Audience for patent infringement in Delaware federal court; it's suing Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola Mobility and Amazon in the notoriously patent-troll friendly Eastern District of Texas court.

I like to call EST's approach the shotgun theory of patent litigation: Blast away at all possible targets and hope for the best.

So that's why, even as Apple's and Samsung's long, enormously expensive patent wars slowly fizzle out, the two enemies find themselves on the same side verus a patent troll. Isn't it time we reformed the patent system once and for all?

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Topics: Mobility, Apple, Legal, Patents, Samsung

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15 comments
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  • This is like hedge funds

    They play the system to extract unearned money.
    happyharry_z
    • Playing the System

      Did Microsoft play the system? It paid off the troll first and gave it money to go after others. It probably got a much lower pay off since it was first. Others will probably spend more in total to defend themselves than Microsoft is spending.
      MichaelInMA
      • Can anyone validate that or are we to trust what SJVN says about Microsoft?

        It isn't like he doesn't constantly bend over backwards to twist anything and everything he can to criticize Microsoft.

        It may just be that EST doesn't have a case with Microsoft, MS already had a license for the patents or some other agreement with Siemens prior to EST buying them.
        Emacho
        • Standard ad hominem attack

          If the opinion is valid, then it doesn't matter who made it; if it's not, it doesn't matter who made it (we judge the trees by the fruit, not the other way around). If you think SJVN is wrong, then argue with him (but provide real arguments).

          But why do you care if SJVN is biased against MS? Do you work there?
          John L. Ries
      • Nice trolling

        Go back in your mothers basement and play with your toys.
        hoppmang
        • MS Fan Boy

          Actually I am an MS fan boy. If you have seen my other posts you would know that. I think this was a smart move on Microsoft's part.
          MichaelInMA
  • Well, EST bought the rights from Siemens so .....

    Presumably Siemens would be chasing them for royalties if EST wasn't.

    The question is not "Are they a troll and are they suing a lot of people"?
    The question is "Do they own the rights and are QC,AAPL HTC, Samsung etc. violating their IP!"

    If I'd patented all that stuff that made their products more desirable then I'd want my share of the pie too.
    P0l0nium
    • Wrong question...

      No need to make any presumptions here. If Siemens created the patents (note that EST bought them, they didn't patent the ideas) and Siemens didn't pursue protecting their patents, it can be (and likely will be) argued that Siemens by non-defense put them in the public sphere. Probably the most important questions are when the patents were granted, when prior presumed infringers were notified and licensed, and what is the elapsed time between the patents and the development of the challenged products.
      AlBanting
      • Or even whether the patents are even valid.

        Especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decisions...
        jessepollard
  • Hmm

    So SJVN have proof of Microsoft "Paying off" the patent troll. Or is he assuming since they are not named in this lawsuit. I really do not know why I bother clicking on his articles. Guess it is like a car accident, I just can't turn away. I think all SJVN articles, need to state they are by him upfront, so we can avoid him. I do not mind the Microsoft bashing as long as it is deserved and can be backed up by facts. Something SJVN I feel does not understand or know how to get.
    schultzycom
    • Agreed

      It would definitely be a good idea to state the writer of the article so that we don't have to endure Ed Bott's pro-MS dribble.
      davidr69
  • Don't make yourself loo stupid. read the links.

    Everyone accusing the author of concocting the theory that Microsoft is paying these guys ought to take the time to read the links in the article before making themselves look foolish. The link provided in the 7th paragraph is to an article that claims that the company is licensing its IP to Microsoft already:

    "The privately held company, which licenses the patents at issue to Microsoft Corp., also named HTC Corp., LG Electronics and Cirrus Logic Inc. in its July 16 complaint."
    dsf3g
  • I cannot see how the 5,870,610 Patent holds against them.

    The patent is for PC's and explains how to auto-update via IRQ, DMA, etc using a hardwired connection. The patent dates to 1996 (filing date) and 1999 (approval) and was created AFTER Microsoft Win95 introduced Windows Update. The patent even refers to Microsoft's Win95 and 3.1 as a part of the patent itself. Reading the citations and the patent I think that Siemens never enforced the patent as it was unenforceable.
    Thomas Kolakowski
  • The main contradiction...

    ...is that MS and other incumbent tech firms want software patents to use as weapons against open source developers, upstarts, and rivals; but don't want them used against them by speculators. That's really where the "non-practicing entity" concept comes in; as an effort to deligitimize one class of patent troll; while continuing to assert that the practices they employ are legitimate; (as long as they're employed only by successful companies led by real ladies and gentlemen; instead of by freelancers who talk funny and wear ugly suits), as are the patents in question, and current USPTO standards for issuing new ones.

    But the real problem is that the scope of patents now goes far beyond anything Congress intended when it wrote the law, and that the standards in the statute are not adequately enforced. Fix those problems and patent trolling will become obsolete, but at the cost of the vast majority of patents currently held being declared invalid.
    John L. Ries
    • Elaboration

      It should be difficult to impossible to accidentally violate a patent. The fact that it happens all the time and patent trolls exploit it is proof that patents are way too easy to get (if one employs the right lawyers, at any rate) and at present have nothing at all to do with "progress in science and the useful arts".
      John L. Ries