Apple speaks out against patent trolls after facing a record 92 lawsuits in three years

apple

Photo: edudemic.com

arsTechnica drew our attention to some unusually forthright comments from Apple’s lawyers on the subject of patent trolls, in a public FTC filing. Apple revealed that it had been the subject of 92 lawsuits by patent assertion entities over the course of the past three years, more than any other company.

Apple has rarely lost on the merits. But victory figures are small consolation, because in every one of these cases, Apple has been forced to bear its legal fees. This reality is the lifeblood of the patent assertion industry… Indeed, the opening line of many negotiations is some form of, “What we’re asking for is less than it will cost you to litigate this case to judgment.” It should come as no surprise, then, that despite its success in litigating the merits, for business purposes Apple has agreed to a settlement in 51 of the 57 closed cases.

Apple’s legal team used particularly direct language when referring to Lodsys, a company which claims to hold a patent on in-app purchases and which litigates against small developers who cannot afford the legal costs of fighting the case …  Read more

Apple faces class-action lawsuit over do-not-hire arrangements with other companies

apple

A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against Apple and several other companies can proceed as a class-action suit today after determining that a significant number of employees across the tech industry were hurt by “do-not-hire” arrangements between their employers and other companies. The policies in question were practiced by Apple, Google, Adobe, Pixar, and more as a way of keeping their own employees from defecting to competitors for higher pay. Essentially the agreements barred two companies from offering jobs to competing employees for a higher salary. Because doing so gave employees leverage with which to bargain for higher pay at their own jobs, employers were often faced with the decision to either pay any given employee more to keep them around or lose them to a competitor willing to pay more.

Read more

US DOJ/States wins e-book pricing case against Apple, damages to follow

denise-cote-decoder-judge-apple

Update: Apple provided a comment to AllThingsD and confirmed it will appeal the decision:

“Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We’ve done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge’s decision.”

Reuters reports that a judge just ruled that Apple conspired to raise the retail prices of e-books and said a trial for damages will soon follow:

The decision by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote[pictured, right] in Manhattan is a victory for the U.S. government and various states, which the judge said are entitled to injunctive relief. The publishers have already settled with the federal government on e-book pricing. Cote ruled after a non-jury trial that ended on June 20.

Apple warned that a guilty verdict in its e-book price-fixing case could have a negative impact on how digital media deals are negotiated in the US and Apple CEO Tim Cook even called the suit ‘bizarre':

The e-book case to me is bizarre. We’ve done nothing wrong there, and so we’re taking a very principled position. … We’re not going to sign something that says we did something we didn’t do. … So we’re going to fight.

The DOJ had argued that Apple had conspired to raise prices with all of the publishers and hurt rival Amazon.

Interestingly, according to the NYTimes, one of the most damning pieces of evidence in the government’s case is the video below of Steve Jobs talking with Walt Mossberg. Per Daring Fireball: Mossberg asks Jobs why someone would buy a book for $14.99 from the iBookstore when they could buy the same book from Amazon for $9.99.

Jobs: Well, that won’t be the case.

Mossberg: Meaning you won’t be $14.99, or they won’t be $9.99?

Jobs (smiling): The prices will be the same.

Read more

Apple abandons App Store trademark case against Amazon

5-years-of-App-Store

Apple’s long-running lawsuit against Amazon for its use of the “App Store” trademark might finally be coming to an end as Reuters reports a judge has dismissed the case at the request of the companies. The report claims U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in California dismissed the case “after Apple issued to Amazon a covenant not to sue, eliminating the need for Amazon to pursue a related counterclaim.”

“We no longer see a need to pursue our case,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said. “With more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favorite apps.”

A spokesperson for Amazon said “This was a decision by Apple to unilaterally abandon the case, and leave Amazon free to use ‘appstore’. Read more

Apple not allowed to add Galaxy S4 in ongoing Samsung dispute, plans to file new lawsuit

Samsung-GalaxyS4-vs-iPhone-5

Back in May, Apple was attempting to add Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S4 as an infringing device in its ongoing, second major patent dispute with Samsung in California. It was also claiming that Samsung infringed two Siri related patents with the device’s Google Now voice assistant feature. Now, according to a report from Bloomberg, Apple has been denied its request to add the device with  U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal claiming it would be a “a “tax on the court’s resources”:

Adding another product to the case is a “tax on the court’s resources,” Grewal said in the ruling. “Each time these parties appear in the courtroom, they consume considerable amounts of the court’s time and energy, which takes time way from other parties who also require and are entitled to the court’s attention.”

Apple lawyer Josh Krevitt claims that denying to add the device in the ongoing patent suit would force Apple to “‘file a new lawsuit’ because the Samsung products covered by the case will be out of date by trial next year.”  Read more

Class action lawsuit claims iPhone 4 has defective power button nearly three years after its launch

iPhone-4-power-button

Nearly three years after the device first launched, GigaOm points us to a recently filed class action lawsuit that claims Apple’s iPhone 4 has a defective power button. The lawsuit claims that a defective flex cable typically causes the on/off switch to fail shortly after the device’s one year warranty has expired. It also claimsApple is aware of the problem, which is costing users around $149 to fix off of warranty.

Apple of course still sells the iPhone 4 through a number of carrier partners as its low end, $0 down iPhone option.

According to the lawsuit, “thousands of iPhone 4 users have suffered” from the issue that Apple allegedly knew existed before manufacturing and selling the device. The problem has never received a lot of mainstream media coverage or a response from Apple, but the lawsuit notes that a support forum on Apple’s website boasts over 800K views since first popping up in January 2011.                                                                                                        
Read more