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Spanish Firm Wins Tablet Case Against Apple 151

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-the-sue-goes-on dept.
pmontra writes "A Spanish company has won a legal case against Apple and will be able to sell an Android tablet that Apple had claimed infringes on the iPad patent. It is now seeking damages from Apple for a temporary seizure of its products by Spanish customs. Furthermore they are pursuing an antitrust complaint against Apple, alleging abusive anticompetitive behavior."
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Spanish Firm Wins Tablet Case Against Apple

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  • All I can say is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rexdude (747457) on Friday November 04, 2011 @03:12AM (#37944916)

    Excellent!.

    • by siddesu (698447) on Friday November 04, 2011 @03:16AM (#37944928)

      And all I can add is:

      • there should be stiff penalties for frivolous lawsuits and
      • here's one more piece of solid proof that "IP" is mostly used to stiffle competition and innovation, not to promote it.
      • Re:All I can say is (Score:5, Informative)

        by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday November 04, 2011 @03:25AM (#37944972)

        there should be stiff penalties for frivolous lawsuits and

        There are, if you can prove that its frivolous and/or using the court systems as an anti-competitive hammer. If the court really decides that youre a nuisance, they can nail you pretty hard.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          there should be stiff penalties for frivolous lawsuits and

          There are, if you can prove that its frivolous and/or using the court systems as an anti-competitive hammer. If the court really decides that youre a nuisance, they can nail you pretty hard.

          Well in that case how big has the nail got to be to completely trash apple for good

          • Courts once started fining Microsoft $1mil per day for failure to comply with a court order.

            I dont care how big you are, that starts to hurt pretty quickly; and if you think that is the upper limit that a court can nail you for if you continue to be belligerent, you are wrong.

            • Courts once started fining Microsoft $1mil per day for failure to comply with a court order.

              I dont care how big you are, that starts to hurt pretty quickly; and if you think that is the upper limit that a court can nail you for if you continue to be belligerent, you are wrong.

              Well, no. $1M/day (call it $365M/yr) is not a large amount of money for a corporation whose annual operating expenses are 75X that paltry sum (MSFT operating expenses in 2010 were $28B.) Why would a company like Microsoft, or Apple, or any other company with a twelve digit market cap worry about a nine digit fine? That is just another (relatively small) operating expense, as far as their bottom line is concerned, and if it allows them to continue to throttle competition, it can be easily justified to the

        • Re:All I can say is (Score:4, Interesting)

          by prefec2 (875483) on Friday November 04, 2011 @07:24AM (#37945866)

          That's why only big companies can use this method against small companies to prevent competition. The other way round is too dangerous for the attacker. However, this shall not be confused with so-called patent trolls, who work on technology patents and not on "design" patents.

        • by waterbear (190559) on Friday November 04, 2011 @07:39AM (#37945936)

          >> "there should be stiff penalties for frivolous lawsuits"

          > There are, if you can prove that its frivolous and/or using the court systems as an anti-competitive hammer. If the court really decides that youre a nuisance, they can nail you pretty hard.

          But it's so costly and difficult to run that particular legal marathon, hardly anybody has ever completed the course. (Really, has anybody _ever_ actually completed it?)

          The problem is more fundamental: "The grant of invalid patents is a serious evil insomuch as it tends to the restraint of trade and to the embarrassment of honest traders and inventors..."
          That was the Fry Committee in 1901, recognizing that fundamental truth. The same applies, of course, to other forms of IP as well, not only patents. But which policymakers and legislators in power remember that now?

          -wb-

          • by idontgno (624372) on Friday November 04, 2011 @10:13AM (#37947228) Journal

            But it's so costly and difficult to run that particular legal marathon, hardly anybody has ever completed the course. (Really, has anybody _ever_ actually completed it?)

            Novell, in SCO v. Novell [groklaw.net]

            But that instance is legendary for how the respondent stuck to its defense, and the basic bad faith and scummy practices of the plaintiff.

            And it only took 6 1/2 years, from initial complaint to Supreme Court refusing appeal.

            So... yeah, at least ONE someone has actually completed the course. It may be the exception, though.

            • by waterbear (190559)

              Ok, Novell put up a stalwart defence and won it, yes, kudos to them. And as you say, it took 6 1/2 years.

              But did they get SCO nailed for bringing an action that was frivolous or vexatious in the first place? I don't recall reading that this was part of it? So we might still be looking for any example of that.

              -wb-

          • But it's so costly and difficult to run that particular legal marathon, hardly anybody has ever completed the course. (Really, has anybody _ever_ actually completed it?)

            Righthaven might be a good example of that, for certain definitions of "frivolous".

      • Re:All I can say is (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sique (173459) on Friday November 04, 2011 @03:28AM (#37944986) Homepage

        There are. If a company is requesting the (temporary) ban on importing or selling a competitor's product, it has to feet the bill if it doesn't prevail in court. Basicly Apple has (from a legal point of view) bought all the potential shipping of the competing product for the time being.

        • Basicly Apple has (from a legal point of view) bought all the potential shipping of the competing product for the time being.

          But these companies are also competing for market share and getting their foot through the door first. Apple might well buy up all the competitors' products, burn them in a pile and sell their own for several times the price to recover the cost. They're certainly immoral enough to do this and then this arrangement would make it seem like a mistake.

          • Re:All I can say is (Score:5, Informative)

            by JAlexoi (1085785) on Friday November 04, 2011 @06:22AM (#37945628) Homepage
            No, they don't have to buy anything. They have to pay for the lost sales. I just hope that the German lawsuit falls through for Apple and they actually have to pay a lot. Samsung is no NT-K in volumes and price is comparable to iPad.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              well as they where classed as a 'pirate' company couldnt they claim each unit was a lost sale and claim $250,000 per unit using the 'music' industry product forumale!

            • I think that awarding triple damages in this case would be more appropriate than just paying for lost sales.

              • by JAlexoi (1085785)
                The law is the law and applies to Apple as well as NT-K. So it's lost sales, not triple lost sales. EC can issue penalties in the billions though....
                • by wfstanle (1188751)

                  I did not mean to imply that this can be done! All that I meant was that triple damages might be appropriate. The laws of a country might not allow such penalties but maybe they should be changed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "Steve's dead, we're fucked. Better double the staff in the legal department to protect our position while we figure out what the hell we're gunna do."
        • by Jonner (189691)

          "Steve's dead, we're fucked. Better double the staff in the legal department to protect our position while we figure out what the hell we're gunna do."

          Yeah, Apple certainly never brought frivolous patent infringement lawsuits while Steve was in charge. This is really just business as usual.

    • Re:All I can say is (Score:5, Informative)

      by CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) on Friday November 04, 2011 @09:55AM (#37947006) Journal
      Too bad that this is mostly bullshit: http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/11/translation-and-explanation-of-spanish.html [blogspot.com]

      Based on what the document says, I think the implications of this case for Apple's enforcement of its design-related rights are probably much less wide-ranging than it initially appeared. It seems that even in Spain Apple could still assert its iPad design-related rights under civil law. Also, the nature of Apple's involvement may have been limited to that of an initial complainant (who according to nt-k also filed an indictment) as opposed to that of a party litigating a case all the way through. That's what my sources say, and it's possible.

      IOW Apple didn't lose the case because they weren't really involved.

      • by idontgno (624372)

        Well, Florian Mueller's not a lawyer, and I'm not, and I'm pretty sure you're not... but that phrase "initial complainant as opposed to that of a party litigating a case" makes no sense. Does Spanish court procedure allow a party to launch a lawsuit against another and then disengage and let it fly unattended? I'm skeptical. If there's a distinction, it's an irrelevant technical one, and doesn't change anything.

        Sorry. Regardless of the legal trickeration, if Apple initiates the lawsuit, and doesn't petition

        • by mosb1000 (710161)

          Apple filed a complaint that lead to criminal charges. Criminal prosecution is always handled by the state.

        • by jonbryce (703250)

          It is a criminal case, which is usually handled by the government. If it was in England, Apple would complain to Trading Standards in the appropriate council area. Trading Standards officers would investigate, and if they think there is a case to answer, send a report to the Director of Public Prosecution. The DPP would then decide whether or not to initiate a prosecution against the company. Private prosecutions are possible, but very rare.

        • Well, Florian Mueller's not a lawyer, and I'm not, and I'm pretty sure you're not... but that phrase "initial complainant as opposed to that of a party litigating a case" makes no sense.

          So you gladly take his word for gospel when hee says Apple is doomed, and call him a fool when he says he was wrong. Hateboy if I ever saw one.

  • ... that at least 1 judge pulled his/her head out of their ass long enough to see what Apple is doing.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday November 04, 2011 @03:23AM (#37944962)

    We can only hope a few more judgements like these get the whole industry to settle down and allow a little more leeway in advancing tablet design.

    If lots of smaller companies like this start fighting back now that they see they can win, the cost of legal action all over the globe will hopefully make so little financial sense Apple will stop suing others, and with them desisting the other companies can back away too.

    • make so little financial sense Apple will stop suing others

      I take it you didn't see the 60 minutes interview with Walter Isaacson. Apple doesn't care about the money. They have $50 billion. In cash. This has absolutely nothing to do with money.

      • I take it you didn't see the 60 minutes interview with Walter Isaacson. Apple doesn't care about the money. They have $50 billion. In cash. This has absolutely nothing to do with money.

        To some extent, everyone cares about money - but also simply about success. If it stops working, why continue?

        There's another reason though why we might see Apple let up to some extent - with Steve gone, Tim Cook seems like a guy who would be less passionate about suing other companies.

        • Re:New Age (Score:4, Informative)

          by Xest (935314) on Friday November 04, 2011 @05:37AM (#37945466)

          "There's another reason though why we might see Apple let up to some extent - with Steve gone, Tim Cook seems like a guy who would be less passionate about suing other companies."

          You reckon?

          Apple only stepped up the litigation game when Jobs stepped down back in January, that's when they really took off with it. I'm actually concerned now Steve has gone despite Steve's anger towards the competition that this is more Cook's strategy, it just seems odd it started to head this way as soon as Cook started running things day to day and has escalated more and more the closer Jobs got to his death bed and hence the less involvement he was able to have with the company.

          There may be quotes now saying Jobs wanted to kill Android and such and an angry man he may have been, but he wasn't stupid - I can't say I ever liked Jobs but he didn't do what he did by thinking litigation was the solution to everything, he did it by pursuing strong product design and marketing. Cook? I'm not so sure, I get the feeling the litigation route is his favoured option because under him innovation has plummeted and litigation has rocketed.

      • Agreed. After reading the biography, I can see that Steve Jobs wasn't worried that these divices would cost him money. He was upset because he felt they were just cheap knock-offs of his own products.

        I hate hearing about how Apple doesn't innovate because "there were touch screen phones before the iPhone". Yes, their were, but they all sucked. They were harder to use than keypad phone. Then the iPhone comes out and it's not long before Google releases Android. How could anyone believe that Android is not ju

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Friday November 04, 2011 @04:29AM (#37945206) Homepage

      Unfortunately Apple has almost unlimited cash reserves and the stakes are very high, so I doubt they will relent. If they can kill or cripple all competing products it will have huge financial ramifications for years, and not just for tablets by all future devices they can patent. Pumping a few hundred million into open warfare via the courts is easily justifiable.

      The best solution would be for the EU to revise patent law to prevent its abuse. For that to happen some big EU companies will have to be attacked with clearly ridiculous patents, e.g. Airbus falling foul of a Boeing patent on "cylindrical flying machine with forward facing observation glass" or being forced to replace "rounded rectangular rubber rolling devices" with sled skis.

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        You mean the "application of doughnuts shaped rubber implements for flying apparati rolling elements"?
        Though ski's or rails could be cool for aircraft :-D
  • by IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) on Friday November 04, 2011 @03:36AM (#37945020)
    The third article has an update stating that Apple didn't litigate this case, but MAY have been behind the original complaint. Surely we need something a bit more substantial than this before we break out the standard pro/anti-Apple rhetoric?
    • by X.25 (255792) on Friday November 04, 2011 @03:43AM (#37945056)

      The third article has an update stating that Apple didn't litigate this case, but MAY have been behind the original complaint. Surely we need something a bit more substantial than this before we break out the standard pro/anti-Apple rhetoric?

      Of course, Apple was not behind this. It was my dog.

      Because he's known to sue everyone (using retarded design patent claims), and he is gaining a lot from this.

      Bad dog.

      • Of course, Apple was not behind this. It was my dog.

        Because he's known to sue everyone (using retarded design patent claims), and he is gaining a lot from this.

        Bad dog.

        This was a complaint filed under criminal law. The complainant has not been disclosed. Does your dog have a history of filing criminal complaints? Does Apple? Does it matter? Or are you just happy to post the same ill-informed nonsense in any event?

        • by zachie (2491880)
          Seriously? Name the one company that is most likely (as in almost certainly) behind all this. I really can't find an alternative to apple. While there is no 100% certainty, you can't dismiss it as "nonsense"!
        • by JAlexoi (1085785)
          Granted the side of the type of complaint is most definitely overblown, but Apple is definitely the one's behind the complaint. Why in hell would they even think of lodging a complaint that could lead to a criminal investigation?
          But we already know that Jobs was a major dick and I wouldn't be surprised that the best dicks among the dicks are the lawyers.
        • by Raenex (947668)

          Does your dog have a history of filing criminal complaints?

          I'm guessing not.

          Does Apple?

          Yes. Hmm, do you think maybe it was Apple, and not his dog?!

          • by idontgno (624372)

            Couldn't be. Florian Mueller said it wasn't Apple, and legions of fanbois rose up in agreement.

            And we know they're both always right.

            It had to be Apple's evil twin. I mean, more evil.

            (is that possible?)

      • Dilbert? Is that you?

    • by gggggggg (862650)
      The company's blog actually contradicts this: http://www.nt-k.com/blog/ [nt-k.com]

      This started back in November 2010, when customs blocked import due to a request from Apple. An official notice was sent to the spanish company from Apple requesting they destroy the tablets. (Funny how they expected this to be done if they were blocked by customs...).
      On the 9th of December Apple officially fully took the case to court as they'd warned they would unless the action (destroying the blocked import) was taken.

      The spa
    • by chrb (1083577)

      The third article has an update stating that Apple didn't litigate this case

      Not quite. The update states:

      the nature of Apple's involvement may have been limited to that of an initial complainant (who according to nt-k also filed an indictment) as opposed to that of a party litigating a case all the way through. That's what my sources say, and it's possible.

      "may have been.. it's possible", says Mr Florian Mueller... Anything is possible, I would prefer him to report the facts rather than his speculative opinion.

    • Just out of curiosity, if a company making Android-based tablets gets sued because they are too similar to an iPad, who stands to gain from that? Are you seriously assuming that Apple is not involved in this? Who is it, Microsoft? Only Microsoft and Apple are going to sue Android tablet makers over a design patent, and which of those two has a history of actually doing so? Microsoft has filed suits over issues in Android itself over software patents, but I can't find a single record of Microsoft filing

  • Why not call it the NPK Pad and sell it to farmers?

    Also, since most people won't click on the links, you need to see this entry that's now at the top of link #3:

    [UPDATE on November 3, 2011] I have meanwhile published a follow-up post that shows and translates the court order dismissing the case and explains that apparently Apple did not actually litigate this case -- its involvement appears to have been limited to an indictment. [/UPDATE]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of course Apple didn't litigate this case -- it was a criminal case, and was therefore litigated by the public prosecutor *as all criminal cases are*. It would definitely appear, however, that the case was instigated by a *complaint* made by Apple.

    • by JAlexoi (1085785)
      And I didn't actually litigate a case against the person who mugged me, though I did file the complaint and pointed at him in the line-up.
      Unlike civil cases, criminal cases always proceed regardless of what the actual victim says.
      A complaint is only one piece of proof to start an investigation. I mean, otherwise why would a murder case be investigated at all? Since the victim never files a complaint or a lawsuit.
  • Google and Samsung saw and deemed "attaboy!".
  • Code ownership (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andydread (758754) on Friday November 04, 2011 @03:48AM (#37945078)
    Apple's attempt to own the code that other developers write has failed in this case. They will continue their mission though. They are using software-patents to take ownership of other people's code. It a horrible horrible development in the software industry. Filing patents on applications and gestures just so they can claim ownership over code that they did not write. This egregious behavior on the part of Apple is really showing their true colors. Apple followed by Microsoft and Oracle are the most anti-competitive companies in the software industry and people who are aware of this egregious behavior on the part of Apple and still go out and purchase their products are simply willfully supporting this kind of abuse and litigious practice in the software marketplace and are willfully helping Apple to destroy the software marketplace by removing consumer choice with these despicable practices.
    • Re:Code ownership (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JAlexoi (1085785) on Friday November 04, 2011 @06:36AM (#37945688) Homepage
      You do realise that in this case the claims were not grounded in software anything?
      • by idontgno (624372)

        I guess "patent on rectangle with rounded corners" is vastly more reasonable than "patent on mathematical algorithm implemented in software".

        </sarcasm>

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04, 2011 @04:33AM (#37945230)

    http://www.totaltele.com/view.aspx?ID=468916

  • by Anonymous Coward
    what is really anti-competitive? Apples legal actions, or the fact that many of these patents are based on software patents which are based on total BS.
    • by hey! (33014)

      what is really anti-competitive? Apples legal actions, or the fact that many of these patents are based on software patents which are based on total BS.

      That's like asking: what kills more people, guns or bullets?

      Patents are inherently anti-competitive. That's the POINT. A patent protects you from competition, but to avail yourself of that protection, you have to have the willingness to take legal action. It follows that a bogus patent is necessarily *immorally* anti-competitive because it threatens force against people who want to do something they have every right to do. The bogus patent is the threat, the legal action is the force that fulfills the th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They weren't expecting the Spanish Inquisition!

  • by BlueScreenO'Life (1813666) on Friday November 04, 2011 @06:05AM (#37945572)
    ...but suspended, awaiting further evidence.

    Sobreseimiento (as in the original report) [scribd.com] != dismissal

    Just nitpicking, though. I don't think there is a case.

    • by JAlexoi (1085785)
      On the other hand, criminal cases can be in a suspended state for centuries.
  • I disagree with those that are criticizing the article. I found it very educational, I had no idea the entire iPad was covered by a single patent.

  • I guess nobody expected that.

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