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.

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MattsworknameOn some days conster, i've wanted to rip into subjects like theres no tomarow, but some times, it's just not the time for it.05/05/2015 - 6:00am
MattsworknameConster, thats fine, and I understand what your saying, Im just saying that right now, baltimoore it not a subject to get into right now.05/05/2015 - 5:59am
ConsterMy comment was meant as "maybe people have done less hateful things 'in the name of GG' lately because they've moved on to other hateful activities", not a dig at GG itself.05/05/2015 - 4:29am
ConsterSecond, I based my remark on an actual article about trolls pretending to be Baltimore looters on Twitter using old photos, and their accounts having references to (among others) GG.05/05/2015 - 4:24am
ConsterIanC, EZK: there is nothing 'sick' or 'uncalled for' about what I said. First of all, I specifically said "*The trolls hiding behind* GG", which seperates the people making death and rape threats from GG, which is precisely what GG'ers want.05/05/2015 - 4:22am
MattsworknameHey, just a question, but did GP report on the UK teachers union threatening to report parents for letting kids play 18 plus games?05/05/2015 - 3:30am
Mattsworknamehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVLIgsf6qcs Jason comes to MKX, And you know what, yeah, he is right at home!05/04/2015 - 11:35pm
Mattsworknameequally importat reaons . I find it strange that worf says something i agree with so much, yet i know people who woudl fight bloodily about it. Kinda silly05/04/2015 - 10:56pm
MattsworknameI mysef love both of them, Im a huge fan of wars and trek, and It was a big part of my childhood for different, but e05/04/2015 - 10:55pm
MechaTama31I really liked the first reboot Trek. Of course, I have generally liked other Abrams movies. The newer Trek movie had its moments, but wasn't as good, imho.05/04/2015 - 10:43pm
Craig R.Wife is a huge Wars fan, doesn't think much of Abrams either. So, we've found some common ground...05/04/2015 - 10:39pm
Craig R.I'm more of a Trek than Wars fan, but haven't watched either reboot film, don't care for Abrams05/04/2015 - 10:38pm
MechaTama31RE: Trek vs. Wars, I've always liked both, and although I often hear it said that the fanbases are at odds, I have never seen a shred of that in real life. Online, sure, but the internet amplifies that kind of thing, we all know that.05/04/2015 - 10:23pm
MechaTama31Because GG "tainted" those other opinions, and you couldn't express them without also implying support for all the other crap the jerk faces did.05/04/2015 - 10:19pm
MechaTama31Any GG-related discussion I got involved in, if someone expressed anything even tangentially supportive of anything GG supported, that person was guilty by association of everything GG did (whether they mentioned GG or not).05/04/2015 - 10:18pm
MechaTama31"There's no need for anyone who's not a jerk face to admit to vile actions they didn't commit." That's a nice thought, AE, but that's certainly not how it goes down, even here.05/04/2015 - 10:17pm
Goth_SkunkI for one do agree with him. I always have, as a fan of both franchises. Hopefully with J.J. Abrams doing both the Star Wars AND the Star Trek films, that'll help mend this silly rift between fanbases.05/04/2015 - 9:50pm
MattsworknameWell said MR worf, well said, but I doubt the treks and the star wars fans agree05/04/2015 - 9:44pm
PHX CorpMichael Dorn tells Star Trek and Star Wars fans that both fanbases are all part of the same Scifi family https://twitter.com/akaWorf/status/59528225364038860805/04/2015 - 9:29pm
MattsworknameAmen andrew, Amen05/04/2015 - 8:51pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician