Monday, December 12th 2011

Apple Outsources IP Disputes to Patent Trolls

These are some lively times at Apple's legal department. The company is locked in intellectual property disputes with multiple companies, in multiple countries. Some of these are familiar foes such as Motorola Mobility and Samsung, others regional and lesser-known. The one thing patent disputes do, to all parties involved in them, is dent PR. Every legal dispute attracts or at lease leaves scope for bad press, and more often shapes public opinion against the disputing parties.

Apple learned a new trick in the trade which at least two recent events with very different outcomes, may have helped shape. First, it recently thwarted display IP infringement claims by S3 Graphics thanks to timely help by GPU supplier AMD, and second, it suffered a setback with regards to some brand names claimed by Chinese company ProView. You see, the ups and downs of IP disputes can have some very varied effects on the company's image. Apple's new trick is simple: make a different company, with a much different brand name, to handle those IP disputes on behalf of Apple, so brand Apple isn't directly dragged into the mess. Enter your friendly neighbourhood patent-troll, Digitude.

The mechanism couldn't be simpler. Digitude serves as a "patent investment vehicle" (in its own words), which will hold its clients' patents, protect them from infringement, and fight IP disputes on its behalf, more often discretely. As time passes on, Digitude will have achieved a level of discretion and abstraction to the general public over actually whose patents the company is holding. It's a win for Apple. All Apple has to do on paper is work out license agreementa with that patent investment vehicle to access its own patents. Digitude chairman, Robert Kramer, claims that "Digitude is a new kind of patent investment vehicle because it seeks to team up with strategic players that can invest not with money, but by contributing patents. The contributing entity would then get a license for all of Digitude's patents."Source: Hexus.net, Image Credits: TrollNews
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19 Comments on Apple Outsources IP Disputes to Patent Trolls

#1
n-ster
Wow they created a 100% patent troll to troll on behalf of Apple... Has Apple become as big a troll as Rambus?
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#2
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Their douchebaggery has demanded this so it's not very surprising. Apple has created an RIAA/MPAA for itself. We have a new corporation to vilify. :D

Love that "Troll Different" image. XD
Posted on Reply
#3
Completely Bonkers
Interesting concept. Will cause rock and roll on the stock market. Who should get all the "valuation premium"? Apple for inventing and having an indefinite license to those patents? Or Digitroll for OWNING those patents? Well, if those patents are worth anything, then the start-up capital to BUY all those patents from Apple will be enormous. OK, so that is impossible. Or is it? Will SOME CLEVER investment banker now trying to create a "CDO" type product? A Collateralised Patent Obligation, to flog to merry investors?

I will not invest in Digitroll.

If Apple "hands over" those patents "for cheap" to Digitroll there will be (or should be) some MASSIVE tax liabilities.

Apple + Bankers = .....
Posted on Reply
#4
Sasqui
by: FordGT90Concept
Their douchebaggery has demanded this so it's not very surprising. Apple has created an RIAA/MPAA for itself. We have a new corporation to vilify. :D

Love that "Troll Different" image. XD
One more reason to hate APPL. Most good companies hold a patent portfolio simply for a line of defense, call it company "A". Some other douchebag company "B" comes along and claims an infringement, company "A" pulls out thier portfolio and finds 10 patents being infringed by "B" and asks if they want to continue thier nonsense. I know, because I've been involved to a degree in that situation.

Obviously, there are cases that warrant patent infringment cases, but APPL is completely on the OFFENSIVE. And now this??? :banghead:

For some interesting reading, APPL vs. Samsung patent infringement timeline: http://www.theverge.com/apple/2011/11/2/2533472/apple-vs-samsung
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#5
yogurt_21
really? what the hell is going to stop articles from being title "Digitude (read Apple), is now..."

It's the damned digital age, that crap only works when people aren't able to do a quick google search on company origins.
Posted on Reply
#6
DannibusX
Digitude's been the name of my blog since 2004.



















not really
Posted on Reply
#7
theoneandonlymrk
yeh the trogs have got the trolls in, i hate walled gardens

but its that last bit , give us all your bases and we let you live free in the family( might nick ya shit though;))
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#8
Fx
that is a logical move for them and a good idea for others
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#9
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
Not necessarily ... what if two companies have a dispute and they both use DigiTroll as their "patent investment vehicle"?
Posted on Reply
#10
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Apple. Bastards.

I love the trollnews reference. :p
Posted on Reply
#11
Fx
by: Kreij
Not necessarily ... what if two companies have a dispute and they both use DigiTroll as their "patent investment vehicle"?
I am inclined to believe that each company will know which Patent Troll manages their rival's patents and they will side with another Patent Troll
Posted on Reply
#12
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
What if they were not rivals when they signed up with the same patent trolling firm?
Just a hypothetical situation. I'm sure they manage these things with a ton of legal documents and such.

What is a little more interesting is that if the whole world knows you are using a patent troll, and said troll sues someone, what's to stop everyone from thinking it's on your behalf even if it's not?
Not sure that would be a big PR win.
Posted on Reply
#13
[H]@RD5TUFF
Hope they loose every case they start, and loose millions in the process!
Posted on Reply
#14
Fx
by: Kreij
What if they were not rivals when they signed up with the same patent trolling firm?
Just a hypothetical situation. I'm sure they manage these things with a ton of legal documents and such.

What is a little more interesting is that if the whole world knows you are using a patent troll, and said troll sues someone, what's to stop everyone from thinking it's on your behalf even if it's not?
Not sure that would be a big PR win.
you bring up some good points. it definitely could end up biting them in the ass. as you said though- I am sure there is a lot of fine print
Posted on Reply
#15
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
by: Kreij
Not sure that would be a big PR win.
I don't see any PR win at all out of this. Everyone is going to know Digitude is operating on the behalf of Apple because the plantiffs/defendents are going to make that real loud and clear ("...Apple handed the complaint we submitted off to Digitude...").

It is basically Apple flailing about trying to protect the Apple brand when it only makes them look even worse than they did before. As Sasqui pointed out, Apple just needs to stop patent trolling and as btarunr pointed out, this is exactly how not to make friends.
Posted on Reply
#16
xenocide
The patent system in it's current form only serves to hurt consumers. Bottom line.
Posted on Reply
#17
Fx
by: FordGT90Concept
I don't see any PR win at all out of this. Everyone is going to know Digitude is operating on the behalf of Apple because the plantiffs/defendents are going to make that real loud and clear ("...Apple handed the complaint we submitted off to Digitude...").

It is basically Apple flailing about trying to protect the Apple brand when it only makes them look even worse than they did before. As Sasqui pointed out, Apple just needs to stop patent trolling and as btarunr pointed out, this is exactly how not to make friends.
this will help Apple save face. everyone doesnt spend their time tracking technicalities. this has effectiveness for the masses(your average consumer)

many people prefer to be ignorant with technology. they just want to know what shit does for them and how to turn it on- this shady shit is targeted at them
Posted on Reply
#18
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Well, whatever one thought of Steve Jobs, I don't think he'd try an underhand tactic like this. Everyone's gonna know about it now and it's just gonna make Apple look bad. If Jobs didn't like you, he'd just try to nail you directly.

I think in a couple of years, Apple will be a very different company to what it is now. Better or worse, I don't know. However, I'm cautiously optimistic that they won't be so closed as they are now. If that happens, then I would actually quit boycotting their products.
Posted on Reply
#19
yogurt_21
by: Kreij
Not necessarily ... what if two companies have a dispute and they both use DigiTroll as their "patent investment vehicle"?
no different from law firms in that scenario the issue is settled out of court. Like any law firm there will be seperate people for each account and those people will get together with representatives form each company and settle the issue.

should that fail then they go to court with each account holder from digitude representing their client. that is of course extremely unlikely unless digitude is the worst arbitrator in the world.
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