Apple found guilty of patent infringement

Uh oh! It seems Apple has been bringing out so many new products with new features recently that it has forgotten about a little matter called patents. A company named Opti Inc. is the winner here, with a technology they patented called "Predictive snooping". Ars Technica has the story, and the fine for Apple is a hefty $19,008,728. The number seems strangely precise.

The patent, which is fully named "Predictive snooping of cache memory for master-initiated accesses" is for a method that allows more efficient data transfer between the memory, CPU and other devices. Opti had filed the patent back in 2002, and initiated a lawsuit against Apple back in 2007. Apple did admit to using a technology similar to this, but argued that it should not hold up in court because of "prior art and obviousness." As you can tell, the jury didn't buy it, and Apple was slapped with a fine.

Whilst $19 million won't put much of a dent in Apple's near-$30 billion bank balance, it's a good reminder that even the biggest of companies can still be defeated by the smaller. It's also a reminder that companies need to perform the comprehensive patent searches they can, lest they be forced to pay out more money or have other compromises.

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16 Comments

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so WTH is this patent covering? isn't cache mechanics as old as the invention of the CPU itself? how can you patent "prediction" given that it is something completely subjective and implementation-wise?

even the WinXP prefetch system (circa 2001) uses some kind of predictive snooping to improve performance of such "master initiated access" :\

but argued that it should not hold up in court because of "prior art and obviousness."

Lol, multitouch and multitouch gestures anyone?

So now Apple appeals, gets a judge with half a brain, patent gets thrown out, like it should, too bad it'll take Apple 3-4 more years to deal with these stupid lawsuits

z0phi3l said,
So now Apple appeals, gets a judge with half a brain, patent gets thrown out, like it should, too bad it'll take Apple 3-4 more years to deal with these stupid lawsuits

Agreed. Quite farcical.

z0phi3l said,
So now Apple appeals, gets a judge with half a brain, patent gets thrown out, like it should, too bad it'll take Apple 3-4 more years to deal with these stupid lawsuits

Then Apple will turn around, patent a similar technique, and toss out some lawsuits of their own. Don't sit and act like Apple doesn't do the same damn thing all the time.

what kind of crap is "prior art and obviousness", only apple, I swear. Its glad to see there 'commercials' dont work in the court room.

bloodrain said,
what kind of crap is "prior art and obviousness", only apple, I swear. Its glad to see there 'commercials' dont work in the court room.

Prior art and obviousness and pretty damn good concepts.

Y'know, the kind of thing that stops people patenting the wheel, cheese and breathing.

Prior Art is pretty cut and dry. It was or was not, needs to be concrete, not just similar. Obviousness has much more gray area. Just about everything seems obvious once you see it working but was the initial idea obvious or was it groundbreaking? The litmus test for that is typically, “would someone proficient in the field come up with the same idea given the same problem.” For example, you wouldn’t want one company to have been able to paten the idea of putting a battery in a computer when anyone tasked with the job of creating a portable computer would figure out it needs a battery.