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Tuesday, 13 December 2011 11:48

Apple does deal with patent troll

Written by Nick Farell

apple

Axis of evil

Apple has done a deal with a patent troll so that it will have access to patents that will enable it to sue the maker of every smartphone on the market.

According to Arse Technica Apple has made a deal with patent troll Digitude Innnovations. Digitude has launched one of its first legal attacks against Nokia, RIM, Motorola, HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony, and Amazon, filing a patent infringement claim with the International Trade Commission. What was missing from the list was iPhone maker Apple, which until late November owned two of the patents being used to target "certain mobile devices" from its competitors.

What happened was that Apple transferred ownership of a dozen patents to a shell company called Cliff Island which happens to share a New York office with the investment firm Altitude Capital Partners. Like Virginia-based Digitude, Altitude was founded by investor Robert Kramer.

Kramer's Altitude has funded efforts to extract large settlements from the likes of Microsoft, RIM, and eBay in patent rows. He invested $50 million to found Digitude which bought 500 "consumer electronics patents" to both license and litigate.

Similar in some respects to Intellectual Ventures, Digitude makes deals with licensees for blanket access to its patent portfolio. But it prefers taking payment in patents it can use to either entice new licensees. Apple turned over a dozen patents which it bought from Mitsubishi, and generally involve functions of "mobile communications devices" or "mobile terminals."

Apple and Digitude also have a confidential license agreement operating between them. EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels told TechCrunch that if Apple was deliberately aiding Digitude's patent trolling, "it would be horrifying."

What it seems is that Apple has given up on trying to defeat opposition by producing good products is involved in a huge scale to shut down rivals using patent legal cases. Giving patents to Digitude means that it is just floating mines into rival organisations using other outfits.

More here.


Nick Farell

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