Skip to comments.Apple Told To Pay Patent Troll OPTi $21.7 Million (AAPL)
Posted on 12/04/2009 10:53:28 AM PST by Swordmaker
Apple was told to pay $21.7 million in a patent case against OPTi Inc., a semiconductor vendor-turned-patent troll.
The patent (no. 6,405,291) regards "pre-snoop" cache memory technology.
The decision was made in the plaintiff-friendly U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Because Apple did not willfully infringe on the patent, it does not have to reimburse any attorney fees.
Obviously $21.7 million is couch change to Apple, and they have every incentive to keep fighting a patent troll. So it's possible it will appeal.
Here's the release:
PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec 04, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- OPTi Inc today announced that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued the final judgment in the patent infringement action between OPTi Inc ("OPTi") and Apple Inc. ("Apple").
The final judgment as issued on December 3, 2009 is:
- The court having determined that Apple infringed claims 73, 74 and 88 of U.S. Patent No. 6,405,291 (the "291 patent"); the jury having failed to find any of the asserted claims are invalid; it is Ordered that OPTi recover from Apple a reasonable royalty of $19.0 million in actual damages. The court awarded an additional $2.7 million in pre-judgment interest for a total reward of $21.7 million.
- The court also found that there was no willful infringement in the case and denies any request for the reimbursement of attorney fees.
(Excerpt) Read more at businessinsider.com ...
73. A method for transferring a plurality of data units to a bus master from a respective plurality of memory locations at sequential memory location addresses in an address space of a secondary memory, for use with a host processing unit and a cache memory which caches memory locations of said secondary memory for said host processing unit, said cache memory having a line size of l bytes, and each data unit having a size equal to the largest size that can be transferred to said bus master in parallel, comprising the steps of:
sequentially transferring data units to said bus master from said secondary memory according to a PCI-bus burst transaction, beginning at a starting memory location address in said secondary memory address space and continuing beyond at least first and second l-byte boundaries of said secondary memory address space, each l-byte line of said transaction requiring at least 8 data unit transfers to said bus master; and during the transfer of the data units for each entire N'th l-byte line in said step of transferring, initiating one and only one snoop access of said cache memory, said snoop accesses each specifying the respective N1'th l-byte line and being initiated early enough such that they can be sampled by said host processing unit prior to completion of the transfer to said bus master of the last data unit in the respective N'th l-byte line, wherein said step of transferring comprises the step of transferring to said bus master three sequential data units including the last data unit before said first l-byte boundary and the first data unit beyond said first l-byte line, all at a constant rate, and wherein said step of transferring further comprises the step of transferring to said bus master three sequential data units including the last data unit before said second l-byte boundary and the first data unit beyond said second l-byte line, all at a constant rate.
74. A method according to claim 73, wherein said step of sequentially transferring data units continues further beyond a third l-byte boundary of said secondary memory,
and wherein said step of transferring further comprises the step of transferring three sequential data units including the last data unit before said third l-byte boundary and the first data unit beyond said third l-byte line, all at a constant rate.
88. Controller apparatus for a computer system which includes a secondary memory having an address space, a bus master, a host processing unit and a cache memory which caches memory locations of said secondary memory for said host processing unit, said cache memory having a line size of l bytes, and each data unit having a size equal to the largest size that can be transferred to said bus master in parallel, said controller apparatus comprising circuitry which in a mode of operation, in response to a PCI-bus burst read transaction initiated by said bus master,
sequentially transfers data units to said bus master from said secondary memory according to said PCI-bus burst transaction, beginning at a starting memory location address in said secondary memory address space and continuing beyond at least first, second and third l-byte boundaries of said secondary memory address space, each full l-byte line of said transaction requiring at least 8 data unit transfers to said bus master, a plurality of sequential data units bracketing at least said first, second and third l-byte boundaries being transferred to said bus master at a constant rate, said constant rate being dependent upon the frequency of a PCI-bus clock provided to said bus master; and during the transfer of the data units for each entire N'th l-byte line according to said transaction, initiates one and only one snoop access of said cache memory, said snoop access specifying the respective N1'th l-byte line and being initiated early enough such that it can be sampled by said host processing unit prior to completion of the transfer to said bus master of the last data unit in the respective N'th l-byte line, said snoop accesses being sampled by said host processing unit in accordance with a host clock signal having a frequency that is at least twice said PCI-bus clock frequency.
I don't think ANY jury of laymen could have come to ANY conclusion of whether Apple or anyone was infringing ANYTHING based on that pile of gobbledigook and jargon, or made any determination of whether there was any prior art or obviousness of the "invention" to someone skilled in the art. Any comments?
Unless that patent was filed back in the 1960s it sounds like it is very badly describing a serial peripheral bus... A very tiny one.
If the lawyers can show that this method requires fewer clock cycles and/or operations than all previous methods then it is "art".
There is a concern, however, about whether it is an algorithm or hardware. Algorithms can't be patented, but if the algorithms are encoded into specialized hardware then that hardware can be patented.
On the face of it this particular patent has more validity than that opportunist who claimed to have invented "business software" and tried to get every business software vendor in the market to pay him royalties.
I think a jury, numbed by jargon and mumbojumbo stuff they simply were ill equipped to understand decided to give the little guy the win... read the claims they decided were infringed and see if you can understand what is being described...
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It’s his patent. Apple infringed on it.
Doesn’t matter if the language of the patent isnt pretty, he was awarded the patent, so Apple has to pay up.
For a company as sue happy as Apple, they can totally understand where he was coming from.
The thing about this — here (in this story) is that this kind of stuff is going on with a lot of other companies, too. We’re reading about it here, because we’re interested in Apple stuff, but with all the other companies encountering this kind of stuff and these kinds of awards, it’s amazing that any company can make any money at all — and all the patent trolls and leeches (who actually invent and/or make nothing at all) will go on living off all those other companies paying out all that money.
It is a good thing that Apple is so successful and it’s probably “chump change” to Apple, but there are a lot of other companies where this would be real serious money and that has to affect our economy, overall... and thus affect everyone...
Yes. Paying trolls money to go away sets a bad precedent.
Yes. Paying trolls money to go away sets a bad precedent.
Unfortunately, it's going to require changing some laws on this and revamping the patent system, I think. But, I think we should do it. Otherwise it will continue... paying the patent trolls... :-(
We need a system of dedicated patent courts staffed from a pool of judges and juries who actually understand this stuff.
The patent system when it comes to computer software is broken. Seriously broken. Common everyday computer software has been allowed to be awarded a patent. Honeywell actually got a patent on a specific color green. Me and my team were just given approval on a patent application for something nearly as stupid. Patents are used as a game of chess: Create a patent to slow a competitor in making a competing product. Many of these patents have a snowball’s chance in Hell of being upheld but the PTO grants them anyway.
“We need a system of dedicated patent courts staffed from a pool of judges and juries who actually understand this stuff.”
We do, it is called the Patent and Trademark Office. If one government agency sucks there is no hope of creating another that won’t be just as bad.
I remember some comedy show, but I can’t remember which one, where one of the jokes ran something like...
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a suer.”
“What? You’re a sewer!!”
“Yes, I sue people.”
I wasn’t thinking of creating a new court system, just changing the one we have so it can better deal with patents.
And yes, the USPTO needs to change too. First, Congress could stop taking its funds so it can hire more and better examiners. I don’t mind that extra government growth, as their function was directly authorized by the Constitution (at least the patent half was).
Then make it harder for corporations to beat up on those poor examiners using the court system whenever a patent is rejected. Given the history of discussion over the copyright/patent clause in the Constitution, the more correct thing to do is err on the side of rejecting too many patents that might have been valid, rather than approving too many that were not valid.
The problem isn’t the structure of the organization but that it contains people; ignorant and retarded people.
We already have rules that say common items cannot obtain a patent, yet, I could patent the bottle top if no one has as of yet. We have patents on colors and processes. The PTO is filled with young lawyers with no clue about things like engineering so anything technical basically gets a pass.
This is just a broad statement that American has become a nation of illiterates and the PTO is no different.
That isn't any different than Obama thinking he can do communism The Right Way. President Reagan was right, government is not the solution, it's the problem.
In this case, government is pretty much the constitutionally mandated solution.
Yes, I sue people.
There is more commonality there than first meets the eye.