Apple among 23 companies facing lawsuit over predictive text completion tech

“Delaware firm Autotext Technologies has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against 23 major technology companies including Apple and IBM, regarding predictive word processing,” Tim Conneally reports for BetaNews.

“Autotext is suing the following companies: Apple, AT&T, Helio, Hewlett-Packard, HTC America, IBM, Kyocera, LG Electronics USA, Microsoft, Motorola, Nintendo of America, Nokia, Nuance Communications, Palm, Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Samsung America, Sanyo North America, Sony, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Zi Corporation,” Conneally reports.

“All companies listed in the lawsuit, Autotext alleges, are infringing on a ‘computer-based transcription’ patent that was filed in 1994. The patent is loosely about predictive word processing, where a list of words is presented when a user begins to input letters, hence the Autotext nomenclature,” Conneally reports.

Full article here.

28 Comments

  1. Right. This is why software patents are such a stupid idea. It’s the equivalent of a screwdriver manufacturer deciding that they’re going to patent the idea of having a flashlight on their screwdrivers to help you see what you’re doing in dark areas.

    Software patents are what has held back innovation in the tech industry for decades. When a company is allowed to rest on its laurels for so long, it discourages innovation and effectively sends them into a downward spiral – in any other industry. Because of this stupid idea of software patents, certain features are specific to certain products, effectively forcing some people to buy those certain products just to get what they want.

    A common complaint about Apple’s ads is that they don’t ever show the great software that’s included. However, the idea is that realistically, iMovie and Windows Movie Maker do the same thing. What sets them apart is the ease of use, something that can’t be expressed in a flat, noninteractive media (such as TV commercials). That leaves the hardware, the one remaining differentiator.

    At least, that’s how it SHOULD be. Features should not be legally locked to one company, as they currently are.

  2. It was not all that long ago when it was not possible (or at least extremely difficult) to obtain a patent on a computer program. The reason was that software was deemed to be a mathematical formulae and such formulae are not patentable due to the fact that they are deemed to be independently derivable.

    We should return to those days.

    In addition I remember an old word processing program back in the 80’s that allowed for type-ahead word completion. Therefore the patent referred to above ought not to have been granted as it was prior art.

  3. What is required is public enquiry on how the timeline of the software & hardware industry first came about.

    Any interested parties would be given six months have to submit any claim they have or involvement in this industry.

    The enquiry hopefully would be headed by a supreme court judge/s who would then hear from all parties worldwide.

    The findings could then be published on the web with an invitation to interested parties to submit what could then be considered as a template that would govern all future software & hardware patents.

    Once the template has been condensed into a statement that is acceptable to the majority of the interested parties, this could then be passed as the test upon which new innovations in software & hardware can be granted a patent status.

    I suggest this because however hard one tries, no one can actually come up with a new unique product because the building blocks that have led to these so called patentable products seeking patents have provided the prior art or concept or foundation upon which these new products are based upon.

    Conclusion?:- This products should be brought under the patent system that is applicable to medicines. A period of uniqueness which can be re-applied for over a period of finite time thereafter which, the patent is removed and the product is then available to the rest of the World to either improve upon it or modify it for usage in another part of the World royalty free.

    The same system for medicines also applies to music, so why can it not apply to software & hardware?

    Mr. Charles Babbage invented the first computer, admittedly a calculator. If American Patent Laws applied then as they do now, the computer would never have evolved into what it is now.

  4. Why do we never hear about the Patent Infringement Cases that are lost by the plaintiff because they did not defend their patent within a reasonable time? Courts regularly determine that patent protection is lost because the holder of the patent did not try to enforce their rights within a reasonable time of discovering the patent breach. Given the ubiquitous nature of predictive text methods in billions of text messages on 90%+ of mobile phone and the many years this has been around, I would guess this case will get thrown out too. I hope they get done for costs by all the defendants. maybe bankrupting them for this frivolous law suit will send an appropriate message.

  5. I think that this lawsuit, like most, is dumb. Nevertheless, shouldn’t Sun Microsystems have been named in the lawsuit too? I believe that Sun’s StarOffice has as word completion feature — like its open source cousin OpenOffice.

  6. 1994 -> 2007. That’s like a century in tech time. Tech patents should be free after five years. That’s like 20 years in non-IT industry.

    Autotext Technologies doesn’t even have a web site. I bet they don’t even have an office.

  7. I guess thats what they call T9 and if it is then I can say it sucks most of the time. I can really understand why no one would pay for it since it doesn’t seem to be a finished product. Sometimes when I type an sms using T9 it complains that the word doesn’t exist, thats the good times, but other times I can just keep on typing even though the result is clearly no word in any language.

  8. this is pretty stoopid. i mean, there are only so many words that a commonly typed word can be as you’re typing it, so therefore any ‘auto-completion’ is gonna be basically the same as the other. so i guess no other tech company should code their software to do this? guess they all need to have autotext technologies sale them the code, etc? i’m sure all, or some, of the aforementioned companies being sued have been doing this, in some form or another, for years now. why does it take autotext tech 13 yrs to do something about it? sounds like someone is wanting a ‘quick buck.’

    mw = ‘policy’ …as in, the court systems REALLY need to change their policy on how & what cases to accept!

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