FaceTime now on patent troll list
Apple just one of many targets
A Texas-based company, Intercarrier Communications, is lining up its lawyers against a small throng of companies over a messaging patent.
Apple is on the list, with FaceTime and Apple Messages accused of infringing its patent, but the company has been far busier than that. Similar suits have been filed against Iris Wireless, Kik Interactive, as well as Viber, WhatsApp, Glimpse, TextNow, PingChat! and BroadSoft.
The Apple suit complains that the two products infringe on US Patent 6,985,748, “Inter-carrier messaging service providing phone number only experience”, which was originally assigned to TeleCommunication Systems.
The basis of the patent is sending text messages between different carriers (yes, The Register is well aware that this has been happening for ages): “Short messages may be sent to a subscriber in another carrier’s network addressed only with a phone number”, the abstract states. “If the recipient is outside the sender’s carrier network, the Inter-Carrier messaging module of the Inter-Carrier service provider (ICSP) determines the appropriate carrier for the recipient … and routes the short message to the destination carrier.”
The Justia blog reports that Intercarrier Communications was incorporated in April this year. ®
Lets look at prior art.... Ummmmm the whole freaking internet is based on messaging between different carriers
Someone just shoot the stupid patent office for granting this crap.
Prior art in Europe?
As the article points out, SMS has been able to do this in Europe for years. It seems to be the case (reading more than just the abstract) that in the US you have to (or had to) append a domain name when sending an SMS to a phone on a different network and the invention appears to be a database to determine which carrier a particular number belongs to (something the carriers must already have had surely otherwise cross-network calling wouldn't work) and the use of an IP network to connect the two telcos, something for which European prior art must surely exist.
In any event the age of the company screams TROLL!! Given that the patent system is supposed to protect inventors, why is it even possible to buy patents? As soon as a patent is sold it no longer protects the inventor.
Oh the Irony!
Apple has opened a Pandora's Box that will be its downfall. Apple is not a technology company, it's a marketing company. It is, therefore, profoundly stupid for Apple to use patents offensively. They were starting a fight they couldn't win in the long run. Moreover, I'm sure Apple knew that most of its patents would be found invalid upon reexamination. Yet they still used them to cause nuisance to Android/Samsung. Now world+dog is making a nuisance for Apple with mostly invalid patents, hoping Apple will pay up for them to go away. Apple didn't pioneer this tactic, but certainly popularized it. Karma's a bitch.