John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Dude, I Invented Friggin' Visual Voicemail. Heard of It?

As lawsuits go, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Klausner Technologies filed a $360 million patent-infringement suit against Apple Monday claiming iPhone’s Visual Voicemail, a signature feature of the device, violates a few Klausner patents (so much for those vaunted “200 iPhone patents”). This on the very day that IDG World Expo announced that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote address at Macworld Conference & Expo 2008.

Surely a coincidence. But no doubt an uncomfortable one for Apple. Perish the thought of Jobs pitching a defeaturing of the iPhone during his Macworld keynote. … “We’ve designed something truly wonderful …. Aural Voicemail. Boom?” Best to sweep this one from the decks before January, yeah?

Anyway, Klausner–a patent holding outfit founded by Judah Klausner, who claims to have invented the PDA and electronic organizer–alleges the iPhone’s Visual Voicemail feature violates two of its patents (U.S. Patents 5,572,576 and 5,283,818) and demands $360 million in damages and future royalties. Sadly for Apple it may well get them. Klausner has won two previous infringement lawsuits over the same patents, wringing settlement agreements out of AOL and Vonage both in the past year.

And Apple once licensed some of the intellectual property at issue here for use in the Newton. Apple’s accountants are probably already working out the math on this one. As are AT&T, Comcast and eBay, which were all slapped with similar suits.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work