A Florida company named CustomPlay yesterday filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida over the Siri-powered ‘What Did He/She Say?’ feature used in tvOS on the fourth-generation Apple TV.

The phrase can be used while watching a movie to quickly rewind 15 seconds with subtitles temporarily turned on to help users catch any dialogue they may have missed.

CustomPlay alleges that the feature violates its invention, U.S. Patent No. 6,408,128 B1 for “Replaying with supplementary information a segment of a video”.

The patent was first filed for in 1998 and granted to CustomPay in 2002.

According to MacRumors, CustomPlay has requested a jury trial but the case has yet to be assigned to a judge. The patent details a remote control capable of activating a replay function way of a dedicated “What?” button, key or other function key to cause the system to:

i) rewind or skip backwards the playing of the video a system default or a viewer specific previously defined amount, e.g. 20 seconds

ii) turn on the subtitle to a system default or a viewer specific previously selected subtitle language.

CustomPlay alleges Apple has used and continues to use its patented technology in tvOS without a license even though it was aware of the patent, with court documents revealing the firm mailed letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook and three iTunes executives in July 2014.

There is no indication of Apple responding to the letters.

MacRumors has determined that CustomPlay is affiliated with non-practicing entity Nissim Corporation, which sued Apple last September for allegedly infringing upon seven patents related to DVD specifications.

The two companies reached an unknown settlement in December.

CustomPlay is seeking damages of an undetermined amount from Apple, plus legal costs.

  • burge

    What has customplay done with this themselves?

    Sitting on a patent and not actually using it is just holding back technology. If a patient is not used via the company that has the patent within 10 years it should be allowed to be used by all.

    • Latino Sin Zero

      I couldn’t just upvote this. I had to comment. This is an absultly perfect idea. I would add maybe if the company is not actively attempting to use the patent for the last 10 Years then the patent should be invalidated. Really love your idea!!!

    • Rowan09

      So true just owning a patent with no intent to use it should be changed.

      • TechnoBuff

        How would you feel if it was years of your R& D being used in that manner?
        Sometimes it is easy for non inventors to have the best advise on other people’s work
        A patent holder deserves the right to use or not use their patent. it is their hard-work.

      • Rowan09

        I’m sorry licensing a patent and calling it hard work is just false. I respect the US and it’s capitalism, but if someone is a patent troll, the fees they can charge should be limited compared to companies actually using and developing products with those patents. They should also be a period where if the patent isn’t used for anything, it should be invalidated or have a higher fee for renewing it.

      • TechnoBuff

        You really dont know how the world of patents works .. do you?
        We all have a fair idea of how we want things to be in our own little world but limited by our knowledge of the big world out there.
        I think you should read up on the so called patent trolls.

      • Rowan09

        I actually do. I was working on getting my own patent on something I was creating.

      • TechnoBuff

        Working on getting those not mean you know how it works… The world of patent and trademark is not straightforward as you think.
        Let me know when you get your patent and then you can speak from an informed perspective.

      • Rowan09

        If I was in the process it means I actually studied if and when I should get a patent. Do you own any patents or a patent attorney? Do you want me to give you a patent one o one?

      • TechnoBuff

        LOL.
        I am very familiar with the workings of the PTO.
        I have a patent and applied for two trademarks on my own.. so i am quite versed in how that world works.

      • Rowan09

        You sir are the champion of this one.

      • TechnoBuff

        LOL
        You are funny mate.. i will give you that one..
        All i am saying is that patent owners have the right to decide whatever they want to do with their patents. either use it or shelf it.
        Anyone that feels otherwise should go and get a patent on their ideas/creations just like you are doing presently.

      • Rowan09

        Lol. I understand what you’re saying though.

      • techfreak23

        Some of those trolls don’t even do the R&D for those patents. A lot of the true patent trolls buy up portfolios and wait until they catch someone using the tech so that they can sue for royalties. Earning money off of the hard work of companies actually SHIPPING products and spending money on their own R&D to implement the tech and market it.

      • I don’t buy that for a moment. The entire point of a patent is to give people a chance to make their product and secure their place int he marketplace of ideas without interference. It gives the inventor time to further flesh out their ideas, test, manufacture, and market their product without another company with more resources swooping in with a clone and stealing your market.

        But if you have an idea that you abandon, then you’ve abandoned it. It shouldn’t be able to be used as a club over a decade later to beat someone because they had the foresight to use what you did not. That’s abusing the system designed to protect you for nothing other than greed.

        Obviously (at least I would hope) if this company had patented the cure for cancer and sat on it for over a decade and someone else discovered the same thing and made it we wouldn’t be sitting here saying, hold on! They own the rights to that and it’s shameful that people are trying to save lives with this idea. If the original creators want to shelf the cure for cancer then we should just let everyone die and respect their R&D budget.

        I support and believe in the patent system but I think there needs to be reforms to allow it to function as intended as a tool to protect ideas until they are seen through to completion. Not to provide clubs to beat other companies with because you didn’t follow through on your own ideas.

      • Shadowelite123

        Yea if I actually had a patent, had a real plan at using it, another company wouldn’t have the opportunity to use it. If I claim a patent for my own, I better be close to releasing anything with that technology, otherwise I’d sell it to a company. I wouldn’t dare try to claim a royalty simply because i had an idea i could make work. I’d honestly be honored if another company used my patent successfully. That would mean that an idea I came up with actually improved something in technology. A key point in business, you don’t start a business unprepared. You better be ready to sell before that business is open.

    • techfreak23

      Patent trolls and the lawyers that represent them should set themselves on fire.

      Great idea though.

      Also, why did they send letters to Apple in 2014 before Apple had any products with that feature…?

      • M_Hawke

        And if Apple knew about the patent in 2014, why did they still use it?

      • techfreak23

        That’s a fair point. Doesn’t invalidate my question though…

    • M_Hawke

      Ridiculous idea. A patent is THEIRS. The patent is a result of THEIR money and R&D. They can do whatever they want with it, whether to use it, sell it, or sit on it until they want to use it. You can call them “selfish” for withholding the technology, but hey–that’s their right.

      I find this attitude to be incredibly selfish. No surprise that there are so many here that protest whenever a video of a jb is released but it isn’t released. And no wonder Todesco was fed up with the jb community over their many selfish demands of him. This is the entitlement mentality. Some of you think that you are always “owed” something.

      • techfreak23

        The whole idea of patent trolls is “ridiculous.” Some of these companies don’t even develop the technology themselves. They just buy up patent portfolios and sit on them until they can sue someone for it. That is what is ridiculous. I think your use of the word “selfish” applies to the trolls. It’s selfish of them to sit on the patent for the sole purpose of suing in the future or licensing the tech for fees or royalties when others have thought of and actually implemented the idea into a shipping product. Also, the idea of this particular patent shouldn’t have even been patented in the first place. It’s not like they created a unique process in a specific language or mechanical design to accomplish this. It’s like certain design patents. For example the whole suit between Samsung and Apple regarding the rectangular device and screen patent. That was absolutely ridiculous.

        As for Todesco, he caused his own grief by showing off his proof of concept exploits not expecting common people to get outraged that he wouldn’t share. He could have very easily not gone to twitter or any other mainstream social media outlet. He could have shared on channels that only his direct peers in the development community what he accomplished. Those developers knew what would happen if they showed their feats to the general public. It’s their fault for forgetting that people in general are entitled assholes.

      • Shadowelite123

        I don’t see the Todesco situation anywhere similar to this patent troll thing. The jailbreak community is dying for most people. Its nice to see that jailbreaking is still remotely possible. People just assume that if any kind of jailbreak research is discovered, a public jailbreak is a right. Its not. Unless a developer says ” yea I’m working on a jailbreak of which I would like to release” don’t assume they will release it. Countless other developers have even stated their intent to not release a jailbreak because of obvious reasons such as the amount of work needed to be put in for it. Todesco even stated he had no intention of releasing a public jailbreak, however his major fault was that he gave into the peer pressure and decided to do what they wanted. And sure, he could have shared his research privately, but his intent was to give some hope when all hope was lost, was it not?

      • burge

        What R&D ? They’ve had this since 2002 and done nothing with it. That’s the issue here, What the point of having it and doing nothing with it.

      • I think you’re confused. Patents exist to protect an idea from being ripped off. If you come up with a great idea (like the mouse and GUI) that you later decide isn’t worthwhile and choose to not pursue then the ENTIRE purpose of the patent is now null and void. It was designed to protect you and your ideas while you secure your place in the marketplace. Not to lay dormant in a vault to later club someone with for having the foresight to use what you did not.

        IMHO our patent system needs to be reformed. While I wholeheartedly agree with the need for patents I think that patents that have not materialized into a product after 2-3 years should be up for review and companies should have to apply for extensions and proof that they are in fact working on the idea. Extend it up to 10 years for all I care as long as the company can send some sort of evidence of working on it.

        I’m all for protecting people’s intellectual property, but if the person chooses to abandon it they shouldn’t have the right to leech money from someone else who happened to have the same idea later on. This type of toxic behavior is detrimental to small businesses because you never know if your idea that you thought was new and original is actually sitting in a vault somewhere waiting to leech all the profits that you made as a business in court. That’s not only selfish that’s just evil. You shouldn’t have the right to force a small business out of business or take millions from a big business simply because you wrote an idea down on paper before them. That’s not protecting your innovation, that’s bullying and it comes at the expense of the whole world that could have otherwise benefitted from that idea.

        What if someone found and patented a medicine that cured cancer and decided to never produce it? Would you get on the forums and defend their right to not release it and sue companies that tried to? Where do you draw moral lines?

    • siddique

      agreed

    • Doesn’t Apple have a ton of patents that they do nothing with? It’s like every other week where Apple makes a patent and it makes the news, but nothing ever comes of it.

      • burge

        The same rule should apply to Apple, and I’ve not said Apple should be exempt
        So your point about this is what exactly ?

      • I never said you said that. I was just adding to the conversation.

      • burge

        You added Apple as a separate entity when I was talking about all companies that hold patents.

      • I was just adding to the conversation. This is an article involving Apple. It’s not unusual to bring to Apple in the comment sections.

      • burge

        This was an article from 20+ days ago now. Your bringing apple into it for no reason as my original comment is about patents in general and companies holding that patent and doing nothing with it and it should be released after a set period of time. That has nothing to do with Apple at all as Apple are just as guilty as all the companies that do nothing with them. Apple are not a special company that need own comment, thanks very much.

        Its not about Apple at all it’s about all of them that do this, and ompany names are not needed

      • Why doesn’t it matter how old the article is? I didn’t see it until recently. And yes, I’m bringing Apple into it. This is an Apple News website, where there are articles about stuff involving Apple. This article is about Apple being sued by a patent troll. What’s wrong with bringing Apple into it, considering this entire website is involving Apple? This is just a comment section anyway. It’s not a big deal.

      • burge

        You just don’t get it. My comment is about all companies not just Apple. We know that apple have patents they don’t use and that the point of my first comment. It’s not about just Apple it’s all the patent trolls. So no need to point fingers at any one company I.e. Apple.

  • TechnoBuff

    This company has the right to decide on what to do and not do with its patent.
    Everyone should respect that fact. It is their right.

    • Rowan09

      Yes and we are arguing it should change. Just owning a patent to prevent people from using it or just to charge fees should be changed. The purpose of owning a patent should be for some type of development not just to be a troll. I’m not saying this is the case with this company because I don’t know, I’m speaking in general.

      • TechnoBuff

        Most patents are developed through R&D. As stated earlier. Everyone have a perfect idea of how things should be when they arent the one involved.

      • Rowan09

        Where do you get this from? I was in the process of getting my own patent. There are different reason for getting a patent and when you want to keep things secret you stay away patents because you have to show in detail what you’re getting a patent on. Not all patents come from R&D and who cares even if it does. If you’re just keeping a patent(s) with no intent to do anything but collect fees from your patents you are a troll.

    • Latino Sin Zero

      Truth is that I agree as well with the point that you are making. I understand that that’s how it works and that’s the current rule. I am just stating that this system allows for someone to just sit there and come up with ideas of a concept with no intention of using it, but just to wait for someone to actually have the very same idea and spend the time, effort, money and other seaources. After they do that the sitting troll benefits off of that.

      Not saying that people shouldn’t have patents but that system needs some twicking. It leaves this blanket space for too much abuse.

  • Bill

    I read the headline and figured it would have been because of using the microagression “he/she”… you can’t assume gender. I mean ugh… I just can’t even. Just thinking about it has me litruhly shaking rn

  • Ethan

    This patent trolling is why EU doesn’t have software patents anymore. When will US finally join?