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The UK Court Sanctions Apple, Hopes "Lack of Integrity" Is Not "Typical" (groklaw.net)
160 points by esolyt on Nov 9, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 97 comments

No shit.[1]

"Apple. Your brand is being ruined by misplaced trust in a losing super-aggressive legal strategy."

I genuinely used to like Apple. I can actually remember regularly checking the website for the different gadgets I could buy. This was well before the Android v Apple "fan-boyism".

I switched off totally from the anti-consumerism that drives Apple. They make great devices that just work. I have no problems in borrowing an iPad for an hour, but they consistently take strategies beyond their products that have decremental effects to their customers and customers of other companies.

Who needs a third adapter for their phone (that will only work on iPhone5)? Who needs a different form factor for their SIM card so Apple can secure three year licencing deals with carriers? Who needs the walled garden of an App Store that prevents developers from releasing Apps that might cross over with iOS functionality... Who needs to write a book on Apple Software where the terms demand that they only distribute the book on Apple platforms[2]..

Put honestly, there is very little that Apple does that could be interpreted as being for the "better-ment" of people that aren't Apple customers. They take a "fuck"[1] everyone attitude that isn't a beneficiary of Apple stock.

I just think that this is a very toxic label for Apple to have against them.

Just to stress... I think Apple make great products, although I will never again contribute a single cent to anything that bears the Apple name. They have all but destroyed their brand that I once so sorely coveted (and this was a time not so long ago).

Who needs humility... Clearly, not Apple...

    [1] : I hate swearing. Apologies. 
    [2] : This got changed shortly after considerable backlash.
    [9] : I need to stop writing so many "Apple" critical comments..
          If you look through any of my last 50 comments I'd guess
          perhaps 10 are Apple related. It's wrong of me that I consistently 
          only comment on Apple posts.

I was the same way until one day, I tried to run gdb on iTunes, and gdb segfaulted. I did some research and found that Apple added extra code to the OS just to prevent someone from doing exactly that. They spent additional engineering effort just to lock me out of my own computer. (I still wonder what data collection they were trying to hide.)

Anyway, that was the day I deleted OS X and switched back to Linux forever. (I even ran Rockbox on my iPod until I replaced it with a $30 Sansa device with 10x the features.)

Playing devil's advocate here, but what's the media store like on your typical Linux distribution? The reason Apple has to go to such draconian measures is to please their content providers. Without doing so, you wouldn't have an iTunes store with such a wide variety of content.

Apple's margins from content sales are slim; they push content to sell devices. As they've shown with music in the past, they'll get rid of DRM if the content providers allow it. So it's not entirely fair to blame Apple for that one.

The content providers seem happy with iTunes running on Windows without such protection.

When Apple first signed on the labels, iTunes didn't run on Windows. Do we know when these protections first showed up? Was it Apple's way of appeasing the labels before they gained enough mass that the labels couldn't ignore them?

I don't know about the debug protections, but according to Wikipedia's timeline, it was only a matter of 6 months between iTunes Store appearing and iTunes becoming available for Windows.

> typical media store

There are several BitTorrent clients to choose from!

7digital[1] is great for music, and they don't use any DRM.

[1] http://www.7digital.com/

The amazon store is pretty goood

You seem to be very confused. The facility that blocks gdb is part of the standard ptrace APIs. It was not extra code that Apple added.

In any case, there's also a very simple explanation that should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it as to why Apple did this: because iTunes deals with DRM. A one-line change to block debugging is something I'd absolutely expect any app that uses DRM'd content to do.

PT_DENY_ATTACH certainly isn't part of any standard. It's absolutely a Darwin-specific feature, and is thus "extra code that Apple added", and they presumably did it for exactly this application. And no, other DRM-aware apps on other OSes don't do this.

So... who's very confused?

Ubuntu also restricts use of ptrace for security reasons although it shouldn't affect gdb https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SecurityTeam/Roadmap/KernelHardening...

Yes, but critically in Linux you can turn it off as the administrator of the system. It affects security but not inspectability. Regardless, my response was simply to the idea that Apple was "following standards" when they clearly weren't.

In Ubuntu, it's user overridable (i.e. machine owner is in control). In Darwin/OSX, it is not (i.e. machine vendor is in control).

Actually iTunes on Windows also calls IsDebuggerAttached and exits for YES. This though can be easily by passed by hooking the function call.

> I tried to run gdb on iTunes, and gdb segfaulted.

Whoo, any links please? I'd like gdb to crash on my programs as well!

Call ptrace with PT_DENY_ATTACH (it's actually documented).

Trivially worked around by starting the program in gdb and running these commands before you run the program:

    b ptrace
    return 0
(In short, every time the app calls ptrace, return a 0 to the caller without executing any ptrace code, and automatically resume execution. Since apps almost never use ptrace for anything else, it's workable to just short-circuit every single call like this rather than trying to check for PT_DENY_ATTACH.)

Clearly, one has to agree that this is a poorly designed API feature with a huge hole that provides no real security.

Apple still, however, designed it into their product and tried to use it to prevent user inspection of system state.

I can only assume that they're following the letter of their contract with media companies to include anti-debugger measures, while not really trying very hard.

Just to be clear, I'm not trying to defend Apple here, just telling people how they can get around this if they feel like debugging iTunes or whatever.

I wonder if the above gdb script counts as circumvention of a technological measure under the DMCA.

Besides Apple's nefarious Dr. Evil world domination uses, it can also be used to protect programs from each other. If your browser denies ptrace, it will prevent rogue programs from reading your passwords out of its memory.

Not really, since a program wanting to circumvent it can just attach before the call is made, or use other mechanisms to read process memory.

ok, true, you have get there before the bad guys.

For the naive: why?

To learn.

Oh, I thought you may have a specific reason for causing gdb to segfault on your app.

I would guess that the gdb thing is to prevent cracking of their DRM, not to hide some PII tracking. Do you know if you can attach gdb to something like Xbox Music (Zune)?

Looks like you can attach a debugger to Zune, but if you try to play DRM'ed files when doing so, it will fail with an error.


For the record, the iBooks Author thing was more a clarification than a change; you still can't sell the main exported .ibooks format outside of the iBookstore, but you can do what you want with the source files or files exported in other formats.

> They make great devices that just work.

After learning that the App Store actually uses Spotlight (!) to find out what's in /Applications, and that sometimes you need to reindex to get an upgrade, or change permissions set by App Store itself, I'm not so sure. And after seeing what iOS 6 did to my battery life, I'm even less sure...

Watching this play out is hilarious. I'm not quite sure if it is schadenfreude, the morbid curiosity akin to that experienced from watching a snake eat a rabbit, or just the prospect of watching an 800lb. gorilla behave like a spoiled child, but I have a real feeling that Apple could end up fighting the UK court systems and losing, very, very hard.

I simply cannot believe that Apple's previous behaviour was sanctioned by its legal team. The idea of not just losing in court but then pissing the judge off...wow. There's a really childish part of me that hopes that Apple won't comply with this latest judgement just to see what the court does next. Monetary fines? Product bans? Executive jail time?

I believe that the best thing Apple can do now is fold, and grovel. However, I have no idea if they'll do that. I've said before in previous threads: the UK court system is much more invested in proving its own authority than Apple is invested in a silly argument with Samsung. And on that note, if you were Samsung, you'd likely be rolling in the aisles just about now.

EDIT: I see that they've complied. I see why, but I'm disappointed!

Why do you think the penalties for perjury and contempt of court are so extreme?

A large chunk of society hanging together and working relies on impartial but powerful judicial systems. It's one of those thin edge of the wedge situations. We don't want a system where people flout court rulings even if it's just about a notice on a website.

Also note: British judges and prosecutors are not elected by popular vote -- they're appointed from within the system on the recommendation of their peers. So they're heavily invested in the authority of the judicial system itself, rather than in dancing to the electoral campaign paymasters' tunes.

Note this is the English courts, acting under English law. You can't really extrapolate from this into the Scottish and Northern Irish courts.

Apple is increasingly acting like a spoiled toddler who doesn't like it when he can't get what he wants.

I actually genuinely think they are slightly delusional internally.

They really think they invented multitouch, rounded corners, that popularisation = invention, that their inventions are worth $30 per handset while everybody elses are worth $1, and that they occupy a special place in the world that exempts them from rules others must follow. Thus I don't actually see them in the "spoilt toddler" mode, rather more like an autistic adult person behaving rationally in a world that constantly baffles them because they have a different internal model of its rules. And I even see this as possibly essential to their success - you can't create products that defy conventional expectations unless you are slightly crazy - "the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that actually do" truly fits. Of course, this doesn't absolve them of anything, now that they occupy such a position of power in the world they need to grow up and live in reality.

I'm not sure I agree with your analogies, but I think you're right that Apple really does think they're responsible for the spread of those technologies. There's no denying that they were a game-changer: all consumer electronics can now defined as "pre-Apple" or "post-Apple" just by looking at them.

The problem is that people disagree to the extent Apple should be compensated (or their ideas protected). More technology-minded people can see the roots of Apple's devices, and so think it's inevitable and all Apple did was "popularise" it, while others think that Apple's innovations were/are a stroke of genius, and without them we'd be floundering in a world of Windows CE and Symbian for the next decade.

The trouble is, no one's wrong. It's just a difference of opinion. And that's the patent system in a nutshell. People spend so much time arguing Android v. Apple that it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, which is that we're really arguing "how far can a company have a monopoly on an idea? and even if they did invent something, is it fair that they can impede the progress of an entire industry to protect that invention?" Because I can assure you, even if Apple was responsible for every chip and every bit in the iPhone, from concept to execution, people would still want Android, and people would still resent Apple for wanting a monopoly.

...all consumer electronics can now defined as "pre-Apple" or "post-Apple" just by looking at them.

So the Braun T3 radio[0] and LE1 speaker[1] are definitely post Apple, right?

[0] https://barryborsboom.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/172_721-ra...

[1] https://barryborsboom.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/mac-speake...

Apple products are not designed in a vacuum. Their designers take inspiration from many sources, and Braun is one of them.

There is a big difference between being inspired by a design, and blatantly ripping it off.

There is a big difference between being inspired by a design, and blatantly ripping it off.

Indeed. Apple is now famous for both (Inspiration: LE1 speaker->iMac; Ripoff: Swiss Railway clock->iPhone clock). If the iPod design is "inspired by" the T3 radio design, and not a blatant ripoff, then current Samsung phones are definitely not ripoffs of the iPhone design.

You are comparing a radio and a speaker with an mp3 player and a computer. Not everything is design.

This whole deal is about design patents (or registered designs, depending on jurisdiction), basically the look of the box that the electronics are housed in; the content ot the box is immaterial in this respect.

Osmium made the claim (which I quoted) that Apple's rise to power marks a dividing line in history, with consumer electronics from before and after that line recognizably different. My reference to two decades-old products that look far more similar to Apple hardware than a Samsung phone does to an iPhone is meant to address that specific claim.

Also, seconding what pbhjpbhj said, design is all that matters in the context of a design patent/registered design.

What can you expect? They've been rewriting history for the last 20 years.

Just look at the hatchet job they done to Commodore. Anyone who remembers the mid-80s should remember that they were the driving force behing "Consumer Computing", not the expensive and underpowered Apple machines of the time.

My first computer was a C64 bought with my first Deutsche Mark money after reunification of Germany. What a great investment - it cost a couple hundred bucks but set me on the path to a carreer in computing. You would seldom see Apple computers in these days - I believe they were mostly available at universities and perhaps some select schools with money to spend.

It's funny, this kind of mentality is exactly what Marco Arment was saying about MS recently on his podcast, with reference to Surface. That it's in a Redmond bubble and thinks it's several notches cooler than everyone else does. Maybe it's just an inevitable trajectory for successful platform companies, or at least something its leaders need to be vigilant about.

This is the same problem that afflicts online communities, where you end up with a bunch of people standing around agreeing with each other[1]. If you spend too much time with like-minded people, you lose perspective.

[1] Euphemism, use your imagination.


So, even more like Steve Jobs? I'm not taking a jab here, but I wonder if that's how they see it.

I did not know that Apple's paper advert had been pushed back so late. I have seen a photo of one that appeared in the Guardian about a week ago [0] which as a reader I would skim over given the lack of branding and its similarity to adverts that try to appear part of the newspaper copy, yet have that tell-tale 'Advertisement' header. (These are common to all newspapers in the UK, big and small - maybe elsewhere also.) Skipping over these is something that regular readers naturally do and I expect the design is intentional.

I am very interested to see what their Nov 16th ad will look like. Given that it must appear in magazines as well as broadsheets it may be that the mags require it to have some sort of branding/style so as to not make the magazine appear cheap, unlike the image linked.

[0]: http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/the-frontline-blog/2222112/apple-p...

What a mess this is on both sides.

Apple has reacted poorly, but if I were British I would be a bit upset that my judges were wasting time on punishments like this. The point is to punish Apple, so just fine them and be over with it. The end result is the same, just without all this drama in the middle.

EDIT: I'm going to retract my opinion here because a few good points have been made and I shouldn't have spoken when I was not 100% informed on the matter. Sorry!

I'm British, and I actually feel quite the opposite.

Apple sought to use UK courts to their own ends, and then threw a bitch fit when the ruling didn't go their way.

The judge is absolutely right to slap them down. You shouldn't get to pick and choose which court orders to respect, even if you're the richest company in the world. That's hardly the basis for a sound legal system is it?

Frankly, whoever authorised this reaction in the first place is a disrespectful idiot. They treated the UK like a fucking banana republic, and got reamed accordingly.

Not disagreeing that the judge should punish them for non-compliance, just arguing the initial punishment was inefficient (despite that fact that it might be satisfying).

The judicial system shouldn't be able to force you to say anything you don't believe in, to your own customers, with no means of telling your side of the story.

Self determination is a sacrosanct right, and this punishment crosses the line.

UK resident: no, there is no 'sacrosanct right' here at all. If a company chooses to take legal action in the UK, then they have to comply with what the court decides. If they don't, there will be consequences.

They werent forced to 'say' anything, it was more the equivalent of a dodgy restaurant being made to put up a poster or a leaflet in a shop window informing customers that they only got a C on their hygiene inspection

A company does not self-determine itself.

AS a UK resident I'm upset that Apple has wasted the court's time with this. The article states that a million people read the first notice. Presumably a large number of people were following links from articles, on websites like this one, pointing out how the notice barely conformed to the courts ruling.

Maybe if no one had noticed and Samsung hadn't complained (I don't know if they did) then nothing would have happened. But you can't show contempt for a court ruling in a massively public way and expect no consequences.

Justice has to be seen to be done. And Apple caused this to drag on further than it should have.

We have a big issue with companies giving Britain the middle finger with tax avoidance at the moment so the government in any form standing up to a big company is pretty much the #1 thing that British citizens will love right now (if they pay attention to the news).

Although it is ultimately quite petty, Apple are refusing to comply with court mandated actions and the court standing up to them is definitely something people want to see -- from my circle of British people anyway.

Ok, well I'm in the states, so I'm in no position to assume what the UK public wants, but it seems little strange to prioritize payback over progress, which is my interpretation of what is happening here.

What's progressive about Apple acting in a manner that would embarrass a patent troll?

Define "progress". I don't understand what you think will happen. The courts have more time to look at other people not following the law? So the one yet are currently dealing with that isn't following the law can skip away?

Sorry that wasn't very well worded.

All I'm saying is that the apology is an inefficient punishment. It's meant to sting Apple which eventually means they lose money. All I'm saying is skip the drama and just take the money.

The best argument I've heard against this is that it would be difficult to determine the dollar value equivalent of the apology, which is certainly true.

The intent of the apology (from the Court's viewpoint) is to clarify to those considering the purchase of a Samsung device that there is no judgement in force that might suggest that Samsung devices won't be supported for long. A fine (or jail term) is however quite appropriate for contempt of court, which Apple has clearly shown.

But how much do you fine them, if their misrepresentation causes a chilling effect that scares people away from not just Samsung's current product, but anything deemed Apple-like? The result of this sort of misinformation campaign, if left unchecked, could be that Apple monopolizes the entire industry for several years. If you're the judge, what do you do, fine them $500 billion? How do you know that's not excessive?

It seems to be that it would be much easier to serve justice by compelling Apple to correct the misinformation, rather than trying to compute a price for this behavior.

How very American - reducing everything to a monetary value!

That seems pretty reasonable when you're talking about a business.

How very British - reduce everything to dramz! ;)

It's about not establishing the wrong precedent. If a corporation is seen to get away with behaving badly towards the court, the court is only setting itself up for worse trouble later on. The legal system depends on the law being respected - as others in this thread have said, this is why contempt of court is a Very Serious Offence.

I'm not upset at all. Fines seem to have very little effect on companies, especially as in the UK they are frequently embarrassingly small. One thing I really like about the USA is that when they fine a company, they don't mess around. But one thing I like about the UK is that we don't tolerate B.S. - quite a few American companies have come over here and been tripped up by one of the many areas we're a little stricter in.

Damages are usually not punitive. Thus, Apple would only have to pay a tiny amount (in relation to the huge pots of money they have).

That would mean that the fine would be no deterrent, and further fines could merely be the cost of doing business.

I'm not upset at the judge. I am upset at companies taking this stuff through court, and other companies not just putting a simple apology up.

Well obviously the amount needs to be higher. Clearly the apology is not as simple as it might appear, hence this whole debacle. Apple is definitely the one making it more difficult, but I can't imagine other companies wouldn't do the same, and the courts should be expecting that.

I believe it has been said many times that the main objective is to undo some of the harm that Apple has caused to Samsung. Hence, the public announcements.

"harm" for a company is another way of saying money lost, so why not just fine Apple a ton of money and give it to Samsung?

Because there is no way of calculating the potential cost of the damage to Samsung's reputation.

Plus, it makes far more sense to tackle the root of the problem — the harm caused to Samsung's reputation — by ordering Apple to make public announcements that its allegations against them were false.

So it should be fine to break the law and commit any sort of crime against a company, and the only penalty should be giving them make-up money after the fact?

The lifeblood of a company is money, so yes. Phrasing it as "make-up money" implies it always has to be a slap on the wrist. It doesn't. It can be a devastating amount.

Is this intended to be punitive (as suggested by your "devastating amount" phrase), or is it indented to make-whole the injured party?

If industrial espionage sets back a company's R&D by a decade, you can't fix that with money. Throwing money at the problem won't magically get your research back. It won't magically get your market-leading position back after your competitors take advantage of your setback. And we're not even starting on what happens if the party doing the injuring goes bankrupt before paying all that is owed.

The idea that money is a magic panacea that fixes everything is completely wrong.


What would you offer as punishment in the example you just stated?

It is an example to show that a monetary payment is not always sufficient to repair any harm caused.

For another example, you could consider the case where a company has lost a dominant market position due to libel and slander from a competitor. Being given money wouldn't magically repair that company's market position.

Because that still allows Apple to profit from what the court views as severe misbehavior?

It seems likely that any fine that the court could impose would pale into insignificance in comparison to what Samsung's lawyers have rung up, so this is pretty effective.

Poor copywriting. If the snark were written more precisely so that it couldn't be considered misleading, Apple would probably have been able to get the press points without being forced to put a large statement on their homepage disclaiming the previous one as "inaccurate".

Welcome back to being allowed to comment on Apple things publicly! Feels good, doesn't it?

It's fun being a fanboy.

I can't even tell what's going on any more. All of this notice-posting is meant to undo the "harm" Apple has caused by saying Samsung copied the iPad, right? But the court insists that it never even touched the question of whether Samsung copied the iPad. Yet the same court is upset about Apple suggesting that Samsung did copy the iPad.

So, to sum up:

- Apple said that Samsung copied the iPad;

- the court wants Apple punished for saying that;

- although the court never made any determination about whether Samsung copied the iPad;

- and Apple is still forbidden from saying that Samsung copied the iPad.

Nope, still confused.

You're confused because you're trying to oversimplify.

Try reading the article again, the court case was over a registered design, not the iPad

Yes, but if you believe that Samsung's business incurred substantial damage from a perception of infringement, surely that perception would have to be "Samsung copied Apple's products", not just "Samsung infringed Apple's Community Registered Design No. 000181607-001".

Basically, if the case was "big" (over the issue of Samsung copying the iPad), then:

- the court would have had to rule on whether Samsung copied the iPad; and, if it ruled negatively, then

- Samsung could have claimed to have incurred a significant damage to its reputation after being smeared as a copycat, and

- the court would have had reason to prohibit Apple from reiterating the copying accusations.

However, if the case was "small" (over the issue of Community Registered Design No. 000181607-001, and explicitly excluding the question of whether Samsung copied the iPad), then:

- the court would merely have to rule on whether Samsung infringed that specific design, explicitly leaving open the question of whether they "copied the iPad" or not; and, having decided negatively, then

- the damage to Samsung's reputation would have been insignificant, since (some) people care about whether they are copycats or not, and the court's decision on that specific registered patent does not touch the greater question, and thus

- the court would have no grounds to prohibit Apple from saying: "the court ruled that Samsung didn't violate this specific registered design; however, we still believe that they copied our products, and here are a few other cases where they were found to infringe our IP".

You see what I mean? I don't see how you can have BIG damages, BIG punishment, BIG limitations on what Apple can say if you don't also have the BIG decision that would justify all that. And the court has said over and over that they have made no such decision.

Apple sues over the design. The design is not the design of the iPad.

Apple says 'they copy our products! See, look at this court case'

Case goes against them, they're ordered to apologise. They fail to stick to the terms and put a load of stuff around it that muddies the waters and talks about unrelated cases in other juristictions.

Judge gets annoyed and makes them take down the other stuff as misleading, specifically noting that they haven't even tested the question of the iPad, and that the decision in this case does not contradict decisions in other cases where this design was brought up.

And the court clearly does think it can make apple carry an unembellished statement, and they're probably right .otherwise I guarantee we'd be seeing appeals.

Serves them well. Stupidity (if not malice) has to have its price.

Tim Cook, past-peak, Steve Jobs would never, bully, bullying, bullies, bullied, overpriced, one mouse button, luxury, ivory tower, arrogant, evil, marketing, finally.

Some manner of inside joke?

I figure that if you put all of the asinine and dipshit comments into one big one, it'll drain the swamp and allow for some actual conversation.

An interesting concept, but that's what the downvote arrow is for. And looking at your BS-magnet post, it appears to be working fine.

True. :) spend 'em if you gottem!

More like a Tourette's attack.

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