backtop


Print 60 comment(s) - last by testerguy.. on Jul 29 at 7:43 PM

Pictures of the 2004 iPad prototype also surface is court filings

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is at the center of nearly two-thirds of patent suits in the mobile industry.  The company has been targeted by trolls due to its profitability, but it has also used its large portfolio of questionable software patents to try to preserve that profitability, playing aggressor and stifling would be competitors.

I. USPTO: Feeding the Trolls

This week inspectors at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted Apple two new patents that push the bounds of reason and represent, once again, the vast disconnect between the nation's intellectual property office and any sort of technical competence.

The first patent covers making an on-screen graphical element, disappear, more or less.  Brand new U.S. Patent No. 8,223,134 claims invention of using "a predetermined condition" to determine when "display of a vertical bar is ceased".

Apple scrolling
Apple has patented making a scrolling icon disappear. [Image Source: The Verge]

Even in a narrow context, it is somewhat baffling how making a graphic disappear when some program conditions are met is patentable.

Apple had already patented making a scrolling list accelerate or slow down.  That technology is described by U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, which was filed in April 2008 and granted in Jan. 2009.

It has been noted [PDF] by intellectual property expert Judge Richard A. Posner that the claim construction in Apple's past scrolling patents is quite broad.  Some have misinterpreted this as an assertion that the patent was valid.  In fact, Judge Posner feels that most software patents are invalid -- he was simply noting that Apple lawyers are right -- the patents being granted by the USPTO are purposefully worded to be alarmingly broad.

Yet another example of Apple's bizarrely broad patents and the USPTO's baffling insistence on approving them comes from U.S. Patent No. 8,223,134 -- also granted this week.

Patent '134 describes the invention of "displaying electronic lists and documents".  Granted, Apple presents this "invention" in a mobile context, and throws in multi-touch. But essentially it has patented in rather broad and ambiguous language displaying a list on a smartphone.

Not only is this "invention" not an invention at all due to obviousness, it's more than likely invalid due to prior art.

II. Lax Reviews Waste Taxpayer Money and Hurt Competition

The USPTO's willingness to embrace Apple's legal trolling creates two crucial problems for the U.S.

First, taxpayers must see their money wasted on paying Judges and juries to deal with Apple's slew of lawsuits and subsequent appeals against its competitors.  Second, if Apple can find just one sympathetic court, it can use its patent horde to ban its competitors from the market, in an attempt to grant itself a government-enforced monopoly.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Apple successfully banned the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 using similar patents. 
[Images Source: 9to5Google]

This was showcased in Apple's case against Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose/San Francisco).  In one of its court motions Apple sought to ban the Galaxy Tab 10.1 on the grounds that it infringed on its patented design.  Judge Lucy Koh rejected this notion, saying Apple's design patent -- U.S. Design Patent D504,889 -- was likely invalid due to prior art (and the fact that it looked neither like an iPad nor a Galaxy Tab 10.1).  But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard Apple's appeal of that ruling and decided the design patent was valid.  The end result was a ban on the competitor's tablet.

Likewise, in another case Judge Koh agreed to tentatively ban the smartphone on the grounds of several software patents similar to be above-granted ones.

While those patents may eventually be invalidated, it cannot be denied that Apple has gained a key anti-competitive advantage by gaming the system.

III. iPad Prototype Images Surface

Speaking of the Galaxy Tab case, remember these images, appearing in the design patent:

Apple D'889 patent
Apple's D'889 patent [Image Source: Google Patents]

Well the photographic model of those sketches has aired, courtesy of documents found in Apple's legal filings.  The documents offer the world's first glimpse at the 2004-era iPad.

iPad PrototypeiPad prototypeiPad prototype
[Image Source: Network World]

The prototype looks just like the design patent's drawings -- and not much like the iPad.  The bezel size is different, the case is bulky, and there are no buttons.

Again, here we see how Apple has managed to get a single court to buy into its theory that it should be granted a broad monopoly by a single highly questionable, and, at the very least, very narrow patent.

Sources: USPTO [1], [2], Network World



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Another Day Another Clueless Patent Article
By testerguy on 7/19/2012 8:17:43 AM , Rating: 0
Jason just got totally educated legally, and still can't just accept that he made a mistake. Absurd. Talk about blind and misplaced arrogance.

quote:
In other words, yes there are some ideas that are too "obvious" to patent -- specifically, abstract (ambiguous) ideas, and natural phenomenon. I would argue this meets the criteria of an "abstract idea" quite, concisely


I highlighted the 3 words making this whole sentence irrelevant. Naturally the patent office who has a firmer grasp of the law than you managed to conclude differently.

quote:
Microsoft would merely have to publish a document that they were working on unified search before Apple. And again, I would argue unified search is an abstract idea and is inherently non-patentable (see ruling No. 10–1150). But even if you were going to debate that: a) Microsoft could almost surely produce a pre-2000 document showing they were working on unified search. b) Unified search was built into Veronica search engine, which used the Gopher protocol and was developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coming out in 1992. So where's your snarky response now, troll?


I don't think I have ever seen such a ridiculous argument. I wonder if you honestly think that ' could almost surely ' represents any kind of legal argument, whatsoever, completely absent of any evidence or supporting documentation, based purely on a speculative guess of a biased idiot. Seriously?

As for the 'Veronica search engine' - a search engine, not a unified search in the same way as Apple implemented it, is completely irrelevant. It simply crawled websites / ftp servers looking for a specific string - something not even remotely similar to what Apple implemented.

So a guess and an irrelevance, as well as ignoring the words of a legal mind who actually has a clue.

Impressive.


By JasonMick (blog) on 7/19/2012 10:19:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I highlighted the 3 words making this whole sentence irrelevant. Naturally the patent office who has a firmer grasp of the law than you managed to conclude differently.
Says who? The laws is pretty brief and concise, and there's a handful of high profile cases that should elucidate in greater detail what is unclear in the law... the rest is purely common sense.

Anyone can understand patent law, it's not really that hard.

What's lacking by the clerk who approved this and by you is common sense.

Who says some low-level patent clerk is some great legal scholar or someone with a high-level of technological understanding? They're just a person like you or I. You're delusional to think otherwise.
quote:
I don't think I have ever seen such a ridiculous argument. I wonder if you honestly think that ' could almost surely ' represents any kind of legal argument, whatsoever, completely absent of any evidence or supporting documentation, based purely on a speculative guess of a biased idiot. Seriously?

As for the 'Veronica search engine' - a search engine, not a unified search in the same way as Apple implemented it, is completely irrelevant. It simply crawled websites / ftp servers looking for a specific string - something not even remotely similar to what Apple implemented.

So a guess and an irrelevance, as well as ignoring the words of a legal mind who actually has a clue.

Impressive.
Weak argument, troll. To quote Solandri
quote:
"But Veronica didn't search your own computer!" you say? By definition if the unix server you used ran a gopher site which was indexed by Veronica, whenever you used it you were searching your own computer along with those on the Internet.

Seems to me Apple took an already-existing idea from the open source community, built their own version, and filed a patent on it.
But don't let your technical incompetence get in the way of running your mouth. By all means keep blindly defending Apple with little regard to history.


RE: Another Day Another Clueless Patent Article
By Theoz on 7/19/2012 1:13:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Anyone can understand patent law, it's not really that hard.


I agree with this. But the point is that attempting to understand it as you are doing doesn't make you an examiner, lawyer, judge or other qualified professional that has passed bar exams to become licensed and compiled many years of experience. It makes you a casual, and often incorrect, observer.

LeBron James and I both play basketball, but I wouldn't go around saying that I know more about playing basketball than he does.


By JasonMick (blog) on 7/20/2012 12:14:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
LeBron James and I both play basketball, but I wouldn't go around saying that I know more about playing basketball than he does.
And yet a patent clerk isn't exactly "Lebron James".

Maybe you could say Judge Posner is "Lebron James" of the patent world -- and guess what? He argues software patents are invalid, based on similar analysis to what I provide you, free of charge above.

A patent clerk?

They're more like a D-leaguer than an NBA player.

Good patent attorneys get a job trolling for companies like Apple, as that's where the big money is at.

I have several college buddies who have done precisely that. I can't fault them for gaming the system, they're banking... just a smart play.


By Cheesew1z69 on 7/19/2012 4:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
HA! Troll got OWNED.

quote:
What's lacking by the clerk who approved this and by you is common sense.
Truth...

quote:
You're delusional
Truth...


By testerguy on 7/29/2012 7:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Says who? The laws is pretty brief and concise, and there's a handful of high profile cases that should elucidate in greater detail what is unclear in the law... the rest is purely common sense. Anyone can understand patent law, it's not really that hard. What's lacking by the clerk who approved this and by you is common sense. Who says some low-level patent clerk is some great legal scholar or someone with a high-level of technological understanding? They're just a person like you or I. You're delusional to think otherwise.


Right, so the law is so easy and concise, yet you keep coming to exactly the opposite conclusions that the JUDGES come to.

quote:
"But Veronica didn't search your own computer!" you say? By definition if the unix server you used ran a gopher site which was indexed by Veronica, whenever you used it you were searching your own computer along with those on the Internet. Seems to me Apple took an already-existing idea from the open source community, built their own version, and filed a patent on it.


OK, this is the new most absurd argument I've ever read. You're comparing Apples advanced multi-search with a completely different tool which searches SERVER FILES. Your argument is that if you so happen to be using a server, that it also searches your own computer? LOL.

The multi-search Apple created bears no resemblance to this at all, as it was required to actually understand the content of the items it was searching which may not necessarily contain the direct string (encoded), and search the relevant items accordingly. Furthermore, it didn't only function if you were in fact a server. It's like arguing that Google is multi search if you're running IIS on your Windows PC. It's a joke, and I hope you know it.


"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki