Judge Excludes Samsung's "Sci-Fi" Tablet Evidence From Trial
August 3, 2012 2:54 PM
Judge Koh hands Apple another gift
Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (
) capability to
from Apple, Inc.'s (
) design intellectual property was further weakened on Thursday when
Judge Lucy Koh
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
(San Jose/San Francisco)
that Samsung could not use
designs from science fiction works
to prove invalidity (via prior art) of Apple's design patents.
I. Sci-Fi Props Not Valid for Design Patent Invalidation
Apple is claiming that a series of design patents on the iPad and iPhone --
U.S. Design Patent No. D618,677
-- grant it exclusive rights to produce rectangular (with-rounded edges) touchscreen devices with a "minimalist" number of buttons. Note, the patents themselves have little text, so much of the validity debate revolves around the validity/invalidity of Apple's interpretation of ubiquitous design rights, which is not explicitly stated in the patents.
Samsung has questioned Apple's
rights to "patent shapes"
. But it's unclear whether Samsung's legal team will be capable of invalidating Apple's patents.
The iPad looks very similar to designs seen in the movie
2001: A Space Odyssey
and the fan-favorite science fiction series
Star Trek: The Next Generation
. Both fictional visual depiction predated Apple's 2004 patent by over a decade.
2001: A Space Odyssey "tablets" [Image Source: Stanley Kubrick/MGM]
Star Trek tablets [Image Source: Gene Roddenberry/Paramount]
Judge Koh said pre-existing fictional works were not valid pieces of evidence to use in proving invalidity of design patents.
Sources reporting on the decision did not mention
the judge considered this invalid. One clear implication is that if the decision is upheld it essentially gives commercials firms open season to make real-life devices based on fictional products. For example, if a company made the iconic "golden snitch" of the
universe, it could repatent the existing visual depiction under a new design patent and J.K. Rowling could not invalidate that patent.
II. Alternate Routes to Escaping Apple's Design Claims
Judge Koh did allow Samsung to use at least two real-world prototype or commercial design that could be integral in proving prior art.
The first allowed display is a Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) tablet -- the Compaq TC1000 -- which debuted in 2002, two years before the iPad patent. That tablet had a minimalist design, like the iPad's.
The Compaq TC-1000 (2002) [Image Source: TC-OneThousand.com]
Also allowed was photographs of Roger Fidler tablet prototype which he produced for media company Knight-Ridder.
The iPad (2010, left) versus the Knight-Ridder prototype (1994, right)
[Image Source: Grant Hindsley/The Washington Post]
Without its phone-space prior art (which Judge Koh banned for being "too late") and without the sci-fi prior art, Samsung faces a tougher struggle as it must rely more heavily on the handful of allowed possible prior art examples.
There's some hope that Apple may win on validity and evidence exclusion, but still lose on design infringement. To win on design infringement, the jury must accept Apple's argument that the images in its design patent allow it to patent a certain shape of electronic device.
In theory, Samsung's lawyers could acknowledge the validity of Apple's design patent, be unable to show the full history of their device development, but still argue their device did not infringe based on other factors.
For example, it could argue that it was invalid to patent shapes. If it can convince the jury, all it has to do to avoid design infringement is to show that
there's substantial visual differences
between the iPad and Galaxy Tab and between the iPhone and Galaxy Nexus (or other phones in question). Again, whether the design differences are sufficient to escape infringement is a subjective argument, but when viewed clearly (e.g. at a distance where you can distinguish features) Apple and Samsung's products are easily distinguished.
And it's important to remember that design is just one part of the two company's infringement claims.
III. Editorial: The Big Picture and Why If Either Side Wins, You Lose
Samsung has patented standards technologies, and is legally obligated to license Apple those patents
at a "fair" rate
, but is trying to shirk those responsibilities and license them at an inflated rate.
And Apple is also suing Samsung on technology patents that cover a number of
trivial graphical features
There's great danger in terms of future precedent if either side wins on any of its major claims. If Apple's design claims are upheld, it offers a slippery slope by which companies can patent certain shapes in certain sectors and gain an artificial government-enforced monopoly. If Apple's technology claims are upheld, there could be a rash of patenting and key sectors of the economy like websites (which share common algorithms and visual features) and software (which again are programmatically similar and visually similar) could be destroyed, with only a few patent-rich survivors left standing.
And if Samsung's technology claims were validated to the extent it wants them to be, the concept of affordable licensing of standards patents would be lost. This, too, is an undesirable outcome.
Depending on who wins, tech standards could be badly damaged or the internet/software (e.g. games) market could be destroyed, based on the fact that both companies' objective seemingly rely on abuse of the intellectual property system. [Image Source: BuyPoe]
The case is very significant as Apple and Samsung are two of the biggest companies in the world, so this in a sense is a very precedent-setting case.
In other words if either side achieves total victory, consumers essentially lose. Conversely, the only way consumers win is if both sides lose, at least to some extent.
Thus this is an important case to watch very carefully as the two sides battle in court, as the outcome could effect your choice of future products, perhaps well beyond the smartphone space, even.
All Things D
"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
Samsung Product Chief Takes Issue With Apple "Owning" the Rectangle
July 31, 2012, 1:03 PM
Apple Patents Mobile Lists, Method to Make a Graphic Disappear; Plans More Suits
July 18, 2012, 2:40 PM
Apple Wins Galaxy Tab 10.1 Ban in U.S.
June 27, 2012, 11:28 AM
EDITORIAL: Apple's Patent Didn't Look Much Like the iPad -- or Samsung Tab 10.1
September 9, 2011, 3:56 PM
Apple Cries About Samsung and Motorola's Patent "Monopoly"
August 31, 2011, 9:27 AM
Xiaomi Mi 6 - Flash Sale on April 28 in China
April 26, 2017, 7:45 AM
Apple Watch NikeLab Limited Edition unveiled.
April 22, 2017, 6:20 AM
What is the Apple’s iPhone 8 specifications and release date?
April 14, 2017, 5:43 AM
Xiaomi Mi Pad 3 tablet with Hexa –Core SoC, Android Marshmallow
April 6, 2017, 6:40 AM
Vivo launches V5 Plus IPL edition smartphone
April 4, 2017, 11:10 AM
Samsung S8 and S8 Plus: On Sale April 21 at Major Wireless Dealers
March 30, 2017, 7:35 AM
Most Popular Articles
Surface Pro 5 Rumors - New Release Date and Price
April 22, 2017, 6:45 AM
Apple Watch NikeLab Limited Edition unveiled.
April 22, 2017, 6:20 AM
Motorola Moto G5 Pus – Well Worth Considering Over the Others
April 25, 2017, 7:06 AM
SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 580 8GD5 – Great Value for the Money
April 20, 2017, 7:47 AM
Meet the Smartphone with four cameras - Alcatel Flashphone
April 5, 2017, 11:20 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Galaxy Note 8 – Available Second Half 2017
Apr 28, 2017, 7:30 AM
Google Android App – Huge improvement on Nighttime Photography
Apr 27, 2017, 7:40 AM
Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin has an Airship
Apr 26, 2017, 6:43 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus – Lots of Glass that Breaks Easily
Apr 25, 2017, 7:20 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 – Warning for Pet Owners
Apr 24, 2017, 5:59 AM
Sound Bars and the Costs?
Apr 23, 2017, 6:30 AM
Link your Brain to Your Computer – In Four Years…Maybe
Apr 22, 2017, 7:03 AM
Google Home can now identify users by their voice.
Apr 21, 2017, 7:15 AM
Amazon Lex – Now Available for Developers.
Apr 20, 2017, 6:58 AM
You can now use Instagram offline on your Android Smartphone
Apr 19, 2017, 8:00 AM
Now you can livestream to YouTube from your mobile device.
Apr 18, 2017, 8:05 AM
Google Home – Is It a Spy Device?
Apr 17, 2017, 7:30 AM
Apple added to self –driving test permit list
Apr 15, 2017, 6:21 AM
Project Scorpio – Coming on June 11
Apr 14, 2017, 6:20 AM
Looks Like Samsung Has Been Forgiven.
Apr 13, 2017, 6:50 AM
United Airlines - Blasted on China’s Social Network and the Stock Market
Apr 12, 2017, 6:50 AM
Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hacked
Apr 11, 2017, 6:25 AM
Microsoft Surface Pro5 Details Revealed
Apr 9, 2017, 6:41 AM
Own An Android Phone? Then you could be hacked over Wi-FI
Apr 7, 2017, 6:47 AM
Apple confirms iOS 10.3 bug and its effect on iCloud Services
Apr 6, 2017, 6:30 AM
Apple Rolls Out New Version of Apple Music
Apr 5, 2017, 10:35 AM
Apple in the News
Apr 4, 2017, 9:03 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information