Apple wins . . .

BTW, that old Apple screenshot is really a parody of what Mac OSX might’ve looked like on the Lisa or early Mac, from what I can tell. :wink:

I’ve been following the last 4-5 years of patent battles in the technology industry and I think a lot of people are really unaware of how crazy it all is.

When it comes to patents there are a few core concepts that do not seem to really apply to software patents. For something to be given a patent it should not be prior art, and it should be “non-obvious.” Basically before giving someone a patent the patent examiner is supposed to look at the invention and consider how different it is from the current state of the art, if the “invention” really isn’t very different at all, it isn’t supposed to be something you can patent.

Basically this is to prevent people being able to monopolize minor improvements in products that basically every company would conceivable make. For example imagine a new type of engine is invented for cars that is much more efficient. Everyone will use it and the inventor deserves a patent and deserves to collect licensing fees from his competitors. But let’s say there is a very minor change to this engine as it was patented that makes it better suited for mass production, virtually all the automotive engineers working on gearing up to start producing these engines would have noticed this and made the adjustment on their own. But let’s say one company quickly races to try and patent this predictable change to the engine that everyone will be making, to capitalize on licensing fee revenue.

In general, if the improvement is very obvious and minor over the current state of the art, the patent isn’t supposed to be awarded. I can point to many, many software patents that basically fall exactly inside that scenario.

In addition, I think patent examiners don’t really understand software. A lot of mobile phone patents are basically repatents of ideas that already were developed on desktop PCs and even old school devices like Palm Pilots and etc, and earlier tablets before they were any good. That’s actually why Microsoft has a monster of a patent advantage in the mobile phone wars, and it’s why by and large Apple almost certainly won’t be suing Microsoft over any phone issues. (I believe because Apple and Microsoft both have so many patents that could relate to phone software they are actually in a cross licensing agreement that just basically means they both recognize they are using some patented stuff and don’t want to go to court over it.)

To a patent examiner, it doesn’t seem to matter that any software innovation generally is going to be seen by a software developer as something that could eventually be present on any software system installed on any kind of hardware. I think there is actually a patent on mobile device copy and paste. Seriously. Copy and paste is 45 years old or older software prior art, but for some reason a patent examiner doesn’t think software is the same thing when it runs on a phone. And a patent examiner thinks something like copy and paste is both novel and non-obvious as a feature on a phone.

A lot of the features like swipe gestures and copy and paste were present on Windows Mobile and things of that nature years before the iPhone. Example.

If Apple is particularly bad about anything it is they have actually tried to patent stuff that was clearly already in production mobile phones before Apple even entered that market as new invention. But the whole software patent landscape is basically terrible.

A few of the big players like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple have these huge treasure troves of patents. They are all infringing each other’s patents, but because of that it’s basically a MAD type scenario where they aren’t suing each other because they both have such vast patent resources and are actively infringing each other’s patents so much that all they can really do is cross license and move on.

What you’re seeing now is the big patent holders like Oracle and Apple are going to patent war against the companies that don’t own very many patents. In the IT industry it is now basically seen as part of your corporate strategy that you acquire as many patents as possible for use in litigation. Google and a lot of the Android handset manufacturers do not have massive software patent libraries and that is why you’ve had big companies going after them. You’ve also seen Yahoo pull out some really obvious BS it patented back in the early days of the internet to wage patent war against Facebook (another prominent tech company which has had a mediocre patent strategy and is thus vulnerable to litigation.)

The whole thing is much larger than just patent infringement, IMHO. This isn’t just another thing.

This seems more like a turf war over being the dominant manufacturer of mobile devices, and Apple isn’t going to let a point of marketshare go without fighting in whatever way they can—which just so happens to be the shitload of patents they have, so they’re in the litigious ring on those grounds.

Apparently there’s the option for triple damages under some circumstances.

And Apple is sourcing components from companies other than Samsung now, so * that * could be an even more significant financial blow to Samsung.

I’m not really a big fan of software and design patents at the level at which they’re currently being pursued, but I have a fair bit of sympathy for Apple in this case. They came out with a smart phone that was significantly different and more flexible than anything else that was on the market and in a remarkably short period of time, other companies (with a lot less investment in R&D) were selling phones with a remarkable resemblance in design and functionality.

“As thick as a Californian jury” needs to become a saying after this awful decision.

Legal dopers, the jury have been talking to the media and have had some things to say about how they reached their decisions, and I wondered if some of these things might have future implications:

  1. They said they were able to reach their decision without reading the instructions to the jury

  2. They considered the issue of prior art, but found it was “bogging them down” so they “skipped it”.

  3. A juror said they wanted to award a large amount of damages to send a message that patent infringement was not ok. The jury’s instructions were to award compensation for losses only.
    “We wanted to make sure the message we sent was not just a slap on the wrist,” [the juror] said. “We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable.”

  4. Initially they’d awarded more than $2 million dollars compensation for devices they’d decided weren’t infringing, and their decision had to be corrected.

Are any of those things significant enough to come up in future legal proceedings?

Had Samsung not so unabashedly and conspicuously copied the iPhone down to its functional behaviors and hardware form-factor, I wonder if Apple would’ve even pursued this.

To say certain technologies and the way Apple implemented them on the iPhone – as a whole – is obvious only in hindsight. The iPhone immaculately blindsided the smartphone/pocket PC market from a company that wasn’t even in the cellphone market.

Apple, yet again, is being copied by the entire industry. Their competitors are profiting from Apple’s cost and risk in research, development, manufacturing and ultimately, consumer demand. Its a holistic product where functionality and user experience turn out to be greater than the sum of its parts (re: “patents”).

No other manufacturer of smartphones were even in the same ballpark when the iPhone hit the market in 2007. I think what Apple did certainly counts, on the whole, as a true innovation in the cellphone/smartphone industry. I have to wonder if Android would’ve even surfaced if it weren’t for the iPhone.

How is it Apple’s fault Samsung can’t compete with Apple in this area without completely aping their product? Why couldn’t they develop and design their own unique product?

Apple were granted bogus patents. Prior art existed on all their features. The jury chose to disregard prior art because it was confusing. The jury appear to have assumed the patents wouldn’t have been granted if prior art existed. Meanwhile, the overburdened, underfunded patent office is relying on the courts to sort out which patents are bogus because they don’t have the resources. System wide fail.

Apple brought a bunch of existing features together in one device. That’s not patentable. The UK court got it right, finding the patents invalid.

But by and large many of the features Apple has patented were already being seen in other devices already on the market. There are several things Apple has patented or sought to patent that were already present on Nokia, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile devices. One of Apple’s major patents is on “slide to lock” functionality and it existed in a Windows CE device that came out in 2005.

I can’t remember now if it was Microsoft or Apple, but one of the large tech companies also has a patent that basically covers “delivering internet content over a cellular network.” That I don’t believe has been pursued in a court case because it’s such a stupid and laughable patent it would almost certainly be invalidated by the courts.

Your entire argument is bogus in regard to patent law by the way, you don’t generally get to patent something that already exists as prior art just because you’ve done it way better than everyone else to that point.

Apple has some valid patents in regard to their phones, but the bulk of them are bogus and the bulk of the ones in the Samsung case were bogus.

Samsung has some bogus patents too, they have some on actual 3G technology that are so restrictive as to stifle the industry if they were fully enforced. Luckily in cases in Europe Samsung has mostly not totally prevailed on those issues or it would have significantly hampered innovation in the smartphone market.

That would be incorrect. HTC had smart phones on the market months before the very first iPhone that had most if not all of these traits.

I don’t think they can afford not to. They have a big chunk of the market with basically only one product. They have to protect it or risk going the way of Nokia.

Another good way to decide who the dominant mobile manufacturer would be to have both makers sell their goods on an open market and then customers could decide which one they prefered, instead of trying to use a gov’t granted monopoly to limit customer choice.

TheLG Prada announced and launched before the iPhone had pretty much the same form factor. Again the idea of patenting a form factor is ridiculous. Look at the average HD television at your electronics store. They all look pretty much the same. Should the first company have been granted a 20 year monopoly on that form factor?

Most of what we consider essential to a smartphone was not created by Apple. In fact the first iPhone lacked many of those essentials: it didn’t have GPS, 3G, a video camera, proper bluetooth support or the ability to install apps. All these features were copied from other phones.

A lot of people seem to think “revolutionary for the market” is the same thing as “novel invention.” Lots of products, just like the iPhone, revolutionize their markets without being the result of some genuine patentable innovation.

The Prius by and large used extant technology to revolutionize the U.S. car market, but that doesn’t mean Toyota invented hybrid cars (some of the mechanical concepts behind the engine in the Prius literally date to the 1880s.)

Apple’s reward for being best to deliver is tons of money and huge market share. But just because their product release caused a major change in the phone industry that isn’t intrinsic proof that a patentable innovation has occurred.

(As for Android, it was in mid-development when the first iPhone launched, and Google did shift its strategic direction because of the iPhone. Before, Google was basically ripping the BlackBerry OS off because BlackBerry and its messaging / email centric phones were dominating the market, once the iPhone launched Google overhauled the basic UI and feature set to be more like iOS.)

I agree that the patents are invalid.

Still, I feel they developed a serious game-changing device that has inspired nothing but copy-cats by the major players in the smartphone arena. How lame.

Unfortunately, Apple has no other ground to defend their product for the consumers they set out to attract with their innovative implementations in the iPhone/iPad than the “patent” playing-field.

Really, how would any other company handle such a high-stake situation?

I’d argue that that’s highly debatable. Their devices included a lot of the technologies, but not implemented anywhere near way Apple did with the first iPhone. It was truly revolutionary for a handheld device.

To me, this just shows how visionless and reactionary these other companies are with their products.

I’d rather Samsung deliver a novel, usable and unique smartphone than just another iPhone knock-off running Android.

Carmady, I would like to apologize for my tone and words. I have no idea why I went off like that, and I’m sorry I was rude.

Even still, what is it about the iPhone that cause such a drastic and immediate switch in the design of smartphones? I’d argue GUI/Implementation/Integration… but apparently there’s no other way protect your product/IPs legally for these sorts of holistic intangibles.

Google acquired Android in '05, but it wasn’t until the influence on the market from the iPhone that companies finally jumped on the bandwagon, otherwise, it probably would’ve surfaced as something very different, if at all. Also, Android is a great OS. But integration across myriad hardware and app development seems to problematic in some respects so far.

Android phones are not even close to being iPhone knock-off’s. They do a whole bunch of things better than the iPhone. They have a much more flexible and customizable UI, including widgets and live wallpapers. They have had better multi-tasking and notifications from the start and it is the iPhone which has been copying here. They have had better web integration especially with Google services.

Ultimately it is hard to pin-point any major innovations in the iPhone. The form factor as mentioned above was not original. In the main they implemented existing ideas better and marketed them a hell of lot better but that isn’t patentable. That is basically clear form the list of violations. Stuff like bounceback and pinch to zoom are simply not major innovations even assuming the iPhone was the first to implement them. They are taking basic UI ideas from other devices and putting them on a phone.

Better implemenations of existing technologies and ideas especially creating a much less laggy touch UI. Better marketing through the massive hype machine that Apple had created. Smartphone were moving in the direction of touch devices anyway as exemplified by the LG Prada and HTC Touch. Apple speeded up that process but not for reasons that should be patentable.