And... Here Come The iPad Patent Claims

from the live-by-the-patent... dept

Back when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, one of the points he made clear in his presentation was how Apple had applied for over 200 patents on the device. And, yet, despite all of that, Apple has been sued over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. And, of course, only recently did Apple file a patent lawsuit in the other direction.

Given all of this, it was really only a matter of time until the patent litigation began flying over the iPad. Slashdot points us to the news that Elan Microelectronics is seeking to ban the import of iPads into the US via the ever-popular ITC loophole. Amusingly, the whole point of the ITC injunction process is supposed to be to protect American companies against foreign companies importing in patented technology. Yet, in this case, it's a Taiwanese company suing an American company. This seems like a pure money grab, like many of the iPhone patent lawsuits, and once again demonstrates the problems of the patent thicket around mobile devices these days.

The patent in question 5,825,352 is for multi-touch screen inputs, and was apparently originally held by Logitech. Of course, in many ways this really highlights the points we've talked about. What Apple did with the iPhone was quite innovative, but wasn't really that inventive. It took concepts that had been out for a while, including multi-touch, and did something really cool with it: putting it into a compact, mobile device that people really wanted. The other players in the space weren't working on anything like that at all, and now patent battles are simply a waste of time holding back more innovation, rather than letting companies actually continue to come up with the next great thing.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    crade (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:12pm

    You think that is bad.. Try building something new as a small company when you aren't big enough to ignore patents on current technology.

     

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  2.  
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    Richard, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Whats more, there are currently over ONE THOUSAND patents relating to multi-touch interfaces around the world. Many of which are overlapping. That means that any company crazy enough to innovate in this direction can either buckle up or bend over. Granting ownership of concepts is an obscene subsidy for the old guard. I just cant help but to smile when their international enforcement lobbying pays off like this.

    Why would any company that makes anything fire a shot at Apple. Especially with a broad patent like this. It's as if they don't read this blog :). You need to get a legal proxy who does nothing but sue companies. They're invulnerable to retaliation. shesh..

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:27pm

    Litigation, the new business model

     

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  4.  
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    Chris Pratt, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    Nothing new under the sun

    In this day and age, I don't think there's really that much left to "invent" - hasn't been really for a while. Innovation, as you mention, is far more common, where existing things are simply combined in unique ways. Patent law has just gotten completely out of hand because more patents are so damn general that they end up covering a multitude of things that the company owning the patent is not directly developing. I also thinks it stinks a little of sour grapes. They're just upset that they aren't innovative enough themselves to be making money hand-over-fist like Apple is, so they're just going to latch on and try to suck Apple dry.

     

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  5.  
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    Ken Jackson, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 5:12pm

    Patent looks good...

    Patent was filed in 1996. Looks pretty good. This really does look like THE multitouch patent. It does explicitly mention touchpads (like Synaptics) and even capacitive touch screens.

    I wonder if the folks at Elan are friends with the folks at HTC?

     

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  6.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    Severely Flawed Reasoning

    "Apple had applied for over 200 patents on the device."

    "Apple has been sued over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. And, of course, only recently did Apple file a patent lawsuit in the other direction."

    "What Apple did with the iPhone was quite innovative, but wasn't really that inventive. It took concepts that had been out for a while, including multi-touch, and did something really cool with it"

    Mike, you are talking about the difference between real invention and the process of stealing and combining others inventions which big companies like to call innovation.

    Apple and other members of the Coalition for Patent Piracy & Fairness are sued again and again and again because they take liberties with others patent property rights repeatedly and despite Apple's 200 patents Apple no longer produces significant inventions.

    All companies eventually have to acquire inventions from others. This is the normal evolution of companies. The only question is are they going to acquire them legitimately or are they going to try and play school yard bully. Most go through the bully stage and after being punished enough times they learn to do things the right way.

    Apple has not learned this lesson yet but they will.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 5:40pm

    Theft, The New Business Model

    "Litigation, the new business model" Inventors sue when companies steal from them. For some reason we are really fed up with with those who steal our most valuable asset. Ronald J. Riley, I am speaking only on my own behalf. Affiliations: President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org President - Alliance for American Innovation Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel Washington, DC Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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  8.  
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    mjb5406 (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 5:52pm

    What's good for the goose...

    I guess since Apple has taken the gloves off and is suing HTC for so-called "infringement", it's just desserts that Apple gets a taste of its own medicine. Not that anything will come of this, but still...

     

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  9.  
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    Kaden (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 5:58pm

    Everything that's gonna be invented has already been invented.

    Innovation is merely bodging together stolen inventions.

    Gawd, the future would be fucked if either of you guys were in any way influential.

     

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  10.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:04pm

    Re: Nothing new under the sun

    "In this day and age, I don't think there's really that much left to "invent"

    I have no doubt that this is true for you but fortunately there is much to invent, really an infinity of inventions yet to come.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:04pm

    Re: Theft, The New Business Model

    Whoosh, the sound things going over Ronalds head

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:10pm

    Re: Nothing new under the sun

    "Everything that can be invented - has already been invented"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Girls gotta get PayD, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:14pm

    Re: Re: Nothing new under the sun

    This is true, people are inventing new ways to get paid everyday.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Severely Flawed Reasoning

    Coalition for Patent Piracy & Fairness

    Is this some silliness you just made up with your clubhouse chumbs?

    Seriously, this does not show you in a good light.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:19pm

    Re: What's good for the goose...

    Yeah ... but there is this problem. You see, there is a lot of wasted money - and guess who is paying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Jimmy, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:30pm

    The iPad martyr

    For the greater good, I actually hope Apple lose this one. It's sad to say, but I think until we see a high-profile US company and product get seriously screwed via crazy patent laws, there is very little hope of reform.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Theft, The New Business Model

    Wow, I didn't think you could make your signature any more ugly or more hilarious. Did you screw it up trying to add "scam artist" to the list?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    crade (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Re: Nothing new under the sun

    I agree with you, the reason technology is grinding to a halt is not because we have invented everything.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:34pm

    Re: Severely Flawed Reasoning

    Way to tie yourself into a giant logic knot. Either all patents are good (Apple is stealing inventions!!!!! (Which, by the way, shows your ignorance of the definition of steal)) or they aren't (Apple has 200 patents but doesn't invent anything).

    Perhaps you need to add "Senior Failure - Logic Academy" to your amazing signature.

     

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  20.  
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    Matthew Krum, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 7:22pm

    They seem to do this often...

    It looks like Elam has sued many companies in the past including Apple.
    http://moconews.net/article/419-taiwans-elan-microelectronics-sues-apple-over-multi-touch-patent-i nfrin/

     

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  21.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: Theft, The New Business Model

    So, waist high?

    *rimshot*

     

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  22.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nothing new under the sun

    It's a point of view!

    Now we just have to lock him up in a slow time envelope...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Vic Kley, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 7:33pm

    i (Corp) PAD

    We were doing multi-touch on the touchpads I invented (4079194, 4214122) at our company in 1976. The company was called i Corp, and one of our product names was (ARE YOU READY?) the i Pad! Yes I had sat in on a discussion series at UC Berkeley with Alan Kay and his concept notebook computer the Dynabook. I invented the touch screen/pad (resistive and/or capacitive type) for the upcoming Dynabook and a display technology along with it. There was no software patents allowed then and we did not try to patent multi-touch.

    Everything we did is in the public domain so MIKE innovators may feed to their hearts content. We never made a dime off the invention but I did learn that the foodie computer companies are not thankful for our gifts. I actually showed the technology to Steve Jobs in his storefront Apple shop, along with some graphic computing ideas and he told me he and Woz were perfectly happy with character graphics! Go figure! The only way that guy Jobs will pay is when a jury awards on infringement for the inventor.

    No we make no claim on the i Pad name, i Corp has been dead for 30 years.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Mike, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 7:44pm

    Re: Theft, The New Business Model

    Inventors sue after making a blatantly vague patent (ie. multitouch) which is so broad and the next obvious step, then do nothing to develop it, so they can wait until someone DOES. Then they make their money from the company that took the risk to develop an idea they legitimately came up with. ANYONE could have predicted that when a single touch screen came into the world, that the next LOGICAL step would be multitouch. You REALLY think you need a brain surgeon to figure that out?
    The patent is only valid if the have schematics that match Apple's identically. If it is not identical, then it is a different technology. You can't patent an idea, only a method to implement that idea. If you could, then I will patent the idea of disagreeing with someone else. That way, when you write you comment back to me, disagreeing with it, I can sue you for intellectual property infringement.
    Mike

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 8:20pm

    Re: Re: Theft, The New Business Model

    ... "sue after making a blatantly vague patent (ie. multitouch) which is so broad and the next obvious step, then do nothing to develop it, so they can wait until someone DOES."

    Is this description a submarine patent?

     

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  26.  
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    NUKE intellectual property, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 8:45pm

    addon

    hey why not add a 75$ tax on all "i" products this way we can scam er profit better

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Vic Kley, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 10:11pm

    Re: Re: Theft, The New Business Model

    Multi-touch is not a circuit although it could be a logic array (as almost any program can be made into a state machine). So was gesture recognition- we used it and did not patent it. It's in the public domain.

    Obvious well Mike I don't think so but let's see there is a next step along this line.

    So what is the line MIke? What is the next step Mike? The obvious next step of course!
    Surprise me, go ahead!
    Although you understand when you state this "invention" you lose any chance to patent it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 2:10am

    Vic talked about a multitouch circuit that works.

    Over time, companies deliberately try to get around patents at the expense of making life more difficult for their users. To get around patents, people are asked to press buttons a little harder. For another example, take a look at Moto Labs tests of various smartphone single-finger touch tests:

    http://labs.moto.com/robot_touchscreen_analysis/

    Is it really that hard to license the proper IP?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Theft, The New Business Model

    What are you attempting to say?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    staff, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 8:58am

    payolla

    "This seems like a pure money grab"

    It's only a money grab if it's your money they're grabbing. If you don't let the real innovators protect their developments, everyone will just look for government jobs or "report" for payolla like you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 10:34am

    Re: payolla

    Yeah, the real innovators just wait around to sue...the real innovators.

    Wait.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    George Margolin, Apr 1st, 2010 @ 12:10am

    Re: Severely Flawed Reasoning

    MIKE - MIKE - MIKE -- you sounded almost like a reasonably knowledgeable person in your posting UNTIL you blew it by writing this bit of foolishness; "but wasn't really that inventive. It took concepts that had been out for a while, including multi-touch, and did something really cool with it: putting it into a compact, mobile device that people really wanted. The other players in the space weren't working on anything like that at all,- (HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT OR WHY SHOULD YOU ASSUME THAT?) and now patent battles are simply a waste of time holding back more innovation, rather than letting companies actually continue to come up with the next great thing." To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson many years ago; "INVENTION BREEDS INVENTION" and as I say -- Patents Breed Patents. But your unawareness that there are things called LICENSES to obtain a paid for RIGHT to use or incorporate those inventions which you might need, to complete your product -- STARTLES ME! So I hate to be the one to have to break this news to you, by creating a polite literary and original phrase (copyrighted of course) where I have to inform you that "You clearly don't know your ASTERISK from your FOOTNOTE!" Please learn what the Patent System is all about. You're not a bad writer -- sometimes actually good -- but you seem not to have the foggiest notion of what a patent IS and DOES and was created to DO and why it has permitted us to encompass various CREATIONS using existing components in innovative ways. Somthing like the wonderful phrase that Newton said; "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of others." But what the hell did Newton know? "Paying the piper" is part of the game since VIRTUALLY ALL patents results from OTHER patents. All one has to do is follow the rules of the road. George Margolin

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Kroneage, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 4:02am

    Elan Has Won Already! ;)

    Elan has a presedent setting prior case cross licensing agreement with Logitech in their hands. They previously have just won in court against Synaptic, with the help of Elantech which was acquired from Logitech (including all prior patents) in late 2007, after they had first sued Apple early in that year. With Elantech and Elan now combined, they have the means to clobber Apple, with a big goober aimed via the ITC to pull Apple's iPlatform (and any other device using Multitouch) off the U.S. market!

    The fact is they filed notice against Apple at the iPhone's announcement. These other companies have been in this business longer. The real thieves are Apple. Who only started to develop their phone after HTC released the first true Touchscreen Smartphone, only a year after the term Smartphone came into being (and it had multi-touch technology that was invented in 1970's for Kiosks and ATM's). Do any of you remember the iPaq? lol

    Being the Arrogant Kings of Invention (more like thievery), has just come back to bite them. When iPhone was launched they were served patent infringement papers by numerous prior patent holders (too many to count). They chose to ignore them all in spite of them being granted prior to anything Apple had even filed for.

    Just so you know; there will be a Patent dogpile on Apple and Steve Jobs iPlatform. They will be buried in a casket of their own arrogant making. Nokia and Elan already have precedent setting prior wins in court. Apple is only prolonging their pain! ....in the end they'll either have to pay the piper or get out!!!

    After all they can't be serious about demanding payment themselves while refusing to pay others that came before them!

    EXTRA EXTRA APPLE BULLIES IT'S WAY INTO MOBILE MARKET, ENDS UP MIRED IN IT'S OWN POO!!! ...hmmm reminds me of fascists regimes like Hitler's Nazi Germany. Where they got dumped on by the Whole World! haha

    and more recently the Apple vs MS Mess, they lost in..... ;)

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/162821/apple_slapped_with_multitouch_lawsuit.html

    "Let me get this straight...A company is suing apple for stealing its IP...Apple is planning to sue someone who stole the IP they stole from someone else. Doesn't this sound familiar...

    Apple steals GUI from Xerox...Before Xerox sues them, Apple is suing Microsoft for stealing it from them...Every one who sued lost."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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