by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 6th 2007 4:11pm
It's almost surprising that it took this long, but someone has finally sued Apple for patent infringement related to the iPhone. Remember, back when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone he hyped up all the patents the company filed associated with the phone. It didn't make sense to us, because many of the technologies in the iPhone weren't new at all and had plenty of prior art. It was just the ability to put them all together in a compelling package that people would buy that was the key -- and no one could simply mimic Apple's ability to do that (though we can all watch others flounder around as they try). Still, with any new technologies these days, there's bound to be a patent thicket, meaning that there would inevitably be patent disputes. We had discussed a potential patent suit over the touchscreen interface, but it's not clear what became of that. In this latest case, the patent is for putting a keyboard on a touchscreen, which hardly seems like such a unique idea that it deserves a patent. Oddly, if you read the actual patent, it notes that "the input area... may not be minimized, maximized, or deleted." Since the iPhone keyboard can be minimized, you would think this patent doesn't apply. But, these days, why let little details prevent a patent lawsuit and potentially billions in payouts for doing nothing? Not surprisingly, the company is demanding a cut of every iPhone sold and wants an injunction against selling more iPhones with this technology included. Update: Turns out there's even more to this story. The guy who holds the patent was recently sentenced to 51 months in prison for fraud.
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