Apple’s iPhone and iPad patents so broad virtually all major competitors could be targets

“Apple’s tablet and smartphone patents are so broad that virtually all major competitors could be targeted by the company if it is successful in its legal tussle with Samsung,” Asher Moses reports for The Age. “Intellectual property experts say Samsung would have to significantly hobble the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the Australian market if it hopes to avoid infringing Apple’s patents.”

“Florian Mueller, an intellectual property expert who has been intimately following the smartphone patent battles around the world via his blog, said the patents cited by Apple in this case would have to be declared invalid by the court or ‘Samsung won’t be able to build a Galaxy Tab 10.1 that consumers want to buy,'” Moses reports. “The patents are so broad that they cover the basics of multi-touch gestures – both the hardware and software implementations – and functions like slide to unlock and list scrolling. Mueller said the fact that Samsung had agreed to hold back its launch of the Tab indicated it believes Apple’s case has merit.”

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Moses reports, “Kimberlee Weatherall, an Australian intellectual property lawyer, blogger and academic, agreed with Mueller. She said while some of the patents in the case related to specific Apple features – such as the way that lists and websites scroll on the iPhone, including the bounce when you get to the bottom – others were far more general and covered most multi-touch gestures used on the screen. ‘If that [patent] claim is valid, that would be quite a restriction on the look and feel of an alternative tablet,’ she said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This time around there’s no poorly-written contract signed by an unprepared sugared water salesbozo for those inclined to rip-off Apple’s IP to hide behind. Google will rue the day they decided to get greedy by working against Apple instead of with them.

We’ve been pushing the state-of-the-art in every facet of design… We’ve been innovating like crazy for the last few years on this and we’ve filed for over 200 patents for all of the inventions in iPhone. And we intend to protect them.Apple CEO Steve Jobs when unveiling iPhone, January 9, 2007

We like competition as long as they don’t rip off our IP, in which case we will go after them. We will not stand for having our IP ripped-off and we will use any weapons at our disposal [to stop it].Apple COO Tim Cook, January 21, 2009

46 Comments

  1. “The patents are so broad that they cover the basics of multi-touch gestures…”

    You know, all the things Apple (and the companies Apple bought) actually spend time inventing.

    I love the way all these media reports include something along the lines of “If that [patent] claim is valid…”.

    The patents were granted. The competition has pretty clearly implemented them in their own products. Yes we have to see what the courts decide. But no one, as far as I’ve seen, has uncovered prior art for these innovations.

    1. “But no one, as far as I’ve seen, has uncovered prior art for these innovations.”

      There is no prior art. Patents are issued many challenges, by the US Patent Office, before being considered and granted and then the answers to those challenges are issued further challenges. All answers to challenges need to be answered and proven in solid factual terms and the challenges are usually based on considered prior art or what may be similar inventions. Broad patents are very hard to get because there is usually some aspect of the claims which cannot withstand the muster of prior art – and so the claims get chiseled down and narrowed. To get a broad patent granted usually in and of itself is because there’s no prior art to challenge the claims. The process is long and thorough and petents are not granted randomly and without extreme scrutiny.

      Apple’s patents on Multitouch are as solid as they can be.

      Can anyone forget how pathetic touch technology was before the iPhone?

      1. From my own personal experience the patent examiners do not often know your field of invention very well. They bring up prior art in office actions that are not even germaine to your invention. You respond, they remove the objection and come back with another set. Each time they magically find more prior art and also miss others that may be legit. So there could be prior art out there. If Apple did their own extensive prior art search then they may be ok.

            1. Wingsy is right. I doubt there is prior art for these patents, but if there was, it would just have to have been clearly made public in some way.

          1. Not true. US patent law (35 USC 102) says

            “A person shall be entitled to a patent unless –

            (a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant…”

            You cannot legally patent something that is not new or not yours.

            You can find this and all the other requirements on the USPTO web site.
            http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/documents/appxl_35_U_S_C_102.htm

            1. @ breeze

              Your article does not support your positon about patents. It is entirely about FDA approval, and only mentions patents for the sale of drugs. Any loophole big pharm may enjoy is a result of the FDA.

    2. I find it amusing when people believe that apple actually invents everything they release. Let’s face it, they’re mostly just repackaging existing stuff. Do you seriously believe Apple invented multitouch, or touch-screen related gestures like pinch? Jeff Han & co. might disagree…

        1. No, he was offered by Jobs to work on the iPhone, but turned it down. Rumors has it that he got a better offer from some military contractors. Anyway, IIRC, Apple purchased his Fingerworks.

          1. OMG You are so fucking stupid. Sorry to drop the f-bomb but I get tired of stupidity.

            Fingerworks was bought by Apple, right? So, Fingerworks is now called Apple.

            So, your claim is “Apple didn’t invent multi-touch, Apple (nee finger works) did!”

            Also, there is a lot more to apple’s patents than the original work done by finger works….

            But it is really convenient for trolls like you to ignore it and pretend like Apple didn’t invent anything.

            you probably think they got the GUI from xerox, too. (And to anyone thinking of chiming in with “They did” — you’re lying and an idiot.)

            1. @Engineer

              Based on the profound anger and lack of focus in your reply, I can tell that you’re really upset, and I’m sorry to have caused this friction in your religion. Anyway, it seems like your main point is that it doesn’t count who came up with an idea or invention, since Apple now owns the their patents, correct? (BTW, I’m somehow certain that you cry foul, when MS or Google buy their IPs+patents, right?). My point was simply about the fact that Apple didn’t invent touch screens, gestures or multitouch – no matter who went on to purchase what. Your second point seems to be that Apple actually did develop code on their own, apart from the acquired technology. Well, even though I don’t have the required inside knowledge (do you?) to tell to what degree, but I do take this for granted.

              Finally, if you want to be taken seriously, you may want to consider the following rule: if you disagree with someone – prove them wrong by adding some (new) facts to the conversation. I’ll give you an example: here’s what Jeff Han’s company has been doing without, and before Apple…

              http://www.perceptivepixel.com

        2. He sure did… Apple may have not invented it, but they fairly bought the tech, polished it, and made a standard by which everyone assumes always existed.. It’s time to pay up

  2. And the writer is consciously framing the story in a way that is defamatory to Apple, “Moses reports. “The patents are so broad that they cover the basics of multi-touch gestures”… BROAD should really read “all inclusive.” In patent terms, broad implies lack of detail and generalization in the patent, but Apple’s patent is quite detailed and specific. And the inventions are ones they own or created. These lazy writers are choosing to err on the side of the copyists rather than Apple to create a story where there simply is none. Apple invented this tablet market, which simply did not exist before the iPad and all these companies are literally stealing from Apple. They are not ‘competing.’

    1. Broad patents are just that. The opposite of narrow.
      That does not exclude any required and necessary detail or suggest the lack of detail. There’s no implied anything here.

    1. Do you even believe in the concept of justice?

      I think the fact that you don’t even use your own likeness (above) answers my question and reveals exactly how you feel about copyright laws.

      1. Hey MDN dude–aka “j.eric”, I don’t even know what this particular story is about. I just picked a random story to comment on the lack of what IMO is a focus on esoteric minutiae about products rather than products themselves.

  3. So “broad”??? Are they stupid? It they are so broad why are the iPads wannabes are zoo iPad lookalike and use almos the same components?
    Can any of those “broad reporters” tell us how was a tablet before the iPad and how are those tablets after the iPad? Hello!!!!

    1. @ Troy
      Maybe I don’t understand your comment, but…I don’t think you understand the meaning of the word “broad” in this context. Broad is a term used in the patent world to mean fundamental and all encompassing. Broad is good! Broad patents are the most protective if they are valid. Much more difficult for the infringer to work around.

  4. Assuming Apple’s claims are just – and I do, what are their prospects for true justice through these patent suits and court cases?

    Are the courts likely to find in Apple’s favour if doing so will invalidate the already-to-market products of so many companies who defied or ignored Apple’s pretty clear warning? I mean are the courts that impartial?

  5. MDN: Please don’t use the term “broad” here, it is biased.

    These patents are FUNDAMENTAL. They are FOUNDATIONAL. They are very INVENTIVE. These are all good words.

    This is not abuse of the patent system, this is what the patent system was created to protect– genuine innovation.

  6. These Apple patents are not broad. The competition directly copied the iPhone and iPad GUI, form factor and trade dress instead of inventing their own.

    Before Apple, there was no multi-touch touchscreen interface that mimicked natural physics down to the bounce when you hit the end of a scroll list. There was no flick to scroll touchscreen interface – it was all 1 finger drag.

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