10 European judges found Apple had not invented slide-to-unlock (star patent at Samsung trial)

“Apple is suing Samsung in California over ‘slide to unlock,’ but a little-known Swedish touchscreen phone, the Neonode N1m, already had that feature (though Apple’s version undoubtedly has a more elaborate graphical representation) well before the iPhone was launched,” Florian Müller writes for FOSS Patents.

“After Apple sent one of the named inventors on its ‘slide to unlock’ ‘721 patent to the Wall Street Journal for a pretrial story, I figured that it was going to place particular emphasis on this patent because it’s the easiest one of their patents-in-suit to explain and the one with which one can mislead a jury into believing that Samsung ‘copied’ Apple’s patents-in-suit,” Müller writes. “But to me, after 3.5 years of following Apple’s Android litigations on a cross-jurisdictional basis, ‘slide to unlock,’ an invention over which I attended more court hearings and trials than presumably anyone else on this planet, stands for quite the opposite of what Apple’s trial counsel says and implies. The litigation track record of this patent, more than of any other, has over the years changed my perspective on Apple’s Android lawsuits from ‘bullish’ to ‘bearish.’

“Yesterday a few people asked me on Twitter whether or why my attitude towards Apple’s lawsuits has changed recently. I think some of it is attributable to a misperception of what I had been saying over the years. I wasn’t nearly as ‘pro-Apple’ or ‘anti-Android’ as some people made me out to be, but when I said something positive for Apple, it reaffirmed many people’s beliefs, and when I said something positive for Android, it didn’t fit into the picture,” Müller writes. ” Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. [Men generally believe what they want to.] Maybe I will list at some point all the “pro-Android” and “anti-Apple” positions I had taken over the years — and the length and the substance of the list would shock a lot of people. But in any event, there are three things I can’t and won’t ignore…”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple CEO Steve Jobs declared ‘Holy War’ on Google over Android patent infringement – April 2, 2014
Apple v. Samsung jury is seated in California patent trial – April 1, 2014
What are the five iOS features Apple says Samsung (or Google) stole? – April 1, 2014
Apple again seeks decisive U.S. court ruling against convicted patent infringer Samsung – April 1, 2014
Florian Müller: When all is said and done, despite years of Apple litigation, Android will continue to be world’s most popular mobile platform – April 1, 2014
Apple v. Samsung II: Convicted patent infringer Samsung now claims all patents aren’t worth very much – March 31, 2014
Google is central to new Apple v. Samsung patent infringement lawsuit – March 31, 2014
Apple’s war on Samsung has Google in crossfire – March 31, 2014
Apple already has its first victory in new $2 billion Samsung patent infringement fight – March 31, 2014
Apple v. Samsung patent infringement trial begins today (link to live blog) – March 31, 2014


        1. That won’t happen unfortunately, I don’t own any Samsung product but I know people who do and they have no inclination to ban Samsung. How about your favourite country India, Samsung is king there

  1. Someone mentioned Müller is on Microsofts payroll now. I fully believe it given the crap he has been tweeting lately. I’ve lost a lot of respect for him. He used to tweet/blog a reasoned opinion, now it seems like he has an ulterior motive

    1. Not sure about payrolls, but Muller is wrong on Neonode thing. They had solution that was about:
      1) only left to right movement
      2) on the bottom border of the screen
      3) detected via optical, not touch based system.

      Apple’s patent is not strictly about left-to-right movement, it is not attached to bottom border of the screen and it is touch-based. Since patent system is not about ideas but about methods/solutions, European courts were wrong denying Apple’s patent. Neonode’s solution was different in three ways, and Samsung’s solution *matches* Apple’s patent in three ways.

      1. great points,


        Launched: Q1 2005
        Operating system: Windows CE 5.0 and 4.2
        Display: 176 × 220 Pixels (Width × Height), 16-bit Colour TFT
        Audio: Stereo 48 kHz playback
        Memory storage: SD card up to 2 GB
        Connectivity: GSM Triband: GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900 MHz), USB 1.1
        Size: 88 × 52 × 21 (H × W × D)
        Weight: 94g
        Imaging: Megapixel Camera (1024×1024), Imageviewer, Videoplayer (MPEG 1, MPEG 4, WMV)
        Messaging: Short message service, Support for long SMS, Multimedia Messaging Service, Predictive text input, T9 (English, Swedish, German, Spanish, French and Russian), Call history (dialed, received and missed calls)
        Audio: Audio player (MP3, WAV, WMA), stereo 48 kHz playback, Custom ring tones (MP3, WAV, WMA), Alarm application
        Entertainment: Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer (web browser), Games, third-party software downloadable
        Organiser: Calendar, Tasks, Phonebook with storage capacity of 1000 contacts, Add an individual picture for each contact, Synchronize with your PC using ActiveSync (requires extra software free of charge from Microsoft)
        Miscellaneous: Large touch-screen, On-screen keyboard, Screen saver, Vibrator, Calculator, Updates available at the Neonode website, USB memory functionality, use N1 as portable storage device. A generic positive gesture (slide left to right) and negative gesture (slide right to left) were used consistently through the interface to unlock, go back to home screen, etc.

      2. The Apple Patent refers to moving a GRAPHICAL device on the screen. The Neonode device had no graphic to move, was merely movement on the screen across the screen with no graphic involvement.

      3. Oh, and they had up and down, and right to left and left to right… but the screen was not a touch screen at all. The only thing in common was the motion. Not the same invention at all.

    2. Totally agree, he doesn’t explain why people would perceive his view back then but suddenly they don’t now unless he has made an attempt to consciously change that. What could that reason to do now possibly be when he for years made no attempt to do so. Sell out to someone is the only explanation.

    3. FOSS is currently ranting about how he is mad at Apple trying to protect itself. And he likes Android. So there it must be better.

      And since Samsung ships more, it must be right.

      12 German judges did not vote for Apple……. And they did not vote for Samsung either… Plus didn’t both world wars occur in Germany???

      Yep they must be smart. Lol

  2. I have read both of the FOSS recent postings. Its scary. The man has gone from objectivity to Android fandom.
    What I got from his blogs reading between the lines and sometimes just reading what was in the line.

    Copying is just fine as long as you change a pixel or two.
    Nothing is patentable cause there is always some sort of prior art. (this seems very true in Europe lately). Apple slide to unlock…. the dead bolt with handle. The wheel and the caveman’s slice of a log.

    While the FOSS blogs seemed fairly objective in the past, giving pro and con to legal proceedings, these last too seem to say its ok to copy if you are android but not if you are Apple and take a concept and make it hugely better.

    If you win in court, you are right. Even if another judge later changes the verdict.

    A lawyer I knew many years ago, seems to have hit the nail on the head… Speaking of American courts….. Trials are only about who has the better lawyer. Truth, justice, fairness, and facts are totally worthless. I guess Lady Justice is not really blind, ….. those scales are there for you to put your money in. The side with the most money,,,,, wins…. 🙁

    1. The problem I constantly see is this.
      The iPhone OS and the iPhone were meant to be one harmonious solution.

      By which I am saying, it is a multi-touch interface on a multi-touch device and the two things should never be separated. To clarify that the invention or innovation of both hardware and software, complete the equation – the iPhone is a solution. Such that the definition of the product, iPhone, is both of these things. It is the combinations of all its patents (be it hardware or software) that make up what is know as, iPhone.

      Hence, it is wrong to dissect or focus on one portion say “slide to unlock” which may or may not be borrowed from some unsuccessful source – or mimicked from some very nice and useful feature inspired rarely seen in the wild. Something that Apple, adopted and improved (not copied) into a newer innovation.

      The Neonode N1m was not a multi-touch but a touch device. Saddly, similar to the origins of the of iPhone name – Apple took “iPhone” regardless of finalizing its agreement with Cisco. Perhaps, “Slide to Unlock” also awaits some deal yet unannounced.

      In comparison, Samsung and Google merely took the iPhone as their starting point for inspiration. They do not build on the idea of iPhone; no they merely tweek hardware and software at such a low degree which borderlines cloning.

      Apple definitely needs to defend it’s IP better. Cover it’s shine and reveal where inspiration comes from. Otherwise, sudden news of the likes of a “Neonode N1m”, look like Apple is at fault.

      However that is design, to allow inspiration from all around, then harvest these ideas, improve them, better them more then colour and pixels, and to bundle those things in a manner that is new and more clear, but with utmost respect and responsibility by granting merit where due.

    1. LOL gold duster! you reminded me of some history about how this is done when pepper was discovered in india it was cheap for the captan of that ship and commanded a great price in England. soon more ships plied the trade and bidding by shippers bid prices up in india (more buyers and brought them down in England (more supply) The next step was for British bankers to increase ship insurance premiums on the route to decrease the number of ships and tilt the equalization of prices toward more profits for the favored few . classic manipulation of supply to control markets .you can’t afford a lawyer… go pound pepper !

  3. I read the whole article and apple seems to have rights to some types of slide to unlock interfaces BUT he had another whole section on Android taking over market share in even Switzerland! Please! what phone company is android? what are the sales figures who are the parts suppliers ? i want to invest in the is android phone maker right away! pooh you mean the android company is a plethora of low end hardware wannabes splitting between them 25% of the profit share! what a bummer ! hold the buy order!

    1. Good question.

      Android is a freely distributed operating system by Google for the mobile phone market. Handset makers can alter several parts of the system for their own liking.
      Apparently, Google doesn’t earn money with Android. 😉
      And, Samsung, supplies Google with handsets.

      Please don’t invest in either, Google stock or Samsung stock.

  4. The more I read about this Neonode…

    its a phone,
    its a web browser,
    its a media player,
    its a game unit,
    takes pictures too,

    — omg it pre-dates the
    2007 introduction of iPhone
    by 5 years.

    First introduced in 2002.

    Apple copied Lol.

    1. Yeah, thanks to all the lies apple fans tell about apple, the kids today think that apple actually *invented* this category of device.

      No, apple just made it prettier, easier to use, and make a solid step in touch-only interface.

  5. If this prior art exists, regarding slide-to-unlock, let’s get it out there for the public to see!

    AND if this slide-to-unlock prior art exists, LET’S MURDER the USPTO for, as usual, not doing their jobs.

    Apple won the patent. Apple is defending that patent. Samsung blatantly violated that patent. Those are facts. But if this come down to the USPTO having F*Ked this up, yet again, THEY are to blame, not Apple.

    I want the USPTO libel for wrongfully issuing patents. I want them burned to the ground for wrongfully issuing patents. Then we can rebuild them back again to make them DO THEIR JOBS for a change. Then we won’t have all this overturning of patents rubbish any longer, because the patents will stand their ground.

    ∑ = USPTO: You’re incompetent.

    1. You seem to completely misunderstand patent law. A patent is not a promise of legal protection. Patents get issued based on an interpretation of their validity by the patent office. To be useful, however, patents must be defended by the holder.

      1. I think you leapt right over what I said, or went out of your way to misunderstand it. I squarely blame the USPTO for handing out patents that end up being invalidated. That is THEIR FAULT.

        Now you go read about the long, drawn out process of receiving patents from the US government and pay special heed to WHY it takes so long and WHAT the USPTO is required to do before a patent is issued.

        THEN come talk to me.

  6. You can see the Neonode N1m in action here.

    The Neonode uses infrared sensors on the phone. the slide to unlock feature is on the edge of the screen.

    The iPhone implementation is completely different.

    The only thing they have in common is the sliding gesture on a flat surface.

    Did Apple only patent the gesture? Or did they patent the method as well?

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