In the latest jaw-dropping news to come out of Apple and Samsung’s U.S. patent dispute, Apple is hoping to collect a whopping $2.5 billion from its South Korean rival in a San Jose trial that begins Monday.
But, of course, while Apple is asking for that much, it’s unlikely to receive so much money, or even emerge the winner, when all is said and done. First, the $2.5 billion that Apple wants Samsung to pay is an unprecedented, almost laughable amount. Second, Samsung is also seeking a half-cent levy in damages for every Apple iPhone and iPad sold, alleging that Apple is infringing on patents of its own.
“These numbers are pretty high,” said Mark A. Lemley, Director of Stanford’s Program in Law, Science and Technology. “If Apple got the $2.5 billion, it would be the largest patent victory in history.”
In a similar patent dispute in Australia, a judge Monday called Apple and Samsung’s technology and design patent disputes “ridiculous.” In the U.K., a judge ruled that the Samsung Galaxy tab couldn’t possibly be found to infringe on the iPad because it’s “not as cool” and has ordered Apple to run ads in British newspapers stating that Samsung doesn’t infringe on its patents.
As far as the US litigation, either side getting exactly what it asks for is unlikely, Lemley said. “Those numbers will likely come down, but really, the money is secondary to the injunctions at stake in this case.”
Leading up to the San Jose trial, both Apple and Samsung have had their share of small victories and defeats in the realm of product injunctions. In June, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who is presiding over the San Jose proceedings, issued a preliminary sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet and the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. In July, about a week after the smartphone ban was imposed, a federal appeals court overturned the sales stoppage.
“A jury could rule either way on some of these design patents and injunctions,” Lemley said. “The iPad design patent is basically a rectangle. If it’s really the case that nobody else can design a tablet that looks like a rectangle, then some changes will need to be made across the entire industry.”
Apple is accusing Samsung of ripping off the look and feel of its iPhone and iPad products, as well as using Apple patents to advance the technology in its products, which have led to rising Samsung sales.
“Samsung’s infringing sales have enabled Samsung to overtake Apple as the largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world,” Apple said in court documents first obtained by the website Foss Patents. “Samsung has reaped billions of dollars in profits and caused Apple to lose hundreds of millions of dollars through its violation of Apple’s intellectual property.”
Samsung, meanwhile, accuses Apple of infringing on patents, “without which Apple could not have become a successful participant in the mobile telecommunications industry,” according to a Reuters report. Samsung also accused Apple of working to “stifle legitimate competition and limit consumer choice to maintain its historically exorbitant profits,” the report said.
Samgung HQ 1930
Apple Granted Patent for High-Concept Input Techniques
Apple was granted a sweeping, multipronged patent today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office — but you may need a degree in theoretical physics to divine exactly which technologies the patent is protecting. The patent, “Method for providing human input to a computer,” addresses both new and existing ways we interact with touchscreen devices, and covers everything from computer interfaces, to Kinect-style gaming and virtual-reality gloves, to touch input for vehicles.
“This is a classic submarine patent,” General Patent Corporation CEO Alexander Poltorak told Wired, referring to patents filed before November 2000, which remain secret until they’re granted. Hidden for years, a submarine patent can be significantly updated and amended until it finally emerges — at which point the whole world might be tripping over its patented technology. “It was just issued this year, but if you look at the history, patent continuation after continuation, it was originally filed in 1995. It has been submerged under water in the U.S. patent office for a long time,” Poltorak said.
Apple acquired this patent from a Canadian inventor named Timothy Pryor. Today’s granted patent dates back to an application filed in 2009, and although extensive, Poltorak says it’s not actually broad per se: “It describes a lot of things, but each claim is, in its own way, very specific,” he said.
The patent describes a number of input techniques for computer systems, including optical techniques for detecting surface distortion from a physical input like the touch of a finger. One of the major distinctions with this type of input is that it would register displacement information in the X, Y and Z planes, as opposed to just the X and Y.
“No known commercial devices can do this, and a limited technology set exists for this purpose—especially over large extensive screen or pad areas,” the patent description states.
Apparently, the patented technique would allow for “a potential ‘four’ or ‘five dimensional’ capability” rather than just two-dimensional input sensitivity. (It’s nice to know the USPTO recognizes the fifth dimension, right?).
Regardless, the patent states the technology would allow you to press harder or softer to change the degree of input, like when you’re drawing a line.
Apple’s invention could also detect complex area “signatures” instead of merely points, differentiating input from the palm of the hand, for example, which could help blind and visually impaired people use a device. The technology would also be able to dynamically store and remember input signatures, either physically or in memory.
The method also accounts for tactile feedback, such as vibrations or a burst of air. This feedback would be particularly useful for controlling things in an environment like the inside of a car’s cabin, where you need to keep your eyes on the road, according to the patent.
“The capability of the invention to be ergonomically and ‘naturally’ compatible with human data entry is a major feature,” the patent description states. Although the patent largely discusses touch inputs, the techniques described aren’t limited to touchscreen devices: “Sensing of the screen is non contact, and the sensing screen can be as simple as a piece of plate glass, or a wall.”
Apple’s technology could also be used for gaming applications. One of the proposed input methods would allow a player to play a game as he might in a physical sports, along the lines of the Microsoft Kinect platform.
Does all of this sound a bit confusing? You’re not alone. The patent uses inscrutable language, and it’s debatable whether the patent office even knew what it was granting. “It’s not easy to unravel what this patent covers, and whether it’s valid or not,” Poltorak said.
On Tuesday, Apple was also granted a patent relating to providing information based on object recognition, which could appear in future iPhones.
The system would first detect your current environment based on data from the phone’s camera, an IR sensor, or an RFID tag reader. Then you could switch the mode to “Museum” or “Restaurant,” to search for pieces of art in a museum, or locate nearby restaurants, respectively. It could keep a log of previously identified objects, and the user could create an album of those objects, too.
Samgung HQ 2012
Apple demands $2.02, plus $3.10... equals a total of $2.5 billion in Samsung damages
How big is $2.525 billion when you're Apple? It won't affect living standards in Cupertino, that's for sure, but it's evidently enough to be worth hauling a rival through the US courts. The figure is revealed in Apple's damages claim, submitted in the run-up to its battle with Samsung in California, and is quite separate to other claims in Europe and Australia. If you're not already sick and tired of this feud, then the sums behind that big amorphous total make for curious reading.
According to a unit cost breakdown by Foss Patents, Apple wants $2.02 for every previously sold Samsung product that uses "overscroll bounce," another $2.02 for those that allow "tap to zoom and navigate," $3.10 for those that involve a "scrolling API," plus a mega $24 for each and every device that breaks an Apple design patent or trade dress right. That means the bulk of Apple's claim -- as much as $2 billion -- is actually for aesthetic rather than technical infringements. Of course, these figures have no bearing on what the US court may eventually decide to award to either party, and neither do they factor in any strategic value of the blood from Samsung's nose, or the negative PR that can only grow amid such litigious behavior.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 banned in EU in fresh Apple patent twist
Mixed news for Samsung: while its redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1N can go on sale, its smaller Galaxy Tab 7.7 will see a sales ban in Germany extend to the entire EU.
A German court has ruled that an existing ban on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 that prevented the device from being sold in the country should be extended across the entire European Union -- although the larger Galaxy Tab 10.1N can remain on sale.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7, the smaller version of the popular tablet, had been banned in Germany in September 2011. The Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court ruled today that the ban should be extended to all 27 European member states, on the grounds that the device infringes Apple-owned patents that date back to 2004.
The South Korea-based technology giant said it was "disappointed" with the court's ruling, and reiterated its position on protecting against its intellectual property rights, with methods "including legal action."
However, it's a different story for Apple's bid to seek a sales injunction against the larger, more popular Galaxy Tab 10.1N -- a revised version of its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which was under scrutiny in several countries, including Germany, for allegedly copying the iPad's design.
The Dusseldorf court said today that the design changes were significant enough to differentiate the new tablet from the older version, and the original injunction that prevented the sale of the device in Germany should no longer apply.
This comes only a week after a U.K. victory for Samsung stemming from a ruling that the Galaxy tablets weren't "cool" enough to have infringed the iPad's design. Apple was consequently told to place an "advertisement" for Samsung on its U.K. Web site and in British newspapers informing the public that the company did not copy Apple's products, in a bid to counteract the negative press Samsung may have suffered.
The EU-wide sales ban could conflict with the U.K. ruling -- which covered three Galaxy Tab products, including the Galaxy Tab 7.7.
The rulings are based on preliminary injunction requests, and full trials yet to be held to gauge the full merits of each case.
Samsung said it "welcomes the court's ruling which confirms our position that the Galaxy Tab 10.1N does not infringe Apple's intellectual property and does not infringe laws against unfair competition," adding that Apple's "generic design patents" could see innovation and progress "restricted."
Apple did not respond for comment at the time of writing.
Powered by Bravo
Live Smart. Live Bravo!