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The Courts Apple

Samsung: Apple Stole the iPad's Design From Univ of Missouri Professor 362

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the he-said-she-said-neer-neer dept.
TheBoat writes with a bit from BGR on the Apple vs Samsung case: "We're starting to see a theme develop here. Now that it's Samsung's turn to present its case in the San Jose, California patent trial that regularly has the tech media abuzz, the company is taking an interesting approach. Rather than start out by arguing that its various Android smartphones and tablets do not copy Apple's designs or infringe on its patents, Samsung is arguing that Apple's IP is invalid to begin with. On Monday, Samsung argued that Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent was stolen from Mitsubishi's old Diamond Touch and on Tuesday evening, Samsung made a similar argument regarding the design of Apple's iPad. Samsung on Tuesday presented the jury with videotaped testimony from Roger Fidler, head of the digital publishing program at the University of Missouri. In his testimony, Fidler stated that he began work on a tablet design in 1981. 'Apple personnel were exposed to my tablet ideas and prototypes,' he testified, adding that Apple staff saw his designs in the mid-1990s."
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Samsung: Apple Stole the iPad's Design From Univ of Missouri Professor

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  • Probably right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @12:52PM (#40998401) Homepage

    Apple itself has a prior art problem. Look at the Apple Newton, designed in 1987, alongside an iPhone. [wikipedia.org] That was more than 20 years ago, so any patents have expired.

  • by ndavis (1499237) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @01:04PM (#40998571)

    If Samsung can find all these examples of prior art, how is it that Apple was granted patents in the first place? These are hardly the only examples of Apple being given patents on things that were obviously done by others well before they "innovated" them.

    As my father-in-law was a patent clerk he said they stopped checking into prior art when he left in the 90s and they seemed to rubber stamp multiple things. He tended to take pride in searching for prior art as he didn't want a company to get patents on existing things. This was lost as they brought in managers who went with quotas rather then actually vetting everything thoroughly.

  • Steve's Legacy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @01:11PM (#40998681)

    Steve Jobs was a fantastic marketing person and Apple's success was due in no small part to his marketing skills.

    But in terms of technology and innovation, his standard mode of operation was to observe a piece of technology being developed someplace else and then figure out how to productize and market the technology. Personally, I am happy to see people starting to tear down these bogus Apple patents by pointing out where the technology actually came from. Hopefully the trend will spread to tear down so many of the bogus patents filed by other companies as well.

  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@co[ ]ll.edu ['rne' in gap]> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @01:14PM (#40998729) Homepage

    1) Doesn't matter. All he's there for is to show prior art. The goal is not to punish Apple for theft, it is to show that their ideas are not original and thus their patents are invalid.
    2) Thank you for reinforcing the invalidity of Apple's patents
    3) Because people previously did not obtain patents for which his work was prior art and start suing other companies using them
    4) Doesn't matter as long as prior art can be shown

  • by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @01:15PM (#40998745) Homepage
    Then everyone would look at you and wonder how you entirely missed the point that is being made. Samsung aren't trying to get Apple sued by this guy for copying him, they are using him to show that Apple shouldn't have the patents in the first place. Whether he has sued anyone or not in the past really doesn't tell us anything, he may not care about others using it but takes offence at people ripping him off and then suing others for doing the same thing.

    They will obviously ask what he is being paid; that's basically SOP in these kinds of cases now.
  • Re:Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mortaegus (1688452) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @01:16PM (#40998765)

    I think the article misinterprets the situation. Samsung showing evidence like this could be taken that they are trying to say that they copied the ideas (perhaps even with permission) from the professor, and NOT from Apple. IANAL, but that would have a firmer legal position than challenging Apple's patent with prior art. If the court is willing to view the case in such terms they would, de facto, accept that Samsung's position (that they are not infringing) is valid.

  • by chrb (1083577) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @01:25PM (#40998885)

    I, a non-lawyer, could competently handle this part of the case for Apple

    It's a good job that you aren't, since your points are invalid:

    1) Apple isn't suing for "stealing" - it is suing for "patent infringement". In contrast, Fidler is not claiming that Apple infringed his patents, he is merely pointing out that his tablet designs predate the iPad and yet contain the same "original patented" design features (flat touchscreen, rounded corners etc.)

    2. Irrelevant, but yes, of course he does - however, Federer's designs date back 20 years (Microsoft's "Tablet PC" was 1999) - check out this video of Fidler's working tablet in 1994 - 2m45s in - that looks remarkably like an iPad. [youtube.com] Also see History of tablet computers [wikipedia.org]

    3. Irrelevant since he isn't claiming patent infringement - he is claiming prior art.

    4. Good question - generally experts are paid for their time in producing a report, not for testimony as such - but only a week ago Apple was caught paying $75,000 to a professional "expert witness" [techcrunch.com] (seriously, this is how this man describes his profession on his own web site).

    Nobody was able to make the technology popular before them.

    Capacitive touch screens large enough for a tablet and at a consumer-friendly price point did not exist before. Now, they do. Technological advances drive new products. Suppose a car manufacturer comes out with the first mass market popular electric car - does this mean that this car manufacturer should have a 20 year monopoly on electric cars, free market be damned?

  • by Migraineman (632203) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @01:51PM (#40999163)
    If there's any pattern here, it's that companies will violate a competitor's patent by claiming the patent is invalid (ergo the violation is completely justifiable.) Here's a pretty classic example from the telecom bubble:

    Dr. David Huber gets booted from Ciena corporation, and founds a competing entity - Corvis. Corvis builds a product that does exactly what Ciena's products do - they multiplex several optical signals onto a single fiber. Ciena has patents for synthesizing a higher-rate signal by bundling several lower-rate signals together. The process is called "inverse multiplexing," and has been around since the analog telephony days. You can inverse mux several analog telephone modems together, and some companies did. Ciena got patents by basically putting "on fiber optic cables" after the well known technique. Since Huber used to work at Ciena, he knew the technique had a long history, and consequently moved forward with the expectation that any patent infringement could be easily dismissed by claiming Ciena's patents were invalid by prior art.

    So how did that work out? As you might expect, not so well for Corvis. [ciena.com]
  • by Ice Station Zebra (18124) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @03:06PM (#41000079) Homepage Journal

    We wouldn't have all these other fucking car brands here in 'Merica, but cars would cost $100K each, wouldn't have hoods and the fuel tank would slowly fill with sludge forcing you to buy a new one every few years.

    I remember in the 90's when all the apple fanboi's were OS8-9 is the greatest and my power-pc mac is so much better than your pentinum running Linux.

    I laugh everytime I see someone using any apple product, knowing that they paid too much.

  • Re:And yet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by samkass (174571) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @03:28PM (#41000327) Homepage Journal

    Why shouldn't a sci-fi show be able to qualify as prior art for design or UI patents?

    It can. However, in this case Apple's design patents do not cover the similarities between the PADD and an iPad. In fact Apple presented several tablets and phones in the trial which Apple said they do not feel infringes on their work which IMHO are closer to the Star Trek PADD.

  • by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus.slash ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @03:31PM (#41000359) Homepage Journal

    If Samsung can find all these examples of prior art, how is it that Apple was granted patents in the first place? These are hardly the only examples of Apple being given patents on things that were obviously done by others well before they "innovated" them.

    As my father-in-law was a patent clerk he said they stopped checking into prior art when he left in the 90s and they seemed to rubber stamp multiple things. He tended to take pride in searching for prior art as he didn't want a company to get patents on existing things. This was lost as they brought in managers who went with quotas rather then actually vetting everything thoroughly.

    Around 90% of applications are rejected in the first office action, so if the USPTO is rubber stamping them, it's not with an "ALLOWED" stamp.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @03:55PM (#41000695)
    And in 2003 SCO, under Darl McBride, sued IBM because IBM's irrevocable, perpetual license to Unix didn't mean anything to SCO. Also Novell's ownership of Unix didn't seem to bother Darl McBride. Nor did SCO's prior history as Caldera as a Linux distributor. When upper management changes, sometimes the new leadership ignores what happened in the past.

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