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Apple Demands $40 Per Samsung Phone For 5 Software Patents 406

Posted by timothy
from the we-had-these-ideas-separately dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple and Samsung couldn't agree on a patent cross-license even though their CEOs met recently. What could be the reason (or one of the reasons) is that Apple is asking for obscenely high patent royalties. At the March 31 trial an Apple-hired expert will present to a California jury (already the third jury trial in this dispute) a damages claim of $40 per device (phone or tablet) for just a handful of software patents. The patents are related to, but don't cover all aspects and elements of, functionalities like slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, data synchronization, unified search and the famous tap-on-phone-number-to-dial feature. Google says there are 250,000 patentable inventions in a smartphone. On average, Apple wants $8 per patent per device. That would add a patent licensing bill of $2 million to each gadget. So Apple and Samsung will be back to court again later this month."
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Apple Demands $40 Per Samsung Phone For 5 Software Patents

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:22PM (#46459655)
    Most of this thing is just common sense technological progress. If Apple didn't come up with it, someone else inevitably would have. There wasn't any spark of genius required.
  • for the record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cederic (9623) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:23PM (#46459661) Journal

    Apple are acting like total cunts.

    Whether they're in the right or wrong, under current patent law, they're still acting like total cunts.

    No comment on how that compares to their customers.

  • Re:for the record (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mbkennel (97636) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:43PM (#46459831)
    Apple doesn't really seek significant revenue from litigation---it's not quite worth it.

    It does seek to inhibit other phone companies from making phones which are too much like the Apple phone by making their profit margins smaller through litigation and patent license.
  • by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:51PM (#46459891)

    A smartphone is a computer. The reason that phones are getting better, is because the technology underpinning computers is getting better. More powerful computers allow for better user interfaces. It's not like no one thought of making a nice UI for a phone before Apple. It's that it wasn't possible until technology reached a certain point. Apple was just the first company to really exploit these advances in technology to do the obvious.

    Allowing these sorts of obvious patents is harmful to society.

    Apple doesn't get to take credit for computers getting smaller and more powerful.

  • Re:for the record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:55PM (#46459911)

    It does seek to inhibit other phone companies from making phones which are too much like the Apple phone

    Or seeking to inhibit other phone companies from making *any* good smart phones, thereby giving the consumer less choice and increasing the odds that they will buy an apple device.

  • by GodInHell (258915) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:00PM (#46459953) Homepage
    You're not allowed to patent an obvious advancement.

    But patent law is offensively fucked up. Basically, it's a war of money. Both sides line up patent lawyers (one of a very few formally recognized specializations for attorneys in the U.S.) and burn money until someone gives up. This case will almost certainly wind up before the Supreme Court eventually - unless Samsung folds and pays to make apple go away. Fortunately, Samsung is sufficiently profitable that it can saturate the process with more money than required and write it off as a margin cost for continuing to compete in the smartphone market.

    Apple's patents are offensively bad. There *is* enough there to require a jury verdict to nullify them rather than a summary ruling by the Court (preferably one where the foreman doesn't lie about having a personal stake in proving that software patents are nearly always valid - like the last trial between these two) but in a sane system of patents there would be no question that "slide to unlock" is a variation of long established design concepts - i.e. a latch.
  • Re:Ignorance... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:10PM (#46460025)

    Well, actually, there's another option, which Samsung opted for - infringe the patents and then drag the issue out in court and wage a PR war of misinformation. Most companies, however, either agree to license the patents or, if they can't reach an agreeable rate with the patent holder, design around the patents instead

    Bias much?

    I guess the bias the other way is roughtly that Samsung rightfully determined that the patents were obvious non-innovations that should never have been issued a patent in the first place and infringed on them knowing that the courts would see the patents fall once someone actually challenged them.

    The truth is somewhere in the middle I expect.

    Apple's patents that they are enforcing aren't FRAND. They are under no obligation to license them to anyone.

    And if they never should have been issued patents for them in the first place? What then? Apparently to the courts we must go.

    Now, feel free to mod me down since I'm clearly an Apple fanboy despite speaking the truth and I've dared to impugn the honour of Samsung...

    Oh the hell with that, I doubt Samsung has much honour to impugn but... swipe to unlock et al shouldn't even be patents.

  • Re:for the record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gwstuff (2067112) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:13PM (#46460041)

    Apple is not the problem. The patent system is. The patent system was invented in an age in which manufacturing and distributing products would take a lot of time and involve multitudes of logistical hardships. So people had to be protected because they would be exposed for the duration that it took them to turn their ideas into products, which was more than enough for an established player to steal their innovation. In today's world you can do the same things in a matter of days though crowdsourcing, App Stores, web services, Alibaba, click-and-control warehousing and supply chains. Investments are also much more accessible through the likes of Kickstarter and VCs with online office hours. People no longer need the same level of protection because they can move much faster than before. Big companies don't need protection - if they come up with an idea, they get the early starter advantage (Apple did) and need to capitalize on it (which Apple did also). If they don't, they're incompetent, and too bad for them.

    Given that the patent system is stupid and encourages armament and heavy warfare, you cannot blame Apple for watching out for themselves. Offense is also a good defense - although admittedly it would be generous to give Apple that benefit.

  • by MSG (12810) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:24PM (#46460127)

    I finished a book a while ago that I think really illustrates why software patents are objectionable, and what's wrong with the patent system as a whole, today.

    The book is "The Last Lone Inventor" by Evan I. Schwartz. It describes the work of Philo T. Farnsworth to create television. During the time that Philo was working on television, many scientists employed by the radio industry were also working to develop usable video transmission technology, with inferior designs. Most of their work involved mechanical television cameras that used spinning wheels. Philo's invention was all electronic. It scanned, transmitted, and displayed a line at a time to create a two dimensional image. This remained the fundamental technology in displays at least until LCD and plasma screens replaced CRT.

    Now, while many other patent related problems were well demonstrated by the book, the one most clearly related to software patents pertains to the intent of the patent system. Patents are not, as they are often regarded today, a recognition that an inventor owns his ideas. Ideas are not property, and have never been recognized as such. Patents are a recognition that some inventions rely on information that isn't obvious. Some inventions require the inventors to test and improve their inventions for years before they can be brought to market. Underlying the patent system is the belief that this work will not be done, that inventors will not fund years of experimentation and development, if they don't believe that they'll be able to sell that invention to recover the costs of its development. In a free market, competitors will be able to offer the same invention at a lower cost than its inventor, because the competitors did not have to invest in the development of the invention. Patents attempt to create an incentive to invent by ensuring that inventors who do invest in development are given a limited monopoly on their invention.

    However, patents aren't free. It is not enough for the inventor to merely offer his invention to the market to receive patent protection on it. An inventor is also required to completely disclose how the invention works. After the patent period expires, the public must be able to continue using the invention independent of the inventor.

    That is the fundamental purpose of the patent system: to benefit the public by providing it with the knowledge required to reproduce the invention. It is the public's benefit, not the inventors, that is the goal of the patent system. The inventor's benefit is simply the means to achieve that goal. The Constitution of the United States reflects this:
    To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

    Philo's work was exactly the progress of science that the patent system was intended to promote. His invention required tremendous investment to create. His idea was sound, but a great deal of experimentation was required to create a working device. Other highly skilled scientists were not able to create a working device on their own, or created working devices of significantly lesser quality. The exact properties of the materials and components used in the camera and television set were not previously known, and were discovered through Philo T. Farnsworth's experimentation and development.

    The invention of television was worthy of patent protection.

    Software development isn't like the invention of television in ANY way.

    Software development does involve testing cycles, but otherwise almost never involves the kind of experimentation involved in the invention of television, because the exact properties of computer operations are previously known. Computers perform a limited number of operations, exactly according to a specification, and exactly the same every time. Because the behavior of the system is known in advance, the uncertainty inherent in real world material inventions does not exist in software development.

  • by SQLGuru (980662) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:25PM (#46460133) Journal

    I've solved plenty of problems in novel ways. I've also solved problems based on a post I found on Stack Overflow.

    My main complaint is that software patents don't reveal how to implement them. So I can't know whether I've devised a new and novel way of sliding to unlock or not. Software patents are akin to patenting "engines" and suing for billions when the rotary engine even though you invented the carburated combustion engine

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:44PM (#46460225)

    Most of us have no problem giving Apple a "job well done" for the iPhone, what we object to is the notion that everyone else should have to pay them for it even when they're not buying an iPhone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:47PM (#46460251)

    You have to be kidding me. Huge differences, apple on day one was light years better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:57PM (#46460305)

    Apple's patents are offensively bad. There *is* enough there to require a jury verdict to nullify them rather than a summary ruling by the Court (preferably one where the foreman doesn't lie about having a personal stake in proving that software patents are nearly always valid - like the last trial between these two) but in a sane system of patents there would be no question that "slide to unlock" is a variation of long established design concepts - i.e. a latch.

    Apple had better watch it, their arrogant attitude is going to get their patents invalidated in the US (about the only place they are still valid). Many, including "slide to unlock" have already been invalidated in Europe - http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/07/05/1325241/in-uk-htc-defeats-apples-obvious-slide-unlock-patent or http://apple.slashdot.org/story/13/04/06/210232/german-court-finds-apples-slide-to-unlock-patent-invalid - besides, Apple technically doesn't own the patent on "slide to unlock" anyway, Micron does http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/01/31/171239/micron-lands-broad-slide-to-unlock-patent

  • Re:Ignorance... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @10:05PM (#46460345) Homepage

    FRAND patents are not of little value, and are not normally licensed for little value. They are normally part of cross-licensing agreements between companies

    That doesn't make any sense at all, patents licensed under FRAND terms need to be non-discriminatory as that's what the ND stands for. Typically that means that if you sign an agreement and pay $0.20/unit, anybody can make something with a HDMI port or something like that. Cross licensing agreements are the opposite of that, you get to use my patents if I get to use yours. If you don't have any interesting patents, no agreement for you so they're discriminatory and because the patents involved are unique the cost is not uniform either. In short, you don't have any clue what you're talking about and apparently neither do the mods.

  • by harlequinn (909271) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @10:32PM (#46460489)

    Treating a phone number like a hyperlink is very obvious. Of course the vast, vast majority of older devices, like "those...before 2000" didn't have touch screens to be able to easily implement it.

  • by fox171171 (1425329) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @10:33PM (#46460491)
    I tapped a button on my old land line to dial numbers decades before smart phones.
  • Re:for the record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steveha (103154) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @10:50PM (#46460571) Homepage

    Apple is not the problem. The patent system is.

    Can't we agree that both are?

    If you leave your car with the keys in the ignition, then it is partially your fault when someone climbs in and drives away. However, the person who stole the car is also to blame. It's not a valid defense to say "He left his keys in the car so it wasn't stealing."

    If all Apple wanted was to make sure nobody else got patents on all this UI stuff, they simply could have fully published the details of how their phone worked, and nobody filing after that would be able to claim to have invented it. And I'm not a lawyer but I think Steve Jobs's public "one more thing" demos would have sufficed to make all those UI features unpatentable by anyone else.

    But that wasn't enough for Apple. "Patented!" crowed Steve Jobs. Apple patented everything they thought they could get away with, including totally obvious stuff like squishing your fingers together to make things get smaller on the screen, and spreading your fingers wide to make things get bigger on the screen. Come on, that is totally obvious and there even was prior art on it. So we return to where we started: the USPTO is a problem because it let Apple patent obvious stuff, but Apple is part of the problem for trying to patent obvious stuff. (Fortunately the "pinch-to-zoom" patent was in fact invalidated [appleinsider.com], due to Samsung winning in court against Apple!)

    Samsung is going to go scorched earth on this new lawsuit. Millions for defense and not one cent for tribute. And Samsung has the millions. I hope Samsung wins big and invalidates all of Apple's patents.

    (And then, as long as I'm dreaming, Samsung can go invalidate Microsoft's mobile patents [arstechnica.com] next.)

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @11:02PM (#46460645)

    Law is a crappy field. Most lawyers earn half of what a senior engineer does and spend most of their time in divorce court. Plus you come out of school loaded with debt.

    You can make good money in Big Law. However few last more than 3-5 years in that area. The weed out rate is incredible.

    It's like going into a career like acting. The few at the top are wealthy. The rest wait tables.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taikiNO@SPAMcox.net> on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @11:13PM (#46460701)

    Oh my god. What? No. Simply no.

    None of this was "obvious." It's obvious in retrospect, sure, but obvious then?

    Were you around for the dawn of smart phones?

    The fact that the Android team turned on a dime upon hearing about the iPhone just shows how little UX design got back in those days.

    Personally, I just don't see who would've built the iOS style launcher. We all want to look at Palm OS and say that Springboard was similar to Palm OS, a collection of squares in a row, but the way paging happens is killer. It's a small detail that made the difference. It's like saying that MSDOS and BASH are similar because you have a prompt you type into.

  • 'Better engineered' != 'deserving of patent protection'

  • Re:for the record (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @11:36PM (#46460765)

    Apple is not the problem.

    Let me see, who was it that used the "thermonuclear" word?

  • by gwstuff (2067112) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @12:19AM (#46460955)

    And the crappiest part is that you are perpetually around people who are pissed. Husbands mad at their wives, companies mad at other companies for getting sued, people mad at each other respectively for making the other guy look stupid. What a life...

  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @01:59AM (#46461245) Homepage

    Except that the very point of touchscreens was to make that possible. Touchscreens are older than Apple itself, they just weren't practical for most purposes until recently.

    As for obviousness, even children too young to read yet understand put your finger on the menu and say "I want that". They have understood that since before the invention of the computer.

  • by Chas (5144) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:04AM (#46461261) Homepage Journal

    That's the thing, the design was NOT unique.
    It was an obvious modification of an existing paradigm brought about by the touch interface itself.
    The iOS interface isn't a revolution. It's an evolution with sexy window dressings and a bunch of self-important turtleneckers crowing about how INVENTIVE they are.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:18AM (#46461295) Journal

    but who was going to do it?

    Microsoft was VERY fixed on how WinCE worked [Ballmer thought the iPhone and the interface was a joke]
    RIM was totally hung up on their keyboard
    Palm was busy dying
    Google was copying WinCE for Android, including the hardware keyboard
    Nokia has shown they aren't exactly competent at UI design
    Motorola spent it's time working on identical flip phones with carrier-specific UI's

    who else was around to do it?

    Don't forget who was running the show back then. Carriers.
    Apple kicked the carriers in the nuts and told them, this is the UI, you can't fuck with it and you can't preload it with shit.
    NOBODY else can do that, not even now. Apple is the ONLY one. And don't point to the Nexus devices, because those go NOWHERE without tons of Android phones selling through carriers, which all have been slapped around by the carriers.
    And the app store model that everybody uses is Apple's. Before Apple, getting apps on your phone sucked, both for the end-user AND the developer [sure it was a 70-30 split, only the carrier/"app store" took 70%, dumped customer support on you and you had to deal with a zillion slightly different models of phones with slightly different versions of Java with slightly different libraries on each one]
    And OS updates. You MIGHT get a patch if there was a really egregious bug in the OS. Otherwise, you have to buy a new phone.

    And without Apple, none of this happens.
    -carriers would still be phone gate-keepers, demanding a healthy cut of each app store your phone could access
    -no OS updates, because it costs carriers time and money, but they don't get anything out of it
    -there would be zero phones without carrier crapware
    -carriers still would be running the UI show because they know their customers best and have to differentiate their phones from competitors

  • by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:56AM (#46461407) Journal

    None of this was "obvious." It's obvious in retrospect, sure, but obvious then?

    Were you around for the dawn of smart phones?

    If Compaq had put a cellular radio in an iPaq, we would have had Windows Phones circa 2000, LONG before the iPhone.

    Apple did for the iPhone the exact same thing they did for the iPod... They made it a bit more user-friendly, and advertised the hell out of it. The iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, and the iPhone wasn't the first mobile computer.

    Those nice mobile web browsers like Opera, that you can use on your iPhone... They were developed for PDAs. Fitting a desktop web page to a tiny screen is a hard problem, and one that PDA developers kept working on for years. Apple was lucky they had all that R&D available to steal, because the guys at Opera and other companies didn't file hundreds of patents.

  • by SJ (13711) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @03:38AM (#46461523)

    >The problem is that they're not playing by the established rules of the game

    You mean like what Tesla is doing by trying to sell their cars without independent dealerships....

  • Re:for the record (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:05AM (#46461599) Homepage

    How about if Apple just didn't sue the entire planet for rounded corners and touching the thing you want. You know, just have those bogus patents in a portfolio and only bringing it out when someone threatens to sue them.

    They had that option. It works well for many.

  • Re:Ignorance... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:16AM (#46461633) Homepage

    Perhaps not how it should work, but it is how it does work. Unless/until you are actually accused of infringing and hit up for money, you can't get the issue before the court at all.

  • Re:Ignorance... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @06:28AM (#46461951) Homepage

    You are correct, but the per unit fee is much higher than $0.20/unit in the case of the 3G/4G patents that are in dispute here. Most companies do not pay those fees, they cross-license instead. Since Apple is unwilling to cross-license they have to pay the per unit fee like everyone else. It's not discrimination, it's the standard terms offered to everyone and just because Apple doesn't like the deal doesn't make them the victim.

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @11:38AM (#46464487) Journal

    Slide to unlock has a physical analog, I use all the time on gates and doors. Slide to unlock/lock is OBVIOUS because it is a logical extension of a physical object. IT would be like patenting "Push to open" or flick up to turn on, flick down to turn off (light switch) or any number of common tasks we do in the physical world.

    The problem is, people get STUPID when they see "on a computer". It is like they can't function without being hand held the whole time the moment they sit in front of one. I can't tell you how many times "my monitor isn't working" is simply they never pressed the power button. GAHHHHHHHH

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