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

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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:21PM (#46460105)

      Because the courts have ruled that they are, primarily the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the Patent Office (and examiners) HAVE TO follow those decisions no matter what they think of them. The Supreme Court actually has never really ruled that altering the behavior of a general purpose computer by itself is enough of a tie to a particular machine to not be subject to the ban on patenting an abstract idea, and some of the Justices have pointedly hinted they aren't so keen on the idea in the Bilski oral argument. The Bilski decision itself is a big muddle on the subject really.

      BUT coming on March 31st we will get a real test of just that question in the form of arguments on Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International. That is the case to watch, and it could cause SPECTACULAR waves if the court categorically smacks down the use of a "general purpose computer" and other claim drafting tricks presently employed to get super-broad patent coverage for computer implemented methods.

  • 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: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 rtb61 ( 674572 )

        It is not the Patent System per se it is the USPTO. They have been blatantly corrupted to accept virtually anything as a patent. This in a mad money grab by US corporations and by the lawyers that run lobbyists firms. Junk patents are the virtual equivalent of beads, just another insane plot to buy the world just the same as the junk imaginary currency. The really bad ones are designed to trigger patent fights in US courts and as such enrich the lawyer pals of lobbyists in trial, after trial, after trial.

      • 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 [], 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 [] next.)

        • I disagree with your analogy in which you compare stealing a car with patent grabbing. The person stealing the car has no perceived threat from the car's owner. By stealing it, the only effect is his own gain. In the corporate world, everyone is perpetually under threat from everyone else.

          This also makes up my response to your comment. Even if Apple were to have freed every one of their smartphone inventions, there would still be lawyers arguing that those inventions are not comprehensive, that their client

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tough Love ( 215404 )

        Apple is not the problem.

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

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        Apple is not the problem. The patent system is.

        No, Apple is the problem. Before they came along everyone was cross-licensing without too much hassle. It wasn't perfect but it did work. People like Google were happy to use collect patents for self-defence. Then Apple decided that firstly they were not going to pay the standard fees for licensing standards essential FRAND patents, secondly they were not going to cross license some of their own and thirdly they were going to hit the big red global thermonuclear patent war button.

        The patent system is broken

  • by rafial ( 4671 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:35PM (#46459761) Homepage

    So if their are 250,000 patentable inventions in a phone, and that phone retails for $600, by my math each of those inventions are worth about a quarter of a cent per device. So it looks like Apple has a justifiable claim to 1.25 cents per phone.

    • I like how you're thinking.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Unfortunately, Samsung left itself open to such thing by settling with MS for 10-15 a headset. It chose not to do the same with Apple. Samsung lost in a court of law, so it no longer has the leverage that it might not have broken the law. Sucks for Samsung. Should have fought against MS instead of caving in. Remember that every android phone makes MS rich.
  • So how many LOC are in a smartphone? (I know, some are hardware patents, but let's assume almost all are software). Does every class/method/function get a patent?

  • So it's pretty obvious that those parents aren't worth that much, I can only think this is some sort of legal strategy.
    • by jon3k ( 691256 )
      It's just a bargaining position. Samsung will counter with something lower and they'll meet somewhere in the middle.
  • If I were Samsung (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:14PM (#46460051) Homepage

    I'd cease all production of the chips that Apple buys. See if you can find a new fab on short order.

    • If you were Samsung, you'd want to keep your fabs running at capacity.

      If Apple's dominance continues to fall, then that might eventually be a valid strategy. Or, you might say "as" is falls, the strategy might become viable. Because let's face it, Apple's share is falling, and it will continue to do so because the only place they can go is down. They aren't actually more competent than the competition. Indeed, they have shown time and again that the opposite is true.

  • 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 JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:41PM (#46460203)
    I wonder what Apple would charge if Samsung agreed to using square corners instead.
  • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:54PM (#46460293)

    and I'm back to college to study law. Because the only people who are really making money in those whole shameful mess are the lawyers. And why shouldn't they? This level of stupidity and greed should be taxed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.

  • Apple can wish in the bucket on the left and crap in the bucket on the right. The first one to fill up to the top line gets fed back to them.
  • From the abstract of 8,074,172 []

    One aspect of the invention involves a method that includes: in a first area of the touch screen, displaying a current character string being input by a user with the keyboard; in a second area of the touch screen, displaying the current character string or a portion thereof and a suggested replacement for the current character string; replacing the current character string in the first area with the suggested replacement if the user activates a delimiter key on the keyboard; replacing the current character string in the first area with the suggested replacement if the user performs a first gesture on the suggested replacement displayed in the second area; and keeping the current character string in the first area if the user performs a second gesture on the current character string or the portion thereof displayed in the second area.

    So, you got a touch screen. User hits a "key" on the touch screen, autocomplete commences. User hits another key, selection changes, user hits backspace, selection changes. Lacking other prior art (that I know exists), Visual Studio 6 (circa 1999) had intellisense that does the exact same thing, except for "on a touch screen" which ought to be an obvious, and unpatentable extension. Granted (VC6 intellisense) it sucked, but still, prior art.

  • by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @11:04PM (#46460653)
    The title and summary are clearly slanted by how it describes the case as Apple demanding $40 per Samsung device, then uses that claim to say Apple "is asking for obscenely high patent royalties". If you read the rest of the summary carefully (no, I didn't read the article!), what is happening is an Apple expert witness will be presenting evidence that the patents in use by Samsung are worth (by his judgement) $40 per device.

    Basic trial tactics: ask for x, claim damages are far greater than x, then settle for an amount less than x.
  • Seems legit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gumbercules!! ( 1158841 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @01:42AM (#46461225)
    So Apple want $40 a phone for a few cosmetic and convenient things they were the first to bring to market, like tapping a number or bounceback when you over scroll - but they baulk at paying $2 a phone for stuff that *makes the phone actually work* like 3G/4G, WIFI, etc. etc. How the hell is that ok? And if you want to say those 3G patents Samsung hold are FRAND and essential for phones, fine - but Apple still wasn't even paying the FRAND amount. So why can't Apple's innovations be considered essential and ubiquitous to normal mobile phones, now and also be forced to be reasonable??
  • by DodgeRules ( 854165 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @12:14PM (#46464917)

    ... that we have to read a Florian Mueller's post to get this information rather than be able to read Groklaw's PJ giving us the low-down. You know though that Apple MUST be trying to overcharge if even he states: "... I face the first situation in which I don't merely disagree with Apple but am rather wondering whether it has lost its mind."

    We miss you PJ !!!!!

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."