SAN JOSE – Samsung sketched the outlines of its countersuit case against Apple in opening statements here Tuesday. The Korean giant showed prior art on all the patents Apple claims it infringes and details of why it believes Apple infringes a handful of its patents.
The case puts in stark relief the differences between the two companies that have deep links in the smartphone market. Samsung is not only one of Apple’s fiercest competitors but one of its largest component suppliers.
“Samsung is an innovator and a competitor--it hasn’t done anything wrong,” said Charles Verhoeven, lead attorney for Samsung in the trial in San Jose’s U.S. District Court.
For example, Verhoeven showed the LG Prada phone and three Japan and Korean patents on handsets with an iPhone-like shape. He said they are prior art that invalidates Apple’s ‘087 design patent. In addition he noted differences between the details in the Apple patent and the Samsung handsets Apple claims infringe it.
“An ordinary observer can tell the difference. There is no infringement,” he said.
Verhoeven also showed multiple examples of prior art on three Apple utility patents it claims Samsung infringes. They included a video of Jefferson Han in a TED talk demonstrating a multi-touch display using zoom and scroll gestures that pre-dates an Apple patent on the gestures.
“For each of these three very simple utility patents, others did it before [Apple, and when that is the case], you don’t have an invention,” he said.
In contrast, he showed details of five Samsung patents he claimed Apple infringes. They include two US patents (7,447,516 and the ‘941 patent) that boost data rates and reduce dropped calls over 3G networks.
The patents became part of the ETSI3G networking standard, implemented in baseband processors from Intel (formerly the Infineon wireless group) and used in iPhones and iPads, he said.
“This is much more fundamental than neat little things you can do on a touch screen,” said Verhoeven.
Apple contends Samsung failed to disclose its patents on the standard until two years after it was frozen, breaking ETSI rules. The iPhonhe maker also claims Samsung sought a royalty of roughly $12 per iPhone for the patents, an amount equal to or greater than the cost of the baseband chip itself, it said.
Separately, Verhoeven alleged Apple infringes three media patents. They include patent 7.577.460 on using a handset to send a photo in an email, as well as a music and another photo patent.
Apple’s lead attorney questioned Samsung’s motives, noting it made no mention of the infringement until after Apple sued Samsung, “as if our patents weren’t any good,” said Verhoeven. “We had a major business relationship with Apple,” he said.
“Samsung isn’t in the habit of suing its business partners and isn’t the one who launched this litigation,” he added.
A diverse ten-person jury will decide the issues between the two tech giants. Testimony is expected to continue through about August 17.
The opening statements highlighted several differences between the companies. While Apple rolls out one new smartphone and tablet a year, Samsung may ship dozens of them using a wide variety of designs. Samsung routinely surveys customers and mines the findings to direct new product development, whereas Apple relies on the instincts of its engineers and marketers, conducting no user surveys.
The presentations also made clear how Apple is focused on delivering innovation in the form of user experiences often expressed in software and casings defined by a small team of elite industrial engineers. Samsung has clearly been studying Apple’s techniques, but also spends significant engineering time developing technologies and patents around broad industry standards.
I think the quality of the issued patents is the issue, not the quantity. If an innovation is truly unique and therefore patentable, then why stifle innovation by arbitrarily limiting these to a maximum number of patents per year? That's analogous to limiting your inbox to 500 messages. Some of those are spam, but there certainly are many valid messages too.
A better search for prior art would be a starter. Even a simple search through FreePatents Online would pick up things the patent attorneys choose to ignore to get their customers' dubious patents through. Remember MIPS with their unaligned access, sheer BS but a patent that was not invalidated.
Yes. In fact, I believe there should be a peer review process, where the results of the peer review weigh heavily in the PTO's decision making process. This relies on a first-to-file system, of course, since some of those peers will certainly be working for the competition.
The patents being granted are far too broad in scope. For example, Microsoft's 2009 PDA button push patent. Or some of the video compression algorithms that are basically nothing more than Chebychev approximations dating to the late 19th century. A peer review process would help weed out some of this chaff.
Technology patents need to be limited to 3 years since that is the lifespan of most new innovations.
If the patent is not in application within a reasonable period (18mos?) then it should be released preventing obstructive use of patents.
Three years seems to be way too short a period compared to the current 20 years protection. Companies/Individuals may not be willing to devote as much resources to creation and innovation if they will only be able to recoup and benefit from their patents for such a short time. Your argument for 3 years does not make sense: If the lifespan of most new innovations is about 3 years as you say, then why would others still want to copy it? It must still be of significant value if after 3 years others still want to use it.
Because the delta of 3 vs 20 is so great is not a good reason not to change it.
"NEW" technology gets the premium cost of a new idea. Then, the clones and others who can leverage/built-upon the available technology. One can sell low-cost clones long after the features are no longer innovative.
Imagine a brick were patented preventing building homes without paying royalties. The brick was new for a while and those who want the newest homes can get them of brick. But, after a reasonable time (certainly not 20 years) then bricks can be used to build bridges and roads and the public can benefit from the value of this and new things can be made from bricks.
An innovator can design/patent a better brick fetching the high sale price of the new value... repeat.
If the brick cannot be used for 20 years then we cannot get decent roads at a reasonable cost and we cannot create improved ideas based upon a brick for 20 years.
Now for the worst case... obstructive patents.
Patents often obstruct innovation and progress. A large number of companies buy/bury patents that will create a better product. They do not apply these in improvement of the product. If the idea were available in a reasonably short time then progress can occur.
If one does not apply the patent in a reasonable time (~1/2 the life of the patent is my thought) then the patent owner does not prevent use. This allows for application and further innovation based on that foundation.
Lawyers are parasites. They create nothing of value and consume the time and money of those who are creating value, not to mention stifling innovation. I find any company larger than the individual inventor (who can't afford a lawyer anyway), that uses the legal system to compete or eliminate a competetor, nothing less than reprehensible. Haven't we figured out that all innovation has a foundation of the work that preceded ours. I very much dislike the fact that this useless stuff is found newsworthy in a technical arena.
Most lawyers are naught but hired guns doing the biding of those who buy their services. It is the people that hire the lawyers to do the fighting and that run the companies and that buy the politicians and pervert the legal system to ensure their power and profits that need to be restrained who are the parasites.
Yet, it seems to me Apple had a unique and big Aha! moment in seeing how the smartphone should include an open Web browser with an interface that is simple to use based on a multitouch screen--the Web in your pocket.
I don't think anybody really got that before them.
Don't they deserve some patent protection on such a big Aha!
Isn't that what the patent system is all about?
Repackaging is not patentable. Web browsers existed before. In fact, the iPod patent should not have been awarded IMO, but Apple "persuaded" the Patent Office that their packaging was unique. Yeah, sure, and for 17 or 20 years depending on when filed.
Repackaging is indeed patentable. In many patents, the claimed invention is an innovative combination of technologies that already exist -- and are individually patented -- such that the innovative combination enables a new application or a new solution to a problem.
Les is correct in that, like most bodies of law, the patent system is flawed. In fact, I have yet to come across any area of law that is perfect. On the other hand, the patent system is invaluable for small companies and startups. It helps them procure funding, create revenue streams, and protect their newly-hatched technology from being reverse-engineered. Obtaining patent protection is often a make-it or break-it event for startups.
Also, even if large, established companies (like Apple and Samsung) don't need patents to procure funding, a strong patent portfolio can help those companies fend off litigation or reach a settlement more quickly.
I agree with David Bley that lawyers are parasites that don't create any value. They are SOMETIMES necessary though to protect space where value can be created. That's a very complex issue.
As far as Rick's aha! argument is concerned we do have to look at the concrete. Apple has been an innovator and should not be blatantly copied to the extent that they cannot fund further innovation.
The issue as I see it in this case is that Apple is stifling progress.
But we can't solve the big issue that technology has outstripped the economic, political and legal structures of current society. There needs to be fundamental change.
Of course (once the lawyers all get paid) the end result of this battle is likely to be the usual cross-licensing. Reality is, even if one side (Apple in this case) starts out looking for damages, these wars often get resolved not by a judge or jury, but by the lawyers for the two companies doint tit for tat to grant each other more or less what they are already doing. Often the original goal of such lawsuits is nothing more than to force the other side to share its patents. Lawyers get rich, both sides get what they want. They still compete. The small guy who doesn't have the portfolio or army of lawyers generally lets left out in the dark and cold.
Quite frankly, that is the biggest reason companies collect portfolios of patents. It's a grown up version of kids trading baseball cards!
Rick, I think you could easily argue that the old Windows mobile platform had a touchscreen with internet explorer before Apple did it. Apple executed the Windows Mobile concept much better than Microsoft did. And now that others are executing better than Apple, they're crying about it.
My Handspring Platinum browsed the internet (using WAP) via the Sprint phone plug-in. I forget how long ago that was. But it was one of the earliest "smart" phones with internet capability I know of.
I think I still have these items somewhere :)
Rick, excuse me but my Sony Ericsson feature phone (K750) had Opera browser installed and I had bought it in 2005! No implementing a feature better than its prior incarnations does not make you an innovator.
IF it actually does (and I tend to agree on that as I think that we evolve progressively and not revolutionally) then the whole patent system is a total bullshit. (excuse my language).
I own an iPhone, iPad, Apple server and laptop, but as a software developer, after these nonsense suites against your supplier, they are my last Apple purchases and will be moving to Samsung devices for embedded and Linux (been using Unix/Linux since 1983). Apple's Objective-C is not faster than C/C++, but like Microsoft with C# and Sun with Java, just a form of vendor lock-in without a speed increase. With the iPhone becoming so popular, will the Apple desktop survive? The server range was discontinued a few years back.
Just as a composer of music holds the copyright and collects royalties every time his music is played, the inventor of the patent should also collect the royalties every time his patent is used. Companies should not be allowed to own the patents of their employees, only have the right to license them from the patent holders.
The company is the one making the investment and providing the environment and the tools that enable the employee to be an inventor -- not to mention also paying the employee for doing that work.
But this is not the only reason that employers require employees to assign over all of their inventions that were created while employed at the company. Imagine that you invent something that if you quit your job and took your invention elsewhere, or started your own company, could do great harm to your previous employer's business. If they didn't own the rights to your patent, they would effectively have paid you and made an investment that was against their own best interest.
Unless Apple beefs up its serious Engineering side ( i,e. not just the aesthetic look and feel but also the hardware / software guts ) I can foresee a replay of the Mac debacle circa 1987 - 97 when Windows pushed them to less than 3 % market share. Apple now has the $$$ to invest but does it have the management to implement such a strategic change ?
Although the lone inventor still exsits, much more IP today is being generated by development teams and in many cases working in conjuction with expert consultants and university researchers. The complexity of technology today has created specialization. This is not for free, somebody is footing the bill. The investment and effort to launch a product today is huge. Besides the design people you have huge efforts in marketing, quality, procurement, and testing. You will not have innovation if no one will find it worth investing the capital to launch the products. My last two patents took over five years to make it through the USPTO, if it will be worth my company's effort they want some protection. As far as innovation being reduced, I think that figuring a way to solve a problem in a manner different from that shown in a particular patent stimulates more innovation and force you to come up with new ideas that you may not come up with if you merely copied others. There are limitless possiblities if you allow them to manifest.
The corporation, no matter how large, foots the bill for development. There is an enormous societal cost that creates the environment for that 'development'.
The whole body of culture, prior art in the broadest sense, the education and government footing the bill for university research.
The problem is that there is much social content in all development but a narrow insistence of private ownership.
All this about patent fights is like the gossip of the high-tech industry. I even think is something to be a shame of. Patent infringement by itself is evidence that company B has less wits than company A and that's why instead of innovating on it's on way and style it copies. But further, when one realizes the kind of things that are being patented, one can't help thinking that the USPTO is granting patents to very simple and lame things. This is perhaps talking about corruption as a comment above mentioned "persuading" to receive a patent. As any field in human society, being powerful sometimes allows for bending the rules in favor.
And, haven't you question if there's another reason behind the patent litigation? perhaps this is a way to affect in a side-way the competitor and ensure the position in the market. isn't it?
Interesting discussion, but it has slipped away from the interesting question: How do we fix the USPTO? The patent office is grossly understaffed and patent inspectors are often under-educated. The result is that far too many patents are accepted when they should be invalidated.
The suggestion that patents be limited to 500 a year is extreme, but it does recognize the essential problem that inspectors don't have the time to adequately vet applications. Another comment about the excessive generality of some patents is on the mark, but a great many patents focus on tiny points of remarkable triviality. These applications clog the system and really have no value for the company making the application because many alternative (and equally trivial) solutions often exist.
Apple has every right to defend its IP and creativity.
We would all still use Nokia's "smartphones" -- without Apple's reinventing MP3s, phones, tablets, and ultrabook PCs
All glory to Apple - its enforcing product pre-launch secrecy and IP protection are fully understandable
sranje: My Visor Phone played MP3s and browsed the web with a graphics browser, downloaded/played music, and books, and audible content...
My MPMan played MP3s and Audible content.
So, doesn't prior art prevent patenting these items as much as 5 years later?