I am one of those engineers who was interested in the outcome but wondered about the entire process (patents, legal issues, fallout post verdict). At some point I wonder if the patent process has gotten out of hand, can I patent the "rectangular device providing audio to wireless communications"? I wonder how generic the patent claims were and if they were "reasonable" ones? The definition of reasonable can be debated but for my purposes it does not seem reasonable to be able to patent say any typical shape of wireless phone or the use of the keyboard (touch or other) as the keyboard and number pads have been around in one version or another. I do think that innovation should be protected, the particular finger gestures could be patented but the use of fingers should not. There has to be a balance and reason in the patents and their claims.
I recall seeing a cover article somewhere: "The Patent: Invention of the Decade" or some such. Drawing a line in the sand and saying, "This is ours" may just be a way of prompting the industry to say, "OK, any stuff outside your line isn't yours. Now, here is our new industry-standard stuff."
Apple cut itself off once before, and Macs gobbled up a whopping 5% of the market.
I'm not sure how much of the iPhone is actually patentable. WYSIWYG? Nope - Xerox ALTO. Keyboard on a screen? Wireless data connection to servers? Nope - Alan Kay described them as part of the DynaBook idea developed at Xerox PARC using ARPA contract funds. The Palm Pilot surely covered a lot of PDA features.
Can the iPhone look-and-feel be copyrighted or trademarked? Maybe, but DID THEY ACTUALLY DO IT?
Multi-touch? Did MINORITY REPORT show Tom Cruise using a similar thing (without touching a surface, of course)? Was that before or after iPhone? Was there any other prior art?
Back before political correctness, we called it "Chinese engineering": identify the selling points in a product, and bring an equivalent to market for less.
I don't know if Android itself has anything to fear. Coming up with a new way of manipulating the GUI will take effort, but it's do-able, and I'd love to see the industry stomp Apple for their hubris. IMHO the only thing they got really right was the iPhone App Store.
don't be obtuse: design patents are prime tinder for the coming inferno of IP reform. everyone knows that this area of law has simply been gang-raped by decades of bought lawyers.
read the constitution.
I believe that Samsung and Apple did NOT have a "jury of their peers". There is NO WAY this jury could have possibly understood the technical information required to render a just verdict. I am not saying infringement didn't occur...what I AM saying is that the jury most likely had NO idea what they were hearing or what it meant.
This case was too big and the ramifincations too great to allow a standard jury to make the decision. Apple had to know this going in. It became ALL about the "SHOW" and not the "FACTS". The lawyers' job was to put on a good enough show to sway the jury...not truly about technical merit and legitimacy of the patents.
The two key issues here were the merit of the patents and the damages if the patents were violated. You need two different groups of skilled experts to determine these points...and they need more than THREE DAYS. I mean really...THREE DAYS? This decision smacks of capitulation and just wanting to "go home". Something like..."Well I THINK Samsung did bad things so how about a billion dollars and we call it a day?"
We need some kind of reform in this process. These kinds of things drive me nuts. It KILLS the innovative process and it is CLEAR that Apple has its sights on Android as the target and will be going after Google next...especially once they introduce the Google mobile phone. I'm sure they are warming up to go after the Nexus tablet right now. You are witnessing a monopoly in the making and after ALL the lessons learned from AT&T and Microsoft...the courts are allowing it to happen again. Soon, there will be no choices left for the consumer. I find this sad...
That is a great point what you have raised...were the jury members qualified to understand the real technical matters in this case? May be I don't have much knowledge about the system and it's not correct for me to comment but I really don't understand how the legal guys understand technical stuffs and make judgment.
The front page of the SJ Mercuty had an interview with the jury foreman who is a retired engineer who had written patents himself. I was impressed by his knowledge. He apparently owns no Apple products and considers them overpriced.
Have a look at this Ars article which sheds rather a different light on said juror : http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/08/apple-v-samsung-juror-describes-deliberations-we-wanted-to-send-a-message/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+arstechnica%2Findex+%28Ars+Technica+-+All+content%29
To my mind 'sending a message' goes WAAAAY beyond a jury's remit.
Note the Ars Technica article cited above is a re-write of the SJ Mercury News article that actually did the good and timely interview.
These days its hard to tell who does interviews and who pontificates.
So, since the jury foreman was a retired EE and had some patents, he and eight others could answer 700+ legal questions in three days? Really? I mean...REALLY? This should have taken WEEKS of analysis by people skilled in patent law and user interface design experience...not three days by virtual laymen. This is the crux of the problem. This was too important to be decided as it was.
Proof that the jury was under-qualified: They found Samsung's STANDARDS ESSENTIAL patents to be valid AND that Samsung did NOTHING WRONG in the standards process in getting these into the standard, yet found Apple to NOT BE INFRINGING. I'll say it again, STANDARDS ESSENTIAL.
Samsung owns many key patents on LTE far more than Apple bought from Nortel, many of them are not part of FRAND. If Apple wants iPhone 5 on LTE, they may have to pay additional royalty to Samsung.
"Or will purchases of Galaxy handsets and tabs go up in sympathy with what some may see as a (very big) underdog beaten down by the world’s most valuable company"
World's most valuable company? Maybe in the sense of most profitable? It doesn't keep the power up during a storm, it doesn't provide drinking water, it doesn't prevent accidents from happening (more the other way around), it doesn't even provide a significant portion of the computing power used by utilities, businesses, or the military. It's kind of laughable to call Apple the most valuable company in the world, where the value is in hand held gadgets used mostly for entertainment, is it not?
No question what this law suit did for me. It reinforced my unwillingness to buy any of their products. That's how valuable I've found them to be in the past.
But on the court case coverage, I'm seeing inconsistencies. For example, in one article, you state that the jury found the Apple's look and feel infringement argument invalid, but in other articles, supposedly that was an Apple vistory. On the question of prior art, in one article I see that the judge could not allow such claims because they arrived too late, and in other articles the expert witnesses could not convince the jury that prior art existed or mattered. Or maybe the problem is that some of these apply to pads and not to phones?
I frankly don't know how a patent infringement case can be decided if prior art isn't given a lot of emphasis. Especially in cases involving Apple, who have always leveraged their products on prior art.
UK threw the case out. Korea was even handed. US went for the US guy. Why? Hard to tell whether it was due to objective analysis of the data (some correspondents say that it unlikely in 3 days due to the case's complexity) or just support for a US listed company & brand icon in difficult economic times. Good for Chinese manufacturing too.
Know what the fun part is?
Apple uses Foxconn for manufacturing. Samsung is investing heavily in the US, 4Billion USD in the state of texas alone to support chip manufacturing. Billions more for design in California.
Who is contibuting more to the US economy, makes me wonder :-)
There is a very good set of reports on a tech legal site called Groklaw - required reading if you want to get some sort of informed opinion.
After following the case there I was astonished the jury took just three days to reach its opinion. There is some doubt as to whether the input of the guy with patent experience exceeded his remit as a member of the jury. It appears he certainly had sympathy with patent holders and this may have clouded his and the jury's judgement (IMHO of course).
From an engineering point of view, the abuse of the patent system puts a huge weight as well as time and money pressure. When you started developing a product, would you really think before using a rectangular shape? I mean come on! Now imagine the effort required to just circumvent the simplest and most obvious things around. I believe the main argument of patents is to provide an incentive to creativity by making sure that you can make money from your own invention. The way they work at the moment, is simply to put someone off from trying to do anything, as mega corps patent the most obvious things by the thousands each year and anything you may try is like crossing a minefield. Not pleasant.
This verdict, complete or otherwise, is the proverbial other shoe dropping, if you will, for Google–they managed to escape scot-free from the Oracle litigation, but now face the obvious concern that, as some point, it will be necessary to distinguish Android from Apple's prior art by isolating the underlying UX / OS features of the software from the trade dress / physical design of their partners' hardware devices. There is plenty of opportunity here for Google's Android to make inroads into the third-party embedded device space–I see this as an opportunity for Google to succeed where Apple will "fail".
I predict a lot more design patents and trade dresses will be filed.
They work, juries understand them and I think they actually have a role for the systems maker, especially in markets where the underlying hardware is pretty similar.
I feel another op/ed coming on....
Can I ask why they work?
The issue I had was that if the LG Prada was inadmissible because it was not sold in the US does that mean that it is legal theft. that is anyone can patent said item in the US and make financial claim as no view of prior art would be considered. it even suggest that the art of invention of trade dress need not happen you only have to copy.
Isn't that ironic