At one point, “we picked one juror to chose each [accused] product, turning it on close to his chest in a darkened jury room and not telling us which one it was. He turned one [device] around quickly and then another and then both--it absolutely made it clear” whether the devices infringed or not, he said.
Hardly sounds like a valid test to me. Lights low, flash a playing card at 5 feet, which card was it? Phones are meant to be held in your hand, they are designed to be held in your hand. People don't use phones any other way.
When I was a juror, we were instructed not to do any of our own research. It seems judges don't like it if evidence is introduced that the parties in the case don't have an opportunity to refute. That rule made sense to me at the time, and still does today. Is this sufficient to declare a mistrial?
RS, Great observation. I've heard the same, in the context of murder trials, when jurors did their own experiments on whether a victim would/could fall in a certain way (I forget which murder case), it was enough to cause a re-trial.
What on earth were they trying to prove? Phones arent jewellery, they are phones....
Did they have any 3rd manufacturer phones in there to make sure they werent seeing what they expected to see?
This could be grounds for a mistrial....
I agree. This "testimony" by teh foremore WILL blow the case wide open. Did these deliberations contravene teh judge's direction or did teh judge fail to direct the jury on this matter (which would be a perfect storm for an appeal.)
I don't think so. The difference between expert testimony and a discussion is when and where it takes place. "Testimony" behind closed doors is nothing more than a discussion. A discussion under oath in front of a judge and jurors is testimony.
"we picked one juror to chose each [accused] product, turning it on close to his chest in a darkened jury room and not telling us which one it was. He turned one [device] around quickly and then another and then both--it absolutely made it clear” whether the devices infringed or not, he said." ..
These guys absolutely made it clear they're not qualified for this trial.. I wonder whether they can do the same for Macbook and other window notebook in the darkened room, where macbook has it's own trade dress claim. if cannot say one to another, then macbook also infringes look and feel of other notebook??
Now I wonder who owns look and feel patent of notebook.. rectangle and flat with rounded corner having clam shell to open up and down, and one side has screen and to other side has key board.. I'm very glad apple doesn't file law suit on this.
Actually, the tablet you refer to was one of the prior art items Samsung introduced in the case.
The jury decided none of the Samsung tablets infringed because the design was significantly different from the iPad design patent.
This is a crazy verdict, some of the patents in question are to do with finger scrolling, tap to zoom, pinch to zoom etc ('381 included)... Companies other than samsung have implemented these interactions and more in other devices over the years but unlike apple they have never seen fit to patent them as they just made sense!
If you can patent these "obvious" interactions then you might as well patent the light switch on the wall and make all other manufacturers pay out for that too!
This decision was a stupid verdict which as usual in all patent disputes will likely end up simply costing the end consumer more. Yes samsung copied apple in terms of the UI and the device shape but who does'nt copy or directly compare against competitor products anymore to get an edge on the competition! Designs are copied and improved upon each and every day in the world - car manufacturers for example are building more and more hybrid vehicles, they all copy the same basic principle but are implemented by independent companies, why is that not considered a patent breach? It is madness that companies like apple can patent these seemingly obvious and uncomplicated interactions and then through moronic actions like this court case and the stupid decisions of the jurors they can win!
Absolute stupidity, apple should be slapped on the hand for patenting these in the first place and the patents should be cancelled. Samsung should be slapped for being dumb enough to directly copy apple mind you I doubt it did not hurt/impact apple in any way so 1 billion reward is insane!
Another case of grand patent wars (and apple) stifling innovation. Also the 8 devices that apple are seeking to ban are no longer sold in the USA, they are old devices so this is clearly apples "I told you so now pay up" moment!
Many innovations seem obvious after you see them. If pinch and un-pinch for zooming in & out are so obvious, and the bounce-back when scrolling to the edge of a page is so obvious, then where is the prior art? You said other devices implemented these interactions over the years, but nobody bothered to patent them.
Which other devices? I'm curious, because I believe if you took a poll of millions of consumer electronics users and asked them about these features or interactions, the majority would say they first saw that on an Apple product.
I think bounce back and double tap are pretty cool and patentable ideas.
But I also think Samsung showed some pretty compelling prior art and expert testimony against both that I might not have been able to dismiss had I been on the jury.
I've seen that TED presentation. Jeff Han appears 733 times in Google Patent search. I bet he's been compensated well for his patented ideas, though it looks like some of the good ones are assigned to Nortel. Either he worked for them at the time of invention or they bought the patent off him.
Indeed Jeff Han is the father of multi-touch devices. He deserves the credit for most of the gestures we use today.
Ironically, he is the son of middle-class Korean immigrants... If he would have worked for Samsung at the time he invented his touch screen, I wonder how the smartphones and tablets would have evolved? And what Apple would have done?
Actually, Jeff Han is not the father of these multitouch devices. There was a company, Fingerworks, that did a lot of this multitouch work and patented it and even came out with some products well before Jeff Han's work.
Guess what? Apple bought the company in 2005.
On the other hand, there were people working on multitouch even before Fingerworks. I don't know if they patented it or not.
There were lots of pda's windows CE, Maemo, Palm and other devices before the iphone came along. The pinch to zoom was new with the iphone but why should this be patent-able it is an interaction. Watch the movie minority report, these ideas of dragging and zooming in with hands/fingers have been around for a long time, it was just apple that implemented some of them to an actual device first and then patented it to stop other people innovating on their original idea (on a device the size of a cell phone how else would you conveniently do pinch to zoom?)
Also why go after samsung if the interaction patents are the issue, surely that should have been directed at google, nokia (symbian, meego), samsung (bada) and palm...
I agree completely. This was the fullfilment of absolute stupidity with an insane award amount! Saying that there was an infringement because the corners are rounded, the screen was black and your use your fingers to operate it!! We should have thrown Apple out for whinning too much, like Europe and Korea did. If ever I was considering buying an i-anything product that's not going to happen now! Samsung should wash their hands of the US and happily sell there products to the rest of the planet.
One cannot argue that the jury was biased despite of the foreman not being an i-device fan. In the end Apple is an iconic American company and the jury felt compelled to defend it. This bias is especially visible in the following statement of the foreman: "My light bulb moment came that Wednesday night when I asked myself if I could defend it..." This happened BEFORE analyzing the evidence in the case. The jury started from the premise that Samsung infringed Apple IPs and went from here to justify this decision. I know this is expedient and probably perceived as "patriotic" but lacks in fairness.
Prior art is always a slippery slope in the IP legislation and Samsung made the mistake of relying too much on this argument in both circumstances: when they used such knowledge in their designs (despite of warnings) and when they used it their defense.
Unfortunately, without changing IP legislation, this verdict will only stifle innovation and competition making room for monopoly and more corporate bullying.
jer006, your comments are funny because I think you just don't get it. The light switch was a patented innovation at the time, but has since expired, as the patent system was designed for. Edison would agree.
A quick Google search of patents for "light switch" returned 26,100 results, so even though the initial innovation seems novel now, there certainly have been many patented enhancements since, judging by the search.
So many things are able to be patented, some are simple, some are breakthroughs, some are just enhancements of existing "prior art," but even those are patentable.
actually no they are not, patenting things as simple and blatantly obvious as a light switch stops other companies/people from innovating upon ideas already in the market place due to the prohibitive cost that the patent implies...
Common interactions, icons and look and feel should not be patent-able "things". They are design not implementation.
"then you might as well patent the light switch"
There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of patents on the light switch. The more basic ones have surely expired by now.
"Designs are copied and improved upon each and every day"
Legally copying a design requires permission from the patent holder. Toyota pays the original hybrid designer royalties. Other car manufacturers have paid Toyota license fees for using portions of their innovations.
Do you think that the light switch wasn't patented?? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_switch#cite_note-googlepatents-1
Now the patent has expired and other manufacturers can use the patent in their own designs ....... just as the patent system was meant to be used.
It's pretty interesting to me that this engineer and inventor made it to the jury. I've heard previously that engineers are nearly always excused from juries because the lawyers don't want their analytical minds involved. Here's a guy who has his own experience both inventing things and patenting them.
I agree with you. I am an Engineer with 10 US Patents and over 40 International Patents. I have never been chosen to serve on a Jury after making those terms clear. They just don't want me at all, no matter what the case is.
Definitely would agree with you on that. I would think both side's lawyers would have equal reason to strike technically educated jurors from the pool. But it would seem both sides saw the opposite view and felt these jurors were an asset to their cases, not a liability.
People who went through the process of getting a patent are completely biased. If patents weren't weapons to use against potential "enemies" then going through the process was stupid. People don't want THEIR decisions to be stupid so they will defend others who made the same decisions.
It is amazing that the USPTO has awarded these patents for these "inventions" that could be invented by any able minded high schooler. Browser GUIs implemented scroll based zooming a while ago. Now translate that to a touch based interaction - it naturally becomes a pinch and expand. Double clicking was used to zoom images for over a decade and half. What will it traslate to in a touch based intetraction?
Recently, the London Olympics regulator have forbidding all reastaurants in the Olympic neighborhood from selling "French Fries" claiming they violate the trademark of McDonalds. The message is loud and clear - if you have the power to bankroll a world class law firm to battle it out, you can patent anything and exact a payment from your users or competitors. I bet Apple has patents for winking any eye, flipping a page with the index finger and holding a book at a certain angle while reading.
McDonalds doesn't have a trademark on "french fries," they had an exclusive licensing deal with the London Organizing Comitte (LOCOG). Same with Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Heineken--they were the only branded food and drink on sale.
Something about this whole thing doesn't set well with me. I can understand protecting trademarks, logos, etc. A company selling hand-held devices called Applet would have a hard time and rightfully so. Hardware that performs a unique and innovative function. Good here too. A rectangle with rounded corners?? Oh, puleeze. The actions of icons, motions, finger sweeps and so on, the patent office was foolish to issue those. Unfortunately, our Congress hasn't given the USPTO much to work with. Unfortunately, people have learned to use IP like a club to beat down your competitors much to the detriment of the consumer. We are the ones who lose from all this. Just remember that, next time you pay a premium price for that iWhatever. Some things deserve protection, most of what gets a patent number these days, does not.
Some things are natural and intuitive. When something is obvious or not new it is not ususlly patented unless it is unexpected. I find all this hype rather dole because the action resonse paradigm is neither new or unexpected.
Hogan has some experience with his own patents, but in relating those experience to the other jurors, he brought into the deliberation facts that were not presented at trial. An appellate court might, as a result, set aside the verdict.
Additionally, there have been other rectangular shaped cell phones with rounded corners that received design patents long before Apple. In particular, Qualcomm designed, patented, and manufactured its PDQ phone around 2000, which resembled the iPhone in those key respects. Why Samsung never apparently mentioned this at trial is a mystery. But another manufacturer on the receiving end of a similar lawsuit might. . .
I too was concerned about this juror bringing to the jury outside information and wonder if it will be the trigger for either a re-trial or an appeal? Lets hope so, don't get me wrong I think patents should be protected and enforced BUT they must be reasonable patents.
The jury was fortunate to have someone there who could explain to others the intricacies of patents.
@gary: Patent holders biased for or against what? For the concept of IP? Against theft of same by "enemies." People aren't born enemies, they become that while attempting to steal the ideas of others.
Several things surprise me about this case:
First is that Hogan spoke out the way he did. I'm glad he did, because it gives us much more insight into why the jury did what they did. But far too often, juries are not allowed to talk, and I'm surprised this wasn't one of them.
Second, I'm surprised that several of the jurors were seated. Generally anyone with a brain (or at least knowledge of the subject domain) is rejected for fear the lawyers might not be able to influence them with garbage.
Third, I'm surprised Hogan and others shared background information that influenced the decision. Again, there is a well entrenched dogma in the legal world that juries MUST be pooled ignorance. The lawyers must control the entire information content. I can see both sides of this one.
And finally, I'm surprised at some of the outcome. Maybe I was expecting the jury to pass judgement on the patent system rather than on Apple or Samsung. But I agree with those who say a rectangle with rounded corners (so common it has a name in graphics--rounded rectangle) with a black face is patentable! My Droid-X only escapes because the claim also included a metal edge bezel, which Droid-X fortunately doesn't have. Or maybe it was that the Droid-X is thicker at the top.
I'm glad for what was shared, and not too suprised, but very disappointed at the outcome. Not necessarily the fault of the jury. The fact that a billion dollars was even resting on this rather fuzzy case is scary. Our country has little use for competition, and no use for the little guy who could never have fought, let alone paid for, a case of this size. The big winners here are big business and lawyers.
Hmmm, I've never heard of a case where jurors' freedom of speech was taken away as you claim. Sure, they aren't allowed to speak about the trial during the trial. But this was after. And jurors often are interviewed by the press after a high-profile case. I suspect that's a good thing.
Jurors are free citizens and a public trial is just that - public. They can say anything they want. However, I do NOT recommend you do so. In two juries I was the foreman on the last thing I told the others was that they had the right to say anything they wanted to anyone about it. But I for one absolutely refused to be interviewed by attorneys for either side and I recommended that other jurors also refuse. My mother-in-law allowed herself to be interviewed by attorneys after a case and was promptly sued by those attorneys. Defending herself ran into 10's of thousands of dollars.
juries have no place in patent cases, and this is a great example why. the real problem here is the incredibly corrupt and muddled IP world, where everyone is trying to turn the law in their favor, and no one is asking "is it right".
IP protection should be short and narrow. anything else contradicts its purpose, which is to PROMOTE PROGRESS. protecting profits is merely a side-effect.
I agree 100%. There was no "jury of peers" here. Not at all. That...and the decision was rushed. I don't care what anyone says. 3 days is too short to consider 700 questions and all of the technical minutiae that needed to be considered.
These types of cases should be handled by technical committees like the one that investigated the Challenger and Columbia accidents. They didn't just grab 9 people of the street and say "hey...you guys figure it out..."
@markkahn: I avidly agree here. Patents are civil/business matters and in many cases technical matters. Getting a jury of peers can seldom be done when a peer must be technical and probably already knows the answer. Getting a lay-person is only to the benefit of those who want to baffle or mislead them.
Progression has been obstructed by the patent system far too long. Revision is needed for patent review/approval, patent duration, and patent litigation.
My suggestions are:
- Patent review/approval must be done at the cost of the patentee, with individuals that are hired because of their subject knowledge related to the patent domain. Fewer patents will be filed because it is costly and slower - this is good. Fewer decisions will occur because of lack of domain expertise as well.
- Patent duration - if the patent is not being applied or to be applied within 18 months then it is open for use/license. This prevents blocking or con-gress patent hoarding. If it is in use then exclusivity is limited to less than 5 years - I vote for 2.5 years.
- Litigation should involve domain experts only. Lawyers should be there only to interpret and guide. This would reduce the frequency/number of litigations because the domain experts will be less available than lawyers. Litigations will be less profitable for lawyers (fewer involved); so fewer would be inclined to litigate. The subject will be reviewed by technically savvy people who may have a better idea about the real issue rather than a sales pitch/slideware that a lawyer paints in effort to "simplify the issue".
As I have said before... our innovation and progress to date is a true testament to the ingenuity of designers to create products DESPITE the obstructive patent system. A system that prevents progress by law.
While patent reform is clearly necessary, I think some of your suggestions would be counter productive. Forcing the applicant to bear the full cost of a review, for instance, would most likely prohibit individuals from participating in the process. It would create an uneven playing field where deep pockets have the advantage in obtaining protection for inventions. They could, in fact, steal inventions from those who don't try to patent them due to lack of funds, then fund their own patent and get the benefit.
The exclusive use limit you propose also seems excessively short. It may well take that long for the patent holder to get their invention through production to market, especially if they are working with limited funding. The idea of litigation involving domain experts, however, seems like it has merit. Evaluating what constitutes "prior art" and "obviousness" requires deeper understanding of technology than most folks have.
I think the real flaw lies in the granting of so many patents in the first place and the breadth of claims that those patents make.If I were to reform the patent system, I would start by upgrading the resources available to the patent examiner's office to perform as exhaustive an evaluation as possible.
You can think that...but there are carve outs EVERYWHERE. Bankruptcy and Corporate Finance are examples where juries are not to be trusted so therefore there are government experts who oversee these things.
Another example is mergers and acquisitions...these are presided over by a highly skilled group of people.
I predict that as a result of this trial...there will be a clamor to see to it that there is a process to eliminate a jury from the process and set up government committees to oversee these cases...kind of like a "super arbitration" board. I'm just guessing here...but I bet its coming.
@hippydog: Jury of peers yes... In other words people who know the subject material. Not lay persons.
A simple example might be: It can be hard to teach some people the difference between having a LED and an incandescent light source. These might not be a peer when one is evaluating if a display back lighting method is violating a patent.
So, "peers" for technically savvy people are seldom the average living person who has a state issued ID card.
Definitely prejudiced from the start. He really didn't even have to attend the trial. Would have been quite a time saver - just start deliberations on the first day and release your verdict. Why wait for the evidence, it always gets in the way of a sensible and reasonalbe verdict anyway!
How are any of these "idea patents" valid? Is it really an invention before you've figured out how to implement it? I think it is funny when I run into people who think their ideas are so precious. Figure out a way to implement it, and now you might have something. Figure out a way to make other people want it, then you *do* have something. The government is getting in the way again.
You should not be able to patent the logically obvious route for technology. That should be patently obvious. :D
Like if the the first car manufacturer patented the car wheel. The patently obvious (deliberate irony) should not be the property of anyone.
Intellectual innovation needs protecting and not being first past the post to make an obvious step your own property.
The jury made the right decision. Samsung had the opportunity to design around the patents, but they chose to ignore them instead. That strategy might work when copying the work of smaller competitors, but it cost them dearly in this case.
Samsung should have spent the time and money coming up with their own ideas.
Hopefully things will change at Samsung, and R&D will no longer stand for "receive and duplicate".
The jury was incapable of "making the right decision". They didn't spend anywhere near enough time deliberating nor do I think they could have understood all the technical details required to render a just verdict. It was simply beyond their capacity to do so.
Let's just hand Apple a billion dollars and call it a day... C'mon.
I'm not saying that Samsung didn't infringe...I really don't know. I just don't think this jury could have made that determination (which also wasn't their fault - they were put in the position to make some decision). I just hope the appeals courts will treat this differently and spend the appropriate time convening and listening to REAL experts to make the final decision.
Side by side view of the two companies' app icons. Now tell me that two different graphic artists came up with these completely independently, without one being influenced by the other!
I used to own a palm phone.. I would of said the designers of both were influenced by that..
looking side by side.. sure, they looked copied.. but if I threw in the icons from a nokia, palm, and blackberry (who came out before the Iphone).. it wouldnt be so clear.. (except maybe the gallery one)
@Frank: Most touch based GUIs share similar icons interface. I remember seeing a similar interface the Pico handheld (Made in UK - then acquired by PhoenixBIOS around 1995).
Of course so did my Zaurus and my Agenda VR3 & 5.
Square icons on touchpads predated iphones in all electronic kiosks, ATM machines. Or perhaps even an old fashioned touch tone telephone had square dialing buttons. Granting patents for these simplistic common sense ideas (aka prior art) seems like a job badly done by the USPTO.
I wonder how much time Apple engineers would have spent to come up with these "inventions". I am sure they spent more time writing up their patent applications and revising them than either innovating or implementing these ideas.
There's actually a post with all the six patents that Samsung infringed. One of them was that icon design of Apple's:
"The verdict “was a message to the industry at large that if you are going to compete in this country there’s a set of rules, and if you decide to take a calculated risk and infringe you need to be willing to pay a price for it,” he said."
Wow...that line right there could be grounds for appeal. Geez oh Peet.
So if a US company copies Apple it is OK...but if a Korean company does it...it isn't? Even if that wasn't the intent of the statement...it certainly smacks of a bias towards the United States...which could be all that is needed to throw doubt on the legitimacy of the verdict. If you read that carefully...the jury was SENDING A MESSAGE? Was that their job?
Now that I think about it, I'm glad the foreman is talking. All the more material for an appeal. The real problem is our patent system is broke. Fmotta (above) has some common sense ideas to rein in the abuses of our patent system.
This comment is amazing:
"I asked myself if I could defend [the Apple ‘381 software patent], and I realized I could, so in the morning I explained this to my fellow jurors".
Suppose he said, "I asked myself if I could defeat the Apple Patent, and I realized I could", then, what would have happened? I bet Apple's lawyers would have had him disqualified.
I agree IP should be protected, but the question here is, "Is this really IP?"
Sounds to me like he used his superior position to sway a jury that had no clue about patent law.
And I thought jurors were supposed to ne neutral. His own comments lead me to believe he had a vested interest in having Apple win, and in my world, that would be grounds for disqualification.
Excellent article!! first one I read with some real info behind it..
When i first heard about it being a jury trial I thought "how could it be a trial by peers", but I am happy too see that they seemed to have some pretty smart people on the jury..
After reading the interview, I now believe it was a fair trail, one decided by facts available to them..
do i like the fact that someone can patent a simple jesture or 'look'? no.. It seems stupid and overly oppressive.. BUT, if thats the law... thats the law..
Your opinion and mine, hippydog, seem to be very unpopular, but I agree that this case was a fine example of how well our jury system works.
In another article I read, jury foreman Hogan said the jury was very aware that "Apple can't be a monopoly" and they also felt that dubious patents should not be allowed to stand.
They threw out the claim that Samsung infringed on Apple's most beloved design patent and they clearly were not impressed with Apple's iPad claims. Some of Apple's claimed damages, the jury felt, were worth zero dollars.
Hogan also said he felt that all of the expert witnesses on both sides were paid stooges, and he didn't give a lot of weight to their testimony. Clearly the man is nobody's fool!
Many people are arguing for a complete overhaul of the patent system, or for replacing juries in patent cases with some sort of panel of experts, or who knows, how about a panel of lawyers? Sorry, I'd rather that we citizens not give up our rights to a trial by jury or our rights to sit on a jury, weigh evidence and decide a verdict.
When it was all said and done, the jury essentially told Apple sorry, you're not getting all that you asked for, some of your patents are not as great as you think they are, and hey Samsung, you willfully copied many elements of the iPhone and you should not have done that.
No panel of experts or panel of lawyers could have done nearly as well as this jury of ordinary citizens!
Bankruptcy courts (and other finely detailed financial transaction courts) aren't allowed to be jury trials except under VERY specific conditions...and they are exceedingly rare.
How is this different? Ask yourself...WHY do bankruptcy courts operate the way they do?
This isn't a "RIGHTS" issue...it is an issue of GETTING IT RIGHT. The ramifications and collateral damge from a bad and not well considered decision is too great.
We'll see if this stands or if it is heavily modified or retried somehow. I think there is appealable error including jury bias (real or implied) and I am sure that Samsung is looking at ALL the options and I wouldn't be surprised if many others are helping them (like the big G).
The jury foreman, Velvin Hogan, should realize that even though he badgered his patent examiner to get his own patent issued, he only has a string of digits to defend. His presumption of validity because he had his own patent issued is absolutely flawed. The patent examiner in his case was probably just tired of dealing with the inventor and needed to close the case and get a "completion count" in his column (to make his numbers).
All of us would benefit by a proper review in appeal especially taking into account his "words of joy" justifying his actions.
what can be said that already hasn't? How about the clear "self interest" that Mr. Hogan had. This is evident by him stating that this made his career! Presumably he is being compensated for his interviews, etc. and will probably be able to turn himself into an "expert witness." Perhaps the light bulb was along the lines of "let's see, if we give a really big verdict, I will become famous!" I also agree that the dark room test represents a very poorly thought out experiment that proves nothing but clearly had a very significant effect on the outcome.
There would be little surprise amongst many of those who have worked with Apple and its principals if the following conversation took place at Apple some time in the past:
"I herein patent the letter 'E' in all its forms and cases. So, therefore all must license 'E' from me."
"No, It cannot be 'E' that is too obvious. Let's make it representative of the self centeredness of our corporate values and make it 'I'."
This is just nonsense. Have you forgotten how Apple was criticized for not have a "real" keyboard? It seems obvious now because we have all often used to the touch screen, but it wasn't all that obvious the first time an iPhone came out, and someone had to actually implement the touch screen gestures and turn those around from ideas to an actual piece of hardware that can be documented on a patent and passes the patent office's rigorous check, despite of what some people here think. Just try to write a patent and get one approved, you'll see.
And then there's the way a trial is running, where the jury is restricted to specific questions and answers and not whether it is possible that someone had thought about the idea in question before, at some time or the other. It just doesn't work the way some people here think.
@Aquarious: Touch screen and gestures existed in handhelds when Steve Jobs wore a black suit and tie.
Also, if a jury is supposed to ask questions then it seems that the tail is wagging the dog. The questions are traditionally asked by the representatives of the opposing parties not by the jury. If the jury is left to ask questions then one or both of these representatives has failed to ask the right question and then the resulting ignorance or misinformation is what the jury is left with... unless they walk in as actual peers to the designers. Then they can make informed decisions despite the omissions. I think that any juror can raise the questions to other jurors in deliberation.
If jurors are technical peers to the designer then it is less of a matter of sheep led by a wolf. This would also force a limit on the number of such litigations due to lack of resources. So we all win because we spend more time being constructive and less time being obstructive.
As I have commented above, touchscreen have been around in popular use in electronic Kiosks and ATMs for over 25 years now.
There was a design competition in early 2000's for the most user friendly PC among some of the top engineering schools. I remember that the prize winning entry had every UI element of IPad, including a stylus for the touchscreen.
So much for 'lacking prior art' in awarding these patents to Apple.
fmotta, you had it right the first time. Apple had used several "e" names up until the late 90s. There was the "eWorld" online service and an Apple computer called the eMate 300.
The transition to "i" names started with the iMac in 1998 and supposedly it was not named by Steve Jobs but by Ken Segall. The "i" was for "internet."
Then Apple released its first MP3 player in 2001 and decided to call it iPod, it seems the company had really settled on the "i" name branding by then.
Do you remember that back in January 2007, the day after the original iPhone came out Apple was sued by Cisco, which owned the trademark on the name "iPhone", thanks to Cisco's acquisition of Linksys. Apple licensed the use of that name from Cisco.
In a great bit of irony, Apple also had to license the name iOS from Cisco, which had been using that name for many years (but with a capital I) for its router OS.
We can joke about names and trademarks and patents, but branding and logos are serious business and a big part of product and corporate identity.
A minor win for the US self-serving system and a very sad day for technological development.
If this were a multinational trial, the outcome would have been very different. Lets see how the appeal goes.
Apple have taken the already in-the-toilet US credibility and global sentiment to a new low. Good work.
My "few" cents:
1) The "ideal" way for Apple would be to license the pinch to zoom and scroll features rather than trying to protect them by lawsuits. Not just Samsung, but other manufacturers as well. These are innovations in the true sense, but like all the best ideas, once out there they seem so obvious everyone wants to do it.
2) As for rounded edge rectangle and icon colours, its just plain silly.
3) Galaxy S may have looked like the iphone, but look at S3 today. If anything, iphone5 may struggle to look like S3. Would they pay Samsung royalty if they choose to move to a larger/wider screen?
4) Last but not the least, I adore Apple. I do. But calling a company (a partner at that) a thief in internal mails or press releases speaks of low standard. What of he Note? Did Apple find a way to call it a stolen product? Or low end feature phones that Apple doesnt bother making?
@rwik78: Look at all things rectangular or even round or triangular or ... Look at almost all radios from their first models up to the digital controls. Look at laptops. Look at toilets. Look at pipes and hoses.
Similarity amongst all these things was resultant of obvious application/use. RCA did not litigate Sylvania because they had 3 knobs and a dial because these were the obvious controls needed to operate a radio receiver.
"Pinch-to-Zoom/Shrink" existed on Sci-Fi shows before Apple patented it. I think this was an obvious solution that some person in the production put into a display.
Great comments here. This case (and the great reporting by Rick Merritt) have clearly touched a nerve. It's interesting that there seem to be such a wide range of opinions on this issue represented in the forum.
My feeling is that many of the commentators on this topic do not realise the impact of their criticisms against patenting.
If you are a person, (not a huge multinational) and you have a new idea, the only way you can be rewarded for your creative ability is to patent the idea, otherwise the instant your hard work and often extensive and expensive development is produced it will be snapped up and mass produced by a big company, so you lose your shirt and nobody bothers to develop new ideas anymore.
Patents should be cheaper and easier, not so difficult that only the already very rich can have them, that would truly stifle new thought.
Also the whole thing of thought is that it is communicable, so once someone has it, it is obvious to all, but that does not imply that anyone else would have had it other than the person, with his own unique personality and experience, who actually had that thought.
The Wisdom of Hindsight does not discover the wisdom that it has the hindsight about.
@Geoff Thomas: I agree with the principals of your statement about the individual patentee. Find me a dozen of those and you can find hundreds of large corporate entities to match.
Although I would love for there to be different rules for the individual patentee I know that there would be a thousand lawyers pitted to find a way that GE, IBM, Apple, ... can be classified as such. So, one set of rules that address the current (mis)use case trends needs to be instituted. The current US department of monopoly (PTO) rules are inadequate for progressive and constructive purposes. Revision is needed.
Differing categories of patents may work since a lot of production process such as automotive can take 3 and more years. But, Apple will become a car company when we do that. Then we will see padded roundish rods applied toward directional control being patented by them.
folks, here is what many people believe apple copied for their iphone.. LG prada phone.. this came out even before those look and feel patent.. US court for some reason refused to review this phone as prior art, as the phone was not accused by apple.. see and decide for yourself..
Many times I read an article and have fun from reading the comments. This time I couldn't read all! This Apple-Samsung verdict is more than I thought. It seems most of the people think all this is wrong. Patents that shouldn't be granted in the first place? It seems that any little idea is patentable in the US.
On the specific point about 'bounce back' at the end of a menu tree - My Logitech (nee. Slim Devices) Squeezebox had this over five years ago. I don't know when the patent was granted, but either it's not valid, or Logitech need to panic...
What a shitty article, only bunch of thoughts with no explanation. Who cares what was the background of this "light bulb moment", everyone wants to know how this judge will defend this patent. I am waiting for second round of this fight.
This is not a shitty article, cant say the same about the way verdict was reached, manipulated from personal prejudice seems more like it....
Rick, once again, thanks for your great coverage. Hope you will continue through the appeals process.
There seems to be people who believe strongly on both sides of this issue. I'd be interested to know how many commenters have patents and whether they agree or disagree with the decision.
I suspect that most that disagree won't have patents but it would be interesting to find out.
After barely scraping by for several years, I finally have a patent pending (utility). I chose to patent because I'm a good engineer, yet my competitors are very good at manufacturing; they would have eventually got ahold of one of my cool products and saturated the market with a knock-off long before I could get it scaled up in production. The lifecycle for my product is typically 10 years, and I'll need at least that long to pay off debts and recoup the opportunity costs of doing a moon-shot for years at my kitchen table, with no day job. Without a temporary monopoly of a patent, there is no incentive to put in the work. As to those who are calling to reform the patent system, the largest reform in 80 years begins September 2012, the America Invents Act. We change to a first-to-file system in March 2013. While there is a new review process to challenge patents more easily, and the USPTO remains fully funded by assignee fees, the consensus is that big companies and universities will file many pore patents and the small inventor will be swamped by prior art and often beaten in the race to file.
Well....having 30 patents myself and seeing the hubris in claims (actually saw a prior patent claming "knowledge is good"....so in essence, EVERY patent since then is really infringing on that patent...cant wait until the "patent trolling types" get a hold of it and sues everybody on the planet).
A more interesting scenario is whether tupperware sues Apple RE "rounded corners" piece of this. After all, tupperware has had rounded corners for 50 years and the idea of "pinching" goes back 100s of years ("just this much more of something"). Sounds like alot of people will get rich on this one!!!!
Design patents can be used to protect items that are clearly differentiated from anything else (an obvious statement if there ever was one), but when the differences get subtle, I can see them getting really messy. I certainly don't have access to the evidence given in the trial, but I don't think it would be terribly difficult to make the case that every phone, tablet, laptop and desktop are essentially copies of each other that would infringe all over the place.
Conversely, I don't think it would be terribly difficult to make the case that all of these devices are different enough from each other as to not infringe.
I bet that if you picked ten different juries, you'd get ten radically different answers.
First of all I agree all IP needs to be protected.
There are good patents and bad patents. The quality of patents is determined by how they are written and how the claims are structures.
- BIG money buys better lawyers
In patent litigation cases such as this, the team of lawyers also drives how well you can fight it. The jury in the US and down the street from Apple will almost certainly root for Apple (why ?, because apple is a brand that has been built well). Apple is good at refining and bringing to markets things that have previously existed. They are an excellent industrial design house... technology after the 90s they have not done anything earth shattering.
Plus, Samsung made strategic mistakes... big companies put patents in re-exam and then endlessly stay the case while the patent is being re-examined. It is called interference where you can put together prior art (valid or invalid) to tie up question the viability of the patent.
Round 1 to Apple.
Many of the comments here seem to revolve around the issue that the jury foreman brought his own expertise to bear in rendering a verdict, and whether that constitutes a basis for an appeal.
In all trials, the case is supposed to be decided based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. For instance, say a trial's outcome relies on the color of the sky. If an expert witness for one side states that, in his expert opinion, the sky is red, and that sworn testimony is not refuted by another expert witness from the opposing side, then the jury cannot use their innate knowledge of the color of the sky to render a verdict.
I think things need to be put in proper perspective. In hindsight -everything- is obvious.
Let's go back to the time before the iPhone:
The most popular business phone, by far, was the Blackberry. Why? Because it made email easy. Easy compared to what? To every other phone on the market. On these other phones it was so difficult, often involving scrolling through windows using cursor buttons, that most people didn't bother.
Using the internet on Blackberries and other 'smart' phones was also easier than it had been in the past, but couldn't have been so great, because these phones were not having much impact on the Internet backbone.
Then the iPhone came out.
[cue dramatic music]
I didn't happen to notice what was written on the impact on AT&T's networks in the US, but I read a few articles about what happened when the iPhone was introduced in England. The network operators were completely unprepared for the onslaught of data on their networks.
Clearly, the iPhone was a completely different beast than -any- other phone on their networks and they had to completely rebuild parts of it just to handle -this- phone.
What was different? Using the Internet was ridiculously easy, compared to other phones where it was so ridiculously hard that most people didn't even bother.
A lot of it was the easy touch interface, including the 'pinch to zoom' and other multitouch features (as I mentioned above, invented by a company that Apple bought long before Jeff Han did his TED talk).
You can make any argument about the phones you want, but the proof is in the data going across the network. The iPhone was groundbreaking.
I totally agree with you on one point. The iphone changed the mobile world, forever. And once again with the ipad. No one can refute that. And I agree, the most compelling factor for this was the interface, including the two UI patents. And part of the story was the looks, but in my mind, an insignificant part. There have been better looking phones before and after iphone. Consider Nokia 9 series, LG prada, Samsung SGH, LG prada among many others. None have been as successful, and for a good reason: As far as looks are concerned, I would always go for an iphone over say, a galaxy S or S2. [The SIII is a different story]. The reason so many people bought the S/S2 was mostly because of cost, Android openness vs Apple closed system , hardware specs, and yeah! Samsung's brand image.
The UI patents were valid targets. I do feel however since they are quite obvious (yes, in hindsight) they probably should be licensed to promote fair competition,rather than fought over in courtrooms.
Apple is an innovative company. But they need to continue to innovate to keep ahead of competition, not use lawsuit to kill competition.
We seem to have forgotten that the cellphone is not a piece of plastic/metal/glass or a piece of software existing in the ethernet. Samsung OLEDs or tehcnology manufacturing involves 100s of innovations. The average user takes them for granted, but these are part of what makes the iphone or ipad tick. So, in one sense, Samsung shares the success of Apple, and contributes to the innovative process. One must not ignore that when calling them copycats.
P.S: The windows 8/RT release timing seems to be superb, in light of this lawsuit. Curious as to if and how that changes the landscape.
The result of the lawsuit shows how out-of-touch the current patent system is. A system that is not too different from the one that enabled/encouraged the British East India Company to conquer America, India and other countries...
I like Apple's products a lot (bought iPhone 1, iPhone 3GS, iPad 1, new iPad and a MacBook) and admire Steve Jobs/Apple's focus. But this lawsuit is a sham.
Even if Samsung copied some of iPhone's features, the final result of awarding 15% of Samsung profits is just plain wrong. Here's a simple reason why - I bought a Samsung Galaxy S2 not because of the Zoom, Rotate or List scrolling features or its likeness to iPhone. I bought it for the simple reason that it was more flexible (for customizaiton), more open & I could easily move files around. Why does Samsung have to return the profit from my sale?
The jury decided on a very simple reasoning that Samsung infringed these 5 patents and these 5 patents were the only reason all of Samsung's customers bought their phones. That's too simplistic.
Based on so much prior art listed in the comments section of this article alone (including the awesome TED video), the patents should be declared invalid.
Apple has already more than enjoyed the fruits of their labor with the iPhones and iPads with unprecedented profits & stock price. This lawsuit shows both greediness and worry that they can't keep up with the innovation in the rest of the smartphone world.
To Apple's engineers - I'm sorry that after all your hard work, your lawyers had to prove your innovation based on a scrolling, zooming and pretty icons... Keep up the good work.
Good news is, there now seems to be ample evidence for a mistrial.
Whether you agree with the verdict or not, this juror completely subverted the justice process. The fact that he's so bursting with pride that he can't even see what he has done just doubles the epic fail.
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