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back to article Judge GIVES APPLE THE FINGER in multitouch iDevice patent case

Samsung is allowed to make phones that enable users to use two fingers on the screen at once, ruled a Dutch judge today, kicking out Apple's infringement claim over its multitouch patent. Apple's claim was dismissed and it was ordered to pay Samsung's litigation costs this morning by Judge Peter Blok and two other judges at the …

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Multitouch?

All that multitouch stuff always reminded me of a threesome, I just do not see how Apple can have monopoly of. Good judgement, gratz Dutches!

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Happy

Re: Multitouch?

Seems to work well though as we have not had the "you are using the wrong fingers" yet.

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Ouch!

AsApple wanted the war and I dare say they're going to lose it. LMAO. Britain, Germany, Netherlands.... and then there's the US Appeal Case.

Samsung can't lose. They have a fast turnaround-to-market model. As reported elsewhere, they've already re-coded TouchWiz so it no longer infringes on the Patents Apple claims it did. And what's Apple done? Release an iPhone 4S with a big screen and a failed Map app and now a non-retina display iPad Mini. Jesus-H-Christ. So much for any claim to 'innovation'. Since Steve Jobs died Apple has been on a slippery slope. They've reached the top (in stock market capitalisation) and so it's all down-hill from here....

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Holmes

Re: Multitouch?

Seeing as the display manufacturers obviously allow multitouch by design I don't see how any patent can be derived from it. It's even likely the manufacturers ship demo dev code with the units to show customers how to achieve it with their panels.

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Alert

Obviously they lack buttons

Didn't Apple ever hear of N-Key Rollover?

Gesture based editing pre 1989?

More Apple patents the USPO needs to invalidate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obviously they lack buttons

I hope this trend of invalidating stupid patients continues. I also hope that Apple takes it in the shorts over all of their stupidity.

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Boffin

Re: Obviously they lack buttons

This patent was NOT invalidated, the judge ruled the technique was sufficiently different to not be covered. This actually strengthens the patent a little, as it makes it hard to argue that it is over-broad.

I have mixed feelings over this, really. On the one hand, it's a really good ruling. This technique is not the same one APPL described, in fact, it's a bit more versatile.

On the other hand, supporting this ruling feels almost like betraying my anti-software-patent values.

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Re: Obviously they lack buttons

I agree, the patent unfortunately was not invalidated, but it should be.

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Happy

Hey, Apple

Think fucking different.

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Another European judge reaches a sensible decision. Meanwhile, in the US where they let the public loose on civil cases replete with legal and technical complexities, juries reach incomprehensible decisions. Am I detecting a pattern, here?

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Yes and no

Yes, you are detecting a pattern, but no it's not the pattern you think. The pattern, specifically in the Apple/Samsung spat, has centered on the tendency of non-US courts to look at the facts, while US courts seem to only care about protecting American companies. Like any stereotype, there's sure to be plenty of exceptions.

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Re: Yes and no

I fail to see how the marketing arm of foxcon can really be seen as an american company

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Re: Yes and no

It's all in the name and the perception around it. Of course, Apple should be careful lest its products end up banned in the rest of the world. Yes. America, there is a rest of the world.

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Holmes

Jury trial

Because Apple knew they could manipulate the juror selection process in their favour, otherwise if you believed a judge would rule in your favour you'd do that instead.

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Re: public loose on civil cases replete with legal and technical complexities

It's not so much that they let the public loose, it is that in general the lawyers are allowed to select those least able to deal with those issues. The case Apple won was an exception, but an even more biased exception than the usual know-nothing juries empaneled.

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@ g e

I'm no expert in English law, still less in US law, but my understanding is that for US civil cases where more than a trivial sum is at stake a jury is required. As any criminal barrister will tell you - if you're innocent, opt for trial by judge; if you're guilty, go before a jury (assuming you have a choice).

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Anonymous Coward

Good to see some common sense. But it won't be long before Another Puerile Patent Lawsuit Erupts

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... or Ensues?

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Anonymous Coward

I prefer Erupt. Like a pustule.

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Happy

I prefer the many years old version:

Arrogance Produces Profit Losing Entity

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Joke

Another Patently Pathetic Legal Embuggerance

God bless Terry Pratchett

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What's the score now?

apple have clearly run out of ideas (see recent product releases) by resorting to this kind of lame ass litigation.

Almost looks like their running around in circles.... Oh...

I really really despise how apple do business.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's the score now?

Many years ago I read somewhere (probably here, but possibly in a guide to investment strategy) that you could define the lifecycle of a business by the amount of litigation it started.

- When the business is young, it is busy innovating. It has no need, or time, to bother with litigation.

- When the business is middle-aged, it attracts the attention of others, and receives a few lawsuits. It begins a similar number against competitors.

- When the business is old, it ceases to innovate, and chooses instead to lash out at all around it, litigating in a failed attempt to compensate for its lack of understanding of the new world in which it finds itself.

- Then it dies.

(The rule of thumb for an investor being: if you find the business starting more lawsuits than it receives, sell.)

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Meh

Anna Leach writes Apple story headline PARTLY WRITTEN IN CAPITALS shocker. More at 11.....

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Holmes

PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

USING FINGERS - which have been around forever and already used to control everything imaginable in every conceivable way possible IS NOT AN INVENTION.

Different or not NETHER COMPANY should have a patent on using two fingers to control your phone.

ALL FINGER Control movements ARE OBVIOUS.

Now if say you invented a phone that took a picture of you when you picked your nose.... maybe a phone that called 911 when your finger became disconnected from your body... well then maybe... but swiping a screen ANY Way with really ANY appendage JUST SHOULD NOT BE PATENTABLE!! ITS TOO Obvious.

Even the exemptions I mentioned above should not longer be patentable as they are now ideas in the public domain....

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Devil

Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

Finger motions may (or may not be) obvious.

Picking multiple events off a touchscreen in a manner which is reasonably free of artefacts and can be used reliably for multitouch input is not necessarily so. If you do not believe me - try writing it. Have fun :)

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Meh

Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

Not difficult if you've ever done multiple collision detection in any computer game.

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Anonymous Coward

@Voland's right hand - Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

Just adding a finger will not make it any different and surely not a novelty no matter how hard it will be (think of using 11 fingers to pick up those events1).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

I think the problem is, while this specific use could be patented the general application is simple.

IE, it's a multiple input sorting problem. Only in this case it's "on a phone" or "on a touch screen". But sorting or using multiple inputs and getting them to work together is old hat.

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Re: multiple collision detection in any computer game

...but have you done it where inputs may crosstalk and/or alias each other, on inherently noisy input?

Game collision detection is a very different problem because you have perfect knowledge, not just a best guess at what provoked the inputs you're seeing.

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Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

If it was so obvious why had no one done it until Apple released the iPhone?

With hindsight everything is obvious.

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Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

What about some of the old art software? I had something called creative studio (i think that's what it was called) basically an office suite for kids.

It had an image editor portion to it where you could shrink or resize images.

When you enlarged the image a finger appeared at each edge and stretched it out. While if you shrank it the fingers pinched together.

That sounds a lot like the two finger gestures if you ask me. Might not be enough to cite as prior art, but it shows the pinch to zoom idea already existed, just not in the same sense.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

They had done it before, that is the point, Apple BROUGHT the technology from fingerworks....

But it is a software patent, so I am against it anyway..

Fingerworks had a very nice multi-touch KB out for ages, and I only found out about them after Apple brought them, now I don't mind companies being brought and sold, but NOT when they discontinue the products afterwards!

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Headmaster

Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

Strange that they made the mistake of bringing it - surely they would have preferred to buy it.

http://www.learnenglish.de/mistakes/boughtvsbrought.htm

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Meh

Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

USING FINGERS ... IS NOT AN INVENTION.

No, indeed, but that's not the point.

If the patent were simply "using (multiple) fingers" then Apple could have no hope of winning, as all they did was buy multi-touch-enabled screen panels from their supplier and use them in a product. These were a catalogue item, and the supplier (er, Samsung!) would have more right to patent the idea than Apple (that is: more-prior art).

This particular legal spat appears to be down to Apple claiming a patent on a particular way of processing and using the multi-touch signals received from the panel. I don't know much about how that is done, but the Dutch court appears to have satisfied itself that Samsung use a different technique that does not violate Apple's patent.

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Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

"If it was so obvious why had no one done it until Apple released the iPhone?"

Something being obvious and believing that people will pay for it are two different things. Also: computing is always limited to the amount of processing power you have spare. I can think of lots of obvious developments which no smartphone today has the horsepower for (eg, 3D visual calls using two cameras). In ten years time they will and the fact that no one's done them will not affect the obviousness or otherwise, nor the attempts of companies like Apple to patent them.

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Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

Er, because the capacitive touchscreens required for multitouch input became available at around the time the iPhone was designed and nobody else was doing a major product redesign at the same time?

Capacitive touchscreen, innovative. Using a capactive touchscreen to capture multiple inputs, which is what it was bloody designed to do, not innovative.

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Re: PATENTS MUST BE INVENTIVE and NON OBVIOUS!!!!

Actually capacitive screens about same vintage as resistive. But low resolution. People wanted handwriting recognition and stylus operated shrunk desktop GUI.

Capacitive is inherently very low resolution.

The ideal is capacitive AND resistive (or some new tech that has light touch finger and stylus, ideally reporting pressure and angle too). They existed before any Apple iThing but after Apple Newton (which was deliberately resistive for handwriting).

The only change with iPhone was smoother better thought out GUI and less buttons. Otherwise no new technology at all. No Apple developed HW.

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Re: With hindsight everything is obvious.

Even in hindsight, when I see something that is really original and clever, I say "That was really clever! Good job!" Hex wrenches and Phillips screwdrivers and their screwish counterparts come to mind. But now that both have been invented, the various star keys and other variations are just that: variation on the hex or Phillips original ideas.

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Coat

Shocker

Two fingers?

That's a shocker

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Anonymous Coward

In other news

Samsung has massive new patent loss in USA in their case before the ITC. Phones to be banned from USA in 2013.

Enjoy the up and down roller coaster ride free tards!

Apple for the win!

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Re: In other news

'Apple for the win'

Don't you mean apple to kill all the competition so it doesn't have to bother inventing and can sell you the same crap year after year. Apple are the phone equivalent of Porsche, round a few bits, alter the size, add few new bits but essentially its last years model with a new name.

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Joke

Re: In other news @SJRulez

Ah yes, but if they keep doing that, they're bound to get it right - eventually!!!

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Apple infected with lawyers...

I read that they have patent lawyers sitting in on design sessions noting down everything that can be patented. I didn't realise that they also now control the PR and business strategy as well... "Image? Who cares as long as it lines our pockets!"

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Black Helicopters

Patent Office Law ?

From being a respectable method of protecting the rights of inventors, patent offices have become a

an industry in their own self contained world. The costs of having a patent "Granted" is now costing

an enormous amount of money on a worldwide basis.

The buying of the patents of others work is especially obnoxious and should only be valid for one year.

The petroleum and pharmaceutical industries must be held high in the manipulative powers to

keep better and cheaper methods of science away from the public. ( ie. cheaper goods)

Vested interest is what we are looking at and it is all to do with the suppression of a better world

through the balance sheet.

Reduce all patents to a maximum of say..3 to five years.

The plea of development costs of products holds no water when reviewing the balance sheet !

The purpose of patent offices needs revision now.

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Holmes

Re: Patent Office Law ?

From being a respectable method of protecting the rights of inventors ...

The purpose of patents is to stimulate innovation, and the primary mechanism by which they achieve this is to ensure that inventors publish their inventions, so that all can learn what they have done (and how, and why). Protection against duplication of those inventions by others is afforded so that publication will not harm the interests of the inventor taking out the patent.

Patent offices are paid for by the public purse, and so aren't required to check that the patent contains a full and detailed description of the invention, that the invention is not trivial or obvious, or that the invention has not been patented before -- they just don't have the funds. So it is up to the inventor to determine whether his new idea is already the subject of a patent (or risk being sued if it is) which he may well not think of doing if he considers his own invention to be trivial or obvious!

Patent searches are difficult and expensive. An inventor would be well advised to engage the services of a patents professional in his area of expertise to check for existing patents before making use of a new invention -- but in many cases the cost of such a patent search would be more than either the development cost or the commercial value (as the inventor perceives it to be) of the invention, especially if the invention is fairly trivial or fairly obvious. The situation is exacerbated by the sheer number of patents (many if not most of them both trivial and obvious) in existence.

The buying of the patents of others work is especially obnoxious ...

The problem here is that someone might invent something and not have funds available to develop the invention. The only options open to him then are to try to licence the invention or to sell the patent. It is important that the inventor be given some opportunity to benefit from his intellectual effort, otherwise the patent system would be failing in its goal of stimulating innovation.

The purpose of patent offices needs revision now.

The purpose of patent offices is to record and file patent applications; that's fairly uncontroversial and unlikely to change. The purpose of patent legislation is also a laudable one, and of benefit to all.

What is well and truly screwed up is the way the whole thing works in practice. There is definitely a need for a major reform, here, but it needs to be a comprehensive restructuring of the whole system, not just a few quick fixes.

One thing is clear: At present the system is failing in its goal of encouraging innovation -- by making it too costly and difficult for a small inventor to bring his invention to market -- yet we do not want to lower the barrier and cause a flood of new patents that would make patent searches even more time-consuming and expensive than at present.

Sherlock 'cos it's a two-pipe problem.

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@dajames: I'd give you 5 thumbs up for that thoughtful post if I could.

The system as currently structured does seem rather random. I ride the train with a guy who just applied for and won a patent for something that is a little inventive, but not exceedingly so. He's planning to develop it himself and working on production for it so that when he does eventually sell the patent it is a proven device and he can get more money for the patent. The key of course is that he is a lawyer, and knew lawyers who could do a quick and effective search, determine that what he designed had no existing counterparts, and could then afford the fees to apply for the patent. I don't begrudge him the money for his idea, he should get something for it, possibly even a nice chunk of change if it sells well. But if a similarly slightly inventive but not exceedingly so idea is introduced by either Apple or Samsung, it doesn't simply generate a nice chunk of change, it will likely tie up innovation along similar lines for years if not decades.

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Re: Patent Office Law ?

"There is definitely a need for a major reform, here, but it needs to be a comprehensive restructuring of the whole system, not just a few quick fixes."

Comprehensive as in "scrap it". It wasn't a great idea to start with and in a time when change is many many times faster than it was, and communication even moreso, it simply is not feasible even if it was desirable, which it isn't.

Patents are a monopoly. The only way to make that work today is to make them global - a goal which the US and others are actively pursuing. But as that goal is approached the chances that A's copy of B is in fact not a copy but an independent invention becomes greater and greater to the point where all you have achieved is to make it impossible for small companies and individuals to invent anything without stepping on some patent somewhere. Even if patents were only being issued for real technical breakthroughs, the mediaeval nature of the beast makes it inherently incompatible with modern science and engineering progress.

Patents are a dead horse; we need to stop flogging the damn things and just get the JCB in and bury the corpse.

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Happy

Poor old Apple. more prior art discounted

Perhaps the courts would save one hell of a lot of time if they had the USPO to go back and go through Apple Tosh with a fine tooth comb.

Some of them are plainly prior art, like some of the travel reservation screens. Apple is a very late comer to travel, so check Sabre's Planet Sabre UI (discontinued) to see where Apple's 'inspiration' came from..

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