back to article Samsung appeals to Supreme Court to bring patent law into 21st century

Samsung has appealed to the Supreme Court to hear its patent case against Apple. The appeal [PDF] was expected when Samsung lost the case in 2012, and an appeal this May, and was told to pay the iPhone maker just under $1bn in compensation. The case revolved around the fact that Samsung's smartphones were strikingly similar …

  1. SteveCarr
    Stop

    The law is a Ass

    The whole ridiculous US patent law charade is a great way to keep law graduates employed, while at the same time stifling competition and innovation. Surely this is not was intended, but clearly it is the outcome. And now, with trans-national corporates pushing ever more trade agreements based on said patent laws onto the rest of the world (TPPA for one), it can only get worse, not better.

    The original Apple vs Samsung decision defies logic!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The law is a Ass

      If Samsung is allowed to get away with blatantly coping the iPhone, how the hell is that "stifling competition and innovation"? Better for innovation if these companies were not allowed to copy each other.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The law is a Ass

        What "blatantly coping the iPhone"?! The physical design is based upon previous works, it is only that Apple was the first to bother to patent that look. Don't go believing that Apple is god almighty with this - how the moronic jury wasn't informed and educated regarding industrial design basics, to throw that look&feel patent out, is utterly and completely beyond me.

        Apple copied and was influenced by everyone ELSE. Period.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: The law is a Ass

          The iPhone used commodity parts, was basically samsung chips glued to an iPod and the fingerworks GUI added to a cut down port of OS X (As MS did to get WinCE for PDAs and later phones from NT).

          The original iPhone used a Samsung stock 6400 family ARM SoC.

          Other people used resistive screens because "handwriting" and Annotation was a holy grail (From early Palm and Apple Newton devices). Capacitive screens existed from 1980s but ignored due to poor resolution.

          Using a finger orientated GUI rather than miniaturised standard WIMP GUI with stylus was the ONLY "innovation" and not IMO patentable as it wasn't new, just not the fashion. Nothing else at all in the original iPhone was innovative, all stock parts. Apple bought their own ARM SoC designers later.

          1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

            Re: The law is a Ass

            No, sorry, Apple are ALL about the User Experience. The technology has never been a big deal for them. The iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, but it was the first successful MP3 player precisely because it had a UI worth a damn.

            Apple weren't the first to market with fingerprint recognition either, but they were the first to do it well enough that people were willing to use it as a matter of routine. The underlying technology really was different.

            This is what Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, and their ilk have ALL failed at, and they have failed epically. They forgot that, for all those whiz-bang functions to be of any use, they had to be usable. It's why Nokia's smartphone range sank without trace once people realised that a multi-touch display could be operated with one's own fingertips, instead of requiring a clumsy stylus.

            THAT is what Apple were -- and still are -- protecting. They spend loads of money on R&D, including developing their own OS and multiple user interfaces. Those user interfaces are the whole damned point. They are what Apple do: User Experience, not technology for its own sake.

            And no, the user experience does not begin and end with round corners and a grid of icons. Anyone who genuinely believes this is what the lawsuit was about has utterly missed the point. Samsung's early iPhone rivals were very, very obvious rip-offs. Right down to copying the same fucking icons!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The law is a Ass

              " Right down to copying the same fucking icons!"

              Interesting, never saw that icon. Is it available on Mikandi?

            2. Ancient Oracle funkie

              Re: The law is a Ass -@Sean

              Sorry Sean but when you say "And no, the user experience does not begin and end with round corners and a grid of icons. Anyone who genuinely believes this is what the lawsuit was about has utterly missed the point." I think you might be wrong. Looking at the appeal (which other than some pretty pictures is far too long and complex for my tiny brain) you'll find the following statement:

              "The three design patents at issue here cover only specific, limited portions of a smartphone’s design: a

              particular black rectangular round-cornered front face, a substantially similar rectangular round-cornered front face plus the surrounding rim or “bezel,” and a particular colorful grid of sixteen icons."

              Which suggests that Samsung's lawsuit is actually is actually round corners and a grid of icons. Maybe because those are what are covered by the patents that Samsung has been held to have breached. And absolutely no reference to the user experience nor any patent relating to any user experience.

          2. Ian Joyner

            Re: The law is a Ass

            Mage: "Nothing else at all in the original iPhone was innovative, all stock parts"

            It was innovative - it is the way Apple puts those stock parts together. That is what the others are copying.

            As I have written before Apple is a systems company - they work out how people are going to use these things. The others - like Samsung - are electronics companies.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The law is a Ass

              Really, well how is it much different to the LG Prada which came before the iPhone. Similar parts, capacitive screen, similar style (earpiece, chrome trim etc). The iPhone seems as similar to the Prada as the Samsung does to the iPhone*

              WHo cares? No one apart from Apple. Everyone gets inspiration from everyone else, Apple weren't there first and they copy more from others than they create themselves, but it doesn't matter. That is what drives the advancement in the tech industry, everyone using other's inspiration and improving on it. It is how most (nearly all) websites are created.

              http://www.engadget.com/2007/01/11/iphone-and-lg-ke850-separated-at-birth/

              1. Ian Joyner

                Re: The law is a Ass

                Anonymous Coward: >>Really, well how is it much different<

                You need to quote what you are responding too. How do we know what you are disagreeing with here? And if you post as Anonymous Coward how can we separate your comments from the other ACs?

                >>Everyone gets inspiration from everyone else, Apple weren't there first and they copy more from others than they create <<

                You make a case that Apple just copies. No - Apple uses technologies of others to build new ways of using those systems, putting them together. That has been the Apple spark - working out new paradigms or putting them together.

                You could make a case that someone who writes a novel has no right to that intellectual property if someone else comes along and copies that novel word-for-word, since it was just printed on paper and bound together like every other book.

                Like the paper in the book, Apple uses the electronic technologies to put their designs and systems on top of that. That is actually not trivial to do. But they have done it well, which is why others copy what Apple does, reaping the benefit, without doing their own research into usability. There are lots of other ways to create user interfaces - it just takes a lot to do it.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: The law is a Ass

                  "You need to quote what you are responding too. How do we know what you are disagreeing with here?"

                  Are you new around here? You just click the reply arrow to see which comment the common-tato is replying to.

                  1. Ian Joyner

                    Re: The law is a Ass

                    AC: "Are you new around here? You just click the reply arrow to see which comment the common-tato is replying to."

                    No, that doesn't work. What specifically are you replying to, not just the thread?

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: The law is a Ass

                  "No - Apple uses technologies of others to build new ways of using those systems, putting them together. That has been the Apple spark - working out new paradigms or putting them together."

                  Sometimes they do - same as everyone else in this field - sometimes they don't they just copy or iterate. What they do well is their marketing to get people to believe they are innovators, that they do things better than others, that their devices 'just work'. That is all it is, marketing.

                  It obviously works well on some people.

                  1. Ian Joyner

                    Re: The law is a Ass

                    AC: >>"No - Apple uses technologies of others to build new ways of using those systems, putting them together. That has been the Apple spark - working out new paradigms or putting them together."

                    Sometimes they do - same as everyone else in this field - sometimes they don't they just copy or iterate. What they do well is their marketing to get people to believe they are innovators, that they do things better than others, that their devices 'just work'. That is all it is, marketing.

                    It obviously works well on some people.<<

                    Your comment reflect the fact that you think people who buy Apple are weak minded and are fooled by some sort of marketing. That is the line that fools a lot of people into blind hating of Apple, like you have. You hide cowardly behind Anonymous Coward to make ridiculous statements.

                    Get it right. Apple builds excellent products first - that is the best form of marketing. They then ALSO market those products well - but one follows from the other. Other companies just market whatever rubbish they make. The marketing people are like lawyers - it's their job to defend the guilty.

                    Sure they use the ideas of others. That is usually because they get it. Like how Jobs and Apple people went to Xerox on Xerox's invitation. Jobs got what Xerox PARC were doing - Xerox, IBM, Tektronix management didn't see it, or weren't willing to risk anything on it. Jobs got it and took the risk. When the risk paid off, others wanted in.

                    Earlier, Jobs and Wozniak developed the Apple II. In contrast to other devices at the time which were just boxes with a microprocessor in them, Apple realised they needed to put together an entire system with a way to connect to a screen and peripherals like the floppy disk, which had been previously invented by Dr NakaMats in the 1950s.

                    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dr-nakamats-the-man-with-3300-patents-to-his-name-134571403/?no-ist

                    Then the IBM PC comes out, also with 5.25" floppies, but Apple moved on and used another innovation from Sony the 3.5" floppy. This was much better, did not expose the surface to fingers, stored more. But the IBM PC people derided it as not being a real floppy. They just didn't get it. But Apple persevered in its choice, risking that derision of the market place. Like those IBM PC people who didn't get it, you just don't get it and prefer to spread garbage instead.

                    Other PCs eventually got it and moved to 3.5". But then Apple was first to drop floppies altogether - more derision. Apple know when it's time to move on. Shame those who continually come here to the Register to bash forums don't.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: The law is a Ass

                      Ah... history as written by Apple, almost religious.

        2. danny_0x98

          Re: The law is a Ass

          It's easy to blame juries — and call them names — when verdicts don't go the way you like. The way I see it, having been on a couple of juries, the jury's lack of grounding in industrial design basics is the fault of Samsung's attorneys. And in this case, to this observer, Samsung's attorneys were prioritizing embarrassing Apple and antagonizing the judge. As to juries throwing out laws, it doesn't happen. I suppose occasionally a jury will ignore facts and law in its verdict as a protest or as an act of oppression, but the law stands.

          As Samsung has sued others for patent infringement, isn't it a tad disingenuous for them to argue that there are too many patents and/or rounded corners is a patent too far? As to three infringements being ruinous, the obvious counter is to not infringe a first time.

          The strongest argument is that the law's intent was to protect design that was intrinsically part of the function of the invention and therefore the US Patent Office erred in the granting of this patent. On the other hand, Apple wanted to protect its design and chose the means proscribed by law. Though we are assuming that Apple did not make a claim based on function in a patent. Every few years this court likes to swat the USPO with a "You got that wrong, but we're not going to tell you what's right."

          US patent law is injecting bad incentives into the system and intellectual property laws in general have been hijacked from implementing an intent to tolerate a limited monopoly. The mess should be addressed by legislation, but I doubt any thing good will happen.

        3. Ian Joyner

          Re: The law is a Ass

          "Apple copied and was influenced by everyone ELSE. Period."

          Wrong. Apple has spent a lot of effort working out how to use computers. They don't just draw silly icons, etc, they actually try lots of different ideas and come up with the best ideas. That is not as simple as it sounds. Yes, they have used technologies invented elsewhere, but they have showed "this is how to use this thing in the integrated whole". Apple puts things together. Examples - the mouse - previously a technical curiosity. Floppy disks - Wozniak put these on the Apple II where others used tape.

          Companies like Samsung and before them Microsoft see that, think it is simple and copy it, stealing Apple's return on investment. It is hard to protect that by patent law and maybe patent law really isn't the right thing - but it's all they have.

          I know people are going to vote down this post because it exposes the ignorance of the industry, and then they are going to say that "Apple copied from Xerox", but here is the real story that I have told before:

          ---------

          Douglas Englebart invented the mouse around 1963, not Xerox PARC. Jef Raskin at Apple was doing similar stuff to PARC and knew those guys. Raskin did his Ph.D in the 1960s on the graphics package that became Apple's Quickdraw. He was working at Apple doing similar stuff to the Xerox guys. It was Raskin who suggested to Jobs that he take up PARC's invitation to go and see what they were doing.

          PARC invited industry players in Apple, Tektronix, and IBM to view their stuff, because they had been ordered by Xerox HQ on the East Coast to drop what they were doing - it wasn't Xerox's core business. Tektronix and IBM didn't get it. But Jobs did. And the Xerox PARC guys were amazed how Jobs got it, since Xerox, Tektronix, and IBM didn't. Some at PARC realised it was the end of the road there, so those like Alan Kay and Larry Tesler left PARC to further this technology at Apple. They went on Apple's payroll, so were rewarded for their efforts.

          Apple still took considerable risks to develop this technology. The other part of the story is how PARC machines cost nearly $100,000, but Apple managed to put it in a machine selling for $10,000 (the Lisa), and then $2,000 (the Mac).

          Apple also did not exactly copy the PARC interface. Pull down menus at the top of the screen were Apple's innovation.

          Now Bill Gates did illegally copy Apple's stuff - particularly Quickdraw that was Raskin's.

          So when people say "Well, Apple just copied off Xerox" - they really don't know what they are talking about.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: The law is a Ass

        to get away with blatantly coping the iPhone

        Both of them are XDA copies, the only "innovation" is the capacitive screen.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The law is a Ass

          "Both of them are XDA copies, the only "innovation" is the capacitive screen."

          A capacitive screen was not an Apple innovation, multitouch was not an Apple innovation. The first capacitive touchscreen phone was the LG Prada. There was nothing physical in the iPhone that Apple had invented.

  2. MD Rackham

    Not a big fan of current US patent law, but penalties need to hurt, and hurt badly, if they are to have any deterrent effect.

    Too many fines and "settlements" here in the US do nothing to deter behavior because they still leave the behavior as profitable and most money goes to the lawyers not the plaintiffs. If you stand to lose all your profits, then maybe you should think twice (or more) about what you are planning to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, penalties should hurt and hurt badly, regardless if they are disproportionate. Not just in patent law, but any law; shoplifting - chop off their hand, adultery - stone them. Make the penalties hard so it never happens again, yeah that's the way, go get 'em boys.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not enough

    As a patents lawyer I feel that it is too easy for a company to settle early and too difficult for a company to start a challenge against another company's possible patent infringement. I'm pushing two kids through law school and it's extremely difficult to make ends meet when you have sports cars to service, skiing holidays to pay for, and three ex-wives. So we need companies to be able to challenge over every little detail, with a never ending back and fourth process.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: not enough

      Pushing two kids through law school? Quick send in the Child Protective Services. This is a clear case of child abuse :) :) :)

      Also, there are far too many lawyers graduating (in the US at least) for the amount of work available.

      Shoot the lot of them just because they are a blot on our society.

  4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    A Take

    I doubt the Nine Seniles will take this case. I am not sure how many of them can use a computer or smartphone. The real problem is the design patent on phone is ludicrous because there really a few very similar ways to design a phone. This is due to human anatomy which the last I heard was not changing. All smartphones will strongly resemble each other, human anatomy and functionality forces this.

  5. asdf Silver badge
    FAIL

    Congress fix it. lol good one

    >all too easy for the Supreme Court to note that it is an issue for Congress to resolve, not it.

    Which may be true but basically every other aspect of government is having to carry Congress water (executive, judicial even the Fed) because the US political system is an alpha version of Democracy/Republic that has broken down completely (after all we didn't even setup our broke ass system in Japan after WW2 because we couldn't afford for them to fail). What's funny is I bet a significant number of Americans think virtually nobody else in the world uses our political system because of American exceptionalism and that God won't allow it.

  6. armster

    past present and future

    I think most people don't remember the 'infringing' phones, or they would not claim that Samsung had no choice. Motorola built smartphones that looked completely different, and now so does Samsung. It is not just the rounded edges, it is if you can hardly tell the two apart that this is infringement.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: past present and future

      While we are looking at the past, why did the jury require Samsung to pay damages for a phone that according to that same jury did not infringe?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: past present and future

        With Apple being an American company, they had their heads so far up Uncle Sam's arse they could see his tonsils.

  7. Mage Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Design Patent approximately UK Registered Design

    It's crazy that such a pre-existing design style that is so generic and not at all distinctive was allowed to be registered by Apple.

    The Fluted Coca-Cola bottle is a good example that deserves it. A rounded rectangle with touch screen and icons does not.

    It shows how broken and partisan the US system is that Apple should be awarded this so called patent,, that it should be enforced and that the penalty is set at 100% by Congress rather than a realistic assessment of damages. If the "design patent" is really valid (which is stupid!) then Apple should only be a awarded a symbolic 1c in damages. It's not an original concept, nor is it likely anyone anywhere intending to buy an Apple phone buys an alternative because it's a similar shape.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Design Patent approximately UK Registered Design

      Please, do point us at the phone that was identical to the first iPhone, including its user experience, that Apple have allegedly infringed. I owned a bunch of so-called "smartphones" during the '00s and sure as hell don't remember seeing anything that was as usable as the iPhone.

      And no, anything with "XDA" in its name doesn't count. A stylus-based UI running on archaic versions of Windows Mobile is nothing like the iPhone UI. Not even close. That's the whole point of this lawsuit.

      Again, forget the raw technology: It's the user experience that makes the difference, and that's why Apple deserved to win this case. I remember those early Samsung clones, and they really were utterly shameless rip-offs. That they've changed their ways since then does not change this fact.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Design Patent approximately UK Registered Design @Sean

        As I've said before - if the car company that first put accelerator, brake and clutch in the order they are standardised at now had brought and won a case based on design patent and "user experience", I'd agree with you. Equally, there is no other sensible place to put the trigger of a handgun than in front of the grip below the barrel. The same applies to phones - there is really only one way to do things, and all solutions will converge towards it. Some things are just "right", and don't warrant protection.

      2. Graham Marsden
        Boffin

        @ Sean Timarco Baggaley - Re: Design Patent approximately UK Registered Design

        > Please, do point us at the phone that was identical to the first iPhone, including its user experience

        Please do try to get it into your head that that is *NOT* what is being appealed in this case!

        Quoting from the Documents linked in the original article:

        The court allowed the jury to find infringement based merely on similarities in “overall appearance” and indeed, based on “any perceived similarities or differences” whatsoever.

        Compounding this problem, the Federal Circuit allowed the jury to award Samsung’s entire profits from the sale of smartphones found to contain the patented designs—here totaling $399 million. It held that Apple was “entitled to” those entire profits no matter how little the patented design features contributed to the value of Samsung’s phones. In other words, even if the patented features contributed 1% of the value of Samsung’s phones, Apple gets 100% of Samsung’s profits.

        The Federal Circuit did not dispute that such a result is ridiculous, but said it was compelled by Section 289 of the Patent Act.

        The argument is that the Federal Circuit was *not* "complled by Section 289 of the Patent Act" and the awarding of 100% of the profits is completely disproportionate.

        I also have to wonder what would happen if they were found to have infringed *two* such "patents". Would they have to pay out *twice* the profits...?

  8. NotBob
    Thumb Down

    That said, the Supreme Court has a tendency to interject only when it comes to conflicting interpretations of existing law rather than take on an effort to rewrite the law.

    You haven't been watching. Our court system, from the supremes down, has started an effort to interject what they want the law to be even when the law doesn't say it.

  9. Wonder Warthog

    We don't need no steeking prior art!

    Never fails to amuse that the pinnacle of Apple patents is the same "design" as my dining room table - a rectangle with rounded corners.

  10. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Devil

    What's 'Realistic' Is That Shabby Samsung Owes Far More Than $1 Billion To Apple

    Comparing this history of 'smart'phones, it is blatantly clear where Samsung consistently gets its ideas, beyond the bland insecurity they inherit from Android. Samsung rips off Apple. Their crimes are constant, consistent, obvious, and continue to this day (IMHO of course).

    My recommendation: Boycott all things Samsung. That's one way to MAKE Samsung pay what they REALLY owe to Apple and the technology community they've corrupted (IMHO of course).

  11. jrwc

    Thanks U.S. courts for hitting one for the home team vs. Korea.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019