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New patent suit targets automatic screen orientation tech in iOS

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
A U.S. federal judge on Friday handed down a ruling allowing non-practicing entity MobileMedia Ideas to move forward with a suit against Apple's alleged violating a screen rotation patent, and said it's up to a jury to decide whether the iOS solution is in infringement.

Judge Sue Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, denied Apple's attempt to have the case thrown out, reports CNET, meaning the so-called patent troll can proceed with a jury trial regarding the screen rotation patent.

At issue is Apple's alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,441,828 for an "Image display apparatus" which broadly defines a method of changing the orientation of an image on a portable device based on a specific set of factors. Most of the patent describes the basic idea of changing a screen's output from portrait mode to landscape, though it does go into some detail on how the feat could be accomplished.

Sony Patent
Illustration from Sony's '828 patent with "display" orientation button. | Source: USPTO


While some embodiments focus on manually changing the orientation, a feature absent in iOS devices, there is one claim that stands out as being very similar to Apple's solution.

Claim 6 of the '828 patent reads:

[?]means for determining a direction in which an image of the image signal is to be displayed on the image displaying means according to a posture in which the apparatus is placed and information on a direction in which an image of the image signal is to be displayed read from the recording medium.


In its attempts to have the case thrown out, Apple cited prior art, including U.S. Patent No. 6,563,535, which outlines a method for keeping the image on a device's display "upright" in any orientation.

Flowchart
Flowchart showing the '828 patent's procedure of operations.


Adding to the complexity of the case is MobileMedia Ideas itself, a company jointly owned by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA, the latter being a licenser of patents for MPEG standards. The '828 patent at the heart of today's ruling was filed by Sony in 1999 and looks to be in relation to technology for a digital picture frame.

The non-practicing entity holds over 300 patents relating in some form to almost all modern consumer electronics. In 2010, MobileMedia Ideas announced it would be licensing properties from its patent portfolio for "smart phones, mobile phones and other portable devices including personal computers, laptops, netbooks, personal media players, e-book readers, cameras and hand-held game consoles." In that same year, Apple was hit with the Delaware complaint, with MobileMedia Ideas claiming violation of 18 patents.

Since the first iOS device was release with the original iPhone in 2007, all products in the line have featured automatic screen orientation capabilities.
post #2 of 27
Adding to the complexity of the case is MobileMedia Ideas itself, a company jointly owned by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA, the latter being a licenser of patents for MPEG standards. The '828 patent at the heart of today's ruling was filed by Sony in 1999 and looks to be in relation to technology for a digital picture frame.

Another $1 per iPhone/iPad license. 

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post #3 of 27
Does Window 8 have auto screen rotation?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #4 of 27

Parasites

post #5 of 27

I still have an old Apple grey-level screen (hiding in the basement). Used to connect it to my old MacII SI. The screen had two orientations landscape and portrait. Flip the screen and the image flipped to maintain the correct horizon. Was one of the first whole-page screens I ever used. That has to be close to 20 years ago. I wonder why the judge rejected the "prior art".

post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by softeky View Post

I still have an old Apple grey-level screen (hiding in the basement). Used to connect it to my old MacII SI. The screen had two orientations landscape and portrait. Flip the screen and the image flipped to maintain the correct horizon. Was one of the first whole-page screens I ever used. That has to be close to 20 years ago. I wonder why the judge rejected the "prior art".

I was wondering about those old "flip" monitors as well.

post #7 of 27
If I am reading the patent correctly, their invention includes the use of some kind of button that is pressed, either by a human finger or by being placed such that it is triggered when the frame is placed on a particular edge against a flat surface (table etc) that causes the image to rotate.

When you get a patent it is for whatever is specifically in your application. Apple has a very valid argument that their internal sensor method is something completely different and this group doesn't have a patent on the idea of images rotating but on their particular and non copied method

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post #8 of 27
For this specific patent, there was clearly another prior art. I don't know if many people are old enough to remember this: One of the earlier full page monitor for Macintosh, Radius, had a "flipper" monitor that used a mercury switch in a CRT to detect orientation of monitor and the software dims the screen and redraws the screen with the new orientation. It was really popular in 1990.

I remember this because I was interning for Zenith, which was OEM for Raidus, and I worked on the said monitors at the time.
post #9 of 27
Wow, another patent that Apple seems to have "borrowed". I'm wondering whether the iPhone was really "revolutionary".
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post

For this specific patent, there was clearly another prior art. I don't know if many people are old enough to remember this: One of the earlier full page monitor for Macintosh, Radius, had a "flipper" monitor that used a mercury switch in a CRT to detect orientation of monitor and the software dims the screen and redraws the screen with the new orientation. It was really popular in 1990.
I remember this because I was interning for Zenith, which was OEM for Raidus, and I worked on the said monitors at the time.

 

That's not prior art on an Embedded Device.

post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrrodriguez View Post

Wow, another patent that Apple seems to have "borrowed". I'm wondering whether the iPhone was really "revolutionary".

Do you understand what a revolution is?
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrrodriguez View Post

Wow, another patent that Apple seems to have "borrowed". I'm wondering whether the iPhone was really "revolutionary".

If you count tangible products, yes. If you count patent "trolls"…
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Right_said_fred View Post


Do you understand what a revolution is?

 

I was gonna use innovative but I don't think it would've been trollish enough :D
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

 

That's not prior art on an Embedded Devi

 

The orientation detection circuitry (switch) was embedded in the monitor and the signal was sending to the microcomputer (Macintosh II video card)

 

http://patents.stackexchange.com/questions/454/prior-art-for-screen-that-rotates-based-on-orientation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh5175Q4Vgo

http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpost.php?p=48683&postcount=23

post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by softeky View Post

I still have an old Apple grey-level screen (hiding in the basement). Used to connect it to my old MacII SI. The screen had two orientations landscape and portrait. Flip the screen and the image flipped to maintain the correct horizon. Was one of the first whole-page screens I ever used. That has to be close to 20 years ago. I wonder why the judge rejected the "prior art".

Yes I remember the black and white Radius portrait monitors that we used with the Mac Plus 30SEs and PageMaker could also rotate to landscape. That has to be even more than twenty years ago I'd have thought! However I'd think an actual computer (which an iDevice is) rotating its screen rather than a stand alone monitor might qualify as a different thing patent wise.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
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post #16 of 27

"Changing a screen's orientation" itself shouldn't be patentable. A method of doing so? Yes. And if someone comes up with a new (maybe better?) way of doing it, that's their idea, not yours…

 

It's like this. There are lots of different patents for the concept known as 'the mousetrap'. Each one applies a different method to achieve the same end (catching a mouse) slightly differently. Some better than others. None of them get to patent the NOTION of catching a mouse. Only the MEANS to that end. There's no licensing requirements between these different methods, so long as each method is unique.

 

I read through these patents, and it seems to me the Patent Office has sometimes lost sight of this. They are allowing people to patent notions, and not requiring means and methods as the primary measure for a patent claim.

 

The existence of a "manual operation" requirement in THIS method should disqualify it from any claim against the automated method used by Apple. This method requires a 'button'. Apple's method uses a sensor. This method requires human intervention. Apple's does not.

 

The whole point of this process, of patents, is to protect one's innovative approach to solving a "problem". Multiple people can come up with solutions to problems. We don't patent the problem, only the solutions. And the best ones are usually most successful.

 

That's how innovation is encouraged. These kinds of patents and suits have the opposite effect.

 

 

Is Apple really using their method of screen rotation? I just don't see it.

post #17 of 27

I can't understand that just porting the same idea and technology to a different device makes said idea patentable again.

It is not new, just slapped on a different device.

1confused.gif

post #18 of 27
I don't think there's a single smart phone or tablet available that doesn't orientate itself to how it's being held (if it didn't no one would buy it) it's just common sense. So either every other smartphone/tablet maker will have to admit that they copied apple (contrary to the UK ruling) OR admit to violating the same patent - if this case is upheld.
post #19 of 27
Originally Posted by leighr View Post
I don't think there's a single smart phone or tablet available that doesn't orientate itself to how it's being held (if it didn't no one would buy it) it's just common sense. 

 

Ah, that's an assumption too large.


So either every other smartphone/tablet maker will have to admit that they copied apple (contrary to the UK ruling)…

 

Not what the UK ruling was about, nor were these patents what it was about.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrrodriguez View Post

Wow, another patent that Apple seems to have "borrowed". I'm wondering whether the iPhone was really "revolutionary".

SEEMS is the keyword. The truth is that Apple may be in the clear as their method is totally different as the one in this patent

It's easy to see what's going on. This judge knows that everyone will be talking about this case and if a refusal to hear is handed down she'll look like she's biased towards Apple. so let it be heard and the whole matter will be on record and so forth. Slap the loser with paying the court costs if possible.

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post #21 of 27

Once again, ridiculousness.    You're not supposed to be able to obtain a patent on ideas, only on a methodology for implementation.    So there should be no patent on rotating screen displays.   There should be a patent on a particular non-obvious method of achieving it.   So if you have some sort of gyroscope or a liquid switch or whatever, that should be patentable.   But not the idea that the screen rotates and pixels are moved from one place to another.

 

And you should not be able to get a patent on a general idea.    Otherwise, companies like Nikon and Canon would not be able to obtain patents on individual lens designs.    In general, all lens designs are the same.   But specifically, they use a different combination of lens elements, holders for those lens elements, construction methods, placement of focus motors, etc.  That's what gets the patent. 

 

I think companies are going to take the attitude that "we're going to get sued anyway, so let's just do what we want and worry about it later".    That's not a good way for business to have to operate.

post #22 of 27
Quote:

Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Claim 6 of the '828 patent reads:

"...means for determining a direction in which an image of the image signal is to be displayed on the image displaying means according to a posture in which the apparatus is placed and information on a direction in which an image of the image signal is to be displayed read from the recording medium."

 

This would seem to imply that meta data that was recorded along with the image would be a factor an important factor in determining which direction is up and that data would be used to orient the image. That and the fact that a button for rotation is shown in the first diagram as well as being described in the patent text.

 

I may be misreading this since it is so clearly written. s/

 

P.S. I also remember the Radius monitor quite well (mainly due to the price).

post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrrodriguez View Post

Wow, another patent that Apple seems to have "borrowed". I'm wondering whether the iPhone was really "revolutionary".

 

'Revolutionary' has its roots in Copernicus' de revolutionibus orbium coelestium. That is his view of the workings of the celestial spheres, completely altered the accepted notion of the way the universe was.

post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post

For this specific patent, there was clearly another prior art. I don't know if many people are old enough to remember this: One of the earlier full page monitor for Macintosh, Radius, had a "flipper" monitor that used a mercury switch in a CRT to detect orientation of monitor and the software dims the screen and redraws the screen with the new orientation. It was really popular in 1990.
I remember this because I was interning for Zenith, which was OEM for Raidus, and I worked on the said monitors at the time.

You beat me to it. Clearly an example of how the general idea of a device being able to alter its mode of operation based on physical changes detected by some method is too generic and patents should focus on more specific and rigidly defined implementations.  For example if I designed the monitor using a mercury switch and got a patent then you designed a monitor that did used a magnetic switch that might or might not be similar enough - maybe a sensor reading the magnetic field of the power supply (which would be fixed in the base). Hmm, slippery slope perhaps if "sensor" is the key. But a monitor where you need to go into a menu and change the settings manually clearly would not be infringing on a device that included sensor to react automatically - since that it the distinguishing factor which might have an impact in the market place and affect profits. 

post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post

For this specific patent, there was clearly another prior art. I don't know if many people are old enough to remember this: One of the earlier full page monitor for Macintosh, Radius, had a "flipper" monitor that used a mercury switch in a CRT to detect orientation of monitor and the software dims the screen and redraws the screen with the new orientation. It was really popular in 1990.
I remember this because I was interning for Zenith, which was OEM for Raidus, and I worked on the said monitors at the time.

Did you check to see if that was cited as prior art in this patent's application?

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post #26 of 27
If they are partially owned by Sony and that Sony has the patented prior art acknowledged by Apple they can't be dismissed as just another "non-practicing" patent-troll...
post #27 of 27
%u201CPatent troll%u201D

Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, shell company, etc. It all means one thing: %u201Cwe%u2019re using your invention and we%u2019re not going to pay or stop%u201D. This is just dissembling by large invention thieves and their paid puppets to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft. The fact is, many of the large multinationals and their puppets who defame inventors in this way themselves make no products in the US or create any American jobs and it is their continued blatant theft which makes it impossible for the true creators to do so. All they know about patents is they don't have any.

It%u2019s about property rights. They should not only be for the rich and powerful. Show me a country with weak or ineffective property rights and I%u2019ll show you a weak economy with high unemployment. Does that remind you of any present day country?

Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don%u2019t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html#pt.
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