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German court stays Samsung v. Apple 'VoiceOver' suit, could result in patent invalidity

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
The Mannheim Regional Court on Friday ordered a stay on a Samsung lawsuit against Apple, citing a parallel nullity case that could invalidate the Korean company's patent being asserted against the iPhone's VoiceOver functionality.

VoiceOver
Apple's VoiceOver menu as seen on an iPhone 5.


At issue, notes FOSS Patent's Florian Mueller, is the German version of Samsung's U.S. Patent No. 6,937,700 covering a "Device for and method of outputting data on display section of portable telephone," an accessibility property that allows visually impaired users to have on-screen text read aloud.

Apple's solution, called VoiceOver, accomplishes the basic functions described in Samsung's patent. From Apple's webpage describing the functionality as it applies to the iPhone:

With VoiceOver enabled, you?ll use a different but simple set of gestures to control iPhone. For example, instead of tapping to activate a button, tap the button to hear a description of it, double-tap to activate it, and swipe up or down to adjust a slider.

When an item on the screen is selected, a black rectangle called the VoiceOver Cursor appears around it. The VoiceOver Cursor is displayed for the benefit of sighted users with whom you may be sharing your phone. When you prefer privacy, VoiceOver includes a screen curtain that turns off the display so no one can read it without your knowledge.


Mueller says that voice over functionality as described in Samsung's patent has "undisputedly existed before," and Apple forced the issue by challenging the asserted IP. In an attempt to salvage the case, Samsung narrowed its claims by focusing on a specific function that generates voice output for on-screen icons. An example would be app badge icons in iOS.

As for Samsung's latest play, Presiding Judge Andreas Voss is dubious that Samsung's claim construction will have an effect on the parallel nullity case.

While the VoiceOver option may not affect an overwhelming number of iPhone users, the deprecation of such technology could have a meaningful impact for visually impaired users.

?For decades, we have heavily invested in pioneering the development of technological innovations in the mobile industry, which have been constantly reflected in our products,? a Samsung spokesman told AllThingsD on Friday. ?We continue to believe that Apple has infringed our patented mobile technologies, and we will continue to take the measures necessary to protect our intellectual property rights.?
post #2 of 11
That last statement oozes irony
post #3 of 11

Blah blah blah we're samsung we have patents that we don't use in our devices, blah blah suing apple cause we lost, blah.

post #4 of 11

Another patent that shouldn't have been granted, but probably seemed cool back in 2000.

 

The example Samsung gave in the US version was of reading out items from the statusbar, like the time or cell strength or battery or number of pending messages.  However, their claims could be applied to anything on the screen that is read back using special key(s).

 

Not only should it probably be nullified, but it doesn't seem to fit touchscreen gesture usage.  Unless you think of sets of fingers as "mode keys".

post #5 of 11
This is ridiculous. They're taking away features for the impaired just for money. This is crossing the line.

 

 


Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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post #6 of 11
Scumbag samsung!
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by logandigges View Post

This is ridiculous. They're taking away features for the impaired just for money. This is crossing the line.

If this were to nullify their patent, does it necessarily mean that they can no longer use the feature? If it does, they could either license existing patents or patent another implementation couldn't they?
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by iSteelers View Post


If this were to nullify their patent, does it necessarily mean that they can no longer use the feature?

No it doesn't. There used to be lots of software features, even entire programs, that weren't claimed or protected by patents. Then came the late 80's.1hmm.gif

melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by logandigges View Post

This is ridiculous. They're taking away features for the impaired just for money. This is crossing the line.

 

Not likely the feature would be removed.  Even if the patent passed muster with the courts the end result would be damages calculated and possibly Samsung and Apple negotiating licensing fees.  I don't see Samsung pulling an Apple and trying to assert that this patent is unique to Samsung and they would not license it under any circumstances.  So it would be up to Apple to decide which is more important to them- features for the impaired or saving money on royalties for using other peoples patented IP.

 

Either way it is probably moot as hopefully the patent gets invalidated.  All these patents of features that have been in use for decades but then get freshly repatented with a tag 'for mobile devices' or 'for a touchscreen' rarely hold up in court.

post #10 of 11
"For decades, we have heavily invested in pioneering the development of technological innovations in the mobile industry, which have been constantly reflected in our products,? a Samsung spokesman told AllThingsD on Friday. ?We continue to believe that Apple has infringed our patented mobile technologies, and we will continue to take the measures necessary to protect our intellectual property rights."

Oh this made me laugh. Should have read more like, "for decades we have invested in ripping off Sony, Nokia, BB, HP and Apple, and it reflects in our products. We continue to deny we stole Apple IP, as we're so arrogant, we think anyone will believe whatever we tell them, and will file frivolous law suits against Apple to muddy the waters, as we have no respect for others intellectual property rights."

30/40, your serve, Samescum.
post #11 of 11

samsung knows no bounds

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