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Apple faces new suit over iPhone's touch-screen keyboard

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
A small Florida-based firm is suing iPhone maker Apple Inc, alleging that handset's new touch-screen keyboard interface infringes on patent claims dating back over 7 years.

After writing Apple in late February and receiving no response, SP Technologies, LLC on Thursday turned to a patent litigation-friendly federal court in Tyler, Texas, where it filed a formal complaint against electronics maker.

Specifically, the 4-page suit charges that Apple's iPhone keyboard interface treads on four claims outline in an August 4th, 2000 U.S. patent titled "Method and medium for readable keyboard display incapable of user termination."

The 7-year-old filing describes a "method of providing a user interface for receiving information from a user using a user immutable graphical keyboard linked to an input area, [...] invoking the graphical keyboard on a touch screen display to receive input from a user, and [...] maintaining the graphical keyboard on the touch screen display such that the user cannot move, resize, remove, or close the graphical keyboard through the user interface while the input area remains and requires input."

SP Technology argues that by selling and offering to sell its iPhone through Apple and AT&T stores located in the Texas district, Apple has and continues to commit acts of patent infringement.

"Apples advertisements, operating instructions and product descriptions direct users to purchase and use the iPhone as called for in the asserted claims," the firm wrote.

In return for Apple's "willful and deliberate" infringement, SP Technology is seeking damages adequate to compensate for the number of iPhones sold thus far, as well as a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from further infringement.

Apple's iPhone Keyboard Interface (left), A concept drawing from SP's patent (right).

Although Apple has yet to formally respond to the suit, chief executive Steve Jobs in January confidently claimed to have patented nearly every aspect of his firm's iPhone interface through a series of more than 200 patent filings.

Update: InformationWeek notes that Peter V. Boesen, the owner of the patent in question, is a surgeon who was recently sentenced to 51 months in federal penitentiary for defrauding the healthcare system.

"Civil court records show that Boesen, through SP Technologies, has filed a number of patent suits in the past, including claims against Canon, LG Electronics, and Kyocera."

In the case regarding the healthcare system, Boesen was ordered to repay the state and private insurers more than $900,000.

"Boesen is free pending an appeal," wrote InformationWeek. "No word on whether he is using an iPhone to text his lawyer."
post #2 of 34
Patent infringement is the only way to find out if anything is patented these days. There are so many patents it would take forever to search through them all.

Apple can more than afford to be sued.
post #3 of 34
Zzzzzz...
post #4 of 34
This is a repost from one I made last night on this topic.

Here we go again. Another lawsuit by a Florida company, SP technologies, contending an infringement of its 2004 patent. The company claims the patent describes a "method and medium for computer readable keyboard display incapable of user termination." Groan. It's being filed in--you guessed it--Tyler,Tx, the frivolous patent infringement capital of the US.

Between blatantly false rumors last week fueled by shoddy reporting on the part of the financial press, ,ensuing Bear raids by Hedge funds and frivolous lawsuits, AAPL is under siege by unethical groups seeking to capitalize on its success. It could use a healthy dose of good news this Tuesday. In this jittery market stoked by FUD masters (we even have at least one on this board), these incidents are insidious.
post #5 of 34
Wow, a patent for an on-screen keyboard.

I think I'm going to file a patent for all kinds of edible material made from plant matter.
post #6 of 34
Hmmm, on screen touch keyboard?
Are they serious?
- these things have been around for as long as touch-screens have been in existance
- I've worked on quite a few products with these in them - if Apple wants to give me ring, maybe I can help them out!
post #7 of 34


yawn.

I guess Apple could counter-sue the patent based on this if it's worth the time.
post #8 of 34
I have a question...

Sometimes it seems to me all this little companies file generic patents just to have an asset to make money out of.

How did this company use the patent? In which products has it been implemented?
These are the questions that one has to answer.

I am in favour of protecting innovation, but sometimes this whole story just gets out of hands, at lately much more so.

The primary goal of such patents seems to be like fishing...
"Let us prepare a generic patent (a net) and wait and wait... Sooner or later (7 years) a big fish will be trapped".

This of course is just an opinion based on the article I did read. But it nevertheless seems to get more and more ridicuolous.

I agree with the person who posted his idea of a generic patent about food made of plants. I would like to patent "any metod of user input in a device, be it through a touch screen, a stylus, a keyboard, mouse, voice or any human gesture"...
So...

I didn't produce anything but I will be able to sue everyone around and get "right compensation".
Patenting is not a way to make money in itself, it is just a way to protect one's research and development. But far too many "fishers" depend on these nets to get their paycheck (including lawyers).

Even if this company turns out to be right, too much time, legal resources and taxpayers money end up in useless court debates. My opinion of course...
post #9 of 34
It's always seemed strange to me that a case can be taken to a court in a completely unrelated state. I would have thought it would make sense for a Florida based company to have to file the suit in Florida. But then again, I have absolutely no knowledge of American or patent law.
post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinolo View Post

I have a question...

Sometimes it seems to me all this little companies file generic patents just to have an asset to make money out of.

How did this company use the patent? In which products has it been implemented?
These are the questions that one has to answer.

I'm pretty certain the Supreme Court has tried to nip this problem in the bud. A company has to show that it's current operations are at risk by the alleged patent violation. Or something like that. This way, you can't just have a shell company that holds unimplemented patents for the purposes of suing every large company in sight.

Even if my recollection is close to accurate, this won't stop such a company from filing the suit, especially in districts where judges are more friendly to hearing these shell companies out. Apparently, Tyler, Texas, whose other claim to fame is an Anheiser Busch plant, is such a friendly environment.

I'm not too worried about Apple. They must have the best lawyers in the world.
post #11 of 34
Okay, so in checking out the patent, it seems like the big idea for their technology is having an on-screen keyboard that can't be changed in any way. The iPhone keyboard is static when activated, but the buttons change when you tap on the shift key or the "123" key. It also disappears when you move to a function that does not require text input. It hides, shows, and adjusts itself depending on what you're doing. This is exactly what this silly company's patent is purporting to avoid!

It almost seems like they didn't even bother reading their own stuff.
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

It's always seemed strange to me that a case can be taken to a court in a completely unrelated state. I would have thought it would make sense for a Florida based company to have to file the suit in Florida. But then again, I have absolutely no knowledge of American or patent law.


Why hasnt this company sued Microsoft,Palm,and HP for their on screen keyboards used in some of the first palms and micosoft and hp's tablet Pc's. Some people are crazy this should be against the law.
post #13 of 34
I still think Shakespeare had it right:

"kill all the lawyers"
post #14 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by hassanpr View Post

Why hasnt this company sued Microsoft,Palm,and HP for their on screen keyboards used in some of the first palms and micosoft and hp's tablet Pc's. Some people are crazy this should be against the law.

They're not suing because it's an on-screen keyboard...they even reference previous on-screen keyboards in the patent filing. It's a specific feature of the keyboard that they're suing about. But it still doesn't make any sense to me.
post #15 of 34
Yeah...every now and then these news come up.
Who cares, tomorrow: Bigger news
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by rpm16601 View Post

I still think Shakespeare had it right:

"kill all the lawyers"

post #17 of 34
MacBook Pro 17" Glossy 2.93GHz, iPad 64GB, iPhone 4 16GB, and a lot of other assorted goodies.

If you're a troll and you have been slain. Don't be a Zombie.
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MacBook Pro 17" Glossy 2.93GHz, iPad 64GB, iPhone 4 16GB, and a lot of other assorted goodies.

If you're a troll and you have been slain. Don't be a Zombie.
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post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgabrys View Post



yawn.

I guess Apple could counter-sue the patent based on this if it's worth the time.

YUP! The Newton had this from day one!
post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by age234 View Post

Wow, a patent for an on-screen keyboard.

I think I'm going to file a patent for all kinds of edible material made from plant matter.

I'm going to dig up something that vaguely looks like maybe I patented this entire thread. Please forward compensation to me immediately, or I'm suing.

Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
-Horacio Verbitsky (el perro), journalist (b. 1942)
Reply
Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
-Horacio Verbitsky (el perro), journalist (b. 1942)
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post #20 of 34
Quote:
Although Apple has yet to formally respond to the suit, chief executive Steve Jobs in January confidently claimed to have patented nearly every aspect of his firm's iPhone interface through a series of more than 200 patent filings.

Correction: Steve Jobs said "...and boy, is it patented" or something very similar. He never said that the whole interface was patented. Surely 200 patents would lead you to believe "nearly every aspect" is safe (including parts of the iPhone that are not the interface. But Jobs never claimed to have patented nearly the whole interface.

Sorry to be nit-picky, but there is a difference.

-=|Mgkwho
post #21 of 34
Build that border fence on the north side of Texas too. Boycott Texas-no more presidents from Texas.
Cubist
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post #22 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgkwho View Post

Correction: Steve Jobs said "...and boy, is it patented" or something very similar. He never said that the whole interface was patented. Surely 200 patents would lead you to believe "nearly every aspect" is safe (including parts of the iPhone that are not the interface. But Jobs never claimed to have patented nearly the whole interface.

Sorry to be nit-picky, but there is a difference.

-=|Mgkwho

"And boy, have we patented it,"
Cubist
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post #23 of 34
I've filed a patent for...

"a mechanism for performing molecular/atomic level disassembly and reassembly of matter as a means of instant transportation."

May take a while for my lawsuit to come up, but boy will my great grandchildren be rich!!
post #24 of 34
this reminds me of the tigerdirect law suit. remember this one?

if apple did violate their patent then pay up, but i don't see anything in the described patent that's so unique. it's a feature that's been invented long before they claim they've invented it. for example, newton and palm.
post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirrel_Monkey View Post

Even if my recollection is close to accurate, this won't stop such a company from filing the suit, especially in districts where judges are more friendly to hearing these shell companies out. Apparently, Tyler, Texas, whose other claim to fame is an Anheiser Busch plant, is such a friendly environment.

It appears from the article, that Apple has to sell the device in that district for them to be able to bring the suit up there. Since Tyler, TX is becoming famous for being an easy place to bring up suits that may have little merit, wouldn't it be cute if Apple simply refused to sell anything there. Who, knows, if all the big companies that are always getting sued stopped selling there wares there (including Anheiser Busch!) I imagine things would change...





PS Beleaguered Beleaguered Beleaguered. Sorry, it is still hard to call Apple a "big company." That other "B" adjective is so underused these days...
Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
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Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
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post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinolo View Post

Patenting is not a way to make money in itself, it is just a way to protect one's research and development. But far too many "fishers" depend on these nets to get their paycheck (including lawyers)...


Exactly, it's almost like when the internet was new and a smart 16 year old decided to register as many URLs of popular companies so when they decided to build their websites they had to pay him big bucks to have their name back. After enough screaming by the big companies the legal system put a stop to it.
It's time for them to do the same with patents. If a person does not generate something that uses the patent then they should have it revoked.
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

It's always seemed strange to me that a case can be taken to a court in a completely unrelated state. I would have thought it would make sense for a Florida based company to have to file the suit in Florida. But then again, I have absolutely no knowledge of American or patent law.

I work for the legal system. It's common to apply for a suit in a court system that favors your needs. It usually has to do with the Judge and his leanings. You'll also see this done in divorce cases where a father wants custody and the attorney will file in a system where fathers can be favored by a judge. The human element is a big part of it.
post #28 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

I've filed a patent for...

"a mechanism for performing molecular/atomic level disassembly and reassembly of matter as a means of instant transportation."

May take a while for my lawsuit to come up, but boy will my great grandchildren be rich!!


I think Fischer-Price just released one of those.
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Idle View Post

Okay, so in checking out the patent, it seems like the big idea for their technology is having an on-screen keyboard that can't be changed in any way. The iPhone keyboard is static when activated, but the buttons change when you tap on the shift key or the "123" key. It also disappears when you move to a function that does not require text input. It hides, shows, and adjusts itself depending on what you're doing. This is exactly what this silly company's patent is purporting to avoid!

It almost seems like they didn't even bother reading their own stuff.

let us focus on the "can't be changed" part.

we like the keyboard in safari right, and not so much in notes? because in safari, we can ... change the size of the keyboard through user maniuplation of the phone ...

weee. this lawsuit could be good for us!
post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Apple can more than afford to be sued.

You gotta be sh---ing me. I doesn't matter who the heck you are, that is a screwed up comment. Maybe that is the same attitude the jury should take when you are the defendant.

What the hell is this world coming to.

On second thought you sound like the good doctor himself.
OMG here we go again...
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OMG here we go again...
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post #31 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

PS Beleaguered Beleaguered Beleaguered. Sorry, it is still hard to call Apple a "big company." That other "B" adjective is so underused these days...

Hey! We here in the beleaguered telecommunications industry, working for companies such as the "beleaguered telecommunications giant" formerly known as Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent, oui, oui!) still hear that other "B" adjective more than often enough, thank you very much!

And to think ... even *after* the merger, ALU still has less than 1/4th the market cap of AAPL. Oh, the humanity ...
post #32 of 34
hey,

i think the "novelty" of their patent is that you are not able to switch off
the keyboard. the picture you've posted could allow to switch off the keyboard.
pretty much like the windows mobile keyboards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgabrys View Post



yawn.

I guess Apple could counter-sue the patent based on this if it's worth the time.
post #33 of 34
Perhaps a little background would shed some light on this and other patents granted to software developers.

The keyboard application was developed in the mid-to-late nineties to support a medical software application that was being developed at the time. The platform was windows 95 on a Fujitsu tablet style PC.
At that time, the only way data could be entered was to drop the tablet into a docking station and use a physical keyboard. It would be very beneficial if a virtual keyboard could be developed as a stand-alone application that could assume a modal placement on the screen and support the full functionality of a standard keyboard. Such an application could extend beyond the current scope of the development target and actually be used by any software application for input. A reuseable object oriented solution would be the best and at the same time more difficult to develop.
THE PROLEM:
The biggest hurdle in developing this application centered around application focus. When data entry is desired to update a text box, the instant the virtual keyboard key is pressed, the text box will loose focus. The solution is to determine what object had focus previously, reset the focus back to that object and then execute the sendkeys event. This was accomplished by interrogating messages to find the needed object handle.
THE PATENT:
Because of the scope in which such an application could be used and the fact that such a tool had not existed previously, a patent was applied for and issued. The responsibility of ensuring that such an application warrants a patent is the sole responsibility of the USPTO. The process takes years.
THE EXPOSURE:
Once a patent is applied for and the patent application is published, all of the technical aspects of the software are published (on the web.) In effect, any software developer can access the code that was developed in an R & D environment. As such, an invention can be stolen right out from under you if such protection does not exist.
VALIDITY OF THE CLAIM:
The character of the holder of the patent rights has been a big issue in the way some have looked at this case. Apple has definitely going to try to get some traction with that.
The bottom line is that they are focusing on one individual in this case (and not necessarily the person writing the software.)
Isnt it every software developers dream to get a chance to hit a home run based on their intelligence and creativity?
SHOULD A VIRTUAL KEYBOARD CARRY A PATENT?
Thats a good question. I would have to believe that is something Apple would support.especially since they were granted a patent on their new iPhone virtual keyboard on 4/24/2008.




post #34 of 34
As the years tick by and I witness ever more absurd patent litigation, my tolerance of asinine behavior has shrank.

The people running SP Technologies should be ashamed of themselves. It simply isn't moral to do what they're doing. Touch screen keyboards are plainly obvious and everyone knows it. In my mind, they're trying to steal from others while getting the government hold the gun. While what they're doing is legally permissible, it is morally reprehensible.
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