Broad multitouch patent granted to Apple seen as 'huge blow' to rivals

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple this week was awarded an iPhone-related patent first filed in December of 2007, a victory that intellectual property experts believe will be significant.



On Tuesday, Apple was granted U.S. Patent No 7,966,578, entitled "Portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content." And patent experts who spoke with PC Magazine said Apple's ownership of the invention could allow it to "bully" its rivals.



The story by author Damon Poeter characterized the patent as a "huge blow" to companies like HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Research in Motion and Nokia, who make competing smartphones with touchscreen displays.



"Apple's patent essentially gives it ownership of the capacitive multitouch interface the company pioneered with its iPhone, said one source who has been involved involved in intellectual property litigation on similar matters," the report said. "That's like to produce a new round of lawsuits over the now-ubiquitous multitouch interfaces used in smartphones."



The article noted that it's likely Apple could license its invention to other companies, earning the Cupertino, Calif., company a "tidy new income stream" from its rivals.



Over the years, Apple has been granted numerous patents related to multitouch (1, 2), and has even used its ownership of those inventions to take on its rivals in court. Late last year, Apple countersued Motorola, accusing the company of violating six patents related to multitouch.







Similarly, after HTC and Google brought multitouch features to the Android mobile operating system with the Nexus One smartphone, Apple filed a lawsuit against HTC. Apple has alleged that functionality within Android is in violation of patents Apple owns related to the iPhone.



Apple's latest intellectual property victory is particularly significant given that the current highly competitive smartphone landscape is fraught with litigation. Apple is currently engaged in a lawsuit with rival Samsung, in which it has accused Samsung of copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad.



Apple also recently settled its patent dispute with Finnish handset maker Nokia. To conclude their lengthy legal battle, Apple agreed to pay licensing fees to Nokia.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 115
    It will be interesting to see where this leads. Apple getting a royalty on every other smartphone sold? Tidy little income stream indeed.
  • Reply 2 of 115
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    Your touch belongs to us!
  • Reply 3 of 115
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,423member
    Really AI should be ashamed of itself! This is not a broad patent at all and in fact is rather narrow. I do hope this post ends up first simply to make sure everybody realizes this article is completely bogus.



    So I urge everyone to actually read the claims in the patent before responding to this article. The patent is good for Apple but it is by no means broad.
  • Reply 4 of 115
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,665member
    All the Android phones just use the Android OS to detect multi-touch. For example, the Google Map application is written by Google. It will respond to multi-touch for any Android phone.
  • Reply 5 of 115
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,110member
    There are only two outcomes because of this.



    Incredibly good or incredibly bad.



    Incredibly good: This patent is upheld and everyone on the planet pays royalties to Apple for the tens of millions of devices shipped already. If they want to stop, they start making devices that aren't directly copied from Apple.



    Incredibly bad: This patent is seen as "too broad" and overturned, along with Apple's others, making it possible for all Android devices to look identical to the iPhone in both hardware and software, even allowing for identical icons.



    I don't see a middle ground happening.
  • Reply 6 of 115
    gprovidagprovida Posts: 244member
    Apple took a huge risk and leapt into the dark on the iPhone, I won't repeat the nay sayers at the time. It was ground breaking, innovative, and industry transforming, therefore, it would seem that Apple should benefit from that risk and not be merely copied. Innovation can happen, e.g., MS well received Windows Mobile 7 UI and model, it makes it hard for copycats to steal the innovation.



    Apple does not do licenses, it is not their business model, so at a minimum if the patent stands they will expect competitors to do real innovation and differentiation at least at the UI level demonstrated by MS. For Google this will be a challenge, since their innovation is basically to copy Apple with free software on top of free LINUX. And rights holders, MPEG, JAVA, and Apple should be happy with the minor tweaks done to "differentiate." This disregard for license rights is systemic at Google and contributes to their rep with content providers etc.



    Google is clearly able to innovate [some of their Android features e.g., notifications], but they've got to make the serious investment in real innovation across the OS and UI. That costs money and time, 2 years for MS, and that give Apple a market advantage. So they copy and then claim the market needs them to compete in spite of patent rights violations, that by the way, Job's emphasized at the launch in 2007. So my guess is Apple is going to want compensation for past abuses from Google or the cell phone companies, especially SAMSUNG, HTC, and Motorola and that they desist in copying Apple and do their own innovation, maybe license MS OS and UI. This will be irony, but reflects the right thing being done.
  • Reply 7 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gprovida View Post


    Apple took a huge risk and leapt into the dark on the iPhone, I won't repeat the nay sayers at the time. It was ground breaking, innovative, and industry transforming, therefore, it would seem that Apple should benefit from that risk and not be merely copied. Innovation can happen, e.g., MS well received Windows Mobile 7 UI and model, it makes it hard for copycats to steal the innovation.



    Apple does not do licenses, it is not their business model, so at a minimum if the patent stands they will expect competitors to do real innovation and differentiation at least at the UI level demonstrated by MS. For Google this will be a challenge, since their innovation is basically to copy Apple with free software on top of free LINUX. And rights holders, MPEG, JAVA, and Apple should be happy with the minor tweaks done to "differentiate." This disregard for license rights is systemic at Google and contributes to their rep with content providers etc.



    Google is clearly able to innovate [some of their Android features e.g., notifications], but they've got to make the serious investment in real innovation across the OS and UI. That costs money and time, 2 years for MS, and that give Apple a market advantage. So they copy and then claim the market needs them to compete in spite of patent rights violations, that by the way, Job's emphasized at the launch in 2007. So my guess is Apple is going to want compensation for past abuses from Google or the cell phone companies, especially SAMSUNG, HTC, and Motorola and that they desist in copying Apple and do their own innovation, maybe license MS OS and UI. This will be irony, but reflects the right thing being done.



    Well said! I agree, Apple has put years of resources in to the design and development of their products and software. It is wrong for other companies just to be able to get and iPhone and reverse engineer it.
  • Reply 8 of 115
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,989member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    Your touch belongs to us!



    No, you got it wrong. The proper response is "All your touch are belong to us."
  • Reply 9 of 115
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,716member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    There are only two outcomes because of this.



    Incredibly good or incredibly bad.



    Incredibly good: This patent is upheld and everyone on the planet pays royalties to Apple for the tens of millions of devices shipped already. If they want to stop, they start making devices that aren't directly copied from Apple.



    Incredibly bad: This patent is seen as "too broad" and overturned, along with Apple's others, making it possible for all Android devices to look identical to the iPhone in both hardware and software, even allowing for identical icons.



    I don't see a middle ground happening.



    Well the courts will have to go back to when this patent was filed and see how many other mobile devices were already in the market with capacitive multi touch screens (0) and determine the validity of the patent. The fact that there are so many multi touch mobile devices today on the market, should not have any affect on the ruling. The courts may decide at this point that Apple cannot prohibit or ban other devices, but at the very least, Apple will be able to charge a fair licensing fee for the use of the IP.
  • Reply 10 of 115
    gigawiregigawire Posts: 196member
    Boom!
  • Reply 11 of 115
    gigawiregigawire Posts: 196member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Really AI should be ashamed of itself! This is not a broad patent at all and in fact is rather narrow. I do hope this post ends up first simply to make sure everybody realizes this article is completely bogus.



    So I urge everyone to actually read the claims in the patent before responding to this article. The patent is good for Apple but it is by no means broad.





    Thank you internet forums lawyer for you interpretation.
  • Reply 12 of 115
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gprovida View Post


    Apple does not do licenses, it is not their business model



    Sure they do, it's just not their primary income stream, but they do license their tech in lots of instances. In some casees it's an opensource license such as webkit. In some cases they're under FRAND terms such as Apple's AAC patents which were included in the MP4 standard. In some instances as part of cross licensing agreements such as with MS.



    In the case of multitouch patents Apple will probably end up licensing, albeit at a steep price - a refusal to do so would mean that every other handset maker would fight tooth and nail to have them invalidated.



    So while Apple don't license entire OSes the way that Google or MS do, they certainly do license patents.
  • Reply 13 of 115
    joseph ljoseph l Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Really AI should be ashamed of itself! This is not a broad patent at all and in fact is rather narrow. I do hope this post ends up first simply to make sure everybody realizes this article is completely bogus.



    So I urge everyone to actually read the claims in the patent before responding to this article. The patent is good for Apple but it is by no means broad.



    Ya know, when you produce one of the most popular blog sites for all things Apple, then maybe we'll take your word for it. As of now, I trust AI's reporting until proven wrong (and I don't remember that ever happening).
  • Reply 13 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Really AI should be ashamed of itself! This is not a broad patent at all and in fact is rather narrow. I do hope this post ends up first simply to make sure everybody realizes this article is completely bogus.



    So I urge everyone to... etc etc



    Why don't you summarize it for us (since you seem to already know), instead of yelling and claiming AI should be ashamed, etc.?
  • Reply 15 of 115
    macvictamacvicta Posts: 346member
    I'm withholding judgement until I can see another report from someone other than PCMag. All of these stories on Apple sites and blogs point back to that one article and I'm not sure I can trust the info inside it.
  • Reply 16 of 115
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,156moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Really AI should be ashamed of itself! This is not a broad patent at all and in fact is rather narrow.



    It can be as narrow as ever, as long as it's just broad enough that the competition infringe on it, which seems entirely likely in this case. It doesn't have to be used in an offensive move but a defensive one.
  • Reply 17 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gprovida View Post


    Apple took a huge risk and leapt into the dark on the iPhone.



    I fully agree with you. But I'd like to add that Apple's revolutionary innovation with the iPhone was comparable to their innovation with the Macintosh back in the mid-80s. The significant difference here is that with the iPhone, Apple aggressively patented their ideas before showing their hand to the competition. The old saying goes something like: "Those who don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." In this case, I believe Steve Jobs fully learned the lessons and we're not going to see a Mac/Windows repeat!
  • Reply 18 of 115
    slapppyslapppy Posts: 331member
    Now lets see what happens. It's going to be wild.
  • Reply 19 of 115
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Incredibly bad: This patent is seen as "too broad" and overturned, along with Apple's others, making it possible for all Android devices to look identical to the iPhone in both hardware and software, even allowing for identical icons.



    I don't see a middle ground happening.



    There are lots of different kinds of IP and this sort of software patent is only one of the arrows in Apple's quiver. iPhone's UI is also protected by registered TMs on the icons, by design patents on the enclosures and by trade dress. The multi-touch patents are potentially the most lucrative because they would apply to practically any smartphone made from here on, but the case against Samsung doesn't rest on them.



    So middle ground is entirely possible.
  • Reply 20 of 115
    Pardon me whilst I go grab some popcorn, because this is going to be one mother of a show!
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