Small Spanish tablet maker wins patent attack from Apple

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
After successfully defending itself from a patent infringement suit from Apple, a small Spanish tablet maker has turned the tables and is now suing Apple for anticompetitive behavior.



The company Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala, also known as "NT-K," was accused by Apple in 2010 of copying the design of its iPad. But according to Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents, the company from the Valencia region of Spain successfully defended itself from accusations of infringing upon the design-related patent.



One of the products made by the company is the NT-K Pad A91, and Android-powered touchscreen device with a 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM and 4GB of internal storage. It also features Mini USB and USB 2.0 ports.



After winning the suit originally filed by Apple, NT-K can now turn its attention to its own countersuits against the iPad maker. In August, NT-K filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in Spain, accusing the company of anticompetitive behavior.



Another lawsuit filed by NT-K against Apple seeks compensation for monetary damages, lost profits and "moral damages."



Apple, in November of 2010, asked the court for a customs ban on NT-K's products, and Spanish customs began seizing shipments of the company's tablets being shipped from China. Criminal charges were also added by Apple in December of last year, but those charges were also dismissed due to a lack of "sufficient justification."







Apple is involved in a similar lawsuit against another smaller tablet maker named JAY-tech in Germany. Like NT-K, JAY-tech has also opted to defend itself in court against Apple's accusations.



Through a number of lawsuits, Apple has aggressively defended its intellectual property across the world recently, with high-profile lawsuits against Samsung, Motorola and HTC. In 2009, Nokia and Apple also filed mutual lawsuits against one another, but the two companies resolved their dispute out of court this June, with Apple agreeing to pay Nokia for licenses.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 85
    "Apple is doomed", "This is the first step in breaking the iPad monopoly", "Ha ha, Apple, you deserve it for trying to patent a rectangle"?



    There. All the trolling is out of the way. Can we shut up about it for just once?
  • Reply 2 of 85
    oh crap, this can't be good.
  • Reply 3 of 85
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    oh crap, this can't be good.



    Ah, thanks. I forgot that one.
  • Reply 4 of 85
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Based on the few designs I've seen I don't agree with Apple's lawsuit against Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala. Stay classy, Apple.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    "Apple is doomed", "This is the first step in breaking the iPad monopoly", "Ha ha, Apple, you deserve it for trying to patent a rectangle"?



    There. All the trolling is out of the way. Can we shut up about it for just once?



    If only that would work Kasper's Automated Slave could just put that at the end of every article.
  • Reply 5 of 85
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    "Apple is doomed", "This is the first step in breaking the iPad monopoly", "Ha ha, Apple, you deserve it for trying to patent a rectangle"?



    There. All the trolling is out of the way.



    Or Apple should have just stuck to suing Asian companies in western courts.
  • Reply 6 of 85
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Based on the few designs I've seen I don't agree with Apple's lawsuit against Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala. Stay classy, Apple.



    I'm wondering if Cook will eventually handle these lawsuits differently than SJ.
  • Reply 7 of 85
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,226member
    Always good to stand up to the big guy and win.
  • Reply 8 of 85
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    oh crap, this can't be good.



    It's neither good nor bad. It's the way the game is played.



    Antitrust isn't about filing suits to defend IP. it's about using one market to advance in another that is unrelated.



    This company should have received damages for the lost sales from the patent suit. Perhaps not as much as they thought they should but that's something to take up with the court and the judge. It is very likely that this new suit will be dismissed as irrelevant.



    And before anyone starts bagging on Apple for the original suit, understand that they had to do it just like they have to sue Samsung. Trademark/Trade Dress protection requires that you defend against any and all even slightly possible offenders. If you don't then later when someone is pulling a bigger copy they can use "but Apple didn't do anything about them, and them, and them, oh and what about them and them. Clearly they don't really care if folks copy" and have the courts agree with the offender.
  • Reply 9 of 85
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by island hermit View Post


    I'm wondering if Cook will eventually handle these lawsuits differently than SJ.



    I'm wondering how much of these lawsuits were Jobs at all. To me this would seem like an overly depressing and time consuming when you have more important stuff to deal with. Leave it to the lawyers to determine who to sue and why. Same goes with Samsung. While their latest moves are desperate they actions that I'd think any multi-national company respond even if knowing they won't win.
  • Reply 10 of 85
    conradjoeconradjoe Posts: 1,887member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple, in November of 2010, asked the court for a customs ban on NT-K's products, and Spanish customs began seizing shipments of the company's tablets being shipped from China. Criminal charges were also added by Apple in December of last year, but those charges were also dismissed due to a lack of "sufficient justification."






    This sort of behavior is totally sleazy.



    Bullying little companies that don't even compete, much less infringe?



    Criminal charges which lack sufficient justification?



    What's next, hunting down and kidnapping family members of competitor's employees?





  • Reply 11 of 85
    dualiedualie Posts: 334member
    Maybe this will cause some soul-searching at Apple.
  • Reply 12 of 85
    "moral damages"... Yup, sounds like a company of Fandroids

    They really should just file their "socialist" FSF manifesto with the Spanish courts as proof of "moral damages". That's the subtext behind this lawsuit, some kind of moral crusade, originally started by Richard Stallman against evil greedy capitalists like Apple would seek to limit our "freedom" to copy content and ideas. That's what it's really about, isn't it? Some kind of ideological difference. The freedom, the moral right to take from Apple and profit. Who needs an industrial design staff when you can wait for Jony Ive to do the work and just do whatever he did. I hope the back of NT-K pad says "Desgined in California by Jony Ive".
  • Reply 13 of 85
    conradjoeconradjoe Posts: 1,887member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    And before anyone starts bagging on Apple for the original suit, understand that they had to do it just like they have to sue Samsung. Trademark/Trade Dress protection requires that you defend against any and all even slightly possible offenders.







    I snipped the misapprehensions concerning Trademark law.



    And I point out that even if you were correct about Trademark law, Apple filed a bogus Patent Infringement claim.



    There is no requirement to file bogus lawsuits in order to preserve patents.



    Apple is just trying to bully little companies. They say that when you stand up to a bully, they will back down. I certainly hope that it works in this situation, and that the company which Apple victimized is fully compensated by Apple for their abuse.
  • Reply 14 of 85
    conradjoeconradjoe Posts: 1,887member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    "moral damages"... Yup, sounds like a company of Fandroids

    They really should just file their "socialist" FSF manifesto with the Spanish courts as proof of "moral damages". That's the subtext behind this lawsuit, some kind of moral crusade, originally started by Richard Stallman against evil greedy capitalists like Apple would seek to limit our "freedom" to copy content and ideas. That's what it's really about, isn't it?



    My guess is that the countersuit has nothing to do with the FSF.



    Instead, it is a claim that Apple knowingly filed a bullshit lawsuit in order to immorally use the courts to hurt legitimate competitors, instead of competing fairly.





    That type of sleazy business tactic should be proper subject matter for the courts, IMO.
  • Reply 15 of 85
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    It clearly IS copying the iPad?s look?without seeing the iPad, they?d never have made it look the way it does. Tablets don?t HAVE to look like iPads, and not all of them do.



    But it?s not copying nearly as closely as some. I?m not surprised they lost.



    And in defending patents/trade dress/etc, legally I don?t think Apple CAN choose to let the ?little guy? get away with it. They have to defend their creations from everyone. Sometimes they lose.
  • Reply 16 of 85
    That 16:9 aspect ratio is very ugly on tablets. This device should be banned for being ugly.
  • Reply 17 of 85
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    Criminal charges were also added by Apple in December of last year, but those charges were also dismissed due to a lack of "sufficient justification."





    I am a big supporter of Apple defending its IP, but the criminal charge went well beyond the pale.



    to Apple for bullying.
  • Reply 18 of 85
    In Foss's description of the suit he notes that the spanish judge was in a community of 25,500 people, one who likely sees many world class lawsuits (sarcasm). I would think that apple might want to appeal this finding and take the suit up to a more regional or national level where the legal system is likely less related to the petitioner.

    Courts can be capricious particularly when they get out of their comfort zone.

    I would think that this company would have filed in the most friendly court it could find.
  • Reply 19 of 85
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    It's neither good nor bad. It's the way the game is played.



    Antitrust isn't about filing suits to defend IP. it's about using one market to advance in another that is unrelated.



    This company should have received damages for the lost sales from the patent suit. Perhaps not as much as they thought they should but that's something to take up with the court and the judge. It is very likely that this new suit will be dismissed as irrelevant.



    The bigger problem for Apple is that this suit will be used as an example of how any iPad looking device stands on shaky grounds, including Samsung's.



    I really doubt that the judge will dismiss anything here as irrelevant since Apple asked the courts to ban the product and had them seized.
  • Reply 20 of 85
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    It clearly IS copying the iPad?s look?without seeing the iPad, they?d never have made it look the way it does. Tablets don?t HAVE to look like iPads, and not all of them do.



    Do you have any examples? The pics I've seen look like any other cheap Android-based tablet with no possible way it could be mistaken for an iPad.
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