New patent suit targets automatic screen orientation tech in iOS

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    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. 


  • Reply 2 of 29
    Does Window 8 have auto screen rotation?
  • Reply 3 of 29


    Parasites

  • Reply 4 of 29
    softekysofteky Posts: 126member


    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".

  • Reply 5 of 29
    isaidsoisaidso Posts: 750member

    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.

  • Reply 6 of 29
    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
  • Reply 7 of 29
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    Wow, another patent that Apple seems to have "borrowed". I'm wondering whether the iPhone was really "revolutionary".
  • Reply 9 of 29

    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.

  • Reply 10 of 29
    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?
  • Reply 11 of 29
    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"…
  • Reply 12 of 29
    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
  • Reply 13 of 29

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

  • Reply 14 of 29
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,065member
    softeky wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 29


    "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.

  • Reply 16 of 29


    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.


    image

  • Reply 17 of 29
    leighrleighr Posts: 161member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 29


    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.

  • Reply 19 of 29

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    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.

     


     


     


    This seems like a pretty air-tight case for MobileMedia Ideas.  I'm not sure why Apple doesn't just pay them the licensing fees required for using their ideas as covered by their patent.  


     


    Apple should know as well as anyone what's required of them by law when exploiting the patents of others, and the legal obligation it has to either not infringe on the patent or to offer monetary compensation to the owner of the patent for its use, the basic ideas which form the basis of our intellectual property system. 


     


    The alternative for Apple to avoid paying any licensing fees to MobileMedia Ideas is to withdraw the screen rotation feature from their IOS devices altogether, just like how Samsung removed the "rubber-banding" "bounce scroll" from their Galaxy smartphones and tablets even though the US Patent Office later invalidated Apple's patent.


     


    And like in that Apple v. Samsung lawsuit, the US federal judge that ruled on allowing this case to move forward should also grant a preliminary injunction on all Apple IOS products which infringe on MobileMedia Ideas' screen rotation patent, just like the preliminary injunction that was granted on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 on behalf of Apple before a verdict in the case was even reached.  


     


    This needs to be done if the US courts wish to demonstrate fairness and parity for ALL parties involved in these patent trials, and not as some have suggested, act as an illegal conduit for unfair trade practices that benefit US companies against foreign competition in violation of WTO rules.


     


    What's highly ironic about this case is that Apple is by far the most aggressive and relentless PATENT TROLL in the tech industry, filing multiple lawsuits at will claiming infringement against any and all competition in any country, no matter how frivolous and merit-less the case may be. 


     


    And yet Apple is also by far the most aggressive and relentless PATENT INFRINGER in the tech industry, filing multiple lawsuits at will to invalidate any and all patents claims by any competition in any country, no matter how strong and unassailable the patent may be.


     


    Given its aggressive patent trolling stance, it's even more ironic that Apple by default refuses to pay any licensing fees to any patent holder for the use of any patent without a lengthy and expensive court battle aimed at forcing a dropped claim or advantageous settlement with the claimant by draining them of their legal war chest.


     


    As examples of Apple's blatant and wanton disregard for the intellectual property rights and ownership of other patent and trademark holders, JUST THIS WEEK: 


     


    1) a Texas court ordered Apple to pay $368 million in damages to VirnetX for infringing on its VPN patents; 


     


    2) a Wisconsin court threw out Apple's lawsuit against Motorola Mobility in which Apple was arguing to NOT PAY the license fees dictated by Motorola for using its wireless patents;


     


    3) Mexico's 18th District Appellate Court ruled AGAINST Apple in its trademark infringement case against the Mexican telecommunications company, iFone, claiming iFone infringed on its "iPhone" trademark DESPITE "iFone" having been registered by the company in 2003, or four year BEFORE Apple introduced the iPhone. 


     


    And this is in ADDITION to the ruling on Friday handed down by the federal judge in the District of Delaware court allowing MobileMedia Ideas to pursue its lawsuit against Apple for infringing on its screen rotation patent.


     


    Despite Apple CEO Tim Cook's assertion earlier this year that his company's patent trolling was "about something much more important than patents or money", but rather "values" and "originality and innovation", Apple's behavior in the courtroom has demonstrated the EXACT opposite.


     


    Rather than celebrate "values, originality and innovation", Apple's modus operandi seems to be "take, steal and borrow", creating products from patents owned by VirnetX, Motorola Mobility, and MobileMedia Ideas, and REFUSING to pay for them.


     


    In the end, Apple is nothing but an anti-consumer, monopolistic corporate bully of the worst kind, hiding behind the facade of defending "originality and innovation" to masks its true intentions of patent trolling and injunction seeking, and devoting bottomless legal resources to exploiting a broken patent system as an underhanded means to "compete" with its increasingly superior competition by keeping their products off the shelves and out of the hands of the consumer.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    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.
Sign In or Register to comment.