Touch sensor firm issues legal warning to Apple over iPhone

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Touch sensor specialist Quantum Research has yet another bone to pick with Apple, this time over the iPhone's underlying touch-screen technology.



The Southampton-based firm said this week it may file a second lawsuit against the iPod maker if it's found that the iPhone's charge transfer technology infringes on one of its patents.



"We will be looking very carefull y at the iPhone," Duncan Bryan, licensing director at Quantum Research (QR), told Electronics Weekly. "The description of the iPhone suggests it uses a rear-surface touch screen, and has proximity sensing which can tell if it is held to the ear. That’s a QR capability."



Charge transfer capacitive sensing was reportedly invented by QR’s founder and CEO Hal Philipp, then subsequently licensed to handset makers such as Motorola.



For QR, its beef with Apple dates back to December 2005, when it filed a formal complaint of similar allegations regarding capacitive sensing technology used in iPod Click Wheels. In that suit, QR charged that first- and second-generation iPod nanos employing Cypress’ PSoC chip do so in a way that infringes on QR's existing charge transfer patents.



Apple in July responded to the suit, "denying all material allegations" and filing counterclaims for non-infringement and invalidity.



"There are settlement discussions going on but I believe it will go to trial later this year,” Quantum’s Philipp was reported as saying last month.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    Interesting they have an image on their front page with the word "iPod" on it....



    http://www.qprox.com/
  • Reply 2 of 38
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    If they are talking about "a capability" rather than multiple "capabilities" then it seems as though they are saying the proximity sensor is an ability of the rear-surface touchscreen. (An ability QR has patented?)



    I was under the impression that the iPhone did not use the touchscreen as a prox sensor, but rather had a separate sensor.



    I'm sure QR has looked into this more than I have though
  • Reply 3 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    If they are talking about "a capability" rather than multiple "capabilities" then it seems as though they are saying the proximity sensor is an ability of the rear-surface touchscreen. (An ability QR has patented?)



    I was under the impression that the iPhone did not use the touchscreen as a prox sensor, but rather had a separate sensor.



    I'm sure QR has looked into this more than I have though



    You're right. There is a separate sensor.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    Wasn't Quantum Research the name of the terrorist organization in the Nickelodeon movie Clockstoppers?



    edit: Nope, it was Quantum Tech, close enough.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    What's funny is that it only took you a minute to answer your own question...
  • Reply 6 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post


    What's funny is that it only took you a minute to answer your own question...



    That's spooky action at a distance...
  • Reply 7 of 38
    louzerlouzer Posts: 1,054member
    Since when did lawsuits started to be called 'suites'?
  • Reply 8 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Louzer View Post


    Since when did lawsuits started to be called 'suites'?



    haha i noticed that too
  • Reply 9 of 38
    If there isn't a U.S. patent for it, can they really do anything about it? Isn't Quantum Research based in the U.K.?
  • Reply 10 of 38
    No but Quantum Leap is...
  • Reply 11 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Alexc View Post


    If there isn't a U.S. patent for it, can they really do anything about it? Isn't Quantum Research based in the U.K.?



    That wouldn't stop them from being allowed to file a patent application in the USA.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Louzer View Post


    Since when did lawsuits started to be called 'suites'?



    By the way, since when refers Appleinsider Steve Jobs as Apple's Jobs.

    Funny indeed.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    I thought the ear/face proximity thing was a separate sensor, but it doesn't have to be.



    It's not necessary to transfer charge to do proximity or touch sensing.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Interesting they have an image on their front page with the word "iPod" on it....



    http://www.qprox.com/



    Click it and it shows that it is related, an iPod dock.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    I would imagine that proximity sensor is either the capacitive screen itself, or some sort of capacitive layer in the plastic of the ear piece.



    This approach has been around for a while. For example, check out this conceptual product that was announced last year.

    http://www.synaptics.com/onyx/

    Synaptics was rambling about the same idea (although I don't think it's noted in the press release). Put the phone to your ear, and the touch sensor kills the keypad. It's not a new concept. Nothing on the iPhone is new, most of it simply hasn't been marketed, so people think it's new.



    That said, this strikes me as a BS patent. I might as well start filling out applications for various body parts that touch a capacitive touch screen/pad and activate or deactivate something on a GUI. Eventually I'll be able to rake in some money on one of those!
  • Reply 16 of 38
    Did Apple create the touch screen or the sensor?

    If they did not, why would they go after Apple, they should go after the one selling the sensor or screen.



    If I buy a car, TV, or break pads, and the manufactores infringe on someone patents, I normaly do not end up in court, why should Apple???



    Does not make sense, they should motion the courts to dismiss.



    This is getting old, everyone is going after Apple because Apple is sucessfull and they are loosers. Some of these people going after Apple know of others infringing on their patent but done nothing until Apple decides to use the technology. Someone ou to deflate their tires.
  • Reply 17 of 38
    it makes sense why apple will be charging so much for the iphone now. theyre going to have to keep fighting off these lawsuits.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Louzer View Post


    Since when did lawsuits started to be called 'suites'?



    Since when done verbs starting to been misconjugated?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Vox Barbara View Post


    By the way, since when refers Appleinsider Steve Jobs as Apple's Jobs.

    Funny indeed.



    Since when become backwards English did?
  • Reply 19 of 38
    louzerlouzer Posts: 1,054member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EagerDragon View Post


    Did Apple create the touch screen or the sensor?

    If they did not, why would they go after Apple, they should go after the one selling the sensor or screen.



    If I buy a car, TV, or break pads, and the manufactores infringe on someone patents, I normaly do not end up in court, why should Apple???



    Does not make sense, they should motion the courts to dismiss.



    Well, Apple seems to be touting their devices as their own. So maybe that's why. But keep in mind that no one has sued anyone. They're issuing a warning, that's all.



    However, but when you buy a car, you're buying it for yourself. If Apple is buying parts and then using them to sell something else which is using those parts, then Apple is profiting from the patents without paying for it. (Hell, if you don't like that excuse, then just use the "Sue anyone involved" rule - the same reason that companies get sued because an employee does something stupid).
  • Reply 20 of 38
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    This is a privately held company. I don't know what its sales figures are, but this seems to be one of those times where Apple's large cash holdings would be useful.
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