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HTC phones don't infringe on four Apple (AAPL) patents related to touchscreen technology, and...

HTC phones don't infringe on four Apple (AAPL) patents related to touchscreen technology, and three of those Apple patents are invalid, according to U.K. Judge Christopher Floyd. The patents in the case were: slide-to-unlock feature, tools to scroll through photographs and change alphabets, and functionality to touch the screen in two spots simultaneously. It's not an insignificant defeat for Apple.
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Comments (28)
  • D_Virginia
    , contributor
    Comments (2280) | Send Message
     
    Good. It's about time some of these trivial patents -- many of which should also be invalidated due to prior art -- got shot down.
    4 Jul 2012, 01:25 PM Reply Like
  • Yokyok
    , contributor
    Comments (330) | Send Message
     
    the patent system in the us is broken. there need to be substantial penalties for seeking patents on things you didn't invent.
    4 Jul 2012, 01:33 PM Reply Like
  • timetosave
    , contributor
    Comments (35) | Send Message
     
    Patent for "slide-to-unlock" Seriously, how does that get patented? Next, someone will claim a patent on door hinges... so much petty litigation.
    4 Jul 2012, 01:43 PM Reply Like
  • D_Virginia
    , contributor
    Comments (2280) | Send Message
     
    > how does that get patented

     

    Because patents are approved by lawyers who know little about the current state of technology.

     

    There is evidence of prior art for a slide-to-unlock feature as early as 2005, and evidence of multi-touch as early as 2001.
    4 Jul 2012, 01:45 PM Reply Like
  • ItsAllGreek
    , contributor
    Comments (547) | Send Message
     
    IMHO the reason Apple chose to use the slide to unlock patent which seems so simple and trivial was to show that there was blatant copying involved.

     

    I do agree though that these are not material patents. The latest search one is a different story. Given that some of the patents are just now being approved 7 years after they were filed, we can expect a few more meaty patents - though of course totally obvious as well :)
    4 Jul 2012, 07:59 PM Reply Like
  • martham
    , contributor
    Comments (34) | Send Message
     
    I wouldn't be surprised if there were patents on door hinges. A trip to the patent museum would surprise you. The expression about building a better mouse trap came from the number of patents for them.
    4 Jul 2012, 10:09 PM Reply Like
  • Losing Paper While Gaining ...
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    It being different doesn't necessarily mean it's better.

     

    Why can't more than one company have voice search? It's not an innovative idea.

     

    - People have been talking to computers for decades in movies.
    - Gestures in interfaces (as slide to unlock is) have been around for about ten years.

     

    Now development time that could have gone into improving other aspects of the interface have to go into redeveloping these in such a way as they don't infringe on ridiculous patents, and possibly in such a way that they can't be made to work as fluidly to the user.
    4 Jul 2012, 10:27 PM Reply Like
  • Tack
    , contributor
    Comments (13579) | Send Message
     
    When a company starts focusing on defensive battles, like patents, rather than offensive battles, like better products and features in the hands of consumers, it's a potential warning sign for investors.

     

    In any case, manufacturers, like Samsung and HTC, can circumvent patent injunctions rather quickly, and often easily, but making rapid alterations to software. Already, it's been announced that Samsung plans to introduce very soon a minor change that will invalidate judge Koh's injunction on sales of the Galaxy Nexus phone.
    4 Jul 2012, 01:48 PM Reply Like
  • azreeal
    , contributor
    Comments (108) | Send Message
     
    I agree with you 100% Tack, I said the same thing on a different post. Putting that much effort into defending trivial patents instead of innovating to make that technology obsolete is definitely a warning sign.
    4 Jul 2012, 11:39 PM Reply Like
  • rickraphael
    , contributor
    Comments (290) | Send Message
     
    @D_Virginia and @Yokuk:
    Have either of you read any of these "trivial" patents" I wonder? Have you bothered to follow the court proceedings or read any of the opinions of the judges? Patents.google.com and fosspatents.com are a good places to start.

     

    The US Constitution provides that "Congress shall have Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries".

     

    Note that the inventor is granted the 'exclusive Right' to his work, without which no business would invest in any new product. I thought SA was supposed to be a web site for investors?
    4 Jul 2012, 01:52 PM Reply Like
  • Losing Paper While Gaining ...
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    The US constitution also had protection for slave owners. Some things should never have been in there. The good parts have been completely ignored.

     

    I, as an investor, want the best technology from the best companies. This provides the greatest means of gains as companies come and go. Keeping one company at the top of the stock market because they've managed to patent more than their competition rather than compete in their product is not good for anyone, investor or consumer.
    4 Jul 2012, 02:15 PM Reply Like
  • UncleFred
    , contributor
    Comments (187) | Send Message
     
    You will never get "the best technology from the best company" without patents. Whose gonna put tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into developing something that anyone can copy free? The point of a patent is to reward innovation. Who's Donna bother when there is no reward? Patents need to be STRICTLY ENFORCED if you want innovation.
    4 Jul 2012, 02:59 PM Reply Like
  • Losing Paper While Gaining ...
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    Do you really believe that patents are the only barrier to entry for a business?

     

    People invest massive amounts in businesses without the protection of patents in many industries.
    4 Jul 2012, 03:10 PM Reply Like
  • D_Virginia
    , contributor
    Comments (2280) | Send Message
     
    > Whose gonna put tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into
    > developing something that anyone can copy free?

     

    Anyone who competes in or with China, who will copy it for free anyway.

     

    And if anything, patents, as they currently exist, DISCOURAGE innovation. No one is allowed to cleverly combine Thing A with Thing B because each thing is patented by different companies whose lawyers can't play nice like the children that they are. So they each end up making a crappy product that doesn't have the best both worlds and they keep suing each other claiming the other guy's product is too close to the patent. Between legal fees and lost market exposure for true market testing, a lot of today's patents EXTRACT much more value from the system than they add.

     

    Not to mention that this train wreck situation is often handed out for features that laughably fail the criteria of being "novel", "non-obvious" and sometimes even "useful".
    4 Jul 2012, 03:18 PM Reply Like
  • Herr Hansa
    , contributor
    Comments (3080) | Send Message
     
    There are existing FRAND provisions that deal with patent usage. The idea is that fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing is possible. So if a particular patent applies to how a smartphone functions, the patent holder has an obligation to license at a fair licensing fee. There is no free distribution of any patents from one company to another, as long as those patents are valid.

     

    So if AAPL claim a particular patent, then find another company using that, but the other company declares it essential, then that initiates a FRAND action. If that something patented is needed for a smartphone to function, then AAPL would have an obligation to license it at a reasonable rate.

     

    There are other legal issues here, with a ton of reporting taking a long time to read through. Yes, I have read through quite a bit, and I am working part of that into a future article. Keep in mind that companies stand to gain on challenging patents because it can lower their licensing fees. If everyone simply licensed without question, then the cost of a smartphone to the end user would be far higher. If not enough people continue to buy smartphones, due to higher prices, then that also hinders innovation. Often the courts keep in mind the impact to the end users of these devices, and do not simply side with one company over another.
    4 Jul 2012, 03:44 PM Reply Like
  • rickraphael
    , contributor
    Comments (290) | Send Message
     
    Companies in those businesses generally sell commodities, not new and differentiable products.
    4 Jul 2012, 04:37 PM Reply Like
  • Losing Paper While Gaining ...
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    In the mature stages of their industry, that's a bit more so the case, but VCs invested in google amongst others which had no patents but plenty of research had gone into it and it was neither a commodity nor a new market.

     

    Adding to that, had altavista or someone patented searching then we'd never have even had google, and we'd be stuck with a relatively ineffective search engine served to us at a web portal page filled with ads.
    4 Jul 2012, 04:55 PM Reply Like
  • rickraphael
    , contributor
    Comments (290) | Send Message
     
    @ Herr Hansa
    Just to clarify your point, because it's ambiguous, FRAND licensing obligations are determined by standard setting organizations which set common standards for a particular industry to allow uniform and consistent operation of similar products from many different companies to conform to the standard.

     

    A company that invents a device it wishes to be broadly accepted as the standard in the industry (e.g. Wifi or broad band cellular communications) submits its design. If the design is accepted as the standard for the industry then, in return for the wide spread licensing opportunities it receives (everyone must use it in their devices because it's the 'standard'), it must offer to license the patents on a fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis (FRAND). The licensing fee is negotiable but generally at a fraction of the price one might normally license a utility patent.

     

    This is a serious issue with Google's handling of Motorola's FRAND licenses for which it is demanding 2.5% of the total purchase price of the end product, promoting investigations by the ITC and the FTC over possible violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (and the European Commission as well).
    4 Jul 2012, 05:00 PM Reply Like
  • Herr Hansa
    , contributor
    Comments (3080) | Send Message
     
    Yes, it is a complex issue. The guidelines seem a bit loose, though I suppose that is why other actions are being initiated. One idea is that of blocking competition, which may be seen as hindering innovation.

     

    I don't think any of these issues, nor any of these lawsuits, will go away anytime in the near future. In fact I expect more lawsuits. This may put off some companies from the smartphone segment, either in software and app development, or in making handsets. This is also set to become a continuing expense for all companies involved in smartphones.
    4 Jul 2012, 05:14 PM Reply Like
  • rickraphael
    , contributor
    Comments (290) | Send Message
     
    Actually I think it increases innovation and competition. Samsung, HTC and now Google have had to come up new and unique approaches to replace the infringing software identified by the courts. IMO, it's what they should have done in the first place rather than copying Apple.
    4 Jul 2012, 05:27 PM Reply Like
  • Herr Hansa
    , contributor
    Comments (3080) | Send Message
     
    That is where we disagree, and obviously where those companies disagree, otherwise there would not be so many lawsuits. There will need to be several judgements and precedents before this all gets sorted out.
    4 Jul 2012, 11:39 PM Reply Like
  • kata
    , contributor
    Comments (603) | Send Message
     
    SA is full of Goog apologists and ABM/ABA fud, and that is exactly what silly anti-patent language is all about. Aapl and Msft and a host of other US tech firms have actually innovated while Goog copied and gave away the product of others innovations. The most important US product is technical innovation and it is only protected by US patent laws. Portions of the rest of the world, mainly China, copy and steal US technical innovations and therefore US jobs and opportunities. Goog also "borrows" others work to gain competitive advantage and enhance their bargaining position when they get called on it. And there is never a guarantee that international courts will take the side of US innovation if they can maneuver a better deal for their own country. Its a high stakes game.
    5 Jul 2012, 12:13 AM Reply Like
  • rickraphael
    , contributor
    Comments (290) | Send Message
     
    @ Kata
    Excellent and insightful comment. European courts are particularly weak when it comes to enforcing patent protections.
    5 Jul 2012, 08:05 AM Reply Like
  • ItsAllGreek
    , contributor
    Comments (547) | Send Message
     
    Losing Paper - I think you mean "I as a consumer". What exactly are you invested in?

     

    I as an investor would hope the company I have invested in protects it's IP and retains the value of its products.
    5 Jul 2012, 10:33 AM Reply Like
  • Losing Paper While Gaining ...
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    So the technology the company creates is not important to you? That is what they are selling after all. If you don't care about the product they're selling then surely that's a sign of a distortion in the market.
    5 Jul 2012, 10:53 AM Reply Like
  • redrockliving
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    Patent law has been broken for decades and desparately needs repair. We are now seeing the effects of patent chaos. Only the attorneys are against reform. They make millions from patent wars.
    4 Jul 2012, 02:16 PM Reply Like
  • earlalbin
    , contributor
    Comments (97) | Send Message
     
    idiots, just because the morons in HK cant see through coke bottle glasses doesn't mean the pattents are invalid, it only applies to HK. Remember that all Chinese patent laws in effect mean nothing. So big surprise.

     

    Yes patent laws need repair, they need enforced!
    4 Jul 2012, 02:23 PM Reply Like
  • Herr Hansa
    , contributor
    Comments (3080) | Send Message
     
    U.K. is United Kingdom, sometimes referred to as England. It is not Hong Kong.
    4 Jul 2012, 03:46 PM Reply Like
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