Off-Topic: Apple vs Samsung – the start of a bloody long, costly civil war

Mostly, I tend to keep this blog focused on target (firearms, 2nd Amendment Rights, and related topics).  But every now and then I need to venture off.

If you’re not much into the techie world, you may be completey unaware that a major patent lawsuit just decided against your favor.  You see, Apple decided to file a lawsuit against Samsung and sought a $2 billion penalty and an injunction banning the sale of several of Samsung’s products.

So here is my summary of the accused infringments

381 “bounce back”
http://www.google.com/patents/US7469381

This patent covers scrolling to the end of a list and continuing to pull with your finger. Rather than stopping, the iPhone will often let the contents be dragged up higher revealing some null space; then upon release it will use an easing function to “bounce back” into place.

Mind you, easing is a standard technique. It has been done in many Flash apps, granted mostly in mouse based scenarios.  Samsung showed prior art as well.  The real issue in this case, was not the “bounce back” but whether this had been done on a dedicated touchscreen device.

Seriously, we need to quit making the mere “moving” of an idea to a new “medium” a patentable offense. Does driving on pavement versus a dirt road make for a new invention?  An auction done online is NOT a new invention. It’s simply the use of a new medium for an old invention – this should NOT be patentable.

So essentially, Apple won against Samsung on a patent for which clear prior art was presented. Merely by arguing minute differences. And largely, Apple is arguing that prior art didn’t display off-screen information. Mind you, Apple’s “off-screen” information consists of a blank screen space. Pretty damn weak if you ask me.

http://www.evrythingtech.com/2012/08/apples-381-bounce-back-patent-could-be.html
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915  finger to scroll, pinch/zoom
http://www.google.com/patents/US7844915?dq=Apple+915+patent+pinch+zoom&ei=6RQ8UOuhEeqn6wHCzYC4DQ

This was the whole pinch/zoom issue.  Granted, Samsung demonstrated some prior art. Including the fact that Adam Bogue demonstrated similar technology for Apple back in 2003.

Mind you, we’re not even talking about much innovation to begin with. We’re not talking about the invention of zoom.  But is the use of pinching worthy of invention status?  Mind you we’ve had a lot of various ways to implement zooming. In fact, we’ve even utilizing pinching in many graphic applications. Honestly, this is IMHO Apple’s strongest case. But not something I think should be patent worthy.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/08/13/apple_rubber_banding_pinch_to_zoom_patents_challenged_by_samsung_witnesses.html
***

163 tap to zoom
http://www.google.com/patents?id=Oi_xAAAAEBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=163+apple+tap+to+zoom&source=bl&ots=HLD76wxOzF&sig=osxWg-wm_s2hD5oP1PlVt0s5bng&hl=en&sa=X&ei=EBY8UJyoMeeO6gH37YDwCA&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA

Yes, tap (double-tap) to zoom. So what’s at question here?  One tap or two. I am dead serious, that is what this patent is all about. One tap or two.  One tap is okay, but two is a no, no. We “own” that.

This patent should have been invalidated. As I did this back in the 90’s. I’ve owned laptops with trackpads since 1994.  And as early as the 2000’s I can recall using graphic editing software. And if I selected the zoom mode. Tapping would zoom me in.  And depending on how your mouse was configured for actions, you could set it up to be double-click.

So I don’t see how the mere fact that my touch pad and my screen are now combined together, makes a “behavior” I’ve used for years patentable as a new invention.

***

983 design style

This was the final patent. This wasn’t a patent on invention, but look and feel and interfaces. So let’s talk about some of the iPhone design attributes.

The Samsung Galaxy S is probably the phone that most appears to be infringing, at least from an initial glance.(March 2010).

But this was also deemed to have infringed Apple’s design patents on the iPhone?  And I am hard pressed to see any similarities in physical design.


But the big question is how much is evolutionary? and how much of the iPhone is simply based upon other prior art?

Let’s list some of the (seemingly) infringing aspects:

Let’s list some of the (seemingly) infringing aspects

  • Large screen 
  • Grid arrange icons
  • App dock bar on bottom
  • Singular button on the front

Wow, these Palm Tungsten units seem to meet many of the above criteria. The last of these was released in 2005.  Sure looks like we can see where the iPhone interface came from. I bet if we changed the color of the Tungsten and it’s screen from silver and white background to all black. The similarities would be magnified.

Granted they have more than one central button, but it’s quite clear the center button has greater prominence. Now looking at the Samsung phones, they have more than one central button.  So that should be a non-issue, as many devices utilized multiple buttons but gave the center one strong prominence.

 

HTC 6700 – I owned one of these. So why do I reference it? Because it’s rounded edge, ear speaker placement, and button arrangement is very similar and relevant to the iPhone. Mind you, it has an antenna nub, but it was reduced from many prior designs.  There was a clear desire to eradicate this as technology allowed, proving the iPhone was merely evolutionary in not having an antenna.

Now let’s talk “style”….Prada,  clearly this is a clone of the iPhone. Of all phones we’ve seen, this is the most alike in design. It was made by LG.

It even features a grid bar on the bottom.  The ear piece looks nearly “identical” to the iPhone

 

And a grid of icons

 The only problem with the Prada phone is that it was designed and had many aspects shown nearly a yer before the iPhone. So what does this mean?  It means, that the design of phones was already starting to trend toward this representation. Which namely, is a maximization of display screen real estate. Why is this? Because technology advances and LCD screens were coming down in price.  And users want more screen.  In fact, Samsung was working on the F700. Which was not allowed to be used in their defense.  This phone was revealed 1 month after the iPhone.

If you understand engineering, you’re going to be hard pressed to get even a prototype product from start to finish in one month’s time.

The evidence is that Samsung is probably telling the truth, and was working on the F700 before Apple released the iPhone. They may have tweaked some aspects to their favor.  But the evidence across the board points to the basic style of the iPhone as being evolutionary and somewhere the PDA/phone industry was already headed too.

Of all the phones, the LG Prada makes this very clear. It’s front appearance and software layout is extremely similar to that of the iPhone. Granted, that Apple did a superb implementation that was probably at least a year or two ahead of most of the competitors. But remember, Verizon typically delayed the release of phones on their network by 6 months to over a year. So many cell phone manufacturers were very tepid about major change. Fearing that they wouldn’t be allowed on the network. 

Few had the weight Apple had to bring to the bargaining table to be allowed as much control as they did.

Ironically, the Samsung Galaxy tablet which really kicked this whole thing off, and was banned from importation by a preliminary injunction was deemed a non-infringing device.  Go figure…

***

Lastly, was the whole court process handled correctly? First off, we had a jury all from the Silicon Valley area. Do we think

Insightful comment regarding the jurors experience, which puts into question whether they actually considered the ‘prior art’ correctly, and whether the foreman, a patent owner, may have misled the rest of his jurors due to his own desire to affirm patents:

Hogan was jury foreman. He had experience. He owned patents himself…so he took us through his experience. After that it was easier. After we debated that first patent — what was prior art –because we had a hard time believing there was no prior art….In fact we skipped that one,” Ilagan continued, “so we could go on faster. It was bogging us down.”

There is also some disturbing commentary here, where some of the jurors were looking to judge in Apple’s favor even on unregistered trade dress. Including icons, corners and rectangles. This is frightful, because to me it shows the jurors had no understanding of the concept of prior art.

Ilagan said: “We were debating the unregistered trade dress claims. That took a while because some of the guys wanted to give [Apple] protection to round corners, the icons, and rectangles, but they were not registered. So, some of the jurors said ‘Why are we playing patent office? We’re not the patent office. It’s not even registered.’ And some of the jurors, when you look at the combination of those features, said it looks like an Apple. But we didn’t want to shut out Samsung from the market because we thought ‘OK, well, if Apple had tried to get a patent for all that stuff and didn’t, now they wanted us to be the ones to get it for them. We didn’t want to do that.”

Seriously, a project manager at AT&T was a juror. That’s someone I’d have not had on. Clear bias to iPhone’s number 1 beneficiary

“One of the jurors, believed to be Peter Catherwood, is a project manager with AT&T”

I wonder if the jurors asked for other phone samples?

“I realized that’s a big deal if Samsung can’t sell those phones,” Ilagan said. “But I’m sure Samsung can recover and do their own designs. There are other ways to design a phone. What was happening was that the appearance [of Samsung’s phone] was their downfall. You copied the appearance…. Nokia is still selling phones. BlackBerry is selling phones. Those phones aren’t infringing. There are alternatives out there.”

Really? How about this Nokia phone? Sure seems to be as infringing as any of Samsung’s designs.

How about the new Blackberry? Wow, sure looks like an iPhone

If I were to express my feelings. I would say these jurors had next to zero understanding on these matters. Nor on the consequences of their decision.

More on the jurors…
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57500358-37/exclusive-apple-samsung-juror-speaks-out/

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2012082510525390

***

Just hoping that Congress implements some Patent reform soon. The reform I feel that is most needed, is restoring the patent system’s access to the common inventor.

My solution for that, allow anyone to file a patent free of charge if they commit it to “public domain”.  This would allow an individual with an idea, but without the $$$ and resources to produce the idea quickly (and compete against billion dollar multinational corps) to have their own use of the idea protected.

This may seem crazy, but it’s not. I have ideas that I have had for years, and worked a bit toward. And now some of those ideas would likely fall afoul of patents owned by big mega corps. 

If I ever got my idea off the ground, I’d probably be sued for an idea I had long before. How sad is that? how does this promote innovation? It doesn’t…and needs to be fixed!

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Published in: on August 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm  Comments (1)  
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IP…We own everything!

Why I oppose intellectual property rights…In its present form

In a recent decision a U.K. judge determined that a photo violated the copyright of another for having a similar look and feel.

[See discussion at DPReview.com, one of the best sites on the web for digital camera and lens reviews.]

But a simple Google search reveals that this is both a common subject matter and a common processing technique. There are hundreds if not thousands of like photos. This example greatly exemplifies the flawed nature of our intellectual property laws in Western society. And while this is a U.K. court decision. Realize that much of the IP laws in the Western World are pushed by the same media conglomerates. Many of the laws are similar because they are driven by the same interests. Namely, U.S./Western corporate cartels which pressure/buy-off U.S. legislators who then pressure other nations to adopt the laws that the copyright cartels have paid our legislators to pass.

Recently, we saw an amazing thing happen in politics regarding the proposed SOPA/PIPA bills. We witnessed a huge industry with a massive and entrenched lobbying arm that has been purchasing politicians for years received the biggest public smackdown in history.

We saw politicians discover the game has dramatically changed. And that the internet industry is not to be taken lightly. How did this come about?

Simple, some of the biggest sites staged a campaign of awareness and service removal. Sites such as Wikipedia became inaccessible. Many other popular sites had intro pages one had to click through in order to continue. Many blogs and smaller internet sites were adding to the mojo. I myself did not, as the determination of the vote had already been turned and the bill was no longer going to pass or be a threat in it’s present form.

In fact, the demonstration of power by the internet industry was very hedged. They new they had already won weeks ago. They did it more so as a demonstration. And yet that simple demonstration sent ripples waves through the entire political system. Imagine what would have happened if Google and Amazon actually shut down access to their entire systems for one day.  For those unaware, a huge portion of the internet runs on Amazon’s Cloud Service, including big companies such as Netflix.

But why is this happening? Where is this war brewing from? And who is right? What is causing this chaos?

I believe that it is due to a universal hegemony of thought control and ownership. Most people have been taught that intellectual property is property and that it can be stolen, and must be protected. But few are introduced to the concepts surrounding the establishment of intellectual property laws, and what their purpose is.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution states
“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”

No where was the intention of IP to protect monetary profit of cartels.  But that is what it has become.

A couple of key elements are including in that clause. To Promote progress of science & arts. Secure for a limited time. Authors & inventors. Writings and discoveries.

First clause states the reason: “To promote progress”, as such, if the law is not promoting progress one can deem it to be failing it’s purpose.

When a company like Google spends $8 billion dollars buying a company such as Motorola for the sheer reason to shield themselves from legal lawsuits by Apple and Microsoft, one truly has to question is progress being impeded?

The situation has become akin to a game of Jenga. So many blocks stacked on top of one another that to remove one causes the entire tower to fall down.

Second, “for a limited time”, if this is not met than the law is in violation of the passage that grants it authority.

Disney has pushed for copyright extensions. Largely to prevent Mickey Mouse and others of it’s work from entering public domain. Originally the laws specified up to 28 years for a copyright. This has continualy been extended to the point that it now lasts for 120 year or 70 years after death of author. It is hard to refer to such as “a limited time” when it exceeds the lifespan of humanity.

The result is that nothing is entering the public domain. No new works are becoming freely available to the benefit of humanity.

But why should they? I am sure some of my capitalist minded friends believe that they should be owned and profited by in perpetuity. But the problems is that ideas and invention derive and build upon each other. If you apply universal unending copyright law throughout history, you create a system that not only doesn’t promote progress but makes it impossible.

Disney, a stuanch financer of perpetual copyrights built itself on the creative ideas of others Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Snow White, Pinnochio, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Sword in the Stone, Aladdin,….shal I go on and on? Their success is built on the creativity of others.

Likewise with invention. The automobile cannot be constructed without the gear. No gear without the invention of the wheel. A perpetual right and exclusion results in an end of progress.

Next part of the clause we look at addresses who was to benefit “Authors and Inventors”.

Is this being held true today? Who is benefitting? While the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) likes to talk about theft and piracy. Anyone familiar with the history of RIAA knows that few have ever stolen more from the artists. An industry cartel that is famed not just for failing to pay artists their due but for being gatekeepers who controlled the industry forcing all artists (until very recently) to go through them in a process where the artists lost much of the right to their creative works.

Likewise in the industry of invention. Very few individuals are receiving patents. It has become a facet of society only accessible to the corporation entity. Even when an individual conceives of some new ‘thing’, it often becomes the property of the employer. Inventors are more often than not laid off after the completion of their design rather than profiting by it and being able to further their inventive skills.

Furthermore, everything has become patentable, or ownable. T-Mobile claims to own a shade of pink and will sue any business that uses it. Amazon believes they have the sole right to check out a user with a single click. Billions of dollars are being spent on patent wars in our court systems, many of which are over intuitive logical progression of thought. For example, a few decades ago the internet was created. Several thousand years ago auctions were created. Yet somehow the idea of an auction on the internet is worthy of the granting of a patent. Newspapers have been around. Now there are e-readers. Does the mere publishing on a newspaper on a new technology constitute invention? I do not think so.

But here is a bigger problem. Invention is becoming the exclusive right of big companies. I have ideas. Ideas I’ve had for years. Some potentially patentable, but I cannot afford the approx. cost of $10,000 to file a patent. Even $1,000 to file a provisional patent is outside the scope of many. Most of my ideas I am not seeking to profit by, and would gladly put into public domain for others to use. Yet our Patent office does not facilitate such, quite the opposite. The swamped patent office doesn’t even really vet most submissions. They collect their money and let tax payer dollars be wasted in the court system by frivolous lawsuits. Which are often won due to the ignorance of judges on these matters. (As seen in the example at top.)

IP laws are becoming stronger and stronger and covering broader and broader applications. While at the same time they are being consolidated in ownership. A handful of industry agents control a large portion of the new creative and innovative works.

Realize that in 2009 there were 482,871 patents filed. Of that, 4,914 were filed by IBM. Literaly 1% of all patents gained in 2009 was by a single company. Talk about being the 1%.

New legislation, such as the America Invents Act will only further this divide. Raising costs of filing patents AND making America a “first to file” nation. Which means while you’re trying to perfect your idea and raise the cash to file, someone with deep pockets could copy your idea and file before you and own your invention.

The scenario has the potential to be even more grave in the future. Some may wonder “Why is a gun blog, talking about copyright?” Besides the fact that many of us bloggers have to dance the line or risk litigation.  I view Intellectual Property as one of the most dangerous threats to society with the potential danger from it only being surpassed by slavery.

What….I’m crazy…or sure sounds like it. And you might be right. But hear me out.

Recent advancements in technology have begun to allow us to understand the brain in a much greater way. Already we’re starting to see prosthetics controlled by the mind. Replacement mechanical eyes that allow the brain to see. There has even been progress made in “reading one’s thoughts”. Granted, all these technologies are very rudimentary. But in 40 years they could become commonplace. What happens if iPhone are no longer in your hand, but in your head. Perhaps even with extra memory storage for your brain. What happens when you whistle that song? Or that tune gets stuck in your head. Suddenly, you might find yourself owing money to a copyright cartel because you saw a trailer for the new Smurfs movie and now you can’t get that stupid song out of your head “La la la la la”.

But the truth is, that Intellectual Property, if not checked and balanced has the potential to become a form of slavery. One in which your thoughts and ideas are owned, and the mere engaging of such creativity could cost you money.

That kind of tyranny, would require an over-throw by force and arms if necessary. Such a world would not be one I would want to live in or see my children subjected too.

Thankfully, with the recent (re)action on SOPA/PIPA, I have a small hope that we might be able to start bringing some sanity and balance to intellectual property laws. Sadly, I think it will be slow and a long time coming.

There are better solutions. One’s that would achieve the goals stated in the Constitution far better, encouraging progress, benefitting the inventors and artists and fostering a more open business climate. One such concept would only allow individuals to acquire patents. And would merely provide a tax break to whatever company employed the patent holder. This strategy does not preclude another company from building and selling a better mousetrap. It just let’s the company that employs the patent holder have a competitive edge. And would create a system where inventors are kept employed, and given freedom and funds to further invent. As opposed to our current system which encourages inventors to be discarded.

And while it is more complex issue that a simple post can detail, and would require a more complex solution. The real point here is that there are serious problems with the present system that are not being addressed, while at the same time new law after new law is being passed to further the divide from original intention to present.  This has been allowed to happen largely because the common person is unfamiliar with the argument.

Downloading is stealing, right?  Really, stealing deprives another of their object. Downloading cloning. What happens when you can simply print a car or a house.  That’s crazy right? What if I told that such technology was potentially right around the corner?

When we create laws. We need to be forward thinking, and consider how these laws will affect the future – both for good and for bad.   

Published in: on January 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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