Saturday, April 30, 2011

Samsung v. Apple: Calculating the Time (for a Re-exam)

Samsung, in a 1998 patent application, claimed to have invented calculation of local time based on a network time, elapsed time, and offset from GMT for a selected city.  They now assert this patent against Apple.

Also among the patents asserted by Samsung against Apple is US7,069,055Mobile telephone capable of displaying world time and method for controlling the same. The application was filed July 17, 1998.  The patent issued June 27, 2006.

The method embedded in the independent claims essentially requires: receiving a time signal, counting elapsed time, selecting a city for which GMT info is stored, and calculating and displaying the local time based on the other values.

It's not clear what might have been considered new about this in 1998.  GMT itself dates back to the 1800s.   According to a paper by ACM Fellow David L. Mills, the history of Network Time Protocol (NTP) traces back to 1979.  Selection of time zone by city, and storage of corresponding time relative to GMT seems to clearly go back to Windows 95, and I suspect much earlier.  While the title of the patent references a mobile telephone, the independent claims do not, so use in a mobile phone does not appear to have been the novel aspect.

Docview wss

Image from IBM support site.

Beyond the patent validity question, there is also the issue that modern computer systems like the iPhone use UTC, not GMT, and the two are technically different.

As with the stylus patent I discussed in a previous post, Samsung seems to be grasping a bit here for patents to assert.  While Apple's complaint against Samsung read as fairly devastating, Samsung's, so far, has been underwhelming.

 

Claim 4, for reference:

4. In an apparatus having a display and a memory for storing Greenwich mean time (GMT) information for each of a plurality of cities, a method for generating local time information, comprising the steps of:

  • receiving a reference time from a signal received from a remote system;
  • counting a time which elapses from said acquiring of said reference time;
  • selecting at least one of said plurality of cities;
  • automatically calculating a local time of said selected city based on the difference between the GMT of said selected city and the GMT of a present location of said apparatus, said reference time and said elapsed time; and
  • displaying said calculated local time.

Previous coverage:


Nokia v. Apple @ ITC: Moving Forward

Nokia's request for a USITC investigation based in part upon PalmPilot sync patents has been granted.  From the ITC news release:

April 26, 2011
News Release 11-039
Inv. No. 337-TA-771
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819

USITC INSTITUTES SECTION 337 INVESTIGATION ON CERTAIN ELECTRONIC DEVICES, INCLUDING MOBILE PHONES, MOBILE TABLETS, PORTABLE MUSIC PLAYERS, AND COMPUTERS, AND COMPONENTS THEREOF

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain electronic devices, including mobile phones, mobile tablets, portable music players, and computers, and components thereof. The products at issue in this investigation are smartphones, music players, and computers.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Nokia Corporation of Finland; Nokia, Inc., of White Plains, NY; and Intellisync Corporation of White Plains, NY, on March 28, 2011. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain electronic devices, including mobile phones, mobile tablets, portable music players, and computers, and components thereof that infringe patents asserted by the complainants. The complainants request that the USITC issue an exclusion order and a cease and desist order.

The USITC has identified Apple Inc. of Cupertino, CA, as the respondent in this investigation.

By instituting this investigation (337-TA-771), the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The USITC's Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the USITC's six administrative law judges (ALJ), who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The ALJ will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.

The USITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation. USITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period.

 

Previous coverage:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Reuters: ITC judge rules for Apple in fight with Elan

According to Reuters:

...

Judge Paul Luckern said in his initial decision there was no violation of the Elan patent.

The full International Trade Commission must now rule on whether to accept or reject the decision of its administrative law judge. That decision is expected in August.

...

Why Did Samsung Assert a Stylus Patent Against Apple?

Is a finger a stylus?  If the claim construction is based on the patent specification's definition... maybe.

Among the patents asserted by Samsung in its April 27 suit against Apple is US6,292,179Software keyboard system using trace of stylus on a touch screen and method.  This is initially quite puzzling, because, as Steve Jobs rather emphatically pointed out when introducing the iPhone in 2007, it does not use a stylus.

Screen shot 2011 04 29 at 6 40 16 PM

"Oh a stylus, right?  We're gonna use a stylus!  No.  No.  Who wants a stylus?  You have to get 'em and put 'em away, and you lose 'em. Yuck!  Nobody wants a stylus, so let's not use a stylus. " - Steve Jobs, Macworld Keynote, 2007

The complaint states, however:

Upon information and belief, in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 271, Apple is and has been directly infringing, contributing to the infringement of, and/or inducing others to infringe the '179 patent by making, using, selling, and/or offering to sell in the United States, or importing into the United States, products or processes that practice the inventions claimed in the '179 patent, including without limitation, the Apple iPhone 3G, the Apple iPhone 3GS, the Apple iPhone 4, the iPod Touch, the iPad, the iPad 3G, the iPad2, and the iPad 2 3G.

The '179 patent comprises four independent claims, one for the software keyboard system and three for related methods.  Independent system claim 1 contains the elements:

"a touch panel on said screen, generating a coordinate value in accordance with a position pressed by a stylus;"

and

"a controller controlling said display of said keyboard image, receiving said digital value for a trace of said stylus, and determining the position and direction of said trace;"

Independent method claims 7, 11, and 13 each contain the step:

"obtaining the trace of a stylus."

So, all of the claims require a stylus.  Samsung did not include Ten One Design or other iPhone stylus makers as defendants.  Where is the stylus coming from?

It would be hard to argue that a finger is within the plain meaning of the term "stylus."  However, a patent applicant is allowed to be his own lexicographer, within reason.  It appears that Samsung is trying to say they did just that, relying on language in the '179 specification to broaden the definition of stylus beyond its common meaning to include fingers:

 

"Here, "stylus" is used as a general term for any object which, when pressed onto a touch screen, can cause an input to a computer system or the like."  ('179 patent, column 1, lines 14-16)

 

It seems odd to consider a finger an "object," and therefore a "stylus" under the patent's definition.  However, that does seem to be Samsung's interpretation to justify asserting the patent.

 

NewImage

"No stylus" - Macworld 2007 Keynote

Previous coverage:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bloomberg: Samsung Broadens Patent Dispute Against Apple With U.S. Lawsuit

According to Bloomberg:

 

...

Apple is infringing 10 patents related to mobile phones, Samsung said in a lawsuit yesterday in federal court in San Jose, California. The Suwon, South Korea-based company, which sells the Galaxy smartphone and tablet, claims Apple is using Samsung’s inventions without paying.

The lawsuit intensifies a legal dispute that began when Cupertino, California-based Apple sued Samsung earlier this month, claiming the Galaxy products “slavishly” copied iPad and iPhone technology and design. Samsung, which is also a supplier of some Apple chips, retaliated last week with lawsuits in Seoul, Tokyo and Mannheim, Germany.

...

 

More to follow after I have reviewed the complaint.

 

Other coverage:

2011-04-28 Newly Published Apple Patent Applications

Today's applications include claims related to the Apple TV menu system and to providing incentives to join and use a fitness center.

PUB. APP. NO. Title
1 20110099519 Menuing Structure for Media Content
2 20110098156 SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR ACCESSING PERSONALIZED FITNESS SERVICES USING A PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE

 

20110099519

Menuing Structure for Media Content

 

1. A method performed by a computer system, the method comprising:

  • receiving input from a user selecting a media type category;
  • identifying media content items within the selected media category that the user has previously selected for presentation;
  • prioritizing the identified media content items based on a predetermined set of rules; and
  • presenting to the user a menu of at least some of the identified media content items in an order based on a result of the prioritization.

Screen shot 2011 04 28 at 7 05 47 AM

Screen shot 2011 04 28 at 7 16 43 AM

20110098156

SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR ACCESSING PERSONALIZED FITNESS SERVICES USING A PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE

1. A method for interfacing with a fitness center, the method comprising:

  • introducing a user to a particular fitness center via an integrated application of a portable electronic device, wherein the user is a potential new customer of the particular fitness center;
  • after the introducing, providing incentive, via the integrated application, for the user to join the particular fitness center;
  • in response to the user joining the particular fitness center as a result of the incentive, providing, via the integrated application, in-gym motivation for motivating the user to work out at the particular fitness center; and
  • providing, via the integrated application, post-workout motivation to encourage the user to actively return to the particular fitness center.

Screen shot 2011 04 28 at 7 09 17 AM

 

 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Walker Digital v. Apple: '505 TV-Sync App Complaint

On April 22, 2011, Walker Digital, LLC filed another patent infringement suit against Apple, Inc. in the District of Delaware.  The asserted patent in this case is:

"U.S. Patent No. 6,263,505 (“the ’505 patent”), entitled “System and Method for Supplying Supplemental Information for Video Programs” to Jay S. Walker, James A. Jorasch, Robert R. Lech and Thomas M. Sparico, who assigned their rights and interests in the ’505 patent to Walker Digital."

Defendants include Apple, Digimarc Corporation, The Nielsen Company, The Walt Disney Company, The Weather Channel, and TVaura Mobile LLC.

Regarding Apple, the Complaint asserts:

Upon information and belief, Defendant Apple is infringing (literally and/or under the doctrine of equivalents) the ’505 patent in this District and throughout the United States by, among other things, using, an iPad with installed application that is covered by, without limitation, claim 7 of the ’505 patent. By way of example and without limitation, Defendant uses an iPad with installed application, such as “From the Edge” or “ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy Sync,” to receive a request from a viewer for supplemental information related to a video program (such as photos, behind the scenes video and/or character information), receive synchronization information relating to the video program, process the request for the supplemental information, and transmit the synchronized supplemental information using the synchronization information.

It seems clear that the iPad by itself would not infringe.  The accused Grey's Anatomy Sync app uses audio from the television program to provide synchronized information on the iPad.  The app is published by ABC Digital, which would explain the inclusion of The Walt Disney company as a defendant.

Screen shot 2011 04 25 at 11 18 57 AM

App Store screen shot of "Grey's Anatomy Sync" app.

The "From the Edge" app appears to use the same app framework and is provided by co-defendant The Weather Channel.

Screen shot 2011 04 25 at 11 25 56 AM

App Store screen shot of the "From the Edge" app.

TVaura LLC and TVaura Mobile LLC are joint ventures between Nielsen and Digimarc, the other defendants.

It is notable that both of the apps are free downloads.  It would be fascinating to see Walker Digital's business case for filing this suit, especially the modeling of expected damages that would justify the expense.

 

Claim 7, for reference:

7. A method for providing supplemental information using a data processing apparatus including a CPU and a storage device operatively connected to the CPU and containing a program adapted to be executed by the CPU for processing a request for the supplemental information related to a video program and providing the requested supplemental information, said method comprising the steps of:

receiving a request for the supplemental information related to the video program;

receiving synchronization information related to the video program;

processing the request for the supplemental information by having the CPU in the data processing apparatus execute the program;

synchronizing the requested supplemental information to the video program using the synchronization information; and

transmitting the requested supplemental information.

 

Previous coverage:

Ogma v. Apple: A Prior Art Odyssey

In an earlier post, I discussed the surprising breadth of one of the claims asserted by Ogma, LLC against Apple.  Claim 3 of the asserted '427 patent reads as follows:

3. An image display system for displaying a video image comprising:

a video screen having a substantially rectangular configuration forming an aspect ratio of the horizontal dimension of said video screen to the vertical dimension of said video screen, said aspect ratio being between 1.45:1 and 1.60:1.

It is simply a claim on an image display system with an aspect ratio between 1.45:1 and 1.60:1.

Invalidating a patent claim requires the identification of appropriate prior art.  The prior art must pre-date the filing of the patent application, possibly by as much as a year, and must be "enabling."

One of my favorite ways to explain enabling prior art is via Star Trek.  If brilliant physicists invented Star Trek's "transporter" technology, the illustration of transporter technology on the Star Trek television series would not be enabling prior art.  While the idea is demonstrated in the television program, there is no description of the technology that would enable a skilled practitioner to build a transporter.

What constitutes "enabling" prior art, however, when a claim is as broad as claim 3 of Ogma's '427?  For a very broad claim, could a mere picture be enabling for prior art purposes?  The Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) says "yes." Section 2101.04 states:

2121.04 Apparatus and Articles - What Constitutes Enabling Prior Art

PICTURES MAY CONSTITUTE AN "ENABLING DISCLOSURE"

Pictures and drawings may be sufficiently enabling to put the public in the possession of the article pictured. Therefore, such an enabling picture may be used to reject claims to the article. However, the picture must show all the claimed structural features and how they are put together. Jockmus v. Leviton, 28 F.2d 812 (2d Cir. 1928).

For a claim with only one structural feature, a rectangular screen with an aspect ratio near 1.5:1, what would a picture need to show?  It would seem that merely showing a display with such an aspect ratio would be sufficient.

Screen shot 2011 04 25 at 7 56 38 AM

HAL: Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?

Dave: Eating condiments for breakfast and watching this awesome roughly-1.5-to-1 aspect ratio image display, HAL.

(image from 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)


Previous Coverage:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Samsung counter sues Apple over iPhone, iPad

As expected, Samsung counter sues Apple over iPhone, iPad:

Samsung said in a statement on Friday that Apple's iPhone and iPad infringe Samsung's 10 mobile technology patents and it called for Apple to stop infringing its technology and compensate the company.

[...]

Samsung said the suits, filed in South Korea, Japan and Germany, involved 10 alleged infringements of patents mainly involving power reduction during data transmission, 3G technology for reducing errors during data transmission, and wireless data communication technology.

(via Reuters)

I have to imagine there are people in Samsung's memory, SSD, display, and processor businesses who are not thrilled to see this escalate.

As Reuters also reports, Samsung shares were down 2.6% on this news after three days of gains:

Apple was Samsung's second-biggest client after Japan's Sony Corp last year, bringing in around 6.2 trillion Korean won ($5.7 billion) of sales, and is widely expected to become Samsung's top client this year.

With a market cap of $140B, a 2.6% drop is $3.64B in shareholder value.  Perhaps it won't just be the other business units that are upset about this litigation.

 

Other coverage:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Apple 10-Q: IP-Related Disclosures

In each 10-Q and 10-K, Apple describes contingencies and risks that may have a material impact on financial results.  Some of these relate to intellectual property.  The 10-Q for the just reported quarter contained two minor updates to these sections:

Contingencies

The contingencies section is updated to reflect the recent Apple "win" in the Mirror Worlds case.  (Removed content in "[[ ]]."  Added content is underlined.)

On March 14, 2008, Mirror Worlds, LLC filed an action against the Company alleging that certain of its products infringed on three patents covering technology used to display files. On October 1, 2010, a jury returned a verdict against the Company, and awarded damages of $208 million per patent for each of the three patents asserted. [[The Company is challenging the verdict, believes it has valid defenses and has not recorded a loss contingency at this time.]]  On April 4, 2011, the Judge overturned the verdict in the Company’s favor. The Company had not recorded a loss contingency for this action.

Part II. Other Information / Item 1. Legal Proceedings / Item 1A. Risk Factors

A subheading in the "Risk Factors" section is updated to reflect that being "found to have infringed" IP rights is the risk, not the infringement itself.   The content following the heading is otherwise unchanged. (Removed content in "[[ ]]."  Added content is underlined.)

The Company’s future results could be materially adversely affected if it [[has]] is found to have infringed on intellectual property rights.

Technology companies, including many of the Company’s competitors, frequently enter into litigation based on allegations of patent infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights. In addition, patent holding companies seek to monetize patents they have purchased or otherwise obtained. As the Company has grown, the intellectual property rights claims against it have increased and may continue to increase as it develops new products and technologies. In particular, with the introduction of iPhone and 3G enabled iPads, the Company has begun to compete with mobile communication and media device companies that hold significant patent portfolios, and the number of patent claims against the Company in that technological space has increased. The Company is vigorously defending infringement actions in courts in a number of U.S. jurisdictions and before the U.S. International Trade Commission, as well as internationally in Europe and Asia. The plaintiffs in these actions frequently seek injunctions and substantial damages.

The Company’s products and technologies may not be able to withstand these or any other third-party claims regardless of the merits of the claim.

Regardless of the scope or validity of such patents or the merits of any patent claims by potential or actual litigants, the Company may have to engage in protracted litigation, enter into expensive license agreements or settlements, pay significant damage awards, and/or modify or even discontinue one or more of its products or technologies. Any of these events could have a material adverse impact on the Company’s financial condition and operating results.

In certain cases, the Company may consider the desirability of entering into licensing agreements, although no assurance can be given that such licenses can be obtained on acceptable terms or that litigation will not occur. These licenses may also significantly increase the Company’s operating expenses. If the Company is found to be infringing one or more patents, it may be required to pay substantial damages. If there is a temporary or permanent injunction prohibiting the Company from marketing or selling certain products or a successful claim of infringement against the Company requires it to pay royalties to a third party, the Company’s financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected, regardless of whether it can develop non-infringing technology.

While in management’s opinion the Company does not have a potential liability for damages or royalties from any known current legal proceedings or claims related to the infringement of patent or other intellectual property rights that would individually or in the aggregate materially adversely affect its financial condition and operating results, the results of such legal proceedings cannot be predicted with certainty. Should the Company fail to prevail in any of the matters related to infringement of patent or other intellectual property rights of others or should several of these matters be resolved against the Company in the same reporting period, the Company’s financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected.

Other notable information from "Risk Factors":

If the Company is unable to continue to develop and sell innovative new products with attractive margins or if other companies infringe on the Company’s intellectual property, the Company’s ability to maintain a competitive advantage could be negatively affected and its financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected.

and:

The Company relies on third-party intellectual property and digital content, which may not be available to the Company on commercially reasonable terms or at all.

Many of the Company’s products are designed to include third-party intellectual property, and in the future the Company may need to seek or renew licenses relating to various aspects of its products and business. Although the Company believes that, based on past experience and industry practice, such licenses generally could be obtained on reasonable terms, there is no assurance that the necessary licenses would be available on acceptable terms or at all. If the Company is unable to obtain or renew critical licenses on reasonable terms, the Company’s financial condition and operating results may be materially adversely affected.

[...]


2011-04-21 Newly Published Apple Patent Applications

Quite a few publications this week:

PUB. APP. NO. Title
1 20110093729 MOTION SENSOR DATA PROCESSING USING VARIOUS POWER MANAGEMENT MODES
2 20110093681 REMAINING INSTRUCTION FOR PROCESSING VECTORS
3 20110093624 TYPE A USB RECEPTACLE WITH PLUG DETECTION
4 20110093620 Media Management And Routing Within An Electronic Device
5 20110093583 TRIGGERING ACTIONS BASED ON CHANGES IN A NETWORK CONNECTION
6 20110093132 PLATFORM-INDEPENDENT THERMAL MANAGEMENT OF COMPONENTS IN ELECTRONIC DEVICES
7 20110092155 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR TRIGGERING NETWORK DEVICE DISCOVERY
8 20110092081 MAGNETIC CONNECTOR HAVING A UNITARY HOUSING
9 20110091101 SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR APPLYING LENS SHADING CORRECTION DURING IMAGE PROCESSING
10 20110091051 PORTABLE COMPUTER ELECTRICAL GROUNDING AND AUDIO SYSTEM ARCHITECTURES
11 20110090712 PORTABLE COMPUTER DISPLAY HOUSING
12 20110090645 HIGHLY PORTABLE MEDIA DEVICE
13 20110090632 COMPUTER HOUSING
14 20110090630 PORTABLE COMPUTER DISPLAY HOUSING
15 20110090627 COMPUTER HOUSING
16 20110090626 COVER FOR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE
17 20110090381 SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PROCESSING IMAGE DATA USING AN IMAGE PROCESSING PIPELINE OF AN IMAGE SIGNAL PROCESSOR
18 20110090380 IMAGE SIGNAL PROCESSOR FRONT-END IMAGE DATA PROCESSING SYSTEM AND METHOD
19 20110090371 SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DETECTING AND CORRECTING DEFECTIVE PIXELS IN AN IMAGE SENSOR
20 20110090370 SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR SHARPENING IMAGE DATA
21 20110090351 TEMPORAL FILTERING TECHNIQUES FOR IMAGE SIGNAL PROCESSING
22 20110090303 Facial Pose Improvement with Perspective Distortion Correction
23 20110090244 ELECTRONIC SIGHTING COMPASS
24 20110090242 SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DEMOSAICING IMAGE DATA USING WEIGHTED GRADIENTS
25 20110090142 BACKLIGHT UNIT COLOR COMPENSATION TECHNIQUES
26 20110089907 IN-SITU BATTERY HEALTH DETECTOR AND END-OF-LIFE INDICATOR
27 20110089792 PORTABLE COMPUTER HOUSING
28 20110088844 THERMALLY ACTIVATED ADHESIVE AND FIXTURE FOR IMPROVING REGISTRATION ACCURACY BETWEEN ASSEMBLED PARTS
29 20110088838 SELF FIXTURING ASSEMBLY TECHNIQUES



 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hybrid Audio v. HTC, Apple et al.

On April 19, 2011, Hybrid Audio LLC filed a Complaint for patent infringement in the Eastern District of Texas against HTC, Exedea, Apple, Dell, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, RIM, and Samsung (and associated corporate entities).  The case number is 6:11-cv-00195-LED.  Hybrid Audio is represented by McKool Smith.  My former colleague Daniel Carlineo is listed Of Counsel on the Corporate Disclosure Statement.  (Update: Carlineo is also listed as Manager of Hybrid Audio with the Texas SOS and handled the patent assignment.  See updates at the end of this post for more info.)

Plaintiff Hybrid Audio is a limited liability corporation organized and existing under the laws of Texas, with its principal place of business at 100 East Ferguson Street, Tyler, Texas 75702.

The patent at issue is United States Patent No. RE40,281 (“the ’281 Patent” or “the Patent”), entitled “Signal Processing Utilizing a Tree-Structured Array.”

The Complaint alleges that Apple infringes, contributes to infringement, and induces infringement via "the iPod nano, iPhone 4, iPad, MacBook Pro, and iTunes service that contain or use hardware and/or software for processing audio information in accordance with the MPEG-1 Layer III (MP3) standard." (Complaint, items 25-27)

The family history and reissue history of the patent are complex.  The November 23, 2004 amendment adds a paragraph to the reissue specification stating:

  • This application is a Division of U.S. Reissue Application No. 10/603,833 filed June 26,2003. U.S. Reissue Application No. 10/603,833, filed June 26, 2003, is a Reissue of U.S. Application No. 08/804,909, filed February 25, 1997, now U.S. Patent No. 6,252,909, issued June 26, 2001. U.S. Application No. 08/804,909, filed February 25, 1997, is a Continuation-In-Part of U.S. Application No. 08/307,331, filed September 16, 1994, now U.S. Patent No. 5,606,642, issued February 25, 1997. U.S. Application No. 08/307,331 filed September 16, 1994, is a Division of U.S. Application No. 07/948,147, filed September 21, 1992, now U.S. Patent No. 5,408,580, issued April 18, 1995.

The reissued patent lists 121 claims.  An initial amendment canceled claims 1-4 and added 5-112.  A subsequent amendment canceled 5-112 and added 113-229, which eventually issued as 5-121.  The file history also reveals that two of the inventors, Jayashima and Morrell, were non-signing relative to the reissue.

I suspect there will be quite a bit of investigation into the patent's lineage, particularly for support of the asserted claims.  It may be telling that only the reissue, and none of the other family members, are listed in the suit.

Claim 5, for reference:

 

5. A signal processing method comprising:

splitting a signal into subbands using a plurality of filter banks connected to form a tree-structured array having a root node and greater than two leaf nodes,

each node comprising one filter bank having greater than two filters, and at least one of the leaf nodes having a number of filters that differs from the number of filters in a second leaf node.

 

 

Screen shot 2011 04 20 at 1 40 50 PM

 

Update: I am reminded via FOSSPatents that Hybrid Audio LLC filed for voluntary dismissal without prejudice of its original suit (case no. 6:10-cv-00677) and filed this suit with a longer list of defendants.

Update 2:  The assignment of RE40281 from Aware, Inc. to Hybrid Audio, LLC was executed on 12/10/2010 and recorded 12/22/2010, with Carlineo, Spicer & Kee, LLC listed as Correspondent.

Update 3: Hybrid Audio's registered agent is listed as Terry Fokas, 2828 Hood St., Ste. 806, Dallas, TX 75219 USA.  Certificate of Formation was filed April 21, 2010.  Attorney Daniel Carlineo, mentioned above is listed as Manager.

 

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Apple v. Samsung: The Multi-touch Patent

Apple's case against Samsung spans utility patents, design patents, trade dress, and trademarks.  Among the utility patents asserted by Apple against Samsung is US 7,812,828, Ellipse Fitting for Multi-Touch Surfaces.

The inventors are Wayne Westerman and John G. Elias, formerly of Fingerworks.

Though it issued on October 12, 2010, the patent actually dates back to a January 26, 1998 provisional application, and is a continuation of US 7,339,580, which is in turn a continuation of US 6,323,846.  (I suspect attorneys for Samsung are already verifying support in the original specification for the '828 claims being asserted by Apple.)

The patent is notable for listing over four pages of "References Cited."  This could become even more important depending on the outcome of Microsoft v. i4i at the Supreme Court, where Microsoft is arguing for a lowered bar for proving the defense of invalidity when art has not been considered by the USPTO.  In this case, a lot of art has been considered by the USPTO.

Claim 1 of the '828 patent is quite broad:

 

1. A method of processing input from a touch-sensitive surface, the method comprising:

receiving at least one proximity image representing a scan of a plurality of electrodes of the touch-sensitive surface;

segmenting each proximity image into one or more pixel groups that indicate significant proximity, each pixel group representing proximity of a distinguishable hand part or other touch object on or near the touch-sensitive surface; and

mathematically fitting an ellipse to at least one of the pixel groups.

While the images from the design patent claims will dominate the news stories, this is certainly the utility patent to watch.

 

 

 

Screen shot 2011 04 19 at 1 23 24 PM

Other coverage:

 

 

Flashback: Macworld 2007: "...and boy, have we patented it."

Steve Jobs at the Macworld 2007 introduction of the iPhone:

...and we have invented a new technology called multi-touch, which is phenomenal.  It works like magic.  You don't need a stylus.  It's far more accurate than any touch display that's ever been shipped.  It ignores unintended touches. It's super smart.  You can do multi-finger gestures on it, and boy, have we patented it.

 

Screen shot 2011 04 19 at 12 16 46 PM

Apple v. Samsung: Design Patents & Egyptian Goddess

The "ordinary observer" test would be key in the design patent portion of Apple's suit against Samsung.

In his post linking to Ina Fried's article on the new Apple v. Samsung case, DaringFireball's John Gruber asks:

That their products are shameless copies is hard to deny. But has anyone ever won a lawsuit based on copying stuff like this?

Apple's case is multi-pronged, with utility patent infringement, design patent infringement, trade dress, and trademark claims.  Regarding Gruber's question on "shameless copying," I think it is most interesting to first look at the design patent portion of the case.

Apple is reportedly asserting three design patents:

Each appears to relate to the iPhone 3G/3GS style phone.

Screen shot 2011 04 19 at 12 52 57 PM

(image from Complaint, page 18)

To determine whether a design patent is infringed, we need to look to the decision in the Federal Circuit's en banc rehearing of Egyptian Goddess, Inc. v. Swisa, Inc. (Fed. Cir. Sept. 22, 2008).  In this decision, the CAFC rejected the "point of novelty" test (i.e., "the accused device must appropriate the novelty in the patented device which distinguishes it from the prior art") and re-established the "ordinary observer" test as the exclusive test for determining infringement of a design patent:

“if, in the eye of the ordinary observer, giving such attention as a purchaser usually gives, two designs are substantially the same, if the resemblance is such as to deceive such an observer, inducing him to purchase one supposing it to be the other, the first one patented is infringed by the other.” (Gorham Co. v. White, 81 U.S. 511, 528 (1871))

As a patent attorney and close follower of all things Apple, I do not consider myself an "ordinary observer." However, I am quite sure that a Samsung Galaxy placed in front of someone like my mother would be quickly perceived as "an iPhone."  Anecdotal reports of pre-Verizon-iPhone sales people selling these Samsung devices as "just like an iPhone," if verifiable, also might not be helpful relative to the "purchase" prong of the test.

The odds are that this case will not reach a jury and we will not find out whether a jury thinks these design patents are infringed.  Apple's complaint, however, paints a compelling picture.

 

Other coverage:

 

 



Apple Issued Four New Design Patents

With Apple's inclusion of three design patents in Friday's suit against Samsung, we'll start taking a closer look at newly issued design patents.  Four were issued today:

1 D636,398 Full-Text Graphical user interface for a display screen or portion thereof (map interface)
2 D636,392 Full-Text Electronic device with graphical user interface (iPhone 4)
3 D636,390 Full-Text Electronic device (iPod Touch)
4 D636,389 Full-Text Electronic device (iPod Touch?)

Figure 1 from each is shown below:

Screen shot 2011 04 19 at 7 15 53 AM

Screen shot 2011 04 19 at 7 21 37 AM Screen shot 2011 04 19 at 7 16 15 AM

Screen shot 2011 04 19 at 7 40 36 AM

 

2011-04-19 Newly Issued Apple Patents

PAT. NO. Title
1 D636,398 Full-Text Graphical user interface for a display screen or portion thereof
2 D636,392 Full-Text Electronic device with graphical user interface
3 D636,390 Full-Text Electronic device
4 D636,389 Full-Text Electronic device
5 7,930,650 Full-Text User interface with menu abstractions and content abstractions
6 7,930,508 Full-Text File systems for data processing systems
7 7,930,462 Full-Text Interface controller that has flexible configurability and low cost
8 7,930,369 Full-Text Remotely configured media device
9 7,930,289 Full-Text Methods and systems for providing improved security when using a uniform resource locator (URL) or other address or identifier
10 7,930,172 Full-Text Global boundary-centric feature extraction and associated discontinuity metrics
11 7,929,959 Full-Text Service provider activation
12 7,929,778 Full-Text Digital image coding system having self-adjusting selection criteria for selecting a transform function
13 7,929,766 Full-Text Identifiers for digital media
14 7,929,685 Full-Text Queuing calls for distribution
15 7,928,965 Full-Text Touch screen RFID tag reader
16 7,928,939 Full-Text Display system
17 7,928,747 Full-Text Operating an integrated circuit at a minimum supply voltage
18 7,927,151 Full-Text Audio plug with core structural member