US overturns infamous Apple patent

Patent wars, loved by lawyers, hated by pretty much anyone else. And of the patent wars, few have been as long running, acrimonious and at times, downright bloody stupid as the battle between Apple and Samsung over the latter’s alleged copying of the iPhone’s patented design. They’ve been at each others throats in court for 3 years on and off, with the verdict swinging one way and then the other. Well the US Patent Office is about to well and truly put the boot into Apple’s case by invalidating one of the major patents at the centre of the case.

A brief note about patent law

Before I get further into it you need to understand a little about patents. If you apply for a patent and it is rejected you can, under certain circumstances, re submit the patent or derivatives of it and claim protection for your new patent(s) from the ORIGINAL filing date, that is the date you originally filed the rejected patent. This is important because the patent we are talking about (D618677) relied upon 2 earlier patents to claim it’s filing date.

Back to the action

But now the USPO has said that Apple has no right to that earlier date as the 2 previous patents didn’t mention the design details shown in D618677 which means it is only able to get protection for this design from November 2008, but it gets worse (for Apple at least). Between the originally granted filing day and the now revised filing day several other patents were granted for mobile phone designs which now form a pretty solid wall of “prior art” which means Apple would not have been granted the patent and may have those patent holders consulting their lawyers to see if they can now sue Apple and/or Samsung for copying their designs. While the judgement is not final it’s hard to see Apple being able to revive this patent without the original filing date and the USPO has been thinking about this one long and hard, so that’s unlikely.  Of course Apple and Samsung’s lawyers will still need to go back to court to get the original ruling overturned, but I suspect Samsung’s lawyers (and Samsung itself) will be more than happy to do this. Source FOSS Patents via Android Police

Darrell Jones

Geek Power's answer to Jeremy Clarkson. That's to say he's a sad, middle aged man with a big mouth who's trying to act like he's still in his twenties. he remembers the days of punch cards, paper tape and hard drives the size of toasters with the capacity of the kind of usb stick you might get in a Christmas cracker.

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  • Jimmy Mac

    A brief not about patent law; US practice names what the rest of the world design right applications as design patents. You have misunderstood the law about which you speak, you need to ask an attorney to check your clearly biased opinions. In fact you have made so many misappropriations that I would need to write more words than you wrote here to put the record straight.

    • Darrell is perfectly entitled to express an opinion…even a biased one (although I don’t actually think he was in any way biased on this occasion – he mentioned more than one vendor, he simply called out some patent battles as stupid, which they are).

      Dr. Jones also gave what I thought to be a fairly clear, well thought-out summary at about the level of detail that any self-respecting, non-lawyer reader of a tech-website would want.

      I’m not the sort of person to have ever shirked my duties in calling Darrell a sarcastic, pun-tastically self-righteous bell-end at every opportunity…but when somebody gets needlessly accusatory or adversarial and then spells the 3rd word of their post incorrectly – I have to comment.

      • I hate it when people are clearly note paying attention to their spelling.

        • I hates it too, drives me nuts!!!! AAAARRRRGGGHHHH

    • Darrell Jones

      Since I was quoting things that appear in the actual verdict rather than just making stuff up I don’t believe have misunderstood the law. I accept I am not a patent lawyer but neither I suspect are you.

      Your “I could correct you but it would take to long” is the adolescent excuse common to many dumb Internet arguments. Either show me where I am wrong or STFU.

      • Jimmy Mac

        It appears as though I really needed that holiday…

        I am sorry for saying such strange and childish things, even I don’t see the relevance in what I said.

        You are indeed correct, I am not an attorney, although I will be taking my final European qualifying examinations in February. My major hang up is that tech websites perpetuate certain negative impressions about patents and designs and I think I must have assumed you had done the same. Now though having re-read your article I can see that I am wrong. My apologies once again.

        As an offering, please take a look at this (in my opinion) interesting Apple patent story; http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/apples-european-slide-to-unlock-patent.html

        The blog makes a lot of reference to cats which at times can be exhausting but see past this and the reporting is very good. The summary is that even Apple cannot get/keep a patent for non-inventive concepts. I hope you enjoy.

        Regards,

        Jimmy

        • Darrell Jones

          No problem Jim (can i call you Jim?). As it happens while I am not a patent attorney i do work for a firm of them, so if you are looking for a position after you qualify I might be able to assist.

          • Jimmy Mac

            Wow thank you very much! I expect to qualify and to then only practice part time, in my current firm I advise on technology and assist in engineering projects. I think it is the only place in the world that I can wear those two hats, I think engineering and patents should compliment each other. What kind of work does your firm do?

          • Darrell Jones

            Can’t really talk to much about work here. If you find me on G+, hangouts or Telegram we can talk.