back to article The verdict is in: Samsung to pay Apple $120m chump change, but gets tiny rebate

The jury in the latest case of Apple verses Samsung patent infringement has reached a verdict just in time for a balmy California weekend, fining the Korean firm $119.6 million for infringing on two of Cupertino's patents. "We are grateful to the jury and the court for their service," an Apple spokeswoman told The Register. " …


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  1. arkhangelsk

    Wait a minute...

    Quick links and Slide to Unlock (frivolous features) >100 million

    File storage system (fundamental issue) = 150 thousand.

    Is there an unfair disparity in valuation here?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait a minute...

      I think you're assuming Samsung invented the filesystem or something. That patent looks to be even more frivolous than slide to unlock.

    3. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Wait a minute...

      "Quick links and Slide to Unlock (frivolous features) >100 million"

      Hindsight always has 20/20 vision. It's also easy to forget that this lawsuit has been rumbling on for years and predates the 3.x and 4.x Android releases. It's mainly concerned with older Android v1.x and v2.x devices.

      Nevertheless, you don't get to blame Apple for the collective failures of their rivals to come up with a successful multi-touch UI for smartphones (and, later, tablets). None of the hardware that appeared in the first iPhone was new; Nokia, SonyEricsson, Samsung, HTC, etc. all had their chance to nail it first. That they did not is entirely their own damned fault.

      Furthermore, Microsoft have clearly shown that you don't have to slavishly copy iOS to create a good multi-touch UI. So Samsung cannot play the "But... you HAVE to do it that way!" card either. Which is exactly what they were implying back in the v1.x and v2.x Android era.

      (Incidentally, the "Slide to Unlock" patent is very specific. It doesn't apply to the method used on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 / Windows 8 devices, for example.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wait a minute...

        > Microsoft have clearly shown that you don't have to slavishly copy iOS to create a good crap multi-touch UI

        Fixed it for you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Condiment - Windows Phone UI

          Whether any UI - iOS, Android, WP, Blackberry, etc. is "good" or "crap" is obviously a matter of opinion. The fact is, they departed from what iOS does a lot more than Android did, and what's more, they didn't have to - Apple and Microsoft have a patent cross licensing agreement so they could have chosen to copy iOS very closely had they wished. Maybe you don't like the tiles, but at least they tried something different, unlike Android.

          There are more things in the Windows Phone UI that I think "hmmm, I think I might like to have that in iOS" than I see in Android. To me, Android is like iOS with the kitchen sink thrown in...something for everyone, and everything can be configured differently. That's nice, but there's no cohesion as to what is "Android". To some extent, that was desirable for Google to help get people to adopt it, as it allowed Samsung and the other OEMs to put their own layer on top for brand differentiation. Sounds like Google is trying to turn back the clock on that though with this whole "Android Silver" business, which is going to upset the people who liked the variety.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Condiment - Windows Phone UI

            "at least they tried something different, unlike Android."

            Really? As someone who uses iOS and stock Android (Nexus) a lot, I can honestly say that they are quite different experiences, despite a few similarities on the surface. There are aspects of both that work very well and neither is at all unpleasant. Both require different workflows that obviously suit different needs.

          2. Paul Shirley

            @DougS patent cross licence

            You forget they didn't just cross licence patents,they agreed to cooperate on attacking android AND Microsoft agreed not to use the look & feel of ios to gain apple support. Almost every ui decision in wp is driven by that need to be different even if different is inferior, driven by the desire of two tech companies to interfere with another companies business by fair means or foul.

            The result has been a ui the buying public largely ignore and sales dominated by the budget pricing of Nokias lowest end devices. A ui where the closest to unique features seem to be vanishing with each update as Microsoft realise the few journalists raving about things like the hubs aren't actually influencing public opinion or driving sales, leaving wp increasingly just a subset of the feature set of ios and android with sharper corners and half as well implemented.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @DougS patent cross licence

              Where's your proof for "they agreed to cooperate on attacking Android"? Sounds like you're just making an assumption borne out of dislike for both.

              Apple and Microsoft's cross licensing agreements predate the iPhone by a couple decades. It has nothing to do with it, other than the agreements cover new patents and just not the ones that existed at the time the deal was signed/renewed.

              They don't have any reason/need to "cooperate" against Android, each has their own patents they're concerned with. Microsoft isn't basing their licensing fees on touch UI, but stuff like FAT filesystem patents. Apple's suits on the other hand only have to do with UI features, not filesystem type stuff (there would be no point for a phone to implement the HFS+ filesystem)

              1. Paul Shirley

                @DougS they admitted it to a court

                Apple were forced to admit the MS deal and it's no copy requirement in court during the first Samsung trial., one of many reports.

                It's fortunate that some of us have longer memories than Apple/MS need to get away with astroturfing.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @DougS they admitted it to a court

                  That says nothing about cooperating to hit Samsung, only that Apple made sure that the cross licensing deal didn't allow MS to clone the iPhone (which was probably unnecessary, as I doubt they'd consider it even if allowed)

                  The terms of cross licensing deals are always kept secret. Go see if you can find the terms of the cross licensing agreement for x86 between Intel and AMD if you don't believe me. So the fact that a "secret deal" was revealed during the trial is hardly surprising. The discovery process often requires the parties involved in a suit to reveal the terms of contracts that are normally secret.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait a minute...

      "Is there an unfair disparity in valuation here?"

      As others have said, patents of dubious value on both sides, but I think the point is that this is a US court, and the home (corporate) team have to win, regardless of the fairness, significance, or ultimate harm to consumers.

      If you want further evidence of this bias, you may recall that Obama intervened to support a ban on import and sale of certain Samsung phones, yet intervened to block a ban on Apple products that had similar legitimacy (or similar lack of, depending on your view).

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Wait a minute...

        Part of Samsung's strategy was to convince the jury that the value of patents wasn't as high as Apple were claiming. One of the ways they did that was by deliberately lowballing their claims for their two patents. Not surprising they didn't get awarded much when they didn't ask for much. It does however seem to have worked in their favour.

        As for Obama vetoing the import ban on Apple devices, that was because the ban was based on the use of FRAND patents, which Samsung had given legal undertakings that they wouldn't use that way and for which they were being investigated in Europe.

    5. Oh Homer
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Wait a minute...

      I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that adding "http://" to an unbroken string beginning with "www" is somehow worth $120 million, even if you throw in that other idea that's probably been around since the ancient egyptians.

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Wait a minute...

        Perhapse because that's not what it does? The patent is for scanning and tagging text such that the original text remains but is highlighted. Tapping on highlighted text takes you to the associated app for that kind of data (if it's a www address then yes, the web browser, but it could be an address, a calendar entry etc.) and uses the data highlighted. If you can figure a way of doing that by simply sticking "http://" on the front of a web address then I'm sure people would like to hear from you.

        1. Oh Homer

          Re: Wait a minute...

          Ooh, it parses @ symbols too, Sweeney! Well that definitely makes it worth $120 million.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wait a minute...

          So they have a patent on a regex? Wow. I had a smart phone from around 2003 that used to do the same thing and I never would have expected any manufacturer to patent such functionality - I'd just expect it to work.

          Don't get me wrong - I'm a very happy user of several Apple products, but the foundations on which this lawsuit is able to exist are severely broken.

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: Wait a minute...

            Don't forget that the data recogniser patent is old (filed in 1996, granted in 1999) and the process is actually quite complex (Android has a class dedicated to the job called Linkify). It's also far from impossible to work around (HTC have managed it to the satisfaction of the ITC). It was far from an obvious concept when it was filed, and it's not "just regex".

        3. ElReg!comments!Pierre

          Re: Wait a minute...

          >If you can figure a way of doing that

          I'd say any pimply-faced student with basic PERL knowledge would crack this one in roughly 30 min.

          How disheartening for them to learn that they could make $110 M per 6 month instead of working night shifts at McDonalds to pay for school.

        4. That's it man, game over man, game over!

          Re: Wait a minute...

          Do you mean like a regular expression?

    6. DAN*tastik

      Re: Wait a minute...

      I hope that the biggest part of the compensation comes from the quick links part. Otherwise virtually every company that offers a public toilet is in trouble. The primary school I went to, 32 years ago when I was 6, was already infringing their patent when it came to opening the bog door. Same with every airline I've been on. Good luck to them then!

  2. 0_Flybert_0

    .. biting the hand that feeds your supply chain ..

    .. no problem .. Samsung just raises the price again on the ARM chips Apple can't seem to get in quantity .. quality or delivering dates they need from anyone else in the world ..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: .. biting the hand that feeds your supply chain ..

      There's no evidence Samsung has ever upped component costs for Apple; it's just a popular assumption that alleges Samsung to have the temperament of a five-year old.

      1. eulampios

        speaking of a temeperament of a 5 year old

        as well as "the sense of fairness" inherent to this age. This is rather Apple with their

        - Mommy, look -- he took my scoop, I want it back NOW! (hysterically)

        - No, dear, it's not yours, look, all of your 10 scoops and buckets are at home, remember, it was you that have taken it from the other kids?

        And the juries this time were a little more mature, a few months older it seems.

      2. henrydddd

        Re: .. biting the hand that feeds your supply chain ..

        It takes the mentality of a 5 year old to think that the slide to unlock patent is nothing but patent overreach

        1. ThomH

          Re: .. biting the hand that feeds your supply chain .. @henrydddd

          I think you might mean the opposite?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: .. biting the hand that feeds your supply chain ..

        That and the contract only says you can; if the contract was up, then Samsung had every right to increase the cost. Apple was free to go to any other company to get their chips made at. If another company couldn't fulfill the order, then Apple had a choice to either use multiple companies or just one. At the end of the day, it was a choice Apple made.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: .. biting the hand that feeds your supply chain ..

      If samsung tried that apple would be in talks with intel (if they aren't already in frequent talks with them) about using intels spare fab capacity.

      Samsung and Apple do business because it makes sense, samsung can deliver the scale apple needs and the quality at a sensible price point. Apple can write a big enough cheque to samsung to help them overlook squabbles. Whats a few hundred million in legal fees and fines compared to billions a quarter for cpu's and dram? It's a rare example of common sense prevailing.

  3. Schultz

    They're all playing the patent lottery...

    but in this lottery you win more if you play in your home town.

    1. DiViDeD

      "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

      Beloved? BELOVED? WTF?

      It's a mobile phone fercrissake! It's not a member of the bloody family! Or is this what happens when people start believing that 'brand awareness' and 'brand loyalty' are real?

      1. frank ly

        Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

        " ... which our employees devote their lives to designing and delivering for our customers."

        That's true love.

        1. Eddy Ito

          Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

          True enough. I had a coffee cup that on one side read "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job"

          The other side read "I need the money".

          1. Fatman

            Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

            The other side read "I need the money hate my boss".


            Now, before this comes back to bite me in the ass, I really like my boss.

            She is a Princess!!

      2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

        Have you ever heard of a TV programme called "Top Gear"?

        People have been treating inanimate objects like this since prehistoric times.

        We often view anything that has complex behaviours as being capable of independent thought and action. (Especially if the thing in question also exhibits unpredictable, "chaotic" behaviour, though only up to a point.) This is why some worship deities, while others worship cars, ships, steam locomotives, or smartphones.

        Believe it or not, designers are well aware of this human trait. The good ones will deliberately exploit it. And it's not just product design either. Good marketing people can also use this to their advantage when it comes to branding. After all, Apple and Samsung are also complex entities with more than a hint of the unpredictable.

        And if that sounds like the formula for a cliché romantic comedy, there's a very good reason: Design patterns are everywhere and Homo Sapiens is no exception.

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Sean Timarco Baggaley

          Have you ever heard of a TV programme called "Top Gear"?

          People have been treating inanimate objects like this since prehistoric times.

          Thrashing the fuck out of them and crashing them into things?

        2. Hans 1

          Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

          >We often view anything that has complex behaviours as being capable of independent thought and action.

          With "anything that has complex behaviours" you mean Windows/OS X/Android users?

      3. Chris G

        Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

        Coming from an employee it is probably just mandatory (for him) hype but for the fanbois/gurlz out there, personification or anthropomorphism is common for a lot more than just iThings, there are a lot of sad people in the world who need a life but instead fall in love with things they own.

        I am guessing a great many tech's amongst others apply resistentialism to the equipment they work with, a similar thing but slightly more paranoiac.

        Yesterday I was in a hurry and this PC decided to black screen me instead booting up, it did it three times in a row until I threatened it with a severe beating.

        1. SuccessCase

          Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

          The word "love" has a wide range of meaning, and doesn't have to have a human target. When I say "I love spaghetti" nobody thinks I'm angling for a marriage, getting a boner over my plate of processed wheat - or, for that matter, cheating when tomorrow I express my love for Ravioli.

          I personally find it strange when people aren't passionate about the things around them. We only have one life, and we should avoid valuing material possessions too highly, but then that thought can also in some senses be reversed; we only have one life and we shouldn't bother with crap or tolerate substandard design. The best design allows us to achieve our objectives while getting the hell out the way.

          One of my own passions is typeface design. The typefaces I value are, without fail, in every case produced by people who are themselves passionate about typeface design.

          I expect the designers of the things I buy to be passionate about what they design. This The Verge story about Leica gives the perfect example of what I mean:

          Tell me the designers at Leica don't love what they do.

          The prescient concept isn't from the verb "anthropomorphise," a more appropriate concept is the noun "aesthete." Personally I'm not a thoroughgoing aesthete; though I wouldn't mind being. But I am passionate about design.

          And this is the real problem many have with Apple. The company, like Leica, produces products some suspect are for "aesthetes" and that attracts scorn. But if we are honest, most people want to be thought of as a bit aesthete themselves, and aren't because they haven't tried to educate themselves or have shied away from superior design due fearing it leads down a road to unaffordable expense (actually a fallacy, but a commonly held one)

          I've noticed that when some people detect someone is adopting the ideal of an aesthete, they often feel challenged by it and get a bit nasty. They like to paint the putative aesthete as arrogant, pretentious or privileged and while sometimes (or even often) that may often be the case, it isn't necessarily so. The aesthete can just as often be a poor but passionate field photographer, filming an erupting volcanoe, or a farmer following Ruskin's rules for the English rural idyl. From the world of fiction, James Bond is a famous aesthete (yes he is arrogant, but also kind of cool).

          The problem Samsung has is precisely that their devices are purchased by the kind of people who see being passionate about industrial design as grounds to be considered a bit of a dick. In the technologist market, the Samsung brand is identified with such people; they wear their disdain for anyone with a different view like a badge.

          Wake up ! The result is before you and its called the Galaxy Gear :)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

          'Sad' is right, though not in the sense of 'loser', as too many would translate it. Sentience is hard. Some make a smart move or a lucky one and get their self-worth affirmed and some just stay too busy for self-doubt - which also might be a smart move (probably depending on how they feel about it on their death-bed); but many, possibly most, likely fear maybe they don't even really exist; or that they're inadequate to this task that is 'living'. So in the former, they construct an identity around common, socially-valued objects (typically consumer goods) - and attitudes - from which to define themselves. In the latter case they do it that others will define them as more self-assured than they really are. It's either to fool themselves; to fool everyone else; or both; and a case of 'there, but for the grace of...'.

          (And many use religion instead, of course. Or a combination, kind of like multiple 'recreational' drug-use).

          And as the caffeine/nicotine withdrawal begins to bite and I get my next fix, the insight will vanish in the miasma of addiction satisfied; I will return to suppressing existential doubt beneath the more-pressing issue of getting max. performance out of this PC.

  4. Mitoo Bobsworth


    "Apple has said it had spent over half that in lawyers' fees alone."

    Well, waaaaaaaaahh!

    Perhaps you're suing them wrong?

    No sympathy here.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: $119.6m

      Strange how many allegedly intelligent people forget that protecting patents is a legal obligation for an entity like Apple. Same goes for Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, and so on. These companies have no choice but to hurl sue-balls at each other with tiresome regularity.

      This is what happens when you let the very lawyers who benefit from such a system enter politics. They're hardly going to do their friends and colleagues out of a job, are they? (A similar situation exists with accounting, banking and finance. Guess how many politicians are involved in those fields too.)

      What you're whining about is a symptom. For the underlying cause, go look in a mirror.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: $119.6m

        >Strange how many allegedly intelligent people forget that protecting patents

        I don't think people are against Apple protecting their real innovations. I think people are against Apple using very weak patents that should have never been granted as a tool to block competitors products.

        I think it's made even worse that Apple and their fans go on and on about all this innovation that Apple has made which isn't reflected at all in the sort of patents Apple hold.

      2. ratfox

        legal obligation

        Not quite. It may be a fiduciary responsibility to protect the investment of the shareholders, but this would have been achieved more sensibly by agreeing to a settlement with Samsung. Declaring a lawsuit holy war takes more time, costs more money, without necessary bringing more results. It also makes you more enemies.

        You might be confusing this with trademark law, which forces a company to defend its trademarks or lose them. Patents don't work that way.

        1. Philip Lewis

          Re: legal obligation

          "You might be confusing this with trademark law, which forces a company to defend its trademarks or lose them. Patents don't work that way"

          The rules of incorporation do though, and obligate the company's officers to protect the assets of the company and act in a profit maximising manner.

          There is little doubt that patent infringement occurs in all industries. Some of it is accidental (but it is still infringement), while some of it is intentional (a more severe case). On the balance of the evidence, it is very hard for the objective observer to reach any conclusion other than that copying has taken place in the Apple v. Samsung cases. And this is a statement independent of the "merits" or "significance" of the specific patents being litigated.

          Slide to unlock is very specific. Samsung copied it (I can say this with absolute conviction now that the jury is in). There are an infinite (literally) number of solutions to this relatively trivial, but relevant design problem, just as there are an infinite number of ways to show battery depletion other than a stylized horizontal green battery, or the shape of a curve (is the message sinking in yet?)

          With the introduction of the iPhone, Samsung, suddenly found themselves playing in the wrong ball park, ostensibly because Apple moved the game to another town. Their solution was, and this should be obvious to even the most rabid, biased fandroid, to copy what Apple had done with the iPhone - it was the only quick way to get to the other town where the game was now being played.

          This was not the only choice Samsung had! As another poster observed, starting from scratch can result in something completely unique and quite usable/good/crap - WP8. Just as it is obvious by looking at Samsung's wide range of phone offerings prior and post iPhone release, and also the excellent Lumia (oops. Nokia N9) physical design, physical appearance does not have to closely resemble an iPhone either. There are infinite possibilities, and infinite is a vary large number folks.

          The endless completely bogus arguments about whether Judge Koh is biased (an appallingly rabid and sadly common viewpoint), or whether software patents should have been awarded, very largely miss the point.

          In the absence of any knowledge of patents, trade dress rules (design patents), trademark and copyright law etc., it is abundantly clear to the casual observer and to those willing to look at the evidence presented in court, that Samsung copied Apple's product and have continued to do so in many areas (while they tried to come up with something unique of their own).

          The philosophical question to be asked is, "Is this OK?" and if it is not, "How can we stop it happening and provide compensation for the victim when it does happen?". The answers are "No", it is not OK to copy and the list of legal concepts I mentioned are some of the frameworks for adjudicating events and compensating the damaged party.

          Attacking Judges personally and several hundred years of lawmaking and legal philosophy in general because you hate a particular corporation and/or its products (itself the act of a defective personality), demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what is going on, and what should be going on. While Law != Justice, the objective of Law is Justice.

          Samsung have copied a lot of stuff, a lot from the iPhone. They deserve to get dinged for these transgressions. As the dust settles, justice is seen to have been served.

      3. Roo

        Re: $119.6m

        "protecting patents is a legal obligation for an entity like Apple"

        Can you point us at the relevant legislation ?

      4. Mitoo Bobsworth

        Re: $119.6m

        @ Sean Timarco Baggaley

        I resent your allegation of intelligence - I am remarkably average & I'm good with that.

        I'm the punter that Apple and/or Samsung want to sell their stuff to, & I'm happy to buy if it suits my needs. However, when I see a Massive corporation with MASSIVE resource complaining about a settlement they say is a little less than double their lawyers fees, the only thing I can think is "Great - once you get it, you can pay the fuckers off without dipping into your war chest."

        I do own Apple kit amongst my tech, & I enjoy using it. What I don't enjoy is Apples ugly overreaching attitude on a lot of these patently ridiculous patent claims. If they are as Innovative and as great as their PR & Marketing likes to tell us, then fine. Stop tying up precious court time, get back into your think tanks & show us.

        BTW, I wasn't whining, that was naked sarcasm. If you need to practice this, go look in a mirror.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Roo

      Re: Way too low.

      "The amount of effort and work that goes into technology and software is huge, $120 million odd is more like an insult, the number should be much higher."

      Well if you're feeling that's a bit unfair you should spare a thought for all the folks who are asking Apple for payment for the stuff relating to various 3G & LTE patents, that stuff is a lot harder to develop, costs a lot more to develop, and is licensed for a lot less...

      The net result is that money is travelling from the guys solving the hard problems that help everyone (eg: wireless standards) to the guys who are copying the look and feel of a drawbolt. That strikes me as a recipe for stagnation and gouging rather than progress and benefiting society as a whole.

      I don't particularly mind Apple or anyone else doing stuff their own way, I just resent them holding everyone else back over stupid stuff that costs a pittance to develop while refusing to pay licensing fees they owe for FRAND patents. Ultimately that approach will hurt their customers through lack of choice & price gouging, and it will hurt people trying to innovate. We've seen that time & time again in the software biz, so I am surprised that there are people who seem to want to take more monopoly style punishment.

  6. Andrew Commons

    Where would we be if....

    Xerox PARC patented stuff?

    Or maybe they did and just let it slide.

    Anyone know?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where would we be if....

      Apple PAID for the technology.

      End of.

      ps: Everyone who can read and who can be bothered to know, "knows"

      1. Andrew Commons

        Re: Where would we be if....

        Maybe you should read some more:

        Apple licensed the mouse.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Where would we be if....

          Maybe you should read a bit more yourself. Xerox decided to jump on the band wagon when Apple were fighting Microsoft. The courts looked at their case and threw it out. Part of the reason for that was that Apple had paid in pre-IPO shares to look at what Xerox were working on and commercialise it, partly because MacOS was very different to Xerox Star (Star didn't have the concepts of a file finder and redrawing uncovered windows for example).

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: Where would we be if....

            Here's the NY Times link in evidence.


  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slide-to-unlock tut-tut

    Still sounds like recycle bin icon patenting to me, also as pointed out countless times there was prior art, so Apple copied then patented.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slide-to-unlock tut-tut

      Unfortunately for you and your moronic upvoters, the patent is nothing like that, so you are blowing smelly air out of your ignorant arse.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Andrew Jones 2

    Perhaps someone should patent the ability to install software on a mobile device, perhaps from a preloaded "app store" after all - the first iPhone did not have the ability to do so. Oh... but wait... that's right - Apple already applied for a patent to install and manage software running on a mobile device. God help the rest of technology when that patent is granted...

  9. localzuk Silver badge

    The entire patent system in the USA is nonsense

    Nearly every case I've seen in the last few years, relating to Apple, Samsung, Nokia or whoever else in this patent fighting party, seems to be frivolous and shouldn't have been brought. The reason being that the patents in question nearly always have at least one of these flaws:

    1. Obvious and not innovative

    2. Prior art exists before the patent was logged

    The only cases that seem to have any merit are those regarding licensing of FRAND patents, and those are about things fundamental to the operation of phones using standards.

    What we seem to be seeing though is that those foreign companies that hold FRAND patents seem to be treated like crap by the US justice system, and those who hold crappy "slide to unlock" patents get handed huge amounts of money. Those foreign companies aren't able to block sale of US produced goods, but US companies are able to block import of foreign devices.

    The entire US system is flawed from a perspective of protectionism, from a faulty patent system and from a judicial system that seems unable to understand even the simplest of technologies.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: The entire patent system in the USA is nonsense

      Prior Art for the purposes of applying for and receiving a patent is not the same Prior Art used to defend oneself against alleged infringement.

      The USPTO looks at a very limited number of sources for Prior Art when granting a patent. The source list is publicly available and is updated for each category/industry several times a year. If those sources nor the USPTO library don't contain Prior Art then it does not qualify as Prior Art for the purposes of granting a patent.

      If somebody sued you for alleged infringement you can present any source you want to prove the patent should be nullified and the Judge will determine if that source is admissible.

      I've been on all sides of this and the public is seriously misinformed about what Prior Art is and how it is used. I feel as though I've got a decent handle on it. The licensing from my patents is a considerable source of income for me. There are as many caveats, exceptions and special cases in Patent Law as there are with any other aspect of US law. Best not to get involved until you've been exposed to them. It is not a simple thing. Whether or not it should be simple is a matter of opinion. But the fact is it isn't simple and that's the reality you've got to deal with.

      1. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: The entire patent system in the USA is nonsense

        Whatever the system, it is broken. That's my point. If the USPTO isn't doing a proper search for prior art, then US patents aren't worth the paper they're written on.

        It should be simple. If you invent something, and by invent I mean are the first person to come up with the idea of how to do something unique and innovative (not swipe to unlock), then you should be able to get a patent. In order to get that patent, a thorough search should be performed - at the claimant's cost. Just like if you go and buy a building, or whatever - the cost of doing it is entirely up to you as the buyer.

  10. Keep Refrigerated

    Samsung is never going to win in this type of case...

    Anyone with any amount of credible technical knowledge knows that to patent such a thing as slide [sliding your finger across a touchscreen] to unlock [perform action] would have to declare it - therefore having knowledge and an opinion on the case means that they would be disqualified from the jury - as has already happened twice now (ignoring the fact that jury members objectivity relies upon their own testimony that they can be objective):

    What this means is you're left with a jury of people who have no understanding of how technology works - that it's all just magic inside a small casing with a screen - therefore if one screen does something the other screen does - then they must have copied!

    So my question is, why hasn't someone yet filed a patent for "pull to catapult"? They could make a lot of money suing Rovio - Apple is 'sliding' to 'unlock', Rovio is 'pulling' to 'catapult' - totally and obviously completely different!

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: Samsung is never going to win in this type of case...

      I don't think you understand how the legal system works. The idea is that the job of the lawyers is to convince a fair and impartial jury that their argument is correct. The jury don't need to be experts in the field (do you want people accused of murder to be tried by a jury of killers?), just to be able to understand the arguments. The arguments here weren't that technical or complicated, nor would have a juror having the technical knowledge of how to code this have disqualified them (bias toward either side, like you're showing, would).

  11. Don Jefe

    Cost Centers & Court Awards

    The article said something like ''$119.6 million isn't that much in the overall scheme of things, they've spend half that amount on legal fees".

    Then that's twice as good as they hoped. Trolls (non producing litigators) aside, they're different, corporate law underwent a massive shift during the late 1990's. Prior to dotcom v1 in house legal was mostly a cost center like IT still is. You've got to have them, but they don't generate any revenue by themselves (like facilities maintenance and security) and they're really expensive. Doubly so because they don't bring anything in.

    Conversations at conferences during the mid-90's morphed into their own mini-conferences and everything changed. Now, instead of having legal teams that just sucked money, you had a revenue generating business unit that paid for itself (including all their regular bullshit tasks) and could potentially turn a profit. That's a big, big deal you know. Accountants and investors go home and masturbate over things like that.

    As with most revenue producing business units, Legal now operates fairly autonomously within the company. They pick and choose who to sue, for how much and allocate the resources to get it done. Most companies have Legal as a unit of Operations and it's extremely rare that any of the Executives, including the CEO and Board know who they are suing or being sued by. The general public knows as much about most ongoing litigation as a company's top officers, at least until cases are settled. Ongoing litigation doesn't affect anyone's financials until the case is closed and no appeals are occurring or available; but that's an entirely different matter

    My point, is that if Legal covers just their costs the results on the books are far larger than they would be if the same money came through product/service sales. If Legal gets a big win like this the bottom line impacts are staggeringly large.

    I felt the distinction in how Legal has evolved was important to note. You can't compare the dollar amounts of Legal directly with the amounts of sales or margins. Legal has no inventory tied to it or support costs it doesn't cover itself (ideally) and a nine or ten figure expense becomes just another cost of revenue. Not that it makes a difference to consumers, they get fucked either way, but hopefully the information at least sheds some light on why IP litigation has become so popular. It's a 3x win over sales.

    1. Roo

      Re: Cost Centers & Court Awards

      I get that point (3x win over sales), doesn't stop me wanting to change the facts of life in this instance.

      (your post reminded me of Otto Z Stern on a good day)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Samsung admits Apple "will be dancing in the streets" with this win!

    Samsung's own lawyer said Apple would be dancing in the streets of Cupertino if they got $100 million.

    They got $120 million.

    The bottom line is that Samsung has once again been labeled a thief and a copycat in a court of law, and world opinion.

    Samsung spent substantially more than $158,000 to go out and buy a couple of patents so they could even have a countersuit against Apple. Even when they "won", they lost.

    Let the dancing begin!

  13. Glostermeteor

    The only winners.......

    Are the lawyers. What a ridiculous pointless court case. The judge should fine both companies 100% of 1 years worldwide revenue for being such a ridiculous waste of resources and wasting court time, that would stop them bringing any more ridiculous cases again. Neither of them invented any of the ideas in question with these patents, they both stood on the shoulders of giants before them, so they both deserve nothing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1. Roo


      I am sure that article makes many an outraged Apple fan feel very pious, sadly it doesn't explain how Apple (and others) infringing Wireless FRAND patents with impunity is going to encourage Samsung et al to continue sinking $bns into developing mobile standards so that we don't have to use the same brand of phone to communicate with each other.

      My coat contains a 1999 vintage Samsung phone that shamelessly identifies phone numbers in texts and offers to add them to the contacts list. ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        It has been widely reported that the patents that Samsung asserted in this case were purchased from a 3rd party specifically to have something to throw at Apple. I have no idea whether they were FRAND or not (I cannot be bothered to check at this point).

        Apple is not obliged to allow itself to be gouged on FRAND patents and while they are obligated to pay for those patents that are not extinguished through the purchase of the implementation from 3rd parties who themselves have already paid (think comms chips and Motorola's reprehensible attempts to accomplish this), there is a requirement for all the elements of the FRAND acronym to be in place.

  15. clint11

    Apple would patent the air if they could then charge us for breathing it

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Sadly, this is only the beginning....

    Now that the jury is done with it, the appeals process begins. We'll have a new President before anyone but the lawyers makes a dime out of this.

    Let the Game of Phones ( wish I had come up with that term) commence!

  17. johnnymotel

    Samsung: serial infringer

    If you read up on Samsung, you will discover they have a long history of 'copying' their competitors products, getting sued by competitor, suing back at competitor and then dragging the whole legal stuff out in the courts for as long as possible.

    If it hadn't been Apple, it would have been another phone company. Would the vitriol thrown against Apple be quite as strong if it was Nokia suing Samsung for patent infringement?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Samsung: serial infringer

      Excellent article.

      I had forgotten about a couple of those Shamsung episodes. They are, and always have been a tawdry little copyist, willing to bet that no fine will be big enough to dent the profits available to them by stealing others' work.

      A pity more of their executives and employees have not been gaoled. More crooked executives behind bars for long sentences is the best way forward to improve corporate behaviour.

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