back to article Silicon Valley sides with Samsung in anti-Apple patent war

A coalition of Silicon Valley giants has submitted an amicus brief to a court hearing an appeal from Samsung in its ongoing patent dispute with Apple, offering support to the South Korean conglomerate. The friends of the court submitted their message to the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, currently hearing Samsung's …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does seem absurd to me to be honest. If a car was found to have a few lines of code in its cpu that subsequently turned out was infringing on some crappy patent, then the car company's profits for their entire production range which had that CPU would have their profits handed over?

    Patently absurd.

    1. Dazed and Confused

      What's good for the goose...

      Apple have been arguing exactly this point when it comes to their usage of standards essential patents. They've argued that they shouldn't have to pay a percentage figure as that means that for their expensive phones it means they need to pay more than the manufactures of cheap phones, which they argue isn't fair.

      Surely they can't have it both ways in 2 different court cases, this must surely mean they are lying in at least 1 of the courts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's good for the goose...

        We are talking about lawyers here after all

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Dazed and Confused

        You misunderstand the FRAND patent issue. The argument isn't "you shouldn't use a percentage of the phone's price because our phones are expensive" the argument is "you shouldn't use a percentage of the phone's price when others are paying a percentage of the sales price of the chip that implements the patented technology".

        It is a pure money grab from FRAND patent owners who used to get 2% of the sales price of a $10 chip suddenly claiming they are entitled to 2% of the sales price of a $600 phone (or even a $100 phone) If an Airbus includes that chip, should they pay 2% of the $100 million sales price of an A380?

        1. Tom 13

          Re: @Dazed and Confused

          Gads the Apple fanbois are as rabid as their lawyers.

          IF Apple had licensed properly, they would have gotten the FRAND rates. Just because it's FRAND doesn't negate the obligation to pay for the patents involved. Break the law and the FRAND agreement is null and void. Paying on the full price of the device is the price paid for KNOWINGLY infringing on the patent.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: What's good for the goose...

        "Surely they can't have it both ways in 2 different court cases, this must surely mean they are lying in at least 1 of the courts."

        Plausible deniability. Different legal teams who have no contact with each other. "Clean room" law :-)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only in America!

    enough said

  3. Randy Hudson

    Just the facts

    SAS Institute is located in Cary, NC, not Silicon Valley.

  4. Mage Silver badge

    Apple vs Samsung

    Apple has bought in a couple of techs

    Does almost no real R&D

    The "Design Patents" themselves are not engineering or R&D at all, but STYLE (copied from Braun!), what is called Registered Design in UK. Unlike the iconic fluted Coke Bottle (inspired by cocoa pod?) the Apple styles are too generic and should never have been awarded.

    The Patents Apple wants special treatment on are REAL engineering & science patents. Every one else has agreed deals.

    Apple also have the most overpriced kit, they are a MARKETING company, hence have the biggest profit margin and largest value despite having a minority of the market. Apple Greed and dishonesty.

    Exactly what to Apple have that wasn't a copy or bought in (iOS GUI from Fingerworks, OSX from Next / BSD, they used Samsung SC6400 ARM family in 1st iPhone and then bought a niche ARM designer). Almost all Ives stuff is copied from / inspired by 1950s & 1960s Braun stuff by Dieter Rams, he's a stylist, not an Engineer. Apple even copied the Swiss Railways clock.

    iPhone and iPad names even belonged to others first.

    Apple Logo and name shamelessly pinched from Beatles Apple Corp (two court cases, after the first they agreed to keep out of Music Industry, then Apple launched iTunes).

    I don't much like many of the other guys, but Apple deserve ZERO damages and ought to have the bulk of their claims at USPTO scrapped as too generic, too derivative or plain copy / prior art or too trivial or too obvious to anyone versed in the Art.

    Buying Beats, a perfect purchase as another cheaply made product sold far above its retail value.

    1. Steve Todd Silver badge

      Re: Apple vs Samsung

      Apple currently spends just shy of $2bn/quarter on R&D. They design their own CPUs and have patents for battery, screen and aerial technologies among others that they have developed in house. Obviously they spend next to nothing on R&D.

      Love them or hate them, Samsung were found guilty of copying Apple's designs, and even wrote a manual to that effect. How much Apple should receive for that is up for argument but that major copying happened is an established fact. Samsung also have a long track history of doing precisely this with other companies.

      1. anoncow

        Re: Apple vs Samsung

        "They design their own CPUs"

        ...they don't really. They combine circuits that they buy from ARM, mainly fiddling with the IO circuitry and top level geometry. It's a long way from "designing a CPU", which would involve for example, design the ALU, including complex circuitry to handle such challenges as superscalar instruction dependencies. In terms of CPU design, this is roughly analogous to Apple generating content for a video game using Maya, while somebody else with considerably greater skill develops the game engine, which Apple licenses. Much as Apple licenses the ARM core, and multiple IP cores that support it.

        1. Steve Todd Silver badge

          Re: Apple vs Samsung

          Yes they do design CPUs. They have an Architectural licence from ARM. They create designs that conform to ARMs instruction set designs, but they are unrelated to the ARM hardware designs. Remember they were the first to market with a 64 bit ARM 8 compatible CPU, and their design runs faster, clock for clock, than ARMs own A50 series. They did the same with the 32 bit Swift core that came before that, and Qualcomm do the same kind of thing for their CPUs.

          Don't forget BTW, Apple bought the chip design co PA Semi some time back. They have plenty of in-house experience to do that kind of work, along with power-gating to improve battery life.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Apple vs Samsung

            When we talk about the design of a processor we talk about its architecture. The fact that Apple made some tweaks to the Arm 8 architecture does not in anyway make "Apple processor" as their own.

            PA Semi??? Who are they? What processor did they design? Where are they used? Anyone can start up company but to be successful is another story.

            Qualcomm do the same kind of thing - are you kidding? I believe that companies (including Apple) all over the world are paying Qualcomm to use their processors.

      2. Lazar

        Re: Apple vs Samsung

        It's not a manual.

        It's a Competitive Analysis Report between the 2 phones. Every single company does it for their competitors products. You can bet that Samsung have reports for other phones during that time.

        And you can bet your arse that Apple have reports for their competitors phones. It's part of the process to figure out what functions and ideas you can bring to your next iteration of you product.

        Are you that stupid to think that Samsung only produced a "manual" for the iPhone and the iPhone alone??

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apple vs Samsung

          The evidence presented to the court showed exactly this. That is indisputable, yet fuckwits like you continue to dispute it.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Apple vs Samsung

        "copying Apple's designs"

        I'm wondering if, especially when talking about technology, we ought to get away from talking about "designs" and "patents" when referring to the confusingly named "Design Patents" and call them what they are. Art, or elements or art, or stylistic design or anything which implies aesthetics rather than engineering.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple vs Samsung

      How many more times?

      Find something the the Braun catalogue that looks like an Apple product.

      Go on find something.

      Dieter Rams has publicly said how much he admires Ive's designs and doesn't think they look like his at all.

      Alos please look at the Apple Corps logo and then look at the the Apple logo.

      The only similarity is that they are both apples.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Apple vs Samsung

        "Find something the the Braun catalogue that looks like an Apple product."

        Electric razor, black plastic with rounded corners. And your point is?

    3. Handy Plough

      Re: Apple vs Samsung

      Android was bought by Google, as were maps. Your point?

    4. Otto is a bear.

      That's capitalism and fashion

      " another cheaply made product sold far above its retail value. "

      Lets face it Apple are not the only ones here, the best we can hope for is that they cost a couple of dollars more to make than a really cheap knock off, to give a little quality and product safety.

      We expect certain things from our brands, but sometimes it's hard to see where the value is. Next time you buy your Ralph Lauren polo shirt, compare it to a mid market store like GAP or M&S. Next time you buy a car, checkout the same car in the other marques, there's always an inexplicable brand premium regardless of quality.

  5. W. Anderson

    The whole US software patent industry, including the asinine actions of US Patent and Trademark Office in allowing ridiculous and dubious patents has come back to bite USA in the ass.

    Hopefully other developed nations that are growing their technology prowess will avoid this type catastrophe all together. Maybe they will surpass USA in many areas of technology innovation for which the developers are loathe to register or sell in USA.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      That's a fine rant, but the spat (from Apple's point of view) is actually about design: the combination of both hardware and software. Apple don't treat the two as separate, which is part of the reason the case has been dragging on for so long.

      "Trade Dress" is a key issue: the purpose and applications of Trade Dress can be complicated to explain to laypeople. It is absolutely not just about owning the concept of "rounded corners", but about the combination of design factors that associate a product with its manufacturer in the minds of its customers.

      For example: Apple used silhouetted dancers wearing white earbuds in adverts for their iPods back in the day. While Apple don't own a patent on "white earbuds" or "silhouetted dancers", they could definitely sue a rival if they used such recognisably 'Apple' imagery in their own ads for their own music reproduction products. This is the sort of thing "Trade Dress" covers. The most common example is the iconic Coke bottle and the cursive, flowing Coca-Cola logo itself. Using a name other than "Coca-Cola" for your soft drink, but in the same flowing typeface and colour scheme, is a violation of Trade Dress.

      It's also worth noting that this mess has been dragging on for years and refers to hardware produced during the Android v1.x and v2.x eras, with a focus on Samsung's home-grown "Touchwiz" UI layer, not to more recent devices. Back then, Samsung's phones really were blatant rip-offs of Apple's, down to the grid of icons and the 'dock' at the bottom of the screen. Even the number of icons in each row was the same, though different screen sizes meant the number of rows varied.

      Android and Touchwiz have both changed a lot since then, so it's not surprising that those unfamiliar with the case don't understand what the big deal is.

      1. Clive Galway

        "Samsung's phones really were blatant rip-offs of Apple's, down to the grid of icons and the 'dock' at the bottom of the screen"

        You mean like just about every OS in the GUI age ? Even Windows Mobile, which pre-dated iOS, worked in this way.

        "Even the number of icons in each row was the same"

        Four icons in a row is just common sense. You want a power of 2, so that the available number of pixels can be neatly divided up. 8 is too many, 2 is too few.

        So no, nothing about what you said is either innovative or non-obvious - there is significant prior art for both of these concepts, and any suggestion that Apple can lay claim to them is ridiculous.

  6. zen1

    I do believe

    Mercedes-Benz patented the steering wheel back in the day. Imagine if all of the transportation manufacturers had to pay a royalty on each and every vehicle equipped with a steering wheel? It could be argued that the same basic principles apply.

    1. Steve Todd Silver badge

      Re: I do believe

      Patents have a fixed life span. The basic patents that Mercedes owned are long since expired, and yes, early competitors had all sorts of weird and wonderful steering methods.

    2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: I do believe

      "Top Gear" did a piece on the many and varied user interfaces that were tried in early automobiles. (I think it was mostly James May, though Hammond may have been involved too.)

    3. ausoleil

      Re: I do believe

      A man named Alfred Vacheron is credited with first using the steering wheel in a Panhard et Levassor car in 1894. It was modeled after a ship's wheel, as tillers were becoming more and more ineffective, especially for the racing applications that Vacheron first used the wheel for.

      Charles Stewart Rolls imported a Panhard into England and began using them on his cars the year after that.

      FWIW, Mercedes does not claim the steering wheel as one of its innovations (including inventing the automobile itself.)

  7. icesenshi

    It all became a joke when samsung won an injunction against apple. It would have banned certain apple products from selling in the usa... until obama overturned the ruling.

    Seems samsung has some friends in the us, even if the government isn't one of them.

    1. dotdavid

      It was a joke way before then.

    2. Steve Todd Silver badge

      Someone else who didn't understand the reasons behind things. Samsung tried to ban Apple products based on a patent that it had committed to a standard under FRAND terns. One of the rules of FRAND is that you're not allowed to use FRAND encumbered patents to block a competitor. You're allowed to sue them for monitory damages, but not block sales. THATS why Sansung's injunction was blocked, otherwise a bad precedent would have been set for everyone else.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Seems samsung has some friends in the us

      I don't consider myself a friend of either. It strikes me as rather foolish to treat a corporation whose sole reason for being is making money as if it were a friend. They are what they are. That being said, it strikes me as foolish to allow Apple to continue to shake down random competitors for government granted monopolies that should never have been granted (regardless of whether they are called patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc.).

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