back to article Has Samsung, er, rounded the corner with Apple court win?

Some good news has finally fallen the way of Samsung, as the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the South Korean giant in its ongoing patent spat with Apple - scrapping a $399m damages bill in the latest episode of the hottest legal battle in tech, though certainly not the last. At the heart of this is the idea that instead …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At last it looks like there is a glimmer of common sense appearing in the US legal system, let's hope more frivolous patents and silly awards get tossed.

    1. Francis Boyle

      Yes, but

      Trump will fix that.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Yes, but

        Trump won't.

        Well at least until Apple starts to make iPhones in the Rust Belt.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Yes, but

          The rust belt he just told to go to hell?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yes, but

            Guys, guys, we all get it, Trump is slated in future to be primary source of all evil. You may take it as read. Now stop clogging up the threads with your hate, okay?

            1. martinusher Silver badge

              Re: Yes, but

              Trump's an easy target --- its like railings and a dog. Excuse us our fun.

              Meanwhile Trump's team are seriously..... well, 'reactionary' would be the polite way to describe them.

              Going back to the relevance of the thread, American business is trying to retain a competitive edge by using tame juries to hobble competitors. Since we want to build up US business without the tiresome process of long term investment we should anticipate more of this 'rounded corners' type thngs in the future, not less.

  2. Tachikoma

    Finally a victory for common sense.

    What's with the random dashes in the article though?

    awarded on-ly the

    flimsiest of pa-tents

    will con-tribute

    1. Mark 110

      I am guessing someone forgot to proof read after copying and pasting the original newsletter.

      1. Kiwi
        Facepalm

        I am guessing someone forgot to proof read after copying and pasting the original newsletter.

        Even worse.. I (again) forgot to check how old the article was, or to do at least a brief glance before posting my own critique of dashgate.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

      hyphenation

      I suspect the original article was written in one package, and the text copied/pasted into whatever El Reg use for publishing stories - te original version had some hyphenation for display purposes and this somehow got included in the copy and paste.

      Seeing as the article relates to patents and originality, I'd like to think my theory is correct just for the irony value.

      1. GrapeBunch

        Re: hyphenation

        Samsung + chicks on cellphones (the headline photo) = editor getting hot under the collar. "Soft hyphens", he exclaimed, "flaming Hell with that!" and made them all harrrrrrrrd hyphens. (Note: the previous sentence is not licensed to be spoken in R.P., Oxbridge, or BBC accents. If you are Scottish, a Pirate, or a native of New Brunswick, Canada, you will probably be OK. If you choose to be.)

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Well it's Friday, right ?

      The Editors are off to the pub, obviously.

    4. Pedigree-Pete
      WTF?

      Random hyphens....

      ....I was wondering where the authors hyphen (-) is on the keyboard. Samsung on my keyboard doesn't take my clumsy fingers anywhere near the - key. PP

    5. Fred Goldstein

      Maybe the author is one of those old folks who doesn't quite get computers, and couldn't tell a Galaxy Note 7 from a "Galaxy 7.0". So when the column-72 warning tone on his VT-100 beeps, or the little bell on his Underwood typewriter clangs when the carriage moves near the end, he follows what was taught in typing class back then and splits the next word with a hyphen at a syllable break. Then it gets repaginated when a real computer scans it in, hyphens and all.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patents vs Copyright.

    Now this is where I get confused, fonts are copyrighted and in the UK that right is granted automatically upon creation, but there is no formal registration process unless one were to consider the item small enough to trademarked at which point it lasts indefinitely (with 10 yearly renewal fees for trademarks). But a patent only last 25 years.

    Arguably the first "diver's watch" was the Blancpain upon which the one way rotating bezel and ISO6425 was based upon, but it was patented and also later Rolex made a slightly differing look. Now if the design had been protected as "the look of the thing" by a formal copyright process then ISO6425 would be different, but also they'd be a lot less of the same looking watches around, possibly it would have encouraged innovation. But the question really is whether "the system" is really balanced, on the one hand you have copyright that lasts for ever (until death unless it's assigned to a company) but no formal way of registering it (at least not in the UK apart from being visible or published) versus a "design patent" which lasts 25 years, seems to take millions to prosecute a relativity simple case "does it look the same?". It appears that the legal system can't quite get it right, though it is odd that copyright of a work can be assigned as an asset but no formal registration happens in the UK.

  4. Mage Silver badge

    Even so it's nuts

    Because most (all?) of the Apple "Design Patents" are not sufficiently distinctive and have prior use. Also many "inventive" Patents they have are trivial, obvious to those versed in the art, too broad or have prior art, so should not have been allowed.

    Change USPTO that they get paid x2 for rejections. They are motivated only to accept due to resource constraints, lack of experts and they get more money from approvals than rejections.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even so it's nuts

      Also many "inventive" Patents they have are trivial, obvious to those versed in the art, too broad or have prior art, so should not have been allowed.

      Or bought from a clearance fire sale. Have a lookf their UI patents - a lot of the early ones are BT labs stuff which BT sold of for pennies because it had no use for it.

      I love it when the like of Apple scream about innovation. There has been no innovation in the valley for decades. It is mostly recycling old ideas or purchasing stuff invented outside the valley (UK, Israel, East Coast, etc) and suffocating through intense Californication.

      1. CB_85

        Re: Even so it's nuts

        Who down-voted this post and why? Isn't it true? In response I am going to log into my 25 accounts and up-vote on all of them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Even so it's nuts

          It wasn't me, but is this CB_85 (a nickname that sounds like a compiled programming language that its manufacturers hyped in 1978 but was already history by 1983) admitting that he was an Anonymous Coward? Oh the humanity! OK, I admit I've done it too. In fact ... Nice touch by the anonymous coward who downvoted the complaint post. I would have upvoted that downvote, except that it isn't a thing, and I don't know who you are. Best wishes of the season to all, and may you all enjoy whatever anonymity you desire.

          You know, CB-86 was a thing. And a pretty good thing. So CB_85 might be Compiled BASIC for the 8085 processor, may it rest in peace.

  5. Milton

    How much damage has been done?

    One has to wonder how much damage, in terms of wasted time and money, has been caused because of USPTO's serial incompetence. If ever the term "unfit for purpose" were applicable, it's surely to the long-term mismanagement and misapplication of patents. If the purpose of USPTO were to muddy the waters, create confusion, reward bad behaviour, opportunism and dishonesty, and enrich the patent lawyers who infest US industry like guinea worm ...

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: How much damage has been done?

      Not so much USPTO serial incompetence as the default award size.

      Default awards size for the smallest of infractions in a single component used to be all of your profit from the end product. That is a massive stimulus for the patent trolls and a massive threat for normal companies.

      In one stroke, the Supreme court has put 95% of patent trolls out of business without changing ANYTHING in the system. Instead of aiming for 10s if not 100s of millions of dollars which can be easily calculated from the victim balance sheet the patent troll now has to fight to prove exactly how much is a patent worth (in most cases - pennies).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How much damage has been done?

        You leave out the role played by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This is yet another slap in the face from the Supreme Court. The previous round killed software patents [Alice v. C. L. S. Holdings].

  6. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    Writing 101 - "...on-ly....Sam-sung....pa-tent..."

    Okay, I'm not a professional writer, nor am I a highly trained journalist. But still, when writing material to sell, for publication in a format with an unknown column width, is it really wise to in-sert dash-es every-where?

  7. Dwarf Silver badge

    Its obvious

    The author was in a bit of a dash to get the article published as its POETS day

    Either that, or they are trying to use up this years supply of dashes before next years budget comes in, or they will loose them next year.

    On the more serious side though, its good to see the previous barking mad penalty payment knocked down. Its little bit more evidence of common sense coming from the courts.

    After all, how many realistic shapes are there for a flat thing that we can see clearly (due to where our eyes are) but still hold comfortably in our hands ?

  8. Jeffrey Nonken

    I always though that patent was un-obvious. To me it makes more sense to have a triangular display, and spiked corners on my phone.

    1. jelabarre59

      I always though that patent was un-obvious. To me it makes more sense to have a triangular display, and spiked corners on my phone.

      Ah, you were looking for the "interocitor Phone". Sorry, there's already prior-art on that, the patent is held by a Mister "Exeter".

      https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fneofilm.files.wordpress.com%2F2011%2F09%2Fthis-island-earth.jpg&f=1

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If I may...

        We have rounded corners on our phones on Metaluna. Much larger than your Earth rounded corner phones, of course.

      2. Kiwi
        Thumb Up

        Thanks! @jelabarre59

        Ah, you were looking for the "interocitor Phone". Sorry, there's already prior-art on that, the patent is held by a Mister "Exeter".

        Oh wow! Thank you so much! I saw that movie when I was a wee lad, and have so few vague memories about it that I've not been able to even begin to search for it (well, I've begun but got nowhere). Can finally add it to Terror at 25,000 ft, House of Blood, The Power and Sapphire & Steel, and watch it :)

        Ta muchly.

  9. arctic_haze
    FAIL

    Ehem

    Didn't the local El Reg legal expert predict a total victory by Apple?

    1. kain preacher

      Re: Ehem

      Yes they did because how dare a foreign company challenge an American one.

      1. CRConrad

        Re: Ehem

        Ah, THAT "expert".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: Ehem

      Now Google is marketing its own phones, it's King Kong vs King Kong rather than King Kong vs Godzilla, so the SCOTUS can be unbiased.

  10. Adrian Tawse

    Rounded cornersners

    That Apple should be allowed to get away with patenting "A manufactured thing with rounded corners" just shows the utter bankruptcy of the patent system.

  11. Kiwi
    Headmaster

    A-hem

    G-ood art-icle, a-nd reall-y gla-d t-o hea-r th-at cr-Apple ar-e s-tarting t-o los-e t-o com-mon sen-se.

    How-ever, El-Reg - wh-en y-ou copy'-n'p-aste fr-om some-one else-'s a-rticles ca-n y-ou pl-ease remov-e a-ny un-nec-essary hy-phens? T-a.

  12. Tony Paulazzo

    Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said "Blah, blah, blah... stealing isn't right."

    Apple founder Steve Jobs said, “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

    And the only winners in this whole debacle were the lawyers.

  13. sleepy

    There is no doubt that when the Android team saw iPhone, they scrapped their ideas and largely copied iPhone. There is no doubt that when they were failing to get sufficient traction with their own designs, Samsung deliberately and specifically copied iPhone, and had improved success in the market. There is no doubt that the patent system cannot really do much about such copying.

    I am always amazed that people think business leaders are purely emotion driven and say what they mean. They don't; they say what makes the best business tactics. Of course big-egoed Steve Jobs was annoyed about being copied, and "going thermonuclear" against Samsung was a reflection of his feelings, but saying it was only because it was also good strategy, even if doomed to fail in the courts. It put in train a sequence of events that made Samsung uncertain of their position for several years, both in ability to copy Apple, because they might eventually lose, and in security as an Apple supplier, because SJ was "angry". It was good tactics by Apple. It provided the cover story for Apple to switch away from Samsung as a component supplier and hence broaden component sourcing and get better pricing.

    Business is war (Jack Tramiel). Apple couldn't sue Google because Android is not a profit centre. So they sued Samsung. It was win-win for Apple, even if they lost in court few years down the line. I don't think, even if they could have seen the future, Apple would have done any different.

    The real unfairness is the position of small companies when they invent something as innovative as iPhone. They are forced to sell out and watch a big company either make far more money out of it than they ever could, or watch them lose interest and let it die. The alternative is staying independent, then being copied by a big company without being paid at all.

    Meantime, Apple is compelled to continue its divergence from the mainstream, reflected in proprietary in-house designed and patented CPU's, connectors, fingerprint scanners and so on. Which arguably represent more true innovation than would have happened if they had won in court.

    A very similar story played out twenty years earlier, when Apple's preferred disk drive supplier Rodime went into competition with Apple for the end user market. Apple flipped from being very supportive to cutting Rodime dead. It's happened in the past with Apple and graphics cards too. Suppliers compete with their customers at their peril.

  14. Flame Boar
    IT Angle

    Use of Fingers

    After reading some of the patents granted to Apple, I am surprised that the fruity company did not patent the use of fingers for operating a phone. Based on rounded corners and other obvious features, the Patent Office would have issued Apple a "use of fingers" patent.

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