Apple Pulls a Fast One on Samsung

It was a real surprise that Apple obtained a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s importation of tablets in the EU. Even Samsung was surprised:
The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung.

Doesn’t sound like due process to me…

I expect Samsung will soon get a hearing on the matter from that court or an appelate court and straighten out the matter. The idea of a preliminary injunction is to maintain the status quo, according to PJ, and at this time the situation is that no Galaxy Tabs are being imported, but that was scheduled to change within a few weeks. By then Samsung will be harmed and if they can persuade the judge that Apple is nuts and that Samsung is likely to win, the injunction will likely be removed pending trial. I can see Samsung appealing this if the injunction is not overturned promptly.

The basis for this injunction is a rather broad design patent for something technically needing to be flat, rectangular and hand-held to do the job and there is nothing innovative about the design. It’s like a compact monitor with touch after all. Those have been around since the 1960s and were rectangular. Of course the clay tablet and soapstone on slate writing devices were around for centuries. My parents, aunts and uncles used them. They were rectangular for good reasons. That’s an easy shape to build and to hold. That’s why they call these new gadgets tablets or slates… This is just more vomit from USPTO, who should be ashamed of themselves.

UPDATE SJVN has a similar take, and a reference to Star Trek, “I’ll tell you what I see, it’s a freaking tablet. Yes, it looks like an iPad. But, it looks just as much like every tablet that’s ever existed or ever will exist. It’s a tablet.

What is Apple’s problem anyway? Afraid of a little competition in the marketplace?”

The Star Trek thing is something I knew about but my memory does not work in real time… see Wikipedia
“The Star Trek franchise inspired many modern technologies, including the tablet personal computer, the personal digital assistant, mobile phones, and the MRI (similar to Dr. McCoy’s diagnostic table).”

Star Trek was a sci-fi TV series from the 1960s… It’s hard to see how a patent on similar designs can happen 50 years later except that USPTO has no memory these days. They had no problem going back 30 years the last time I filed a patent application with them. I guess it’s hard to find good help these days.

UPDATE
Vancouver Sun has a decent analysis of the risk/reward of Apple’s legal strategy. Even if Apple loses in the long run they may gain in market share as a result of delaying competition. The big risk is that Apple may end up paying huge sums to Samsung for lost revenue…

UPDATE It turns out that Motorola sued Apple first and Apple has replied with the same sort of desing-patent nonsense…

see The Inquirer – Motorola confirms Apple has sued it over Xoom tablet design

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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4 Responses to Apple Pulls a Fast One on Samsung

  1. oe says:

    Agreed, the patent system from the USPTO is becoming a job killer….at least in “pie making jobs” (coders, enterpreniors, etc.) as opposed to “pie re-slicing jobs” (lawyers, patent pirates/trolls)…

  2. Richard Chapman says:

    Well, isn’t that something. I could have almost written your post myself Contrarian. I guess if two polar opposites can strongly agree on such a contentious subject as software patents then that should disqualify them on the spot.

  3. At least, the concept of patents fails in the Information Age. In the old days, a factory could crank out what, a million of something? Now, it is routine to expect hundreds of millions of something. The idea that someone needs a monopoly in order to invest in that kind of return on investment is silly. Perhaps a quota on utilization before the patent dies would be useful, say a million copies, and certainly the idea that something may be patented and not used or licensed to someone else to use it is absurd. The term of patents is about 20 years which is several times the lifetime of many technologies.

  4. Contrarian says:

    I think that it is high time that all patents be declared null and void and any company with the ability to bring a product to market competitively should be encouraged to do so. There is nothing that has been patented in the past that seems to meet the original criteria for granting a patent in the first place.

    The idea, it seems to me, was to give an inventor an exclusive right to manufacture and/or license to manufacture a product in exchange for his disclosure of the principles of the invention. But in this day and age, such disclosure is pretty much worthless because the function of the inventions being patented today are pretty self-descriptive.

    I myself have several patents granted in the past few years that my employer encouraged to be filed based on things that we did that were new and different in our product. No one had done things quite that way in the past in our business and the changes were beneficial to our customers and patents were granted as a run of the mill condition. But the disclosure helps no one understand anything. The sales literature is more revealing and anyone who has much training in the disciplines involved could duplicate the functions in a short amount of time without ever referencing the patents.

    Once one has his hands on some patented device, it is easy to discern the principles and the advantages of that device over things that may have preceded it in the same industry. In software terms, just compare a version 1.0 product to a version 2.0 product and see how much is obvious in terms of improvements. There is no need for a protected patent disclosure to promulgate the knowledge.

    It seems to me that the very principles of patents as methods to distribute knowledge are faulty. I say every man for himself and those who can reach the most people and convince them of the optimal price and quality of the product should be the most successful.

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