iPhone's keyboard prompts patent violation suit
Apple faces court action, again
A Florida-based company has accused Apple of infringing a patent it owns for a readable keyboard display, similar to the iPhone's touch-screen. SP Technologies filed a claim alleging that Apple has infringed on a patent it was granted in 2004 for a "method and medium for computer readable keyboard display incapable of user termination".
The suit was filed at a federal court in Tyler, Texas, which last week witnessed a patent infringement filing over Sony's Cell CPU, and which is often seen as sympathetic to claimants in patent infringement cases.
The iPhone's touch-screen keyboard
SP Technologies is seeking "reasonable royalties" from Apple, which online rumours have speculated could see compensation paid for each iPhone already sold. The claimant is also seeking a permanent injunction against Apple's use of the patent in its hardware.
If found guilty of wilful and deliberate infringement, Apple could be forced to pay punitive damages equal to three times the economic loss suffered by SP Technologies as a result.
Apple was was unavailable for comment. However, its legal department certainly been busy this year. The company has already been sued by Cisco over the use of the name iPhone, and was last month sued by Eminem's music publisher in a multi-million-dollar lawsuit surrounding downloads of the rapper's songs via iTunes.
Yet another company hard up for funds who thinks it's a good way to make a quick buck by suing Apple. I remember Sharp and Psion had touch screens - nothing happened then - and as already commented, what about all the phone companies "infringing" this companies so-called patent.
What a load of crap and I hope the court thinks so too. Let's hope that these vultures have to pay Apple's legal costs as well.
They fail it
Selecting characters via mouse from a graphical character map has been round since Windows 3.0 (and maybe before; I think even GEM had it), its an obvious step to change the pointing device from a mouse cursor to a finger.
So the question then arises, what new, non-obvious, claims does this patent make over that level of technology?
The issue lies with the fact that the keyboard cannot be terminated resized or closed by the user.
Other prior-art touch screen keyboards can be closed minimized etc.
Apple can fix this by allowing the keyboard to rotate (hence resize) when you rotate the phone! or by allowing the user to minimize it?
US patent system really is a pile of cack!
SPB not exactly a "troll"...
SPB is a company that sells add-ons to a competing product, notably Windows Mobile smartphones. They did legally apply for and recieve a patent for their technology years ago, and it's "unique" features. I put that in quotes because that is for a court to decide. I happen to use the SPB keyboard on my HTC Touch smartphone, and it works well enough.
Whether or not a court rules for or against them, they are certainly not trolls who try to patent everything under the sun, or buy patents simply to sue. They get a very high percentage of their revenue of their SPB Keyboard (they have other suites of Windows Mobile products as well, like dashboards, office apps, etc.), and they probably think that they have built something of value. And, crucially, it was on the market years before the iPhone ever came to even the first prototype. Maybe a valid claim, maybe not - but they certainly are NOT just trolls spamming lawsuits.
Problem with patent office (revisited)
The problem with the patent office is pretty simple. The only thing they consider "prior art" are patents themselves. Lots of things sold to everyone weren't considered patentable (or considered a waste of time to patent). Thus the patent office just doesn't know about them. With their attitude, simple stuff (I suspect there are lots of examples in the Linux kernel for example) just doesn't get the "prior art" stamp.
The obvious example is how the trademark of "Linux" got registered by some dweeb. Thankfully it is now where it belongs (in Liuns' pocket!).