Feeds

Apple drops 'thermonuclear' patent bombshell

What Steve Jobs threatened, Tim Cook delivers

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

April Fool Apple has launched a new patent assault on its competitors, one that appears to unleash the nukes that Steve Jobs reportedly told his biographer Walter Isaacson he was going to drop on Google's Android.

"I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product," the late Apple cofounder told the author of the überpopular authorized biography Steve Jobs in a 2010 interview. "I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

Apple's legal team has now filed a patent-infringement lawsuit that hurls a potentially Edward Teller–level legal challenge at its smartphone and tablet competitors. Or, at minimum, one that opens up a massively profitable licensing opportunity for Cupertino.

Apple's SVP and general counsel Bruce Sewell, when announcing the sweeping lawsuit in a rare Saturday call with reporters and analysts, cited not his late boss, Steve Jobs, but his current one, Tim Cook. "As Tim said in 2009," Sewell reminded us, "'We like competition as long as they don't rip off our IP. And if they do, we will go after anyone who does. We are ready to suit up and go against anyone'."

The patent being asserted by Sewell and his crew is USPTO Patent #1,042,012, first granted to the American Mathematical Society in October 1912, subsequently renewed, then acquired by Apple at an unknown date.

The first entry among the patent's Claims describes "A quadrilateral having all four interior angles of 90°, opposite sides that are parallel, and congruent diagonals that bisect each other."

Yes, Apple is asserting a patent on the rectangle.

When The Reg pressed Sewell on the validity of patent #1,042,012 and the arguable existence of prior art, he defended Apple's legal strategy.

"When we sued Samsung in April of last year," he told us, "one of our assertions was that that company had modified its original design to include 'square icons with rounded corners' that were copied directly from our iOS icons. How much of a legal leap is it from the assertion of owning squares with rounded corners to asserting that we own the rectangle?"

Sewell also reminded us of Apple's slide-to-unlock patent-infringment lawsuits, which Motorola lost in Munich and Samsung won in Mannheim, but which still remain up in the air – although there are signs that a peace treaty may be in the offing.

"A 'person familiar with the art'," Sewell told us, using a familiar bit of patentese, "might argue that the concept of sliding something to unlock something has been around since the deadbolts of the Middle Ages. But it seems the Weißbier-sodden Bavarians were more interested in hefting their hearty hulks to the Hofbräuhaus than in debating 'prior art'."

When we pointed out to Apple's general counsel that his company hadn't exactly played fair in a patent-infringment case against Samsung, having changed the shape of an image of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in a court presentation to make it more resemble an iPad, he dismissed our objection.

"It's still a rectangle," he sniffed. "And we own the rectangle." ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?
Wait 'til this one hits your pension fund where it hurts
Systems meltdown plunges US immigration courts into pen-and-paper stone age
Massive outage could last four weeks, sources claim
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
UK.gov chucks £28m at F1 tech for buses and diggers plan
Well, not really F1 but who's heard of LMP and VLN*?
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.