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Wednesday, 03 August 2011 10:01

Patent troll Apple could kill smartphone and tablet sales

Written by Nick Farell

All your Android are belong to us
IP experts claim that that Apple is set to take control of smartphones and tablets by becoming one of the worst patent trolls in  the history of IT.

The comments to AP are based on Apple's method of bringing down Samsung. The fear is that Apple's tablet and smartphone patents are so broad that virtually all major competitors could be targeted by the company if it beats Samsung.

Samsung would have to significantly change the Galaxy Tab 10.1 if it hopes to avoid infringing Apple's patents. Apple accused Samsung of infringing 10 of its patents including the "look and feel" and touchscreen technology of the iPad. Jobs' Mob has sought injunctions preventing Samsung from selling or advertising the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia and demanded all of Samsung's stock be sent to it to be destroyed.

Samsung has agreed not sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. But said that it will release a modified version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the Australian market "in the near future".

Samsung has committed to sending Apple three samples seven days before it puts them on sale. This effectively means that Apple has the power to tell its rivals what they can sell.

Intellectual property expert Florian Mueller said that unless the patents cited by Apple in this case were declared invalid by the court or Samsung won't be able to build a Galaxy Tab 10.1 that consumers want to buy. He said that the patents were so broad that they cover the basics of multi-touch gestures and functions like slide to unlock and list scrolling.

Mueller thinks that the fact that Samsung had agreed to hold back its launch of the Tab indicated it believes Apple's case has merit. He said that the patents would most likely prevent Samsung from providing capacitive multi-touch screens. If it provides any workaround then the product would be pants next to the iPad.

Mueller said that thanks to the US Patent System some technology can hardly be implemented without infringing on at least some of the relevant patents. The multi-touch user interface  is one such problem. It places Apple in a position of considerable power. It can further delay Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch by adding more patents to the list of potential infringements if it does not like its rival's modifications. It could also shut down all competition meaning that if punters want a tablet they would have to buy an Apple at what ever random price Jobs sets.

However it is not clear if a court would allow such a "broad monopoly" on multitouch. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt accused Apple of responding to Android's success with lawsuits rather than innovation. He said that Apple lawsuits were just inspired by Google's success. Apple has a lot of cash in hand to try and push for a monopoly of tablet and smartphones.

Many think that Apple will try and force its competitors to pay it protection money as a way of avoiding being dragged before an anti-trust committee. But if the US patent system works the way it has in the past, if a court says that Jobs invented multi-touch then Apple does not have give licences to anyone.

Nick Farell

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+5 #1 fed44 2011-08-03 10:43
What do you expect from a company claiming to have thousands of patents on a phone. This is something where I think that patents are way to easily awarded.
+6 #2 Jurassic1024 2011-08-03 10:57
In a sick way I'd like to see Apple win, just to see how furious things get because of it. It shouldn't take long for Apple to be on everyone's shiit list. Are they really stupid enough to literally take on the world?
+4 #3 Jaberwocky 2011-08-03 11:28
Fine so apple gets to halt all smartphones and tablets apart from it's own.This then brings in the Monopoly commission to halt apple from selling their products as well.Pretty soon there will be no smartphones and no tablets for sale.....sounds fine to me :lol:
+1 #4 Bors Mistral 2011-08-03 13:38
At some point companies might just realize that due to the patent system in some cases the US market is not worth the hassle... Gadgets have mostly been behind the times here, this'll just drag things further back for Joe Average.
+1 #5 fingerbob69 2011-08-03 14:55
Apple, M$ and others recently bought up Nortel's patent library inorder to enforce Nortel's patents against Android. Well that's the most likely reason for these 'friends getting together but ...read on...

According to this http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903635604576476430510833852.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

The US Justice Dept could call foul on such behaviour.

Now a smart Samsung might just be giving Apple enough to feel self-satisfied and smug while also giving Apple enough rope to hang themselves in view of a favourable Nortel decision at a not so later date!
+2 #6 kinkypink 2011-08-03 18:21
I completely object to Apple as a company. They are hypocrites, their policies are awful and they are continuously picking on and ripping off the little guy. There was an article on this very website about how they effectively stole an application from a programmer, they have taken apps from the market place for being "smutty" (I believe the app in question was a woman in a bra whose boobs bounced when you moved the phone), yet they allow apps by playboy, swimsuit illustrated, etc. They approved an app from a church that claimed to "cure" homosexuality. The only thing I respect about Apple is their ability to market a (vastly overpriced and over-rated) product.

And that's before I even get into their constant patent trolling...
+1 #7 kinkypink 2011-08-03 18:22
And I think this article should tell you all you need to know about the US patent system. 10 patents that have been approved in the last 12 years...


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