Japanese Entrepreneur Sues Apple Over Key Flicks and 3D Touch on iPhones and iPads

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Toshiyasu Abe, a resident of Vancouver, Washington, has filed a lawsuit against Apple in Oregon district court this week, accusing the company of infringing upon his patent with Key Flicks and 3D Touch on select iPhone and iPad models.


    The patent in question is No. 6,520,699, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in February 2003.
    Like most patents, the description and claims for this one are very long and exhaustive, but from a high level, it at one point refers to a "user interface device" comprising "a plurality of buttons displayed on a touch sensitive screen," with "each button being associated with a plurality of characters or functions."

    Here's how the patent is described in the complaint, obtained by MacRumors:
    There are several other embodiments of the invention, including physical thumb control pads on a mobile phone, notebook, or steering wheel in a vehicle, each with a multitude of pressure-sensitive, geometrically-shaped keys.

    Various embodiments of the patent

    The touchscreen embodiment does sound similar to how accented characters are managed on the iPhone keyboard. When a user taps on the E key, for example, a menu appears with diacritics such as È, É, Ê, and Ë. The user then slides their finger over the desired character and releases to input it in a text field.

    Abe believes Apple's infringement extends to the Flick Keyboard, introduced in iOS 11 for select iPad models. When enabled, the feature allows an iPad user to simply tap and swipe down on a key to input a number or symbol. If a user taps and swipes down on the D key, for example, a $ symbol is inputted.

    The complaint alleges that 3D Touch also infringes upon his patent, given its pressure-sensitive, multifunction attributes.

    Apple is also said to be further inducing infringement by aiding and abetting the development of third-party iPhone keyboards and apps that implement flick-style keys and 3D Touch, available through the App Store. Abe, who is Japanese, said flick input has particularly gained popularity in Japan.

    Japanese keyboard for iPhone

    The accused products include at least the following iPad and iPhone models sold in the United States: iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, 9.7-inch iPad, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

    The complaint alleges that Apple has known of Abe's patent since at least as early as 2009, when he first gave written notice of its infringement. The plaintiff allegedly exchanged a number of emails with Apple, and engaged in at least one phone call with the company's in-house counsel, but no agreement was reached.

    Then, in 2017, the complaint alleges that Abe discovered an increase in Apple's infringing activities relating to the release of iOS 11, prompting him to send Apple another patent infringement notification letter last December. Apple and Abe communicated again, through counsel, but nothing transpired from the talks.

    Abe is seeking damages adequate to compensate him for Apple's alleged infringement of his patent, in an amount to be proven at trial, but no less than a reasonable royalty. The court still has to agree to hear the case.

    Article Link: Japanese Entrepreneur Sues Apple Over Key Flicks and 3D Touch on iPhones and iPads
  2. dannyyankou macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
    I’m tired of these patent trolls that don’t even use their patents.
  3. charlituna macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    US patent law doesn't require them to use it. but in this case his base description is super broad. I mean it essentially is the definition of any touch screen device. of which there are massive amounts of prior art.

    and I'm curious why, if he knew that Apple was infringing almost 10 years ago, he didn't sue then. i mean Apple had plenty of money in the bank and he could have then used that win to support further suits if they kept infringing without paying him.
  4. Tiger8 macrumors 68020

    May 23, 2011
    Apple has hundreds of patents they don't use, and probably never will. Does that make them trolls? Is it ok for someone else to infringe on them?
  5. nwcs macrumors 68000


    Sep 21, 2009
    So I wonder if he will sue the various Android makers or Google for having a touch screen keyboard system? And Microsoft for their on-screen keyboard? Countless other places doing similar on-screen things?
  6. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Mr. Abe failed in that he never created 3D Touch. He simply "invented" the idea, but he never developed the mechanism for its implementation, therefore his patent should be invalidated.

    It's like if I had patented the idea for a flying car, but never to go figure out how to get the car to actually fly.
  7. dontwalkhand macrumors 601


    Jul 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    How is this person a Japanese entrepreneur when it says they’re from Washington?
  8. dannyyankou macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
    When was the last time you heard of them suing a small company for infringing on one of their unused patents?
  9. Kaibelf macrumors 68020


    Apr 29, 2009
    Silicon Valley, CA
    So basically, he's suing them for using a variation of submenus.
  10. tooloud10 macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2012
    Probably, but you always go after the deepest pocket first.
  11. macguru212 macrumors 6502


    Apr 17, 2009
    Perhaps this guy had a "this is the last straw" moment?
  12. tooloud10 macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2012
    Hmm, I dunno. Are you questioning their right to do so?

    It seems like a lot of people get hung up on whether the patent is being 'used' or not. There's a car in my garage that I haven't driven in a year; there's no question about whether I own and control it or not.
  13. AppleFan1179 macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2015
    People of various ethnic backgrounds can and do live in other locations. It's a novel concept but one that's been around for thousands of years.
  14. gavroche macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2007
    Left Coast
    They also have thousands they do use. Generally when people refer to someone being a troll... they are referring to someone who's sole purpose/existence is to sue off patents. And I don't ever hear about Apple suing people in regards to patents they aren't using... all the famous suits are in regards to obvious patents thefts.
  15. Amazing Iceman macrumors 68040

    Amazing Iceman

    Nov 8, 2008
    Florida, U.S.A.
    At least he didn't file the lawsuit in a Mom & Pop court somewhere in rural Texas like most trolls do.
    If he's right, he will get what he deserves.
  16. gavroche macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2007
    Left Coast
    haha... exactly. and I suppose anyone not from Washington would perhaps not know what a large Japanese population there is here.
  17. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    I'm pretty sure you could argue prior art - in Windows Mobile 6 you could tap and hold to get a contextual menu. Even Palm OS had something similar. This is essentially right click but with a touchscreen.

    Honestly most software patents are so stupid - if it was required to be an actual specific idea I would be fine with them, but people patent the most basic things just because they can.
  18. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    This is by no means a patent troll, hecappears to be the original inventor. More importantly this patent appears to be well developed and directly applicable to Apples design. I suspect Apple will need to settle if they dont find prior art.
  19. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    I'm all for the concept of patents to protect inventors and inventions. BUT... IMO... this isn't an invention. It's an idea / concept. I would love to see real patent reform such that (1) ideas and processes are not generally patentable, (2) patents have specific implementation requirements, (3) multiple approaches to the same problem don't infringe.

    I could be wrong about these, but regardless... something has to change.
  20. techwhiz macrumors 6502a

    Feb 22, 2010
    Northern Ca.
    The patent is for a physical keyboard with multiple sensors.
  21. Jetfire macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2008
    Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
    Yeah, this is why Patent laws need to be fixed. It was never meant to be used this way. It's also was not to be used for common sense items. They way their using patents now. If the car was invented today. Someone like this would have have patented putting the driver in the left or right seat.
  22. Russlush3 macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2009
    For those who can't read Japanese Hiragana, in the bottom two pics, the center character is "ka", and surrounding characters are "ki", "ku", "ke", and "ko"...a natural grouping and probably more intuitive to native Japanese speakers rather than typing in the roman character equivalent.

    In any case, if Apple can raise patent lawsuits over a rectangular phone rounded edges, this is certainly a reasonable challenge.
  23. tooloud10 macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2012
    It literally refers to "a touchscreen device having a plurality of buttons displayed on the screen".
  24. jmh600cbr macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2012

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