U.S. ITC Launches Investigation Into Capacitive Devices Made by Apple and Others Following Patent Infringement Complaint

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The United States International Trade Commission today announced an investigation into possible patent violations involving capacitive touch-controlled devices, computers, and components created by Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and others, reports Reuters.


According to a document announcing the investigation [PDF], it stems from a February complaint filed by Irish company Neodron claiming Apple and other companies are infringing on Neodron-owned patents related to touch-based devices.
The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Neodron, Ltd., of Dublin, Ireland, on February 14, 2020. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain capacitive touch-controlled mobile devices, computers, and components thereof that infringe patents asserted by the complainant. The complainant requests that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.
The ITC will investigate the complaint, which involves Amazon, Apple, ASUSTek, ASUS computer International, LG Electronics, LG Electronics USA, Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and Sony Mobile Communications to determine if there have been patent violations under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.

Neodron is ultimately seeking a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders against the companies involved in the investigation. The ITC says that the launch of the investigation does not mean that a decision has been made on the merits of the case.

The case will be assigned to an administrative law judge who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing to make an initial determination as to whether there is indeed a patent infringement issue.

The U.S. ITC previously announced a similar investigation into touch-controlled devices, computers, and components in June, but Apple was not part of that particular investigation, which has now been expanded.

Article Link: U.S. ITC Launches Investigation Into Capacitive Devices Made by Apple and Others Following Patent Infringement Complaint
 

mannyvel

macrumors 6502
Mar 16, 2019
473
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Hillsboro, OR
Wow, that's going to be one heck of a patent win. Everything today uses a capacitive touchscreen, including in-car displays.

The problem is the patent was filed in 2009, and the iPhone came out in 2007. It could be that it covers new development in capacitive screens. It would be relatively easy for Apple to argue prior art on this...or demonstrate indemnification by the people that supply Apple with the screens.
 

GeoStructural

macrumors 6502
Oct 8, 2016
375
1,084
Colombia
The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?

And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
For so many people here Apple is never at fault.

People have complained in this forum that Qualcom’s royalties are on the verge of being illegal yet Apple charges a fee to use their old lightning cable and they find that more reasonable.
 
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insoft.uk

macrumors member
Mar 15, 2018
49
14
Wow, that's going to be one heck of a patent win. Everything today uses a capacitive touchscreen, including in-car displays.

The problem is the patent was filed in 2009, and the iPhone came out in 2007. It could be that it covers new development in capacitive screens. It would be relatively easy for Apple to argue prior art on this...or demonstrate indemnification by the people that supply Apple with the screens.
it will be for new ways of doing touchscreens or methods of driving them, as these touch screens go back years well into the last century
 

coolfactor

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Jul 29, 2002
4,643
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Tariff Act of 1930
Enough said.
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For so many people here Apple is never at fault.

People have complaint in this forum that Qualcom’s royalties are on the verge of being illegal yet Apple charges a fee to use their old lightning cable and they find that more reasonable.
Why are you calling Lightning "old"? Their 30-pin cable, that's old! Firewire 400, that's old!
 

triscuitbiscuit

macrumors regular
Jul 20, 2007
114
59
The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?

And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
It's because it is bad faith. Patent trolls don't actually do anything of import. They simply exploit laws. If there was something legitimate like Ford copying a patent that Chevy did- that is what patents are intended for. But a company that acts as a patent troll has zero intention of actually putting a patent to use.
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,159
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Europe
Patent trolls don't actually do anything of import.
Patent investment and enforcement companies make patents have actual value, which is very important for small companies seeking investment, research universities or hospitals seeking funding, and venture capital companies looking for security.

I'd say that's something of import.
 
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coachgq

macrumors regular
Jun 16, 2009
172
183
The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?

And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
I agree with you calling out the quick assertion of patent troll, but does this mean they have owned the patent since the iPhone camera out and are just now trying to enforce it? If that’s the case doesn’t it get thrown out since they haven’t tried to enforce it for 11 years? Is there a statue of limitations? “In my best Kramer voice”
 
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ulyssesric

macrumors regular
Oct 7, 2006
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A few interesting factors:

1. This law suite was initially started in May 29, 2019, and the initial target is Lenova, then all the others were involved.

2. All the patents were initially owned by Atmel, then transferred to Microchip when they merged Atmel, then acquired by Neodron Ltd at the end of Dec, 2018.

3. The suitor, Neodron Ltd, just opened for business few days ago, on Dec 18, 2018.

In other words, this is either a plotted operation against some specific target by you-know-who, or a very disgusting patent troll case.
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The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?
No, but a company that was established just few days before the acquisition of these patents, and they started law suite immediately after acquiring these patents, and they're not doing any kind of business at all except these law suites, that automatically makes it a patent troll.

And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
No it's far from end. You're the patent owner doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Under patent law, your patent could be invalidated. In U.S., there are 5 ways to claim invalidation on a patent: Prior Art, Proof of Sale or Public Use, Improper Formation, Inventor’s Oath, and Break in Priority Chain. A patent troll case like this is highly possible to be canceled by the fifth rule.

Investigate the detail before rush replying.
 
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Carnegie

macrumors 6502a
May 24, 2012
637
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Wow, that's going to be one heck of a patent win. Everything today uses a capacitive touchscreen, including in-car displays.

The problem is the patent was filed in 2009, and the iPhone came out in 2007. It could be that it covers new development in capacitive screens. It would be relatively easy for Apple to argue prior art on this...or demonstrate indemnification by the people that supply Apple with the screens.
One of the patents claims priority to 2002, another to 2006, and another to 2007. The last one claims priority to 2011.
 

iGeneo

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2010
588
985
The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?

And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
So with that logic, you have no issue with these people enforcing their patent? They "own" it

 
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69Mustang

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Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
So with that logic, you have no issue with these people enforcing their patent? They "own" it

I'm pretty sure @az431 has no issue with those people asserting their patent claim. Since, ya know, it's legal and stuff to do so. ;) I'm also pretty sure he'd have all kinds of issues with those people enforcing their patent since they aren't the ITC.
 
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RogerWilco

macrumors 6502a
Jul 29, 2011
751
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Apple pays MicroSoft several dollars for each iPhone sold because Microsoft bought Nokia and its huge mobile device patent portfolio and Apple previously licensed many of them. Microsoft didn’t invent any of this stuff, are they patent ”trolls” to require that Apple Pay up? Of course not.

I'm sure Apple was offered a license deal before the lawsuit, and in typical Apple fashion they told the tiny company to stuff it. Now it goes to the patent courts where recently Apple has had a rough time.
 

davidg4781

macrumors 68020
Oct 28, 2006
2,288
199
Alice, TX
Wow, that's going to be one heck of a patent win. Everything today uses a capacitive touchscreen, including in-car displays.

The problem is the patent was filed in 2009, and the iPhone came out in 2007. It could be that it covers new development in capacitive screens. It would be relatively easy for Apple to argue prior art on this...or demonstrate indemnification by the people that supply Apple with the screens.
So then shouldn’t they have filed the lawsuit back then? Why wait 10 years for it to be everywhere to file?
 

V_Man

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2013
617
1,025
It's because it is bad faith. Patent trolls don't actually do anything of import. They simply exploit laws. If there was something legitimate like Ford copying a patent that Chevy did- that is what patents are intended for. But a company that acts as a patent troll has zero intention of actually putting a patent to use.
How is this different than say Apple and their Irish tax breaks? Is Apple taking advantage of legal loopholes? Isn’t this company just using legal means to and end. Kinda like Apple.

this is business. there Are no morals, it’s about profit. Plain and simple.

Apple isn’t above some moral line when it come the $$$$$.
- - Post merged: - -
 
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Solomani

macrumors 68040
Sep 25, 2012
3,907
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Alberto, Canado
Will they also sue all the 400+ manufacturers of Microwave ovens since the 1980s?

When I was growing up, microwave ovens always had touch screens. LOL
 

H2SO4

macrumors 601
Nov 4, 2008
4,585
4,807
A few interesting factors:

1. This law suite was initially started in May 29, 2019, and the initial target is Lenova, then all the others were involved.

2. All the patents were initially owned by Atmel, then transferred to Microchip when they merged Atmel, then acquired by Neodron Ltd at the end of Dec, 2018.

3. The suitor, Neodron Ltd, just opened for business few days ago, on Dec 18, 2018.

In other words, this is either a plotted operation against some specific target by you-know-who, or a very disgusting patent troll case.
- - Post merged: - -



No, but a company that was established just few days before the acquisition of these patents, and they started law suite immediately after acquiring these patents, and they're not doing any kind of business at all except these law suites, that automatically makes it a patent troll.



No it's far from end. You're the patent owner doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Under patent law, your patent could be invalidated. In U.S., there are 5 ways to claim invalidation on a patent: Prior Art, Proof of Sale or Public Use, Improper Formation, Inventor’s Oath, and Break in Priority Chain. A patent troll case like this is highly possible to be canceled by the fifth rule.

Investigate the detail before rush replying.
Without even researching, at this point I'm pretty sure that the following statement, (by you), is an assumption;
In other words, this is either a plotted operation against some specific target by you-know-who, or a very disgusting patent troll case.
Do you have any hard facts to back it up?
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Will they also sue all the 400+ manufacturers of Microwave ovens since the 1980s?

When I was growing up, microwave ovens always had touch screens. LOL
Not looked at it in detail yet but there are different types of touch screen no?
- - Post merged: - -

So with that logic, you have no issue with these people enforcing their patent? They "own" it

Yes - no issue at all. Though in a case such as this I'm sure the government could, (and should), step in and change it.
- - Post merged: - -

It's because it is bad faith. Patent trolls don't actually do anything of import. They simply exploit laws. If there was something legitimate like Ford copying a patent that Chevy did- that is what patents are intended for. But a company that acts as a patent troll has zero intention of actually putting a patent to use.
If that company has EVERY patent they own in active use I might agree. If not the they are stifling innovation and patent trolls also.
If you really think that every Apple patent is useful and not just to stop others progressing I have a bridge to sell you.

Apple were granted over 2000 patents in 2018 alone. This site might be useful reading, https://9to5mac.com/2019/08/15/apple-granted-patents/, and even they say, "As we always note, Apple patents a great many things which never make it into the company’s products. It explores a great many ideas, and in some cases likely patents things to reduce potential competition for its own technologies.".

Do you honestly, and I mean honestly think that Apple doesn't play the game like the rest of them?
 
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