USPTO Invalidates One of Apple's iPhone Design Patents in Apple vs. Samsung Lawsuit

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FOSS Patents reported tonight that the Central Reexamination Division of the United States Patent and Trademark Office has reexamined one of the key iPhone design patents in the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit. The validity of one of the patents (618,677) has received a non-final rejection:
The problem the D'677 patent faces here is that the USPTO has determined (for now) that this patent "is not entitled to benefit of the filing date" of two previous Apple design patent applications because the design at issue was not disclosed in those earlier applications. As a result, certain prior art is eligible now, and against the background of that additional prior art, the USPTO believes the patent shouldn't have been granted.
Apple was originally awarded over $1 billion from the original lawsuit, but that amount has been reduced substantially to about $548 million in damages. Aside from this particular design patent, Apple still has other claims that have not been reduced or invalidated from the previous decision.

Samsung was most recently denied their latest appeal attempt, leaving them with the only option of turning to the U.S. Supreme Court. It appears this invalidation has no direct impact on the current standing of the lawsuit, but may help Samsung in their appeal to the Supreme Court.

Article Link: USPTO Invalidates One of Apple's iPhone Design Patents in Apple vs. Samsung Lawsuit
 

Analog Kid

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Mar 4, 2003
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It's interesting to see what happens when the titans clash over IP. It's so incredibly expensive to litigate patent cases that it's rare to see a court pay this level of attention to anything... Usually it's a dice roll, and most companies prefer to settle or cross license rather than gamble.

I can't begin to imagine the the cost of these suits even before accounting for fines and other rulings...
 
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lazard

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so in the end Apple will have spent tens of millions of dollars in legal fees to collect a couple dollars in from Samsung because this pretty much wipes out the remaining award.
 

Yojimbo007

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Jun 13, 2012
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The whole freaking system is brocken.....
Why did they even issue the patent to start with?
Any idiot can see that samdung copied iphones design.. All one has to do is look at samdung phones before iPhone and after..
All this hair splitting is only making the lawyers involved richer while at the same time destroying confidence in the system..
Good luck US of A...for paving the path for Anarchy ...
DOJ and now USPTO ... ...and shenanigans ...
It a shame !
 

Analog Kid

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Ok, so I don't have much background in design patents, in particular I'm having a hard time understanding what exactly is being claimed with all the dashed, and dot-dashed lines and monochromatic grading. Anybody done a design patent?

From what I can tell, I think this is what's going on:

If I understand the discussion of what the broken lines mean, Apple filed a design patent for the original iPhone that covered speaker slot at the top, the home button at the bottom, the display rectangle and the plastic plate on the back.

And is the other early patent for the same phone, or a design that Apple didn't pursue? It seems to not be claiming the home button, and doesn't seem to claim the backing at all.

The claim in question looks like the 3G or 3Gs. It appears to be claiming the entire front surface of the phone.


The problem apparently is that Apple tried to file the latest claim in 2008, but claim that it was valid since 2007 because it is mostly the same as the earlier claims. For that to work they can't disclose anything new in the newer claim, they can only attempt to patent more of what they talked about but didn't claim in the earlier one.

Edit: I found the full ruling, it's linked at the bottom of the article (and my post below).
 
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Analog Kid

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I hope this is the famous "rounded corners" patent, because that would finally put many discussions about the ridiculousness of that patent to rest.
Maybe that's it? The rounded corners aren't sufficiently emphasized in the earlier filings?

It seems they're disclosed, however. Just not claimed until the D6'77, which would be the point... I still think it's the one piece face.
 
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lazard

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Ok, so I don't have much background in design patents, in particular I'm having a hard time understanding what exactly is being claimed with all the dashed, and dot-dashed lines and monochromatic grading. Anybody done a design patent?

From what I can tell, I think this is what's going on:

If I understand the discussion of what the broken lines mean, Apple filed a design patent for the original iPhone that covered speaker slot at the top, the home button at the bottom, the display rectangle and the plastic plate on the back.

And is the other early patent for the same phone, or a design that Apple didn't pursue? It seems to not be claiming the home button, and doesn't seem to claim the backing at all.

The claim in question looks like the 3G or 3Gs. It appears to be claiming the entire front surface of the phone.


The problem apparently is that Apple tried to file the latest claim in 2008, but claim that it was valid since 2007 because it is mostly the same as the earlier claims. For that to work they can't disclose anything new in the newer claim, they can only attempt to patent more of what they talked about but didn't claim in the earlier one.

This is much more straight forward with invention patents where there's pages and pages of text and only bits of it are claimed as novel, and then a few bits more later-- it's harder for me to see the differences in these sparse design patents...

Anyway, the USPTO has just ruled (non-finally) that the most recent patent is claiming things not disclosed in the 2007 patent, and therefore the most recent patent doesn't cover time before 2008. If someone designed whatever Apple is claiming before Nov 2008, then they win.

What I don't get is that the article suggests that this LG patent and this Samsung patent disclose whatever Apple is trying to claim and therefore invalidate the 2008 patent. I can not, for the life of me, figure out what feature is being argued about...

Anybody see it? I'd say the the Apple patents are covering the slot speaker, rectangular display, and home button pattern. The only thing I suspect isn't covered before 2008 is the continuous faceplate from top to bottom? Do the other patents show such a thing?
Patent D677 was basically a patent for a device with a rectangular front face with a rectangular screen, a border around the screen, and an oblong-shaped speaker opening above the screen.
 

Analog Kid

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Oh, the full ruling was linked at the bottom of the article...

The reason the earlier priority date doesn't hold is because the 2008 patent shows the front as one large black rectangle, and the others do not. USPTO also claims the home button is not part of the claim because it's surrounded by a dashed line. In earlier filings, Apple indicated that some lines were just for reference (to show internal boundaries) but they didn't make that explicit in this one.

The ruling does a good job of showing the bits and pieces they keyed in on to rule-- it's interesting to see what they think it obvious and what they don't think is obvious. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that filling the space with the display is obvious, particularly given that there are controls around the home button of the LG patent when the device is turned on.

It might be technically obvious, but from a design perspective it feels different... Out of my field though.

Anyway, this all reinforces my opinion that there's not bright lines between designs or inventions, it's just starting positions for an epic legal arm wrestling match.
 

vertsix

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I don't understand why they both don't get along at this point?

Everyone copies from each other at some point. It's really not that relevant anymore.
 
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Solomani

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I could see how a desperate Samsung would turn to South Korean government to put pressure on the US Supreme Court and to also buy off US Senators to lobby on behalf of Samsung legal battles in US courts. After all…. much of SK politicians have been bought out by the chaebol/cartels long ago. And to be fair, I'm also implying that US politicians are equally corrupt, and can be bought out, which is exactly why it's possible for Samsung to "buy" legal favors from the US politicians and courts.
 

peterdevries

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I could see how a desperate Samsung would turn to South Korean government to put pressure on the US Supreme Court and to also buy off US Senators to lobby on behalf of Samsung legal battles in US courts. After all…. much of SK politicians have been bought out by the chaebol/cartels long ago. And to be fair, I'm also implying that US politicians are equally corrupt, and can be bought out, which is exactly why it's possible for Samsung to "buy" legal favors from the US politicians and courts.
Do you have proof for any of this? Because without any proof your assertions aren't any better than those of that astronaut that claimed aliens came to us to stop us from using nuclear weapons.
 
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