One need only take a look at the avalanche of lawsuits that are currently in play in the tech world to realize that the patent system is out of whack. Everyone is suing everyone, often times for patents whose validity are questionable at best.
And with nearly $100 billion in the bank, Apple is a more attractive target for patent trolls than most.
That said, Apple last week was sued by a Pennsylvania-based company called FlatWorld which alleges that Apple’s entire line of iOS products infringe upon a patent related to touch technology that was initially filed back in 1998.
The original patent in question was the brainchild of Slavoljub Milekic, Professor of Cognitive Science & Digital Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, though it’s now completely owned by FlatWorld which originally used the technology to help develop museum exhibits.
Milekic’s patent describes a digital system that enables a user – children primarily – to manipulate images on a touchscreen by touching and dragging a selected image.
The patent reads in part:
A child may manipulate the images by touching them on the touch screen. Manipulations including slecting an image by touching it, “dragging” the selected image by moving the finger touching the image across the screen and “dropping” the image by lifting a finger from it, moving a selected image by touching another location on the screen and thereby causing the selected image to move to the touched location, removing an image from the screen by “throwing” it, i.e., moving it above a threshold speed, and modifying the image by taping it twice and then moving the finger in a horizontal or vertical direction on the screen.
And related to that, the claim tossed about in the complaint reads:
A system for manipulating images comprising a screen upon which an image is displayed; and a computer coupled to the screen, the computer causing the images to be manipulated in response to location inputs from a pointing device, the system being characterized in that: when the image is being dragged in response to the location inputs and the system detects that the velocity with which the image is being dragged exceeds a threshold velocity, the system responds by removing the image from the display without leaving any representative thereof in the display.
Funny, the iPhone has been out for nearly 5 years and now another patent hound comes into the picture seeking some moolah.
The suit was brought by the Hagens Berman law firm and they are seeking an “injunction enjoining Apple from continued infringement.” Oh, and not surprisingly, they want damages to compensate them on account of all the millions of iOS devices and MacBooks in circulation which infringe upon the aforementioned patent.
You can check out the full press release on the matter here.