Losing a $1 billion patent verdict is never fun, but Samsung (005930) can now at least look on the bright side: At least it wasn’t a $1.5 billion verdict. The Verge reports that Judge Lucy Koh, who oversaw this past summer’s Samsung-Apple (AAPL) patent trial, has ruled that Samsung did not willfully infringe on Apple’s patents and that Apple is not owed any additional compensation. In her ruling, Koh said that Apple had failed to prove the “objectively high likelihood that its [Samsung's] actions constituted infringement of a valid patent,” since Samsung showed that it had reason to believe that some of Apple’s patents were invalid and thus couldn’t be used in a suit against the company.
U.K. Judge Christopher Floyd ruled on Wednesday that HTC’s phones do not infringe on Apple’s patents, Bloomberg reports. The patents, which include Apple’s well known slide-to-unlock patent, cover various functions involving touchscreens on mobile devices. “Competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours,” Apple told Bloomberg in a statement. An HTC spokesperson told reporters that while HTC is happy with the ruling, “we remain disappointed that Apple continues to favor competition in the courtroom over competition in the marketplace.” More →
Samsung sued the Australian patent commissioner in an Australian Federal Court late last month in an attempt to force a judicial review of four key patents that were “inappropriately” granted to Apple between 2009 and 2010. The South Korean electronics giant has been in an ongoing, high-profile dispute with Apple for nearly a year. Both companies have sought injunctions against the other in an attempt to block device sales, and Samsung now claims the patents in question should not have been granted because they were duplicates of innovation patents that had already been issued by the commissioner under Australia’s patent system, iTnews reported. The company hopes the review will nullify the four patents, which would lead to a full dismissal of Apple’s case against the Galaxy Tab tablet. A hearing is scheduled for June 25th. More →
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently published three Thunderbolt related patents that suggest Apple may have plans to build Intel’s Thunderbolt connections into its iOS devices. As Patently Apple points out, Apple may build its own cabling technology that gives it exclusive rights to how Thunderbolt technology might be built into portable devices. Thunderbolt ports would allow for faster data transfers on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, as well as shorter charging times. One of Apple’s more revealing patents describes stronger Thunderbolt cables that could handle greater amounts of data more efficiently and without overheating. Apple says in its patent that the Thunderbolt connections “may be provided between a portable media player and a display, a computer and a portable media player, or between other types of devices.” Apple currently has a number of devices, including displays and computers, with Thunderbolt ports. The company does not yet offer a portable device with the I/O option, however. More →
United States District Judge Lucy Koh on Thursday ruled that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet does infringe on multiple Apple patents. Judge Koh failed to order an injunction preventing the sale of the tablet in the U.S. however, stating that Apple must first establish the validity of the patents in question. According to the judge, Apple may have difficulty doing so, but she did take extra care to point out how similar Samsung’s tablet is to the iPad. Read on for more. More →
A judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday ruled that HTC’s Android phones infringe on two of ten Apple patents covered in a complaint filed by the Cupertino-based company last year. “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement at that time. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” The ITC’s decision is an initial determination however, and it will now need to be reviewed by a six-member Commission. Apple’s complaint in this case covered a total of ten patents, and the two HTC has been determined to be infringing are numbered 5,946,647 and 6,343,263. These patents cover a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data,” and a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data,” respectively. Both patents are said to be hugely important to the core Android OS, and if upheld, the ruling could be incredibly damaging to the rest of Google’s Android partners. Apple is also in the process of suing Motorola and other Android partners for infringing on these and other patents. HTC has already stated that it plans to appeal the ITC’s determination, telling reporters it will “vigorously fight” the ruling. A final determination in the case is due on December 6th, 2011.
UPDATE: HTC has issued a response to the ITC’s judgement, which can now be read below in its entirety. More →
A patent filing from Apple has sparked rumors of a new, low-profile keyboard. Designed with perforated keys, the input device would provide its end-user with tactile feedback by forcing air through the perforations in the key-tops. According to a report by Patently Apple, the “Advanced Keyboard Feedback System” will pair the punctured keys with a pressure and proximity sensor. When a user’s finger is detected to be just above the key in question, a light stream of air will be emitted to provide pre-press feedback. “As a twist to this patent, Apple goes on to describe that flowing of air could also be implemented in a virtual keyboard, wherein each key location is merely a defined region on a solid surface, where contact with that surface region will generate a defined input signal,” reads the report. The implication there being that Apple could include this technology on touchscreen devices like the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. The problem Apple is trying to solve is delivering adequate input-feedback on low-profile keyboards while continuing to make thinner and lighter keyboards — usually, feedback is provided by the downward travel of a depressed key. Apple is known for patenting dozens of technologies that never make it on to mainstream products; it is unclear if this filing falls into that category as well. More →
A trio of Apple patent applications unearthed this morning may help shed some light on future features and functionality headed to a new crop of iPhones. Then again we all know how easy it is for patents to lead absolutely nowhere. The first and most notable of the bunch is a haptic feedback concept employing a “grid of piezoelectronic actuators” that combine to form a fully tactile touchscreen. In theory, the device could vibrate these actuators in different combinations and at different frequencies to provide a variety of tactile responses. Interesting as it may be, this isn’t the first apple patent to cover a haptic feedback solution for a touchscreen — another notable concept came in late 2007 and has yet to bear fruit. At the same time, it’s good to see that Apple recognizes the downsides of touchscreen-only devices and is working on creative solutions for the problem. From the application:
However, one of a touchscreen’s biggest advantages (i.e., the ability to utilize the same physical space for different functions) is also one of a touchscreen’s biggest disadvantages. When the user is unable to view the display (because the user is occupied with other tasks), the user can only feel the smooth hard surface of the touchscreen, regardless of the shape, size and location of the virtual buttons and/or other display elements. This makes it difficult for users to find icons, hyperlinks, textboxes or other user-selectable input elements that are being displayed, if any are even being displayed, without looking at the display.
Apple’s iPhone 6 models have been recently criticized for bending in certain places following a specific kind of applied pressure, but a newly discovered patent seems to indicate that some of Apple’s future mobile devices may indeed come with screen-bending features that are anything but an accident. Awarded on October 7th and first discovered by AppleInsider, U.S. patent No. 8,855,727 describes mobile devices with flexible displays that can be bent to trigger certain content-repeated features. More →
The iPhone 6 is widely expected to include an NFC chip that will enable mobile payments on the device, a move Apple is finally ready for. In addition to leaks that seem to prove the iPhone 6’s hardware will support wireless payments, fresh reports from Bloomberg and Re/code indicate that Apple has recruited the three major credit card providers to back its iPhone wallet plans. More →
Apple is considering including buttons contained within future displays for upcoming iPhone and iPad models, a patent discovered by AppleInsider reveals, that could not only improve the design of the device, but also increase the screen size and protect elements that may be otherwise exposed to accidental damage. More →
Apple is no stranger to building devices mostly out of glass, but the company is apparently interested in the possibility of using only glass for future mobile devices such as iPhones, as well as even bigger gadgets like an iMac or a future “iTV” television set. AppleInsider reports that Apple on Tuesday was awarded a patent describing ways of building an electronic device using “glass housing structures” that are fused at the edges, without requiring metal components to hold them in place. More →