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October 12, 2010

Comments

I'd like to take a moment to thank Matthew Macari for taking the time out of his busy schedule to present his opinion on this matter.

I hope that this will provide Macites with some perspective while answering some of the questions that were raised earlier in the week.

Cheers Matt

The question of whether these patents will motivate Apple to sue companies like Samsung or HTC for patent infringement, or what effect the patents will have on technologies embodied in the products of key competitors (e.g., Android or Microsoft phones) is not easily answered. The ultimate decision to assert patent infringement includes both a business and legal component. Analysis of the business side relies mostly on speculation for those outside of Apple.

On the legal side, the question is also far from clear cut.

The rights granted to Apple in these patents is specifically limited to the language and scope of the corresponding "Claims." While the title, description and overall summary of the patents are interesting, and can help to understand the claim language, it is the patent claims that define the real scope of the enforceable right. The claim language would need to be examined to properly determine if other companies infringe, or whether there is at least a colorable argument regarding infringement.

For instance, the 7,812,826 Patent has a rather broad title and description ("Portable Electronic Device With Multi-Touch Input"), but the actual language of Claim 1 is obviously more limiting:

1. A method, comprising:
detecting at least two first contacts on a display surface of a multi-touch-sensitive display device;
detecting a first motion associated with the at least two first contacts, wherein the first motion corresponds to a multi-touch gesture;
adjusting a parameter of a graphical object in accordance with the first motion;
detecting a breaking of the at least two first contacts;
after detecting the breaking of the at least two first contacts, detecting at least two second contacts on the display surface;
detecting a second motion associated with the at least two second contacts, wherein the second motion corresponds to the multi-touch gesture and the at least two second contacts are detected within a pre-determined time interval after the breaking of the at least two first contacts is detected; and
continuing to adjust the parameter of the graphical object in accordance with the second motion.


I am not saying that this particular claim is "narrow" in its scope, but I will say that each word must be understood and the history of the patent application process can result in a claim with a scope or value much different than it appears on its face.

Also, it is worth noting that many of Apple's competitors are closely monitoring the progress of patents such as these. As such, many of the competitors may attempt to "design around" the potential patent coverage with tweaks of the products. Some of the design-arounds could be major and obvious, while others are not as noticeable (e.g., a small modification made to get around a narrow or unnecessary word or phrase in the patent claims).

It would be interesting to look closer at a claim or two in these patents and really compare them to the devices or methods of operation in the competitive products. It is a time consuming and costly analysis for which Apple paid a good chunk of change. Apple only needs a good faith belief that one of the claims is infringed to assert the patent - even if the patent includes dozens of claims.

Thanks,

Matt Macari
Skaar Ulbrich Macari, P.A.
www.sumiplaw.com

Won't wipe out the imitators - but will make 'em pay a license. Apple won't kill the competition, just make them stay a step behind and contribute to AAPLs bottom line. Given that GOOG makes $0 from Android directly, it'll be funny to see Android-based providers pay Apple more than Google for the priveledge.

I sure hope so. Apple has done a lot of Ground work here and the Likes of Google, Samsung and others are just eating it all up. All smartphones put there are direct copies of Apple's iPhone.


Here's my question. Can Apple use these patents against the Samsungs & HTC's of the world?

Looks like all of those lawsuits Apple is fighting from Nokia, Motorola, etc., etc., etc., just got the wind knocked out of them. In short, drop your suits or go back to making 90's era dumb phones.

Will this wipe out Android phones, Microsoft phones, etc.

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