A Pennsylvania company by the name of FlatWorld has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in the California Northern District Court in San Francisco. The patent infringement lawsuit concerns Apple's entire line-up of touch related products. Once again, a company is suing Apple regarding touch technology that doesn't relate to Apple's multi-touch technology in any way. The patent background states that the inventor "developed a testing tool with a touch screen programmed to allow children to directly manipulate or move objects on the screen, and 'hide' them behind other objects." It's very difficult to understand how this relates to any of Apple's iDevices or Magic Mouse for that matter. In my opinion, it's simply a bizarre stretch. It's also difficult for the average Joe to understand how a company who took assignment of a patent for the sole purpose of suing others can actually claim that they've been "damaged" in any way by products for which they have no equivalents. Yet in the legal world, imaginary "damages" appear to be the real thing – whether we understand it or not.
Background of the Inventor
The inventor of the two patents noted in this case, is Slavoljub Milekic is Professor of Cognitive Science & Digital Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. According to the court filing, FlatWorld now owns "all right, title and interest" in the patents RE43,318 and 6,920,619.
The Alleged Patent Infringement In-Part
In Count 1 of this case, FlatWorld alleges that Apple has infringed Patent RE43,318. The products noted as infringing this patent includes the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, iPad Nano (sixth generation), MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Magic Mouse in combination with any Mac computer running OSX Snow Leopard v10.6.1 or later, Magic Trackpad in combination with any Mac computer running OS X Snow Leopard v.10.6.4 or later.
FlatWorld states that "Apple's infringement of the '318 patent has been on a massive scale, and has taken place with actual knowledge of the inventions claimed herein."
FlatWorld goes on to state that "As a result of Apple's infringement of the '318 patent, FlatWorld has been and will continue to be damaged in an amount to be proven at trial, but not less than a reasonable royalty for each infringement.
It would appear that there should have been a second count filed in this case to cover patent 6,920,619, but it's not to be found. Whether that's an error by FlatWorld's legal counsel or not isn't known at this time. The noted patent has a filing date of June 12, 1998.
Below is a partial screenshot of the US Patent and Trademark Office's patent RE43,318 presenting the patent's abstract and other related information.
FlatWorld's Patent FIG. 1 below illustrates their touch invention that has two large indented circles built into a touch display which the patent describes as "navigational cutouts."
The Main Patent Claim Quoted in this Case
The main claim quoted in this case is that of claim one which reads as follows: "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."
The presiding Judge in this case is noted as being Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley. The case was filed in San Francisco.
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