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Apple Sued for their Entire Line-up of Touch Related Products

1 - FlatWorld v. Apple
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.


2 - FlatWorld patent RE43,381

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."


3 - FlatWorld's patent FIG. 1


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.




Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of certain legal cases/ lawsuits which are part of the public record for journalistic news purposes. Readers are cautioned that Patently Apple does not offer an opinion on the merit of the case and strictly presents the allegations made in said legal cases / lawsuits. A lawyer should be consulted for any further details or analysis. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments. On most legal cases, comments will be closed. See our Legal Archives for other patent infringement cases.


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Don't the Apple Newton patents pre-date this patent?

This will never stop until judges start punishing these frivolous law suits with some serious fines for the offenders, say jail tme for fraud with a 6 figure fine.

Just a comment on the patent system. A patent owner owns a government granted limit-term monopoly. Ownership is what counts. Just as it's illegal for someone to procure and use your property is illegal even if you're not using it.

The patent inventor was not involved in the suit. A patent troll bought the patents and is now trying to make money out of thin air. Who knows, there may some stupid judge out there who wants ten minutes of fame.

The only thing this patent has related to Apple is a couple of the words. Its talking about a game for kids and used motion sensors in the edges to sense motion (like the surface) compared to a capacitave grid screen.

Sorry, but the idiots are beginning to run the asylum and these moral less lawyers are pushing it as fast as they can. Ben Franklin was right.... first you shoot all the lawyers. LOL


Get rid of the trial lawyers – plus make the courts like in England – the loser of a lawsuit pays the other party, including their costs. After all, didn’t the USA get their laws from England originally?

They must’ve forgot this one, or a bunch of ambulance chasers changed it.

@ Philip. I'm sure that patent trolls shoot for the biggest target first. These guys will eventually go after everyone. Good luck if they think their technology is relevant anymore.

What about all the millions of other laptops with touch pads?

I would think that Microsoft Surface would be more concerned about this patent.

Really, did this guy just wake up a month ago after a 5 year nap??

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