Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Last week's Apple-Samsung lawsuit involves eight patents, 17 products -- bid for Nexus ban is based on only a subset

On Saturday, I reported on Apple's request for a U.S. preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (co-developed by Google) based on four patents. At the time, the main complaint was not publicly accessible, but I expected it to involve a broader set of allegations. I have now downloaded the full complaint. These days I'm a bit slow, but trust me, that's only temporary :-)

For the preliminary injunction bid, Apple focused on only one out of 17 products (all of them are listed further below), and on four out of eight patents.

It's also worth noting that Apple's complaint is very concise. Last year's complaint against Samsung had a lot of (very well-crafted) narrative on Samsung's alleged copying of Apple's products. The new complaint doesn't have to repeat much of that. It basically just explains that the alleged problem has exacerbated, and brings new claims.

List of four more patents (that are not at issue in the preliminary injunction bid)

  • U.S. Patent No. 6,847,959 on a "universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system"

    The related application was filed 12 years ago, and according to TUAW, Apple's Spotlight search technology implements it.

    Search patents asserted by Apple against Android must be of particular concern to Google. Two of the four patents asserted in both this complaint and the preliminary injunction bid are search-related: one on Siri-style search and another one on word completion. The Siri patent, in fact, has the same title as this one; it's an evolution.

  • U.S. Patent No. 8,014,760 on "missed telephone call management for a portable multifunction device"

    My first understanding of the claims is that this patent covers a list of missed calls with interactive elements (buttons etc.) that provide direct access to functions (call back immediately or bring up contact card information).

    The related application was filed in 2007.

  • U.S. Patent No. 5,666,502 on a "graphical user interface using historical lists with field classes"

    I haven't yet looked at this in full detail, but my first impression is that the list of potentially relevant, previously used URLs presented by browsers as a user enters the first characters of a URL is the most well-known implementation of this patent. If Apple enforced this one successfully against Chrome, it might create serious problems for Google.

    The related application was filed in August 1995.

  • U.S. Patent No. 7,761,414 on "asynchronous data synchronization amongst devices"

    This appears to cover multi-threaded synchronization that would allow data to be synchronized in the background even though the relevant database is being edited by the user at the same time.

    The related application was filed in 2007.

I haven't seen those patents asserted by Apple against other companies yet. Apple's complaint states that four of the eight patents asserted in the new complaint "were issued after Apple filed the Earlier Case {against Samsung]". Those are four patents with a number above 8,000,000.

I don't think that the patents listed above are, on average, less strong than those that Apple asserts for both purposes. For the preliminary injunction bid, Apple had to focus on patents that can succeed on the fast track, where the judge only has limited time to understand a patent and the parties' related arguments.

List of identified products

Apple's infringement allegations are not limited to the following list of products, but the fact that Apple names them in the complaint certainly makes them the immediate target:

  • Smartphones:

    • Galaxy S II Skyrocket

    • Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch

    • Galaxy S II - T-Mobile

    • Galaxy S II - AT&T

    • Galaxy Nexus

    • Illusion

    • Captivate Glide

    • Exhibit II 4G

    • Stratosphere

    • Transform Ultra

    • Admire

    • Conquer 4G

    • Dart

  • Media players:

    • Galaxy Player 4.0

    • Galaxy Player 5.0

  • Tablet computers:

    • Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus

    • Galaxy Tab 8.9

This lawsuit is going to be huge.

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