Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad

Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad

Summary: A German court has just issued a preliminary injunction on Motorola's behalf that blocks European sales of all Apple's 3G-enabled devices.


A simple countdown function has lead to a court banning Apple iPhone & iPad sales in Europe.

A simple countdown function has led to a court banning Apple iPhone & iPad sales in Europe.

I wonder if Apple is beginning to regret its world-wide war on Android and Samsung? After all, Apple's just been hit in the chops by a German court injunction that blocks the sale of all iPhones and iPads in the European Union.

In yet another chapter in the mobile patent wars, this time around Android-power Motorola Mobility, soon to belong to Google, used a patent to smash the competition. Considering how Apple is using design and software patents to try to crush its rivals, I have to say I don't think it could happen to a nicer company.

That said, the patent in question, Method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system is another perfect of a stupid software patent. Just like Apple is trying to block anyone from creating a phone or tablet that's rectangular in shape because it would breech their "unique" designs, this bit of intellectual property (IP) blackmail material has nothing unique about it.

Read U.S. Patent No. 6,359,898 and its European Union equivalent, EP1010336 (B1) ? 2003-03-19 for yourself. It describes a way to perform a countdown function over a 3G connection. You know, "Ten seconds to complete your download, three, two, one, download complete."

Oh yeah, that's a unique idea alright.

You may also be wondering what in the world about a countdown mechanism is so essential to a mobile device, any mobile device, that a court would rule that Apple can't sell any iPhones or iPads because of a violation. Apple wonders that too, which is why they're fighting this particular patent with a Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory terms (FRAND) defense (PDF Link). The core argument in this defense is that this feature isn't essential to 3G mobile telephony. That makes sense to me, but the German court didn't buy it.

This, of course, is far from the end of the story. Apple will appeal. The two companies will go back and forth in the courts, and at day's end all that will happen is you won't be able to buy Apple iPhones and iPads for a while in Europe. Oh, and, of course, no matter what smartphone or tablet you use in any country, you'll pay more for them because fighting IP lawsuits around the world doesn't come cheap.

Here's a suggestion: Tim Cook, Apple's new CEO, should get on the phone to Google and Samsung's top brass and invite them to have a little talk about agreeing to compete from now on in the market place rather than in the court room and may be best product win. I mean, come on, we now know that Apple doesn't even see Samsung as a threat to its business! So, why exactly are we going through this anyway?

Related Stories:

Motorola secures Europe-wide sales ban on iPhone, iPad

Apple and Oranges: Apple's tablet design suggestions

Samsung given Galaxy Tab go-ahead after Apple loses sales ban bid

U.S. court denies Apple's bid to halt Samsung sales; Patent infringement 'still likely'

Apple's Worldwide War on Samsung and Android

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, Samsung, Mobility, Legal, Laptops, iPad, iPhone, Hardware, Tablets

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  • Wouldnt fly yet. Steve Jobs hasnt been in the ground long enough for Tim to

    pull that move. Remember SJ's statement about being willing to spend all of apples cash to crush android? The SJ fanbois would oust TC in a heartbeat if he caves on this already. In comedy they ask "too soon?"
    Johnny Vegas
    • Apple bit off more than it can chew.

      Apple is a little obnoxious puppy biting on huge dogs. The puppy barked, bit and raise more noise than it can handle. It woke up cats, dogs and bears that now are coming after this obnoxious puppy. And the puppy is running. The worst is yet to come.
  • Motorola DID invent cellular technology, after all

    So it seems it was just a matter of time before they came up with something to dice Apple. Where are the other forerunners? Palm pioneered the touchscreen-with-apps smartphone, Win Mobile (crappy as it was) came next with stylus-less touchscreen, then later Apple showed up with iPhone. Wow. That's innovation!!
    • Simplification

      It's not just the functionality that matters. I confess to knowing very little about Win Mobile, but the Palm smartphones used resistive touch screens whereas Apple (and most everyone now) uses capacitive touch screens. That is a major difference in the base technology and in the patent for the actual devices.
      • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad


        Apple didn't invent capacitive touchscreens. They didn't write the drivers for the firmware for digitizers. Apple doesn't get to patent the idea of using something that was already available. They get to claim credit for having the balls to use the more expensive tech first, but they DON'T get to patent it.
    • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad

      Um, the Palm Pilot was actually just a cheap cut-down copy of Apple's Newton MessagePad which preceded it by quite a few years. Apple's John Sculley was the one who actually coined the term Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).
      • Previous Art


        Yes, Palm did came after the Apple Newton. But, the Newton was just a scaled down Go! tablet. The Go! tablet in it's turn was based on cutting the cord that connected previous digitizers/displays from the mainframe computer, ...

        You can actually trace this series all the way back to the Sumerian invention of Cuneiform writing.

        All invention starts with a preexisting base of technology.

        Apple didn't 'invent' it's iphone whole cloth. Not with the Mac, the Newton, or the iPod or iPad. Each was an Apple version of that had already existed. Even the Apple I and II were based on other systems.

        The same can be said of most of Apples competitors.

        Perhaps some of IBM's patents are real original inventions. But those took place long ago.
      • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad

        @marthill And the MacBook was just a more expensive copy of Atari's ST Book, which could run Apple software before Apple produced a portable device. And Atari had a prototype of an "ST Pad" as well, so I guess the iPad is a copy of that too. Or not, because the ST Pad would run a full OS... ;-)
  • As usual, SVJN thinking like every other "reactive" Linux geek out there..

    I can see that you still have a lot of good theoretical ideas, Steven, but you still have a problem with the big picture.

    "Here???s a suggestion: Tim Cook, Apple???s new CEO, should get on the phone to Google and Samsung???s top brass and invite them to have a little talk about agreeing to compete from now on in the market place rather than in the court room and may be best product win. "

    In theory, we'd all love all companies to compete only in their markets, rather than the courts. Despite all the publicity these cases get, they generally do (hence, why Samsung hasn't dumped Apple as a customer and Apple hasn't dumped Samsung as a a supplier yet, regardless of all their legal disputes).

    Of course, what you're really saying is "can't we all just get along? I'll agree not to copy your stuff, if you agree not to sue me. Let's let the market decide what is better." I can just see your vision crystal clear: The big CEOs having scotch and cigars at the local pub, writing the details on a cocktail napkin, and that would be the end of it.

    Of course, in reality, there are only two weapons in the arsenal of any given Smartphone company - lower prices, or heavy R&D to make better products. Now the catch-22 with R&D is that it is very expensive, and in many cases, leads to a product that can be very easy and cheap to copy. So without the ability to defend IP in court, the only result is that the less-expensive company will win, the company doing all the R&D will fold, and we'll be left without any technological growth and cheap commodity phones (kindof like we had between the mid-90's and the early '00s when we had.. um.. cellular.. and PCS.. and.. well.. nothing really else)..

    Now of course, they could agree over scotch and cigars and cocktail napkins and handshakes all they want.. But in the business world.. especially the BIG business world.. those agreements don't generally count for much..
    • What he said.

      @daftkey ... couldn't have said it better myself.

      Thanks for saving me the trouble. :-)
    • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad


      + 1000
    • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad

      @daftkey Rectangular phone != heavy R&D, nor does a countdown timer. And honestly, most software patents are total crap. There are exceptions, but they're few and far between. I have a friend that got one right out of college and he was shocked that a fairly basic idea (and one that already existed) could be patented. Needless to say several other managers fell all over themselves to put their name on it too. On the plus side, he gets to put it on his resume.
      • Don't hate the player, hate the game...


        I don't disagree that many, many patents are bogus. That's the game, and Apple isn't responsible for the rules, they only play by them, as do every other company out there that lives on R&D. Is it costly and wasteful? Yes. Would I rather they spent the money on making life (and their products) better and cheaper for me? Yes. Do I think that's a realistic expectation? Not even close.

        My issue is with SJVN's assertion that everyone should just agree to meet in a room somewhere and play nice together. I don't know about you, but I kindof like it when Corporations compete, whether it be in the courtroom or in the market. When they start to cooperate with each other, it's usually not in our (the consumers') best interests.

        You want to fix the patent system, go ahead - many many people have tried, thinking that their ideas are the "simple fix". Then realizing that the world is not quite that simple.
      • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad

        @daftkey "I don't know about you, but I kindof like it when Corporations compete, whether it be in the courtroom or in the market. "<br><br>One benefits the consumer, one benefits lawyers. I'm assuming you're a lawyer then, so that it's win-win for you, unlike the rest of us?<br><br>I'll take SJV-N's arguing from a position of fair play and honor than your position arguing from a "whatever works" or at best a "what can you do" philosophy. There are plenty of businesses that function with a sense of integrity as well.
      • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad


        "I'll take SJV-N's arguing from a position of fair play and honor than your position arguing from a "whatever works" or at best a "what can you do" philosophy. There are plenty of businesses that function with a sense of integrity as well. "

        It sure is interesting what some people consider "functioning with a sense of integrity".

        I am not a lawyer, but I work with a *LOT* of businesses who rely heavily on R&D to create and market many products that you take for granted every day. Going to court to defend IP against people hoping to make a quick buck with knock-off copies of essentially their product (without the R&D expenses, of course) is a regular everyday occurance. Believe it or not, R&D businesses are very easy targets for those with less than a "sense of integrity", yet they seem to be the ones you and SJVN consider the charlatans of the world.

        Unfortunately, you and SJVN would call the real innovative companies I deal with the crooks for daring to "compete in the courtroom instead of the market", when, in actual fact, if they didn't defend their IP in court, they would fold, and their products as well as the knock-offs would not exist.

        To think that only the lawyers benefit from IP law and court cases is incredibly INCREDIBLY naive.

        As far as large companies making an "agreement" only to compete in the market and not to sue each other - well that's also pretty short-sighted. Behind every agreement is a legally-binding contract that can only be enforced in a court. Behind every large company is an army of shareholders who expect that company to do what is in their best interests.

        So you would essentially have three companies, all with totally incompatible business strategies (Google, who is a software company and is mostly interested in ad-based free services revenue, Apple who is a major R&D player and bills themselves as a premium brand, and Samsung who's claim to fame is simply efficient, cheap manufacturing) in a room to make this agreement not to fight each other in court over IP. The heavy R&D player essentially loses their business strategy because all of a sudden they have no recourse to go after the efficient manufacturer for producing exactly the same product for less money. The consumer is going to buy said cheaper product because it is, well, cheaper. And then what? Apple should just let their massive investment in R&D go to waste? Let shareholder value plummet? Close up shop even? And you expect the CEO that lets this happen to their company and their shareholders to just say "well the market has spoken as we lost, kumbaya?" Doesn't sound like something a responsible CEO would do.

        If you know how to play connect the dots, I'm sure you can tell what would really happen in this situation - I'll give you a hint, it doesn't look much different than what is happening now.
    • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad

      @daftkey Sorry to say if Apple spent more than 5 bucks to make a phone thin and light or a tablet rectangular they should get their money back.
      • Lawsuit results


        Proposal, drawings, design of the interior board, prototype, ordering the devices. (Apple doesn't own any factories any more. They are just a fashion design house.) All of these steps cost money, not to mention the advertising dollars spent to take it to market, or the reviews bought and paid for. No, it takes a lot more than $5.00 to bring a product to market. It would probably take more than $50,000,000.00. However, you basic point is well made.

        No, what Apple is trying to do here is to delay the competition until after Christmas, so that they have one more good year before the inevitable invasion begins to destroy their tablet and phone markets.

        It's already too late for the phones, so they are trying to prevent tablets from being sold. But, they miscalculated the number and scope of the opposition.

        Legal tussles are a two edged sword. In most lawsuits, the only real winners are the lawyers. Expect to see BOTH sides lose.

        But on the up side, there will be a boatload of lawyers around the world that will be buying a lot of stuff soon. The Lawyers always win.
    • Google, Motorola aquisition

      Sounds like that aquisition could never happen. Between EU's anti-business sentiment, the current delays, and Google's hubris, it could be a long, long time before Motorola is aquired.

      Maybe Apple will quietly buy enough Motorola stock on the open market to make a bundle on the aquisition, or to scuttle it. One never knows.
    • RE: Android's Revenge on Apple's iPhone & iPad

      @daftkey But nobody's copying anybody in the first place, so your argument falls short. People are patenting things like rectangles (Apple) and counting (Motorola) and a displaying page download progress in a browser (Microsoft) and then suing over these nonsense patterns rather than competing.
      • But you're putting the blame on the wrong entity..


        The fact that these patents are being awarded is not Apple, nor Motorola, or Microsoft's fault. As I said before, they are simply working with the patent system as it exists. It is not the corporations that need fixing, it is the system.

        Currently, the patent system seems to exist with the philosophy that if a patent application is filed, and it falls within a very VERY broad set of rules, it will be granted. The underlying expectation is that if it really SHOULDN'T have been granted, it is up to a judge, and not the USPTO to decide.

        Of course, if you want the USPTO (or whatever other patent offices) to tighten up their rules for granting patents, then you'll have to make a big stink, and likely an even bigger investment (in the form of taxes) so that they can hire enough engineers, lawyers, etc to review the patent applications and deny them before they become a big problem.

        Or you could just keep your head in the sand and pretend like a business that just ignores this reality could survive.