iPhone 4S antenna fix may breach patents

iPhone 4S antenna fix may breach patents

Summary: Apple may soon find itself embroiled in yet another patent dispute with Samsung over its new iPhone 4S antenna system, according to a report.


Apple may soon find itself embroiled in yet another patent dispute with Samsung over its new iPhone 4S antenna system, according to a report.

The so-called "antennagate" debacle that plagued the launch of the iPhone 4 last year was an issue that occurred when iPhone 4 users touched a small area on the lower-left side of the iPhone 4 where there is a gap in the iPhone 4's external antenna. This pressure caused the signal to drop out. Apple dismissed most of the criticism, saying only 0.55 per cent of iPhone 4 buyers had complained about the issue, but nevertheless issued free bumpers to all iPhone 4 buyers as a solution.

To rectify the problem, Apple unveiled a new dual-antenna design in the iPhone 4S launched last week that would allow the phone to switch between the two antennas to send and receive.

This new design may be an infringement on patents developed by Danish professor Gert Frølund Pedersen and sold to Samsung, according to Danish news site ComON.

The iPhone 4S will likely violate Samsung's patents when it determines which of the two antennas has the better signal strength at any one time, Pederson told ComON.

"You can quite simply do it by measuring the signal strength. But you can also make it a little smarter — which one could imagine that Apple has done. For example, smartphones register whether they are being held in portrait or landscape position. The problem is that if they make calculations based on the type of smart registrations, they will violate a patent that I have which I have sold to Samsung," Pedersen said.

It is not clear at this point whether Samsung intends to challenge Apple on these patents; however, the Korean technology company has already sought to block the launch of the device in France and Italy. This attempted block is unrelated to the patents in question.

Samsung Australia was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.

Apple and Samsung are currently waging a number of legal battles across the globe over alleged patent violations. In Australia, Apple is seeking to block the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, alleging it copies the iPad in a number of respects. The Federal Court is expected to hand down its decision on whether to block the launch of the device. If it is not able to be launched in October, Samsung has said it is unlikely Australia will see the Galaxy Tab 10.1 arrive at all.

The iPhone 4S is scheduled to go on sale in Australia this Friday. Apple has been taking pre-orders on the device since 6pm on Friday, but customers who wish to order one now face a one- to two-week wait on getting the iPhone 4S direct from Apple. Optus and Vodafone also began taking pre-orders over the weekend, and Telstra is expected to announce its plans soon.

Topics: Apple, iPhone, Mobility, Samsung


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • In its cross-claim in the Australian legal action, Samsung has already accused the iPhone 4 of infringing seven of its patents relating to wireless technology. Since the 4S appears not to involve any significant changes in terms of its wireless functionality, these accusations may apply equally to the 4S.

    However, a search of the Australian Patent Office records shows only three patents or applications in the name of Gert Pedersen. These indeed relate to antenna technology, but all have lapsed. So this is latest 'revelation' looks unlikely to add to anybody's woes in Australia.

    It seems probable that Samsung would believe itself to have a case against the iPhone 4S in Australia. The question is whether it has the stomach to take a leaf from Apple's playbook and throw a spanner in the works of the launch here, particularly in light of recent sympathy-inducing events. I dare say that the potential public backlash against any action preventing or delaying availability of the 4S would be of concern to Samsung, although those people who care enough to make a noise are probably not prospective Samsung customers.

    I think it is a tough call for Samsung. From a business perspective, they should be as hard-nosed and ruthless as Apple. But this might not help their brand image.

    It was warming to see Google, Samsung - and Bill Gates - take a time-out to express their condolences, and admiration for Steve Jobs. Like Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf in the old Looney Tunes cartoons, you can have a day job that requires you to be rivals and still be human (or canine) at the end of the day. But, to put it bluntly, the timing is good for Apple and bad for Samsung. Even at the end, Jobs was still sticking it to the competition!

    (Incidentally, I have blogged about the impact of Jobs' work in my own life, and would be interested to hear others' stories - please drop by and add your comment http://blog.patentology.com.au/2011/10/vale-steve-jobs-but-your-influence-will.html.)

    • Thanks for the insights Mark! I had a look on the patent site in Australia and couldn't see anything relevant either. We'll have to wait and see.

      But you're correct re - iPhone 4 targeting. I suspect when there's a full hearing Samsung may wish to update it to include the 4S.
      Josh Taylor
  • apple deserves to get sued. they started the battle against samsung. they're awakening the sleeping giant
  • Ralph is a coyote
    • damn, he is Raplh Wolf, I thought he was Wylie-e-Coyote
  • I'm sure all the happy little workers at Jobs gulag Foxconn would like to blog about the influence he had on their lives too, at least the ones still alive. They may be a little too busy though, eh?