Dec 28 AT 4:41 PM Dustin Earley 87 Comments

Apple awarded core multitouch patent, the world forgets to care

apple_patent_generic (1)

On Tuesday, December 27, Apple was granted yet another key patent, this time related to how the iPhone’s multitouch display functions. The patent covers the method in which an “oscillator signal interacts with a signal,” or how touch is interpreted by the operating system. While it would seem that this is a massive win for Apple, it isn’t being covered as such. There’s several good reasons for that, including the fact that the world is finally desensitized to patent warfare.

2011 has been a busy year for patent lawyers. As the dust surrounding the initial smartphone market share sprint began to settle, it was clear that not everyone would be happy relying on the quality of their products to win the entire race. Apple has been the poster child for this line of reasoning. The Cupertino based company has started lawsuits with nearly every top Android device manufacturer, using technical patents and design infringements to challenge the competition.

So far, any victories for Apple have yet to really show any major impact on Android. Sure, Samsung has had to retool their Galaxy Tab 10.1 in some parts of the globe, and some older (not even sold anymore) HTC handsets have been banned. But Samsung’s modified Galaxy Tab 10.1N isn’t likely to be banned even if Apple fights for it, and HTC is already developing a workaround to prevent any future problems for their handsets. Both of these stories were highly publicized, and both had a rather lackluster outcome.

When it comes to Apple’s newest multitouch patent, we may be looking at the same situation. Back in mid-December, HTC was already looking into alternative touch panel suppliers, because their current Atmel maXTouch displays may infringe on Apple’s patents. You can bet that HTC isn’t the only manufacturer accessing their options. And by the time Apple is able to take their latest patent to court, it would probably only apply to, you guessed it, old handsets not even being sold anymore.

Right now, the mobile industry is engaged in a vicious cycle of legal battles where even the victors aren’t awarded much. Apple is going to keep landing patents. They’ll continue to sue rival manufacturers, who’ll continue to rework their hardware and software to avoid any missed sales. And eventually, even technology enthusiasts won’t know it’s still going on. Because if nothing monumental happens when some huge company does win in a patent case, no one’s going to care.

It’s like that story, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Every patent suit against Android is touted as the one that will end the platform. But that’s not what happens. So the townspeople don’t even listen anymore. They just don’t care. I think we’ve finally reached that point.

Via: Mac Observer

Source: Patently Apple

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • jaxidian

    We really need to gut out this patent system we have in place. These patents on obvious technology are ridiculous! Forget but did AndroidAndMe cover the Amazon patent to guess your religion based on the wrapping paper you pick? FRICKEN OBVIOUS!

    • tmihai20

      I think that Android handset makers are now used to this patent war. This has turned into a “how to avoid Apple patents” war. Just as Apple is racking up patents, Android manufacturers know they have to modify their devices so that Apple can’t sue them. Maybe it’s time that Apple realizes that they can’t win this war like this, the element of surprise has worn off. What can Apple do with patents that don’t give them any advantage? I just hope Apple realizes that too.

      • _Diego

        I completely agree with you. I hope they come to their senses in the new year…

    • kazahani

      If the events of the past year have taught us anything, it’s that Apple’s attempt to use the patent system to slow Android down is not having much effect. Until they shift their focus to developing new ideas instead of claiming ownership over ones that already exist, Apple will continue to lose ground.

  • fonix232

    And then, now as noone cares, Apple will draw their final card to “finish off” Android. I’m almost 100% sure they got something big in their pocket, and are waiting only to have bigger income from the suit.

    • R.S

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Apple did file all those frivolous lawsuits i n order to “desensitize” people and not make them care so that later down the line they could launch an even more frivolous attack without people paying attention but as big as Android has gotten, there is no finishing Android off.

      After all, do you think sites like this one isn’t going to continue to report on the Apple Vs the world battles? Not only that, but with so many Android sets around the world, and hundreds of thousands more being activated each day, do you think people will sit quietly as Android gets attacked. I don’t, if fact I think Apple continuing it’s ridiculous campaign will only make more people aware on how ridiculous these patent lawsuits really are.

    • goncalossilva

      They never even had the guts to go after Google. They’re plain ridiculous when it comes to all this patent BS.

      • mac08wrx

        that company has lost my respect and i plan on not supporting them in any way. I will not purchase anything from them in any way and plan to make sure all my friends and family do the same.

        • mac08wrx

          APPLE sucks

        • AsakuraZero

          you are not the only a friend of my she is a graphic designer taking this bullying and the take down of the Mac Pro line, Apple its just going to hell, not anymore quality products now…

          • Aeo

            What?? I

        • _Diego

          The problem is that Apple still has their ‘quality’ image to rely on. Something that will stick for a while, especially with the not so tech-savvy people (and the oblivious ones…) – they are not aware of this patent war and perhaps the decrease in quality of their products (I wouldn’t know, I’m not an Apple-user…)

        • chuksy

          I’ve done that ages ago

        • donmarsh

          I also hate the way apple sometimes treat innovative developers on their platform e.g. pulling an app from their market and then announcing the same functionality the app was achieving as a new feature in a later phone. Tragic indeed. They need to be boycotted

      • Daniel

        They can not sue google for the operating system. In google agreement with manufacturers they must take all responsibility for the is because they can change it in any way shape or form

  • stenzor

    A patent a day, keeps Apple at bay

    • Me


    • chuksy

      Well said

  • JamTheMan

    Great little article. Love the conclusion at the end!
    And let’s just all hope that we finally reached that point, so innovation can be the primary focus of the industry again…

  • Deter

    I haven’t stopped caring, I never started. Until it had an actual impact on something, I don’t care WHAT lawsuits Apple throws at Android, and you shouldn’t either as a community, or else you’re playing into Apple’s plan to frighten the uneducated masses away from a superior OS.

  • rekaviles


    Since Google doesn’t charge companies to use Android, only the Google market and Google apps, is it safe to say that Apple will never be ale to go after them directly, right?

    I was wondering why the only went after the handset manufactures and not the OS maker, but that is probably the reason .

    • Ivan Samuelson

      That’s because Google doesn’t make the hardware. The hardware manufacturers are the ones they are going after because they are the ones supposedly violating Apple’s so-called “patents”. This includes the hyperlinking of phone numbers (what? Really???) as well as this supposed issue.

      Until Google actually starts manufacturing hardware, Apple can’t go after them since they only provide the OS.

  • Hoffy

    In The Boy Who Crid Wolf, doesn’t an actual wolf show up at the end? And nobody believes him so his flock is killed? I really don’t think this analogy applies here.

    • AsakuraZero

      it does people will give a fk, now we do, i just read the news, and its true now the manufacturers are looking forward to new Tech, new coding methods and etc. in the world of technology the USA patent office will be always behind, so apple will lose trying to fight with patents.

      Apple its not even a wolf anymore its like a bully pug

  • 4n1m4l

    If I could control the future, it would be that apple would win every patent they wanted and everybody would find work arounds. Then when the dust settled and apple went bankrupt their patents would be bought by Google and made available to everyone in the android open source project or for that matter everyone who wanted to join the open source project. A dreamworld, of course.

    • donger

      yes indeed

  • Joe

    The general public shouldn’t care about every little patent. We’re consumers. The patents themselves are interesting as you learn about a technique or the thinking about an idea. But to get all crazy over one sueing the other is best left to the lawyers. IP is important and I’m all for it. But the war isn’t interesting and never was. I just like the tech in the patents.

  • mdawg924

    Were there lawsuits before apple? I can’t remember..

  • Thorpeland

    These lawsuits are the equivalent of Ford suing Chevy because they also use a steering wheel in their cars. Just wreaks of desperateness.

    • lxgeorge

      And the only effect that the lawsuit has is that Chevy makes their steering wheels one centimeter less in diameter…. (oh and article title ftw)

  • Jorge Eslava

    I completely agree with this post.

  • aranea

    Hmm.. Basically, Apple will keep crying like a baby who lost its toy and world will keep rotating and Android will keep getting better and bigger.

  • Jan Moisen

    But apple have to be carefull in the future, they only have iPhone and if the most android manufacturer goes together then gets a iPhone banned then it will take really hard on apple where the most android manufacturer have alternative devices

  • aykutb

    From time to time I felt worried when I hear about Apple suing an Android device manufacturer but look at where “we are” now :) We supported Android to a point that there’s no going back, no chance of losing the game, we my friends made possible a great, free operating system spread with our supports. I’m happy (i don’t show it much)

  • Babydoll25

    Enough already! I understand that Apple is a valuable company that has done much for the smartphone ecosystem by pushing the envelope in design and quality…but really, this is getting old. Even Their “wins” aren’t really “wins” (as outlined above)…It’s getting really annoying. So much so, that I won’t even consider Their other non Smarthphone products like Macbooks….

  • jimtravis

    Apple, you certainly are making it easy to dislike you as a company, and this comment is from an Apple stockholder.

    • blars1206

      That’s funny. I don’t own stock in apple, not that I want to support their habits, but all that they are doing really makes me hate them and not even consider buying their products. They already have to control what you do with your own device to the point it is actually annoying like having to give them your credit card info to download free apps…that is ridiculous. My kids each got an iPod Touch for Christmas and now I need to go get some prepaid Visa’s because I don’t want them to rack up bills on my card.

    • epps720

      As a stockholder I would be concerned of the fact that Apple has to be spending millions of dollars fighting all these patents across the globe. This may have been a great strategy if it was causing serious detriment to their competitors but apparently it is not. The issue is they can’t just attack the one company they want, Android (well Google), but they are fighting against a wide array of companies Motorola, HTC, Samsung, etc. If this was Apple vs. a single company maybe they would have a fighting chance with their deep pockets, forcing the competitor to eventually go bankrupt. Issue is there are WAY too many manufacturers for this type of battle to be won by Apple. I think down the road we’ll see how this strategy really backfired, wasting millions of dollars on this endless war when it should have been put towards R&D and their forward thinking.

  • cb2000a

    Android is not going away until the people quit buying it….

  • Oscar Ortega

    i think apple lost its pacifier that’s why its crying so much!

  • akareem89

    Someone is desperate

  • steve

    hang in there Android Army, it is just matter of time to the day we apple go down.
    in 2012 Android Army really need to unite.

  • lokidokie

    Apple sucks

  • Nathan D.

    they can’t compete anymore so they go for patents like a troll

  • pmex83

    Shows how much Apple is scared of innovation and competition, I feel so angry just thinking how Apple is screwing growth and innovation by obtaining these really broad technology patents.

  • vid500

    This lawsuits were ridiculous at the begining and are becoming even more ridiculous now. Not that I care so much becouse they didn’t stop android maybe thay just make them do it their oun better way. But it makes me mad what patents have become, they certaily didn’t go the right way.

  • hee haw

    Apple = Monsanto = The Jackson Family

  • Dr.Carpy

    I find Apple is a strange. Rather than sinking money into R&D, gorilla glass for their fragile phones, or worker benefits, etc. They perpetually waste time and resources in these nuisance patents and lawsuits. I guess all the money Apple overcharges consumers is to fuel their culture of arrogance.

  • Aren666

    I used to love Apple products simply because they weren’t Microsoft. But I have a broken iMac that will cost more to repair than to replace.

    So when I noticed Android, I sat up. It’s neither Apple or Microsoft – and for that I support it. I also like most of Google’s products too so it’s great to see them easily synched up with a phone.

    My Android phone cost me about £30 new and isn’t fast, isn’t high on storage, and doesn’t have a big screen. But it has Android, GPS, Wifi, the main apps, and cost the same as my previous feature phone.

  • Jeff195

    Well personally I’m an Android fan but I do remember when the first iPhone was released Apple claimed they were filing patents for multi-touch (most likely based on the FingerWorks patents they acquired, which were filed in the 90′s).

  • crazy-4-android

    Apple can get all the patent it wants. Google is original and better. Apple has taken some of google’s key features such as the notification bar you can slide down. Please, Apple, continue to waste money on your silly patents, and when you run out of money and loose everything to google, then see what happens

  • mr. android

    apple is like the bully , that does things expecting to get something out of it . Android is the kid being bullied but in this case its also the underdog that will eventually leave apple in dust.

  • Kindroid

    The issuance of a patent does not guarantee the validity of it….especially in the tech area, where true innovation is much harder to discern. In time, hopefully the courts will bring some sanity to this situation.

  • Thomas MacDougall

    next apple is going to say that they have a patent on having a microphone in a phone

  • nivekkev

    It seems to me, the more silly patents Apple tries to sue for, the more innovation and improvement that comes to Android and it’s handset makers, so all they are really doing is making a better Android…

  • Hall Lo

    This is getting so bored…. the patent system is totally messed up and apple is such a jerk

  • ajonrichards

    Probably the most frustrating aspect of patent law is that patents are awarded to people who defend them vociferously for ideas and concepts that other intelligent people can figure out on their own. Apple’s mulitouch patents are uniqie, and whatever engineers and companies who first thought of it deserve accolades, but there are plenty of genius engineers who can figure out how to produce multitouch interfaces without ever consulting Apple’s proprietary information. “This American Life” had an episode recently that highlighted the more ridiculous aspects of patent law, and patent “trolling”, specifically. Too many companies are wasting too many resources trying to defend patents that never should have been awarded in the first place. For instance, there is a patent for “Bread Refreshing Method”, awarded in 2000. This is a patent on making toast.

  • AndroidIsCopyCat

    iPhone in 2007 was like a car when all the other smartphones were like horse carriages. Obviously the wheels existed before the car was created. The engine existed in steam locomotives, but nobody really thought of putting the wheels, engine, transmission together, along with a good way to control it using a steering wheel before the car was invented. If Chevy then immediately decides to copy Ford and claim that they have the right to copy the car as they don’t believe in the patent system or that the invention was obvious, I am not sure this is fair. I don’t understand why people call Apple a jerk. If someone blatantly rips me off, I am going to complain and cry(and don’t forget Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board at that time!). It is like I put in all the hard-work preparing for the exam, but the guy sitting next to me copies everything that I write. How/why should I work hard?

    Regarding the notifications system that people claim Apple copied from Android, it is like Chevy modified the windshield wipers on the car, and then Ford copied the windshield wiper concept. But the fact that Chevy actually copied the car itself is ignored!! Where is the revolutionary innovative response expected from the competition?

    Google today has unfortunately become a company that is trying to copy every other tech company and open source their software. It is no longer an innovative company that actually produces ORIGINAL THINGS WITHOUT BLATANTLY COPYING. They have little or no disregard for intellectual property. Google is the China of the tech world – reverse engineering everything.
    I wonder how google would feel if one of their employees open sources google search engine algorithms and their adwords monopoly! Hey, you can’t patent/protect software algorithms right?

    • Taylor

      There’s a lot of rambling going on here…

    • Ed

      How’s it smell in there? Clearly you’ve got your head up your a$$.

  • danielmkim

    Apple can’t keep Android down.

  • the5thdimension

    Other Apple Patents Include:

    -Mobile Telephone
    -Teddy Ruxpin
    -Apple Trees
    -Peanut Butter & Jelly

  • Taylor

    The patent and copywriting laws are well behind the pace of technology, but Congress is too busy quarreling over politics to actually assess the efficacy of these dated laws. Thus the executive is bound to enforcing an old standard of law. Then again, the Obama Administration could push for a re-write of the code, but it seems a low priority in the current political climate (though it would likely guarntee him the “nerd” vote).

  • Taylor

    On a wholly separate note, why is it that the Apple defenders and/or Android skeptics/haters demonstrate the worst grammar and syntax in the comments? Must be because they are so “creative.” Food for thought.

  • Danny Calderon

    I want to know when Google or android OEM will go after Apple, give them a taste of their own medicine

  • kungpaodragon

    I want to know how the heck Apple gets all these patents that I have seen on something else before I see them on any Apple device? Or something so ridiculous like using a password or swipe to unlock? Really? A password to pass through security? Apple invented that? Someone at the patent office is getting lots of Apple dough and blow.

  • Diego Perez

    apple isn’t even winning pity at this point how sad

  • nephariouz

    I’ve been a loyal apple supporter since my first computer in 92′, but apple is starting to piss me off with all these stupid lawsuits. My next phone will definitely be an android.

  • KatSelezneva

    Recently, Apple has appeared in the news only because of its patient lawsuits. I especially liked its list of what Samsung can do to make their devices more unique. I’ve tried to imagine an example phone made according to all suggestions of Apple. So, it is:
    round (or even triangular),
    with a wavy surface,
    with a square display in the corner of the device,
    with a vertical speaker opening in the left lower corner,
    with adornment on the front surface (e.g., strasses),
    with a thick sloping bezel.

    For this wonderful device I suggest a name like Increepible Wavy I.

    An ideal Samsung phone from Apple’s point of view

  • druie

    Things like this make me dislike Apple even more so, and would make me further reconsider getting an Apple product.

    I’ve been looking at what’s available in tablets for the last 6 months and it’s hard for me to admit this, but I’d be lying to myself if I bought any other tablet other than the iPad2. It’s definitely a very solid product. Regardless that it is Apple.

    Although the Transformer Prime and Samsung Galaxy has sparked my interest back to Android. But it’s not really enough satisfaction for me to pick one up just yet. I’ll most likely wait and see the iPad3 and Nexus tablet go head to head and see what both parties have to offer. I just hope Apple can stop all this nonsense to make me dislike the company. It’s really affecting my decision to ever go with an Apple product!

  • theapman

    The Samsung Galaxy SII is a great device to easily migrate too. Coming from a 4th gen X-Apple iPhone OG, 3, 3GS, 4 lover. I find that the Android system is very much like having an unlocked, and untethered iPhone that does everything that the iPhone does including more. I WAS SO TIRED OF APPLES MARKETING GIMMICKS SUCH AS SIRI. Now they will suffer if they don’t reformat IOS to even allow simple flash view ability. Apple has alot of re-inventing to do not legal bully crying about a silly interface.

    They will also lose greatly because once you are off iTunes no need to deal with Apple at all. Lastly Android device manufacturers are delivering technology advancements everyday comparing a once a year Apple IOS device release with a bunch of marketing schemes and gimmicks such as Siri. Honestly I’m tired. I expected to pick up the iPhone 5 instead Apple releases 4s…. WTF! These games will make users like myself let go of the mini touch screen iOS device they call the iPhone. The more marketing games they play the more users will find that Android offers much more freedom.

    Sorry Steve!

  • Jorge Branco

    Sorry to be a straight up grammar bastard

  • Rob Vermeij

    This patent shit is becoming really really annoying. Why Apple get all the patens they didn’t even invent?

  • Oskar Wismierski

    That’s it.. no more touch screen phones apart from Apple LOOL


    This is getting retarded

  • jenskristian

    I surely don’t care anymore.

  • Paul

    As far as im aware this is American Patent only, so outside America does not care.

  • GB

    It’s really sad that Apple can no longer compete with quality, innovative or interesting products anymore since Android has been beating them in all of these categories. So, now instead of trying to compete with new innovative products they steal ideas from Android, *cough* notifications *cough* and try to sue the companies that are developing products that are much better than theirs with frivilous patent lawsuits. Even the iSheep are starting to realize that their little 3.5″ phone and their low resolution tablet with outdated technology is no match for all the Android Devices being released. The disparity is just going to be more and more in favor of Android as they keep innovating while Apple sits on the sideline with their once a year rehash release of their iCrap. Apple is the next RIM, goodbye and good riddance to you.

  • pekosROB

    so, effing, ridiculous.

    Has anyone patented how to type on a keyboard and input information into a computer? The use of a mouse? If not, better get to it, before Apple steals it.

    Apple execs at the last meeting, “What about how we breathe air? Or how we see stuff? Or using a key to open something? Has anyone patented that yet? Let’s just patent everything so we can sue EVERYONE.”

    • Skapheles

      AT&T is working on a patent for telecommunications as in making a phone call.

  • Skapheles

    The real losers are the third party manufacturers that make these components.

  • AdamOutler

    you realize that most of Apple’s patents are worthless right? They basically take what’s already there, add a bell (no whistle), then patent it. It’s this strategy that keeps them losing.
    They’ve had what, 100 patents in the last few months they’ve been bothering other manfuacturers with.. and they have won what, 2.. 3? They were minor victories.. Apple is 98% marketing and 2% innovation.

    Real innovators like Samsung and other companies don’t brag, patent, and copyright every single thing they do. Apple is practically using the patent office like a little girl uses twitter.. “And I got a new pencil, and I sharpened it, and then i went to the bathroom”.

    They didn’t get a patent on “Multi-touch”. They got a patent on their latest revision of multi-touch. Multi-touch was invented in 70s. Here. read this:

    This is yet another worthless Apple patent.

  • Samar

    May be the judges in the court room need to be a little more rational / techy to understand all these underhand shots. JUst read on another bolg that Big ‘A’ is filing for ‘Face Unlock Patent’, C’mon now..Somebody needs a break.

  • Matt

    i dont care what apple whants or copy drom Android . .. if you wanna copy the notification center or even face unlock and make it “better” its YOUR choise to do that . . but the fact that you “calimed” for that technology and force other company to abandon that feature you copyed . . . . that is really annoying . . what a coward . . if you want to sel more product make your product better . . im telling you apple . . youre genius @ marketing . . you can sell a cheap procduct with insane price and pepole still like it . . you can rob peoples wallet trough selling software and everyone okay with it .. . but this sue-you,sue-me things wont work . . . seriously apple? youre too full of yourself

  • Kavi Kadecha

    well ishit is still selling like hot cakes, I hope for them to stop, I never bought a apple product before and now seeing this impotent attack on real innovators, I would seriously rethink if buying them, even if they are offered for free.I just stopped my brother from buying ishit some days ago, he’s very happy that he got a android instead.

  • Chuxter

    Great article! Rings true in so many ways.

  • Indianninja

    The patent lawsuits that apple is coming wirh are too general and the trend is dangerous.The whole thing ultimately cause much money and resources to be LOST over the battle with ridiculously dangerous patents.

    This thing is affecting us in indirect way that when android manufacterers lose money they would make it up in the price that WE pay.

    The PATENT SYSTEM IN USA IS FAULTY.Recently too much ridiculous patents are being filed.

    There should be a system or board that checks the practicality of these lawsuits and should include tech people of the respective field in it.By that any patent holder can file a patent infringement unto other regarding technology ,only after approval from the board that has experts in that field.Or the law has to be ammended as to take into consideration the practicality of the patent before any proceeding of the case.
    In other words you people needs new law.Anyway the apple can not destroy android anyway that the almost anonymous chinese unbranded phone makers are trying with android devices here.And after can be run in a virtual pc(I do it to watch as my connection is slow.).
    The future of smartphone would not be apple that is for sure.I would never buy an iphone…lacks the most basic features and tries with fancy eye candy.Nokia x1 00 has a microsd hotswappable and can play music from there.iphone has not.
    My galaxy fit can do everything I want except a few games and others..but give me much better experience tgan the suffocating control that I heard and seen about iphones.

    But lawsuit is a different matter here.They must be stopped.In India no much case I have heard..but apple may start anyday.
    Yet iphone wont sell in India as they are totally at fault with too much incapabilities.
    What on Earth am I supposed to do with so many apps when I can not transfer music from my pc to phone..and what about the expanndable microsd that serves as pen drive?

    God bless android..that this made smartphones to be accessed by all.

    Android death false alarm would only make people buy more android here.
    Everybody is planning to buy one.If they find that it is going to go from market they will try to secure one for them.Simce just browsing do much better in them.

  • AndroidWillNeverBeOnTop

    I have an android but seriously you all hate Apple way too much, if anyone is to blame for the lawsuits it is Android there own CEO worked with Apple then turned around and started to make a very similar device to iPhone no shit they are gonna get destroyed and sorry to burst your bubble but Apple is waayyyy bigger then Google that company has so much revenue if anyone is going to be taken down it would be Android before iOS.