Apple is being sued, once again, over claims of copyright infringement, this time from Florida resident Thomas Ross who said that Apple's iPhone, iPad and even the iPod infringe a patent filed at the US Patent Office (USPO) in 1992. He wants $10bn in compensation.
Ross claimed that he filed a patent for an 'electronic reading device', providing three hand-drawn technical illustrations of the device that he envisaged would be used for reading and writing.
His device, which looks like a cross between a house brick and a Microsoft tablet PC, "embodied a fusion of design and function in a way that never existed prior to 1992", according to his lawyers, who handily also filed the scribbled drawings supporting his claim. Compare and contrast:
The filing continued: "What Ross contemplated was a device that could allow one to read stories, novels, news articles, as well as look at pictures, watch video presentations, or even movies, on a flat touch-screen that was back-lit.
"He further imagined that it could include communication functions, such as a phone and a modem, input/output capability, so as to allow the user to write notes, and be capable of storing, reading and writing material using internal and external storage media. He also imagined that the device would have batteries and even be equipped with solar panels."
Ross applied for a utility patent in November 1992, but his intellectual property was declared abandoned by the USPO in 1995 after he failed to pay the application fees.
However, Ross filed a copyright for his technical drawings with the US Copyright Office in 2014, almost certainly too late to have any meaningful bearing on the current lawsuit.
The suit was filed at the Florida Southern District Court on Monday with the case number 0:2016cv61471.
Ross also envisaged a more book-like device, which in many respects mimics ideas already being researched in the early 1990s.
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