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Apple's 7 silliest lawsuits and patent disputes

David Price | June 29, 2016
Apple's been hit by - and instigated - some pretty funny legal claims over the years. Here are our favourite weird Apple lawsuits

Apple was arguing that its patent for 'swipe to unlock' should also cover a tap, because "a tap is a zero-length swipe". Yep, pretty silly.

The handbag maker (2012-2016)

Apple's had a mixed ride when it comes to the iPhone trademark. The first iPhone-branded tech product was actually made byLinksys, which led to a dispute over use of the name which Apple settled in 2007; and ever since, the firm has been fighting to stop other companies climbing on board.

China has been a particularly lucrative destination for the world's jetsetting trademark-law specialists, but not all of Apple's legal disputes in that nation have been successful. In May 2016, for example, Western tech fans were surprised and frankly baffled to hear that the Beijing Municipal High People's Court had ruled that Xintong Tiandi Technology would be able to continue using the word 'IPHONE' on leather goods such as phone cases and handbags. (Why well-heeled Chinese women would want handbags labelled IPHONE is beyond us, incidentally, but perhaps it's no worse than one of us getting a tattoo of a meaningless phrase written out in Chinese.)

The case seemingly hinged on Apple proving that its brand was widely known in China before Xintong applied for its trademark in 2007 - and since the iPhone didn't hit that market until 2009, it was always going to be tough. Apple has requested a retrial.

The optimistic inventor (2016)

On 27 June 2016, a Florida man named Thomas S Ross filed suit against Apple in a move that could only be described as "optimistic".

The suit claims that Ross invented a proto-iPhone almost 15 years before Apple did, and he has the drawings to prove it. And it's true that the "Electronic Reading Device" in the (rather endearingly low-fi) drawings does look a fair bit like the smartphones of the 2000s, despite having been dreamed up in 1992. The problem is that Ross's patent application process was abandoned in late 1992 because he didn't pay the fees.

Ross is seeking a jury trial and $10bn in damages, not to mention 1.5% royalties on worldwide sales of infringing devices. To which we say, good luck with that.

Source: Macworld 


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