updated 12:35 pm EST, Sun November 14, 2010
Firm wants Apple's Chinese iPhone patents invalid
A Chinese dispute with Apple's iPhone patents may negate some of the company's legal action against Meizu, the Beijing Times said Saturday. Local firm Herron Network Information has sued Apple arguing that a patent for the iPhone's design was invalid as it wasn't attached to the product name. Chinese law requires that any patent refer to a specific product, and it was only after the Patent Bureau volunteered to associate the patent with the iPhone on its own that the patent went through; relying on someone else was also against the law, Herron said.
It noted that Apple's design cues were vague. The design mostly covered a handset with rounded corners, a vertical touchscreen and a rounded button below the display. An earlier LG-made MP3 player and a phone from HTC-owned Dopod already had a similar design by the time the iPhone patent was filed, according to the lawsuit. The Meizu M8 was consciously designed to seize on the iPhone's success, but its design fits a relatively generic design.
Apple has been defending itself in the dispute and contended on Friday that the overall design had a significant "visual impact" that made the patent more distinctive. It was supported by a patent review board assertion in August 2009 that upheld the patent after an earlier case.
The complaint could turn around Apple CEO Steve Jobs' claims that Meizu was stealing Apple's ideas by asserting that the iPhone design was neither first nor unique. Meizu has had to at least temporarily suspend M8 sales after a Chinese ban and has been working quickly to release the upcoming M9 by the end of the year. Its design is still somewhat reminiscent of the iPhone's but has the extra navigation buttons needed for Android. [via MeizuMe]