updated 05:00 pm EDT, Fri September 7, 2012
Claims iOS system far simpler than used by Android
Samsung is claiming Apple's multitouch is better than the same feature in Android, in a desperate bid to avoid a sales injunction on devices that infringe Apple's patent on the technology. Lawyers for the Korean company made the claim in the Court of the Hague today in the hope that a recall and ban on Samsung Android devices in the Netherlands due to patent infringement can be avoided. The company was recently found guilty of wide infringement after suffering a sweeping defeat against Apple in related patent battles in the US.
Bas Berguis van Woortman, one of the lawyers representing Samsung, called Apple's version of multitouch a "very nice invention," though different to how Android operates. Although both Android and iOS can prevent input affecting specific screen areas depending on when the app needs such data ignored, Apple does this through giving each user interface element some level of exclusivity of inputs, and can discount touches at the OS level. Android blocks touch input at the application level instead, and the method is claimed to be more complex to implement due to the system hierarchy.
Despite being called a more elegant system, Apple disputes the idea that the two technologies are substantially different. "They suggest that they have a lesser solution, but that is simply not true," said Apple lawyer Theo Blomme. He stressed that the Android version solves the same input "conflict situation," and therefore is essentially the same as Apple's patent for the "touch event model."
In terms of the legal fight itself, both sides are arguing over the patent wording, with each claiming a different interpretation. Samsung is also claiming that the patent is invalid due to prior art, in the form of the DiamondTouch. Developed in 2001 by Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs and licensed to Circle Twelve, the software could recognize touches on specific locations by specific people, and whether a user is using two hands for multiple inputs rather than one. Apple believes this to be irrelevant, as it is supposed to be used for multiple participants rather than a single user.
Software synthesizers are also seen as another form of prior art by Samsung, although a bit tangential. The software synthesizer can switch between monotone and polytone inputs, with the software ignoring specific inputs in monotone mode -- which could be called similar to Apple's patent in an abstract sense, except that calling a keyboard a multitouch device forced Apple's lawyers to cry foul, saying it was not a touchscreen device.
Courts in Germany are also hearing cases about Apple's multitouch patent and others being infringed by Samsung and Motorola Mobility, which will be decided on September 21. The judges in the Netherlands version will monitor the proceedings to see if it affects the Dutch case against Samsung, and will make a ruling on October 24. A similar case in the UK between Apple and Samsung saw there wasn't any infringement, as did another between Apple and HTC.
If it fails to defend against Apple's patent claims in this case, Samsung faces the prospect of more product bans in the Netherlands and in turn other European countries. On top of the sales ban which already affects the Galaxy S, S II and Ace over other patents, Apple seeks the ban and recall on all Samsung Galaxy devices running Android 2.3 or higher from Dutch distributors and resellers -- which may also apply to the rest of the EU due to Samsung's main distribtion center is based in the Netherlands. [via PC World]