Apple Sues HTC and Why Apple doesn’t own any Multi-Touch/Gesture Patents!

Apple is probably one of the companies I have tried hard to like, I was even going to buy an iPad just a few hours ago (even though I hated its features lacking multi-tasking/no camera) but it seems like with the recent news that Apple is going to sue HTC, I might have to re-think and boycott Apple for another couple years. (My last Apple purchase was back in 2006 for an iPod Touch, I have boycotted their products since then, especially the iPhone because AT&T has a slow cellular network that also drops a lot of calls.)

Anyways, I think this lawsuit is basically in response to Google’s enabling of multi-touch on the Nexus One plus I really think Android is picking up a lot of momentum at the moment with world’s biggest cellphone companies like Samsung, LG, and others jumping on the Android bandwagon.  It’s probably not overrated to say Apple should be scared but instead of innovating more to stay ahead, they’ve decided to fall behind and sue.

A good move on Google’s though, they make “software”, hence Apple sues the hardware manufacturer HTC, not Google.

Apple gets another thumbs down from me after series of thumbs downs.  Sorry Apple fanboys but I am simply being real here and I care about those hardworking, average men and women, I don’t support companies that want to be truly evil and take over the world by being evil.

Okay, Google is on the verge of being evil with their Mobile Google Navigation that will be bankrupting TeleAtlas in few years but one thing for sure, TeleAtlas has been making a ton of money off their map royalties and there’s no reason why maps shouldn’t be in the hands of more open company like Google.  I don’t feel bad at all, TeleAtlas has been sitting on map technology too long with no new innovation.  Google Navigation will only make our digital maps better for the long run and TeleAtlas to get off their lazy butt and start innovating.

Another fact, Google Android OS is open source whereas iPhone OS is not.  At least Google does a lot of good things supporting the open source community and people who have shared technology with others while Apple tries to be God by even rejecting Google Voice app from Google and other hard-working app developers for the main reason of making more money for Apple themselves.

I don’t understand how Apple PR/lawyers decided to sue HTC but it’s certainly a bad move on their part because they have nothing to gain.  I am betting a hundred bucks that Apple will get nothing out of this other than bad publicity for their image.  It’s not just me, journalists all over the world are with me on this one.

Plus, read all the comments people are writing, even true iPhone fanboys think Apple has gone nuts. (and probably right)

And some iPhone users really pondering about switching to Google’s Android after this mess:

If Apple had never sued HTC then I would never have given Android a second look. I find that kind of delicious and wonder if it’s evidence of further Machiavellian scheming to keep eyes focused on Apple and Google, who may yet still be playing out a two-pronged attack against Microsoft (Google from the low-end, Apple from the high end).
Since I soon realised that HTC had made the Google Nexus One phone running Android OS, I started wondering if it would be a viable alternative to an iPhone when the time comes (likely to be some time this year – I’ll probably wait three or four months – perhaps). All my ‘cloud’ services run on Google after a disappointing year spent with .mac a while back. The Nexus One and Google services seem like a perfect match if the rest of the functionality of the iPhone is matched.

Now, let me show you proof why Apple doesn’t own any patents, they stole from Jeff Han at TED 2006.

Why Apple doesn’t own any Multi-Touch/Gesture Patents!

Yes, Apple did put the first mobile device into production but they did not invent multi-touch nor can they patent the “gestures”.

The very first time I saw multi-touch was this video Jeff Han at the TED back in 2006, not Apple.

When Apple first came out with iPhone, my first thought was, “oh, that multi-touch gesture I saw last year from Jeff Han at TED 2006, Apple copied it.”

Apple did not invent anything, they simply utilized existing technology and decided to patent it themselves geared towards mobile platforms. I just wanted to make that clear and credit for multi-touch should be given to Jeff Han if anything, especially for touch gestures, which are clearly seen in his videos months before Apple patented them.

I have a gut feeling Steve Jobs was at TED 2006 and that’s where he got the idea for the iPhone.

And yes, after I saw that video in 2006, about a year later, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone.

Check out the dates:

Jeff Han’s multi-touch at TED 2006 in February 2006. – link

Apple’s First iPhone Patent in November 2006 – link

Apple’s iPhone Introduction Date in June 29th, 2007 – link

My point?  Don’t be evil Apple, no one like bullies.

Then Steve Jobs says this, which really makes me think that Steve Jobs really is a bully who steals other people’s ideas then tries so hard like a 4th grader that it’s his idea:

We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.

Everyone knows Apple didn’t invent multi-touch nor multi-touch gestures.  The first time it was ever recorded online/offline was with Jeff Han’s TED talk/video. in 1991 by Pierre Wellner:


Seriously, if Apple was a school boy attending elementary school, Apple is the guy who makes his best friend do his project for him then decides to take all the credit for it.

My gut feeling is that Apple is doing this as a last resort, perhaps their iPhone sales aren’t making them as rich as it did a year ago, or perhaps the bad reviews of iPads making them use last, desperate measures.  Whatever the case, everyone in the world sees Apple isn’t innovating here, they are suing others for what’s clearly not theirs but Jeff Han’s.

Even Google, who’s new Nexus One phone is manufactured by HTC says they will stand by HTC:

We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it.

Is my theory right or wrong here?

If my theory is right, then Apple should be paying a ton of royalty to Jeff Han.  Too bad Jeff Han didn’t patent his invention.

I would love to hear your opinions even if you are an Apple fanboy, please just don’t use profanity(or language that offends others) for consideration of other readers.

Steve Jobs, if you are reading this, you can read about karma here, thanks.

33 Responses to Apple Sues HTC and Why Apple doesn’t own any Multi-Touch/Gesture Patents!

  1. James Katt says:

    Apple bought the company that invented multitouch – including that company’s patents.

    Apple also patented certain multitouch gestures – just like Google patented One-Click. Thus, other companies using those gestures are violating those patents.

    Apple doesn’t just sue. It sues when it has firm ground to sue.

    This is the first time since Microsoft, 30 years ago, that Apple has actually sued someone big-time. In other cases, someone else is suing Apple and Apple is defending itself (e.g. Nokia).

    HT should come up with its own gestures, not just copy the iPhone.

  2. Don says:

    James is correct, even though Jeff Hahn and others were playing with multi-touch, one of the first was FingerWorks a company that demoed multi-touch gestures before Jeff and since Apple bought them out, lock, stock and barrel, most of the multi-touch patents are actually Apple’s, which is why Jobs could state: “And boy, did we patented it!”

    Prior-art is an argument that others like to point out, but don’t seem to know really anything about. Prior-art only applies to things that are not only held in common knowledge, but things that are in actual common usage, something that was not the case until the iPhone came out. Very few people had any idea what multi-touch was until the iPhone!

    Surely, if Google can use multi-touch, something that by the way Apple just happens to legally own the patents to, then surely again Apple can use all of the patented features of Google’s own search tools to build a competitive search engine!

  3. Yacko says:

    In support of the comments made by James Katt and a wakeup call for the clueless. Yes, Apple bought the company formerly known as Fingerworks in 2005. The original idea dates back to the mid ’90s. See:

    Apple had the foresight to realize what a powerful tool gestures were, also recognized a new form of computing could be effectively created while everybody else in the industry is trudging around doing the same old thing. Apple never successfully defended the Mac UI, and now this time, they are going to protect the portable UI big time.

    And yes, HTC and et al. should come up with or buy something on their own. My suggestion? The iPad lacks a camera facing the user. This gives other tablet makers an opening. Install a camera and come up with some lip gestures and grimaces.

  4. Mike says:

    So Multi-touch was shown in Feb. 2006 and the iPhone was shown in Jan. 2007.

    Quite impressive to have a production ready device and software in 11 months.

    Google can copy and Apple can’t?

  5. Mike says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot about FingerWorks.

    Some people do not know about them.

  6. Reb says:

    Apple’s patent application for a multi-touch display was made in 2004 according to Gizmo’s coverage when the patent was granted. See:

    The quote: “This can’t be good for anyone but Apple—a patent app filed in 2004 has been granted for their capacitive multitouch display. UPDATE

    The patent is not necessarily all-encompassing, but it appears to be quite encompassing. The abstract explains the patent generally addresses:

    “A touch panel having a transparent capacitive sensing medium configured to detect multiple touches or near touches that occur at the same time…””

  7. Doug Petrosky says:

    Didn’t we see this “idea” in minority report in 2002? But regardless Apple is not suing for something as nebulous as multi-touch. They are suing for specific innovations they came up with to make a touch screen mobile device.

    Things like:

    When you grab a page on the iphone and start a vertical scroll, it locks into a vertical scroll. If you start horizontal, it locks horizontal. But you can still scroll all around the doc. Do you have prior art on this?

    When you hit the edge of a screen you get a bounce back. You saw this where first?

    When you hold the phone to your head, the display turns off. Why didn’t any other touch phone do this?

    When you rotate your device, it rotates and zooms. Where did you see this?

    When you want to unlock your phone, you drag something across the face.

    These were innovative solutions to problems with touch screen devices that others should not just be able to copy.

    As for the open source community, Apple has a very good track record, and Chrome and Android might not exist if it had not been for the work Apple did on WebKit. So choose to purchase what ever tech you prefer but boycoting one of the leading innovators in this industry because they want to force others to innovate instead of copy is a little short sited.

    Except for the fact that Google is freely allowing others to copy what Apple has done what is innovative about the android OS? Note: Allowing third party developers to do what they want is not an answer ether.

  8. Steve W says:

    One-Click is not Google. One-Click is Amazon.

  9. Peter says:

    “When you hold the phone to your head, the display turns off. Why didn’t any other touch phone do this?”

    My cheap-ass Verizon phone (I think from LG) circa 2006 did this. Nice try.

    “When you want to unlock your phone, you drag something across the face.”

    Yeah. Similar to the switch that I have on my alarm clock (circa 2004) for turning it off. Taking physical interfaces and making them digital is not innovation. Nice try.

    “When you hit the edge of a screen you get a bounce back. You saw this where first?”

    It’s been in various screen sharing/screen enlargers for the Mac. I think I first saw it back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Even if you say it’s somehow special, I figure it will take Google 20 minutes to remove this.

  10. SBK says:

    This is poorly informed article. I do not think Apple included ANY multi-touch patents in it’s filing against HTC. They do have a bunch of other patents around the iPhone.

    I personally don’t love the patent system right now, but if Apple does own these patents and they are upheld (big questions BTW), then why is suing HTC so bad? Should they just let other companies rip off their IP?

    I would suggest the writer actually reads what IP Apple is accusing HTC of violating before he advocates boycotting Apple (himself) and insinuates that they are “evil”.

    Until the IP laws in the US are reformed (and I do think they should be); that’s the playing field everyone has to deal with. All tech companies constantly suing each other over IP. Why single out Apple?

  11. max says:

    Actually Apple did include many multi-touch patents in the suit including The ‘849 Patent, entitled “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image,” and The ‘381 Patent, entitled “List Scrolling And Document Translation, Scaling, And Rotation On A Touch-Screen Display. These are ridiculous patents in my opinion, it’s like patenting the “act of pressing a button” hence my point. You should really read up on all the patents touched here first: I am not singling out Apple, Apple is singling out themselves as owners of technology they never invented themselves. You look at a lot of the patents and they are related to “object oriented programming”, OOP has been existed long before Apple.

  12. max says:

    Right but Apple still didn’t “invent” multitouch, it has been around since 1980s, see here:

    My point here is that they can claim multi-touch to be their invention but cannot stop others from using it unless they want to be hated by the public for “being evil”. It’s billions of dollars enough money for them?

  13. Doug Petrosky says:

    I think the point SBK and I are making is that apple is not saying they own all multi-touch interfaces but they did patten a number of specific ways to do things on touch screens. You can try to dismiss these as unimportant, but interface design is hard to get right and costs a lot of money to do it. The best things are those that seem obvious once they are done but the fact is that someone had to decide to do it.

    If other companies want to compete in this field I welcome them to come up with better ways to do these same things and not just duplicate the work Apple has already done and simply offer it at cheaper prices.

    BTW I can find no LG phone that used a proximity sensor to disable it’s display prior to the iPhone (but I can find a bunch after) This was a great idea and solved a critical problem that allowed Apple to use a capacitive touch sensor, which opened the door for multitouch.

    I choose to reward the innovators. Show me why I’m backing the wrong horse here?

  14. max says:

    Well, I don’t think it’s Apple right to have the patents in the first place if they didn’t innovate it themselves. I know there are differences between the capacitative surfaces, they are not exactly “copies” of Apple’s. It’s like this, you should be able to make engines that are different inside but no one company should have rights to make engines themselves. Apple is not doing something right if the public masses say what they are doing is wrong, that is all I am saying, that Apple should keep “innovating”, don’t sue others so they can monopolize the touchscreen market, which is probably ridiculous at this point.

  15. John says:

    What a weird article. The patent system is what it is. If we don’t like it we can lobby our elected representatives and try to have it changed. For Apple to not sue would be wrong. For a different take see the comments from Microsoft today that Apple was right to sue HTC on the grounds that this is a new industry and the IP is unclear and this suit will help clarify who owns what. This is the way our system works. When we have disputes we take them to court, present evidence in a manner that everyone understands and get a decision from the judge.

  16. Doug Petrosky says:

    Why is Apple the only company who has to innovate? Shouldn’t you expect other companies to innovate instead of copying? And what evidence do you have that the “public masses” think apple is doing something wrong? It appears that you are trying to shape the publics opinion and I think you are the one who is wrong. Apple has re-invigorated an industry and there is plenty of room for everyone to make money, but others should contribute and not just copy.

  17. Rhys Eunson says:

    There seems to be a lot of patent experts all over the internet at the moment, ever since Apple sued HTC, including Max. These so called patent experts actually have no idea what the patents involve, they’ve simply read summaries of the patents on a website or blog that got the information from another website or blog. Most patent filings are dozens of pages long, written by lawyers and rather hard to understand, yet bloggers like Max think they know everything there is to know about technology patents, prior art here, prior art there, Apples patents have no merit, blah, blah, blah. Similarly, thinking that HTC stole Apple’s IP based on limited information is equally silly.
    And deciding to boycott Apple’s products based on others rants and opinions, which themselves are based on limited, sometimes wrong facts, is just plain idiotic.

    Why not just settle down until all the facts are in. HTC hasn’t even replied to the case yet.

  18. max says:

    Hey I didn’t say I was a lawyer these are purely my theories but you are welcome to discuss it, that was my question in the blog post, what do you think? Thanks for everyone participating.

  19. max says:

    Apple shouldn’t Sue even if they are right but for branding, they are only helping HTC become more famous. I would kill to be in HTC’s shoes right now. Apple is shooting themselves in the foot right now. Self sabotage.

  20. PXLated says:

    One of our great revered inventors held patents and would sue peoples asses off if they infringed – Thomas Edison.
    These lawsuits will not affect what we “normal” people think of Apple anymore than they affected our reverence for Edison.
    Glad to hear you’re going to be childish and boycott Apple, leaves more goodies for the rest of us.

  21. max says:

    Hey everyone has a choice even a child, it’s called freedom of speech hence why I blog. No one needs to buy Apple or Google if they don’t want to, people buy things because they love it, its culture, I am not liking Apple’s culture right now nor millions of others with even some Apple fanboys. Well this could be different if u live in a non-democratic country though, I can’t blame that.

  22. Jack says:

    hahaha funny about Webkit. Apple needed a new way to render HTML so they co-opted and forked the KHTML project from KDE(Konqueror browser) and created Webkit from that. Hardly innovative.

  23. Doug Petrosky says:

    You asked what we think but I don’t think you listened. You are under some misconception that the masses now hate apple because they tried to protect what they have legal claim to. But post after post shows you differently. You appeared to think Apple was suing anyone who had a touch screen phone and we tried to show you that they are suing for specific interfaces that even if you will not accept are unique to the iPhone are at least unique in combination in the iPhone and now have been duplicated in dozens of phones.

    I understand you think it would be wrong if Apple were the only company who could make a touch screen device and so do most of the people here but that is not why they are suing. They are suing because they came up with a series of technologies that when put together in a specific way made a product that was crazy popular and I like many of your readers think that other companies should not be able to just copy those ideas. They should innovate as well!

    If it was your intent to sway opinion against Apple I think you may have done exactly the opposite.

  24. Doug Petrosky says:

    I didn’t say Webkit was an apple innovation, I said that Apple has a good track record working with open source and used webkit as an example of that. The early days of development with the KHTML team were a bit rocky but they have stated that Apple is a good Open Source contributor and the fact that Google was able to use WebKit is just more proof of that.

  25. max says:

    Look, a lot of patents that Apple is using for are sorta ridiculous, they are even suing for patents like unlock gesture, that is not very innovative. That is like suing for the way you mouse your mouse, not for the mouse itself. Plus, i think Apple would simply better off not suing others in desperation. I think HTC phones in general are quite differently made from iPhones, just look at the Android operating system, it’s COMPLETELY different from iPhone. There might be similar features but they don’t look like copies to me, they are innovations in themselves.

  26. Doug Petrosky says:

    You aren’t getting it, so lets try another tack, if swipe to unlock is not that innovative what’s the big deal in asking HTC to remove it and use their own system. If bounce back to indicate the end of a page is no big deal, then HTC should use it’s own system.

    I and millions of users like me picked up an iPhone and everything just fit, it all just made sense, because apple spent the time to make it make sense. Now if HTC used one of the unique iphone interfaces, there probably would not be a law suit, but 2, 3, 5. How many unimportant interfaces does someone have to duplicate before they are copying in your mind, and wouldn’t it be better if they just came up with their own idea that was better than the competition?

  27. max says:

    A lot of ideas for multi-touch can’t be claimed as Apple’s inventions. Even if they were, Apple is only mockery of themselves with the lawsuit. But the real issue is that Apple is trying to stop everyone else from making a multi-touch smartphone, that’s like saying you can’t make cars with windows. I just don’t see how Apple could benefit from this even if they win. Most of us would be turned away from Apple because they are trying to fight in court, instead of the real playing ground, the real world. It’s like they are faking a foul in Basketball like how good NBA players do it. Apple should stop faking fouls and get on with playing the real game, of innovating more, that I have no problem with. Well, that’s my opinion but you are entitled to yours. 🙂

  28. Doug Petrosky says:

    How many times do people have to say this. THEY ARE NOT trying to stop all multi-touch phones, they are trying to stop direct copies of specific implementations of multi-touch and/or gestures that they thought were unique and key to their interface. There is no mention of pinch to zoom, probably because that was too general. Taking your NBA analogy, many of us don’t think they are faking. We think there was a real fowl committed.

  29. max says:

    Look, it’s clear Apple is really using HTC as proxy to Google, there’s no doubt about that, this isn’t the smartest way to go about suing people really. The patents are don’t matter here as much as how much money is at stake. Steve Jobs is gettin’ a bit too greedy, I don’t like greedy people, that is all.

  30. Doug Petrosky says:

    That may be clear to you or some other omnipotent source who can see the motivations of all, but I think it is a warning to anyone who would try to make an iPhone clone that they have to do more than that. And if your real problem is the accumulation of too much wealth, well then I an understand your backing Google who is practically a non profit with only 15 Billion in profit last year and they make what? Oh ya! They make their money by tracking everything you do, say and look for, and selling it off to the highest bidder in the form of advertisements. No greed there!

    You said your beef with Apple was that they didn’t deserve the rights to what they were suing for and we all pointed out that they did! So now it’s about greed and you pick what may be the most power hungry, greedy company on earth (don’t get me wrong I love google, but I like greed) as who you would rather back.

    You truly have a dizzying intellect!

  31. max says:

    Well Doug, let’s just see what happens, it’s going to be an interesting suit to watch whether you are on Apple’s side or Google’s side. Thanks for your inputs by the way, I enjoy a bit of discussion, it wouldn’t have been the same without you. 🙂

  32. Matt in Spain says:

    Hi Rhys, welcome to internet. Is this your first time here?

    This is a free place (at least at the moment) where anyone can place an opinion. Placing an opinion does not make you an expert. However, the process of collecting information and putting it in an area where others can challenge it or add to it is an excellent way to learn. (although I think this is more of a gossip column than a tech one, as we are dealing with the corp side, not the developers. No tech creativity will be wasted by Apple, as those innovating will not be spending all there time with legality. I don’t think any apple, HTC, or google programmers want a war to start, or could be bothered with getting behind a battle machine instead of doing what they do best… making cool toys.)

    If you have any specific information to correct anything said, this is a great place to put it. If you just have an ad-hominem attack saying that Max is not an expert, then you just look like a troll, and you seem pretty articulate to be a troll.

    The great thing about this is that… maybe Max is really 12 years old, but we don’t judge on the person or the qualifications bestowed on them by society. (like university degrees making them an expert, which is definitely a great criteria, as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs can affirm.) Attack weak ideas (to replace them with better ones) not people. And waiting til on the final facts are in? that is exactly what this is not about… it is about the rumours, trying to understand before it happens. People come here to see what others are saying, and to step into the arena and see who starts swinging at what ideas.

    IP is a big issue in todays world. How we can own ideas, and what ideas we can own and for how long is going to affect/block/benefit all of us depending on the context. So there is going to be a lot of opinion about it, and it is beautiful that there are people interested in this.

    In Edison’s time, there was not the momentum of today, and everyone is rushing to patent before others do because if you aren’t first, someone else will be king of the hill for 25(is that right? I am not an expert…) years. (and to be honest, 25 years in tech time today with all the manpower and tools behind it is probably more than 100 years of productivity in Edison’s time…)

    That being said, it would be cool if we could find more info on certain things, like the LG phone mentioned earlier, to check and doc it. Showing reliable sources would help debates move forward. (or at least give apple’s legal dept more people to sue.)

  33. Anonymous says:

    How are some of these gestures in any way different from a normal mouse gesture performed on a laptop’s touchpad? Seriously, patenting a gesture is retarded because it’s the act of a user doing something. HTC could simply recommend that you lick the screen to unlock it.

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