PC Prior Art Cited on iPhone
Source:EE Times
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  • Rick Merritt

    Old DOS app surfaces at Apple v. Samsung

    SAN JOSE, Calif. — Old PC-era products invalidate Apple's iPhone patents, Samsung experts claimed in testimony here Tuesday. Samsung cited Borland's Sidekick and WAIS servers as examples of prior art in its defense against two of Apple's five patent infringement claims.

    A Samsung expert witness said the Sidekick, a DOS-based personal organizer launched in 1984, used similar techniques as Apple's '647 patent on quick links. He also cited the 1991 EmbeddedButtons research project at Xerox PARC as prior art invalidating the patent.

    Apple's patent describes ways to detect telephone numbers, for example, and to call up relevant apps automatically, such as a phone dialer. Court demonstrations showed the Sidekick and EmbeddedButtons performing roughly similar tasks, though in the vintage world of DOS-era text interfaces.

    Borland's Sidekick, introduced in 1984, did things Apple patented for the 2007 iPhone, Samsung claimed.

    Borland's Sidekick, introduced in 1984, did things Apple patented for the 2007 iPhone, Samsung claimed.

    Even if the patents are valid, Samsung phones and Google code don't infringe on them, said Kevin Jeffay, chairman of the computer science department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Samsung expert witness. The smartphone code uses different techniques from what Apple's patent describes, he said.

    "Detecting and linking has to be done in a particular way with an analyzer server, and in my analysis, there is no analyzer server or actions processor" in the Samsung phones, Jeffay said. The simplest workaround for the patent is not using the pop-up window it describes for offering users options.

    Next page: Handsets and web servers

    Handsets and web servers

    The computer veteran Brewster Kahle made a brief appearance at the trial. He described the wide area information server (WAIS) project he led in the early 1990s. "The idea of the WAIS system is it could be [searching] local and remote [data] at the same time."

    Samsung used early web servers as an example of prior art for Apple's '959 patent on universal search, a technique for searching local and web data. Jurors were shown a demonstration using a version of the WAIS software that also searched local and remote data sources.

    Martin Rinard, an MIT computer science professor and Samsung expert witness, created the WAIS demo. He also testified that two other patents, including No. 7,653,614, could be considered prior art for the Apple universal search patent.

    Rinard also underscored market research that showed 98% of mobile searchers scanned web data, not local data. "What it shows is people aren't using this local functionality, hardly at all."

    A third Samsung expert testified that another smartphone and a research paper invalidate Apple's '172 slide-to-unlock patent. Saul Greenberg, a professor at the University of Calgary, said the Neomode Inc. N1 phone used a similar unlocking feature before the iPhone. He showed a video from a paper presented at the 1991 Computer Human Interaction conference demonstrating a slide-to-unlock feature.

    Under cross-examination, Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said patent examiners reviewed information on both the N1 and the CHI paper. "They had that information because Apple's patent attorneys gave it to them."

    He asked Greenberg if the patent examiners were wrong in granting the patent. "That was their conclusion, but I think they got it wrong… and that's why we are here," he said.

    A final expert testifying Tuesday said Apple's '172 on automatic spelling correction is invalid. This expert cited prior art from patent No. 7,880,730. Testimony is scheduled to resume Friday. The case is expected to go to the jury at the end of the month.

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