If manufacturers are forced to stop making Android phones, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs will have achieved his ultimate goal. Jobs had publicly expressed his feelings about Android, referring to it as a stolen product. He is quoted to have said that, “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong…I’m going to destroy Android…I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

On Tuesday, July 17, 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted 25 patents to Apple. Of those 25 there is one patent that may potentially have the largest impact on the smartphone software war: Patent No. 8,223,134.

This patent will award Apple a monopoly over mobile touch interfaces designed for email, blogging, camera, telephone, browser, video player, calendar, search, as well as multi-touch interfaces. This patent could change the balance of powers in the patent wars currently being waged by Android against Google and other Android device manufacturers.

Recently, I mentioned in a blog regarding the Google v. Apple patent war that Google was forced to remove their new Galaxy Nexus from shelves and replace their “IN STOCK” notice with one reading, “COMING SOON.” With Apple’s new patent, Google may have to replace their “COMING SOON” notice with one that reads, “NOT HAPPENING.”

If manufacturers are forced to stop making Android phones, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs will have achieved his ultimate goal. Jobs had publicly expressed his feelings about Android, referring to it as a stolen product. He is quoted to have said that, “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong…I’m going to destroy Android…I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

It is hard to believe that Apple was awarded such patents when many other developers and researchers have spent billions of dollars on the technology. The ultimate effect this patent will have on Android and other competing smartphone developers is uncertain.   Most likely we will see further patent litigation by Apple.

There is no doubt that the issuing of this patent by the USPTO will be a true test for the patent system as a whole. Justice Richard Posner has already criticized the patent system and that it is in need of considerable reform. Interestingly, the criticism came along with Posner’s judgment in a previous patent suit involving both Google and Apple. Posner alluded to the increase in the amount of patent litigation in recent years and that patent holders are using their resources and the legal system to exclude everyone from using their technology.

Apple appears to be the instigator of the majority of mobile patent suits. More specifically, they are responsible for approximately 60% of mobile patent litigation. Furthermore, these patent suits do not come cheap. In a recent suit against HTC, Apple was rumoured to have spent over $100 million in legal fees.

Whether or not you are on Apple’s side, the age-old dichotomy comes to mind. Patent law must find a balance between allowing companies who spend time and money on developing products to reap the benefits of their labour, while at the same time not having to force new up-and-coming product developers to start from the beginning for fear of being sued. With the recent spike in litigation and of issued patents it would be safe to assume that the rights of the patent holder are prevailing; however, comments made by judges such as Posner bring hope that a potential balance may be achievable.

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  • pete s

    Well done article. May the Patent Offices find the best balance. The grounds for granting of patents currently and the broad application of them by companies such as Apple will greatly discourage any innovation except by those with deep pockets of cash and patents of their own. The current battles between these tech giants will stifle consumer choice, and ultimately be paid for out of consumer dollars.

  • Randy Magruder

    I’m getting weary of seeing the same themes regurgitated by tech authors who did NOT read the patent in question. The so-called killer patent is not over ” mobile touch interfaces designed for email, blogging, camera, telephone, browser, video player, calendar, search, as well as multi-touch interfaces. ”

    It concerns a particular feature in those interfaces: the drag scrolling which initiates a temporary scroll indicator which vanishes when the drag is complete. That is it and that is all. Yes, this scroll bar appears in all the above-listed applications, but if Apple were to file for infringement and win, all Google would have to do is make the scrollbar always visible, or never visible, or some other such workaround. Scrollbars being system-wide means all the applications listed would simply pick up the new scrollbar style. I’ve READ the patent. When in the world will tech bloggers stop repeating what they’ve read in other gossipy blogs and actually read the patent carefully and process what it means independently?

  • http://www.g-tigerclaw.com George Glasser

    You said, “…Android against Google and other Android device manufacturers.”

    Android is a Google system, why would Google sue itself over a patent?

    Apple has so many smart phone battles going on, it’s unreal. However, interestingly, in spite everything, the Android system dominates the marketplace and day by day, its swallowing up more and more of Apple’s iPhone market share.

    While, Apple’s fighting a pedantic legal skirmish with Google, their iPhone sales are flagging; subsequently, Google is winning the war while Apple’s obsessed with winning skirmish. If Apple once again hits the rocks because of Jobs’ insane business philosophy, Google will simply win by default.

    The patent war seems almost inconsequential in the scheme of things.

    Jobs said, “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong…I’m going to destroy Android…I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

    The above quote is enough to indicate that the Jobs’ Apple legacy is a futile Kamikaze strategy because they ain’t gotta’ big enough ‘thermal nuclear’ device to annihilate Google.

    I’m just glad Steve Jobs was never president of the US because the moron would have pushed the nuclear button at any given mood swing – he was an insane, suicidal megalomaniac!

  • Azim

    Not sure who is the real winner for future tablets …… a royalty based partnership I suppose can work …. no different what Microsoft collected on Windows OS to every PC manufacturer!!
    Steve’s anger and frustrations coming from a friend who we won’t name sittibg at the Apple’s Board….. I own a ipad and out of curiosity I purchased a Nexus 7 Android 4.1.1, can’t come close to ipad much of it resembles the ipad.
    September and October if predictions/rumours are correct then iphone 5 and mini ipad launch will change everything ……….. iphone 5 might be the biggest consumer event of 2012.

  • Gisabun

    These patent infringments are getting rediculous. It is one think to complain that [say] how to lock the phone on one model was “copied” from another. But these general look and feel infringments are laughable.
    Does that mean Samsung can take Sony to cour because Sony’s TVs have a black border and are rectangle?
    I heard Apple is taking another manufacturer to court because the looks [angle, thickness, smoothness] of the edges of the MacBook air was copied by the other manufacturer [if I read right].