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It turns out the iPhone was designed in 1992 by someone not from Apple

The latest lawsuit to hit Apple suggested that despite the iPhone only being nine years old, it was designed in 1992 – and the tech firm's team had nothing to do with it.
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One Thomas Ross from Florida has sued the technology giant for $10bn, claiming the company had stolen his designs from a patent he filed for an “electronic reading device” (ERD) in 1992. His application for the patent, he explained, had been abandoned by the US Patent and Trademark Office due to his failure to pay the fees.

Nonetheless, in his lawsuit it was stated: “The application evidenced that Ross was the first to file a device so designed and aggregated as to have created a novel combination of media and communication tools that Ross called ERD, and whose identity was, since then, hijacked and exploited by Apple’s iPhones, iPods, iPads and others.” 

The lawsuit also alleged that Apple had “misappropriated the ERD” and infringed on the copyright. So now in addition to $10bn in compensation, Ross is seeking 1.5 per cent royalty on all future iOS device sales, as well as a jury trial.

He reportedly added that Apple caused him “great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money.”

The issue with Ross’ case, however, is that his drawings contained several features the iPhone never offered, namely “a typewriter keyboard” that would sit below the display.  

There’s another potentially damaging issue: He doesn’t actually hold a patent on the technology, whether or not he may have designed it.

Of Apple, Ross claimed: “Instead of creating its own ideas, Apple chose to adopt a culture of dumpster diving as an R&D strategy.” 

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Furthermore, his lawsuit cited a quote from Steve Jobs: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Image: Shutterstock

Also, Daniel Chew, lead partner of major European intellectual property firm Haseltine Lake’s China group and Michael Conway, associate trade mark attorney, also of Haseltine Lake, have discussed the recent Apple trade mark case and what it means for UK businesses.

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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