A compendium of original and borrowed content regarding Tablet PCs and fun Technologies

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Can one company really "own" all Mobile Touch Screen Technology?

Yesterday morning, several Google alerts popped up in my inbox describing how Typhoon Touch Technologies added ten additional companies as defendants in their patent infringement lawsuit including Apple, Dell, Fujitsu and Panasonic. (Sand Dune Ventures, the parent company of TabletKiosk, was previously named in the lawsuit) These alerts were triggered by a press release issued by Typhoon Touch Technologies at 9:52 PM Monday, June 23.

The release describes how Typhoon’s intellectual Property is being unfairly exploited by all of the named companies and goes on to recount how they have reached settlement agreements with Motion Computing and Electrovaya.

The release also states “Typhoon withdrew from preliminary settlement talks with defendant Sand Dune Ventures (TabletKiosk). The Action, which seeks damages for lost profits as well as a permanent injunction from continued infringing activity by the defendants, is pending in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, Case No. 6:07-cv-546. The Action was filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs by Blank Rome LLP and shall proceed against both Sand Dune (TabletKiosk) and the other remaining defendants.”

In order to set the record straight, I sat down with Martin Smekal, our company president, to ask him about his thoughts on the lawsuit. Here are some of his responses below.

Regarding the Lawsuit

“After conferring with our attorneys, we are confident that Typhoon’s claim of owning the patent to “portable touch-screen computing” is without merit. Because mobile touch screen technology has been around since the 1980s, we feel that this is a frivolous lawsuit and that Typhoon Touch Technologies claim of ownership has no warrant whatsoever. We intend to fight this case to the end.”

“Based on the way our Supreme Court has previously ruled, I think that the Typhoon Touch Technologies lawsuit will be invalidated. In 2007, in the case of
KSR vs. Teleflex, the Supreme Court voted against Teleflex’s ownership of “obvious technology”. The court’s decision involved an area of patent law that dealt with whether an invention is obvious and hence, not patentable.”
"Typhoon Touch Technologies acquired their patents out of bankruptcy court and is trying to expand the coverage that the
original patent owner and applicant, Microslate, Inc. applied for in 1997.”

“TabletKiosk fully respects and value the intricacies and merits of patent law and licensing, which protect new inventions and emerging technologies and intellectual properties. In fact, some of these licenses are key components of our products. However, in this case, I do not consider the umbrella grouping of mobile touch screen technology to be a concrete asset that can be owned by one person or group.”

Regarding claims of a potential settlement by TabletKiosk

“I was shocked to see that they made this claim in their release. We did not and have no intention of entering into settlement talks with Typhoon. Yes, our attorney contacted their lawyers to explain our defense; however, Typhoon immediately rejected our claim, and we never discussed settlement.

“I find it interesting that the two companies that “settled” with Typhoon, Motion Computing and Electrovaya, do not currently offer mobile touch screen solutions. How do you settle on something that you do not sell?”

Now I had heard much of Martin’s feedback before, but this is the first time that I have shared it in the open. It will be interesting to follow the implementations about technology ownership as this case progresses. By adding Apple and Dell to the list of defendants, this superfluous lawsuit is garnering a great deal of attention while it is linking TabletKiosk with some of the largest names in the business. If you want a good laugh about how people’s initial response to the expanded lawsuit, I suggest that you check out these threads on engadget and Apple Insider.

Hmmmmm... If Typhoon Touch Technologies can own the universal license for all Mobile Touch Screen Technology, then maybe I should apply for a patent that covers making a call on a mobile phone or using a knob to turn on a car radio...

What patents would you apply for?

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Frank J Garcia - CTitanic said...

You have all my support!

Anonymous said...

I have been involved in mobile computing for over twenty years and cannot understand how Typhoon's patent has any merit.

Before 1997 several companies manufactured and sold mobile touch computers (i.e. GRID, Momenta, Poqet aquired by Fujitsu to name but a few).

I must be missing something.


jrronimo said...

I would apply for a patent on "Exchange of information (data) between computer systems."

I think that is broad enough so as to cover /every computer on the planet/.

I shall await my royalty cheque.