Before I report this news for you, I want to point out one of the patents in question here in case you’ve missed it. U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 involves the following. When you receive an incoming message on your iPhone containing a phone number, web link, e-mail address, or street address, this information is highlighted and turned into a link that you can tap. This tap in turn performs an action like opening the web link in Safari or asking if you would like to dial the phone number. That’s weird because I would have thought tapping a phone number should open your music player. Surely, who ever implemented that process on Android must have stolen it from Apple. Just food for thought since this is one of many patents Apple says HTC is in violation of.
Newly introduced into Apple’s patent infringement case against HTC involves Andy Rubin, co-founder of Android Inc. Apple is alleging that Rubin took inspiration for Android’s framework from APIs he supposedly encountered while working for Apple in the early 90s. Hit up the break for more.
Apple is claiming that Rubin was a low level engineer while working at Apple who reported to inventors of the ‘263 patent. Here’s the reply brief and screenshot of the document from Apple to the Administrative Law Judge’s initial determination that found HTC to infringe two patents, ‘263 and ‘647 that I mentioned above:
Android and Mr. Rubin’s relevant background does not start, as HTC would like the Commission to believe, with his work at General Magic or Danger in the mid-1990s. In reality, as the evidence revealed at the hearing, Mr. Rubin began his career at Apple in the early 1990s and worked as a low-level engineer specifically reporting to the inventors of the ‘263 [realtime API] patent at the exact time their invention was being conceived and developed. […] It is thus no wonder that the infringing Android platform used the claimed subsystem approach of the ‘263 patent that allows for flexibility of design and enables the platform to be “highly customizable and expandable” as HTC touts. […] While Mr. Rubin’s inspiration for the Android framework may not be directly relevant to the pending petitions for review, that HTC felt compelled to distort this history is illustrative of the liberties it takes in attacking the ALJ’s [initial determination] and the substantial evidence supporting the ALJ’s findings.
Mueller from Fosspatents points out and says “Android […] does not start […] at General Magic or Danger. According to this filing, it all started at Apple!” Now, I’m just a Technology fan, and I make no claims to be able to work this all out in a court room. What pops into my head as a simple reader is Android does not act or look anything like iOS nor do I think Android started at Apple. Having a device that asks you if you want to dial someone’s number by tapping it on the screen sure doesn’t seem like an idea you would have to steal from someone. Mueller also mentions that the judge in Oracle’s lawsuit against Google also suspects Rubin of willful patent infringement. I’d say if you can prove Rubin worked directly on these patents or stole code from Apple, Google would have a serious problem on their hands. It’s my instinct and opinion to say they patent system for software ideas is seriously broken and I don’t believe most judges can understand how software code really works. Let’s hear your thoughts on this one.