What does the Samsung vs. Apple patent lawsuit mean to the Research In Motion?

Samsung vs. Apple... what's the verdict mean to BlackBerry?
By Chris Umiastowski on 29 Aug 2012 04:43 pm EDT

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know about the $1 billion in damages that a jury awarded to Apple, in the case of Apple versus Samsung. Simply put, Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement and won. There is always an appeals process to wait for, but as of now it looks like the courts have declared Samsung to be thieves, and Apple to be inventors.

What does all this mean to the industry? And what does it mean to Research In Motion and BlackBerry?

I think it's a clear sign that outright copying won't be tolerated. The evidence that Apple produced, showing how Samsung copied them, was compelling.

Some of this relates to the look and feel of devices, meaning that Samsung has to shoulder the blame. But some of it, such as multitouch gestures like pinch to zoom, relate to the user interface which could be Android OS issues, not necessarily specific to Samsung. My understanding of patent law is that Apple could sue a vendor (such as Samsung) for deploying infringing technology (Android OS) created by someone else (Google). It's up to the vendor to establish that its products to not use components (hardware and software) that infringe upon another company's rights.

The verdict is clearly bad for Samsung. They've been caught copying. This can only tarnish their reputation. But the verdict could also be bad for Android. If Apple launches a legal assault on Google over what it believes are copied elements of the Android OS, it could slow Google's progress and slow down adoption of the OS by customers.

Naturally, that would be good news for Apple. But it would also be good news for RIM. I am not saying it's amazing news that will double their market share overnight or anything like that. It's just clear that any slowdown by a competitor is good news for everyone else. RIM is included in that list. So is Microsoft.

RIM has a track record for designing unique hardware. The look and feel of a RIM device is like no other. It has always been that way with RIM. From the jog wheel to the bezels to the modern fretted keyboard, RIM is an original in this game. And that still looks to be the case as we wait for the launch of BlackBerry 10.

RIM has intentionally designed a BB10 UI that is completely different from Android and iOS. In fact, RIM has a track record for avoiding the use of competitor's IP since the NTP lawsuit many moons ago. Just read this forum thread for the evidence.

But what about pinch to zoom? One of the patents that Apple successfully enforced (so far) against Samsung involves the capability to zoom in with this now-universal multitouch gesture.

Should RIM and everyone else be worried that Apple is coming for its pound of flesh, or even refuses to license its patent altogether? Maybe. But I can't see Apple successfully owning the rights to the concept of pinch to zoom. They just don't seem to have invented it.

The following TED video illustrates pinch to zoom as being "prior art" quite clearly. This phrase (prior art) just means evidence that one party invented a technology before another. If there is valid prior art, a patent won't stand up.

But patents are not about concepts. Pinch to zoom is a concept. It's a description of how you use your fingers to zoom in. You can't patent a description, or a way of using your fingers. You must patent a process. For example, you might patent the method of sensing multi-touch inputs, or the method of calculating a zoom percentage based on finger movement.

I haven't analyzed Apple's patent for pinch to zoom. I'm not a patent expert by any stretch of my imagination. So let's pretend that Apple's patent is valid, and describes a specific way to accomplish pinch to zoom. If that's the case, chances are it can be designed around, and chances are good that RIM (and others) have already used a different implementation. In other words, I doubt we'll see any court battles between RIM and Apple on this capability.

Reader comments

What does the Samsung vs. Apple patent lawsuit mean to the Research In Motion?


First get good products on the market, then think about doing that... I wouldn't waste a penny right now on lawsuits when the company has much more important stuff to do.

You do realise the OS7 browser infringes on AT LEAST the bounce-back patent?
Apple just doesn't care about RIM any more. This isn't 2007.

And if it get over turned much like one of RIM's recent battles? Samsung will certainly not roll over that at least is for sure.

The battleground for smart phones wont be over the devices, it will be in the courts where everyone will be looking to get hand outs from it competitors. Whether its Right or wrong.

Of course Samsung copied(something that Apple turned into a science). The real issue is the ability to be granted ridiculous patents.

BTW, as I understand it, Samsung tried to bring in "prior art" and it was not allowed (!!!).

Historians consider the first touch screen to be a capacitive touch screen invented by E.A. Johnson at the Royal Radar Establishment, Malvern, UK, around 1965.

This is long before Apple exsisted. E.A. Johnson should sue apple for infringing on that. This unfair Apple lawsuit win against Samsung is another reason to hate apples worthless guts!!

When Samsung appeals, and there will be an appeal, I hope they crush apples win.

I have a feeling this pissing contest between apple and samsung is just getting started.
Playbook, the one and only

Poor Billy. In the words of Maximus Decimus Meridius: "Are you not entertained!? Is this not why you are here!?"

I guess you're not entertained. Go play with your iPhone.

Pinch to zoom is dumb. I love that on my BlackBerry Bold 9930 I can just tap tap the screen and it zooms. No need for pinch.

On my Torch 9810, when I am on a website and want to ZOOM, I press the Alt-key and slide my finger UP/DOWN on the touch-pad. Works great and fast!

When did apple really invent anything. They steal ideas tweak them a little and patent them with a broad range generic scope. Swipe to unlock the GUI from xerox the list goes on and on what they ripped off.

Apple may as well enjoy it while it lasts IOS is plain old and boring, no real new devices coming out. Notice how the iphone 5 has a new port now? Why to milk millions out of the apple sheep for more money for new docks etc.

Big deal a 7" ipad now. Where is the innovation? Now with Jobs gone i doubt much is left in the pipe for the so called mighty Apple.

Just like Apple TV sooner or later they will fall on their arse too.

Rim will dominate once again!!

I picked this quote up from the comments section over at iMore a couple weeks back and found it really puts Apple's thievery into perspective...

"Apple is the company that is controlling your every step when you own their products. Google is open and free. They invented many things, Apple hasn't invented something since Wozniak left the company. They only steal from every software developer out there. I am no fanboy of Android, while it is my OS of choice because I develop ROMs for the phones I own. I just want Apple to learn its lesson. iMessenger was stolen from BB, Notification bar from Palm, Touch screen phones from Palm, iPhone from Linksys, Thunderbolt technology from Intel, Magnetic charger for Laptops from Asian crockery, 30-pin power connector (charge iPhone/Pads/Pods) from Motorola, Apple TV from Microsoft Media Center, Apple logo from Genesis 3:6 Eve took a bite of an apple, Digital Camera from Kodak and Fuji, Current OS from Debian BSD, App store from Ubuntu, Tablet from DOS based Gridpad in 1989 and then SEVERAL tablets from Microsoft after that, MP3 player from Diamond RIO, Inductive charging from Palm and Nikola Tesla, First Laptop with handle from Data View from 1985, Infrared keyboard also from the Data View in 1985. As you can see, they don't invent anything. They take lots of GREAT things OTHER companies make and build them into their own product...
This is insane, I just want Apple to stop this childish bullshit and stop holding the technology industry back and help instead of ruining things. I don't want Apple gone, if they were gone, Google wouldn't have anyone to compete against and the consumers would lose in the end. No steps forward would be made. So EVERYONE needs to grow up and stop being fanboys, iOS isn't for me. I just don't like the lock down there..."

Apple will only "help" in areas that are overwhelmingly helpful to Apple and only Apple. If Apple once thinks that it might accidently help anyone else - they'll pull the plug on that act immediately.

And - doggone it - I knew they had stolen a lot of things. Never imagined it to be this much though. It would be cool if they would grow up a bit. Perhaps they just didn't learn to play well with others during their kindergarten year.

What was that? They never went to Kindergarten.....Oh my!

T. Prude

I suggest you do a little research, and not just take his word for it. Apple licensed technolgy from Xerox, they have also bought up many companies. Hardly what I would call stealing.

It all goes back to Steve Jobs having a raging Narcissistic Personality Disorder and being a dysfunctional megalomaniac (ever hear of a functional megalomaniac? ).
Apple UI is very cold - also a reflection of his personality.
But he is gone, and Apple is going...they just haven't realized it yet.
At the end of the day, the only winners are the lawyers.

Agree with you on Apple's MO. But laugh at the old and boring and no new devices. They have put out multiple devices and OS upgrades while RIM offers nada. Accept that they can develop great products on time.

What doesn't RIM offer? They offer the following:

Security, push e-mail, BIS, BBM, physical keyboard, budget and premium devices. What more do you expect? If you don't like it, MOVE ON.

I seriously laugh out loud when I read a comment like "Apple develops great products on time".

1. Apple releases one iPhone and one iPad (I realize there are gsm/cdma and wifi/cell variants...but most manufacturers have those same variants to deal with).

2. What is on time? Apple tells you on date X that their product will be available on date Y. They could be late a whole month...but you don't know it because they keep everything so quiet until right before they are ready to release.

3.If you are referring to BB10 being delayed, you have to realize that RIM is building a whole new OS...not just adding bits and pieces of functionality to an existing OS like Apple is doing.

Ok Im goin to admit something. I looove blackberries. Unfortunately i fell victim to the hype a few months ago about the demise of RIM and sold my bold 9900 for a Galaxy S3. Dam that S3 is nice. But dam if i didnt buy another bold 9900 off of ebay the other day. I miss my blackberry sooo much. Theres nothing like it! Just wanted to confess and get that off my chest LOL

im with you on this... but just remember how much did RIM have 2 years ago? about 3.5B

1.5B is alot of money to lose in 2 years.

They paid close to 1 billion for the Nortel patents, plus they made several key acquisitions. They didn't "lose" anything.

exactly one is TAT and the other is QNX, both aquisitions were much needed and will do great things for BB10

Reminder: Apple bought FingerWorks, which had a boatload of the early multitouch patents.

However, Apple doesn't seem interested in RIM and vice versa :)

Plus RIM was here first: you can't sue the one you stole from...
I gotta say : after owning some apple products, I'm no longer a fan...
But how do you not like Rene Ritchie? ;)

Wow, that guy has the worlds biggest tablet. :D
I can't see how Apple can lay claim to "Pinch to Zoom" in the face of that video.

these patents of minor inventions or very general patents just sucks.

We consumer pay for that crap.

IF touch gestures etc are patent worthy then Apple should be forced to licence it for a very low amount.
Like this FRAND etc.


I enjoy all technology and have apple, blackberry and android products. In following this trial one thing that caught my attention was Utility Patent 381: ‘Bounce-back’ feature when scrolling beyond the edge of a page. This is also known as the rubber band patent. Samsung was found guilty of this. I have a bb playbook and that feature is at the core of the entire UI - you can see this bounce back effect everywhere you navigate on that device. It seems as though RIM`s playbook OS 2.x could be or is violating this patent. Does anyone know with any knowledge and certainty if they are. Wondering why apple hasn`t been all over RIM on this or is it just a matter of time before they are? Looking for any educated perspective on this item.

Being that BlackBerry invented the SmartPhone, Apple is scared shitless of them. LOL Seriously, if you're looking for an educated perspective you came to the wrong place: only lawyers who failed "Patents 101" are allowed on this site.

I don't think Apple would be that ridiculous to come at RIM over anything considering the way they ripped off BBM with iMessage. RIM could easily make the claim that irreparable damages we caused by this, as they clearly had a world of defectors switch to the iPhone as a result of it. That would be a hell of a loss for Apple, and you'd possibly see all the other companies that Apple ripped off take them to court as well.

The only issue I'm concerned about is the appearance of the London that was shown in the slide. It looks very much so like an iPhone. It needs to have stand out aesthetics, something like the Torch 9860. And something that keeps the visual tradition of BlackBerry phones to date.

true, but what the poster above you posted would work. Like Apple, Ford didnt invent certain things. So if Ford patented certain things and sued other companies it would be like Apple suing Samsung.

Actually I think this is bad for RIM too, playbook and Im assuming bb10 will have pinch to zoom what if apple comes after rim for infringing on that too

People should just chill about this kind of stuff. Here's how it works.

No court is going to give apple the power to stop pinch to zoom, what they might do is to order companies to work out who much to pay apple for right to use it. If they fail to come to an agreement then the court will impose one.

Recall the judge advised the companies to come to an agreement before it went to the jury. She wanted to avoid the inevitable appeal that would result from any jury verdict.

Higher courts are not going to simply saym yes, we agree apple owns the smartphone sorry to all others. Things just do't work that way.

BTW RIM had an integrated in box before anyone else it's not as if they have no power.

RIM plays fair, Apple is the spoiled kid in the school yard that has to get its way or freaks out.

for such an old company they are surprisingly immature

"I think it's a clear sign that outright copying won't be tolerated."

Sorry flat out wrong, and the evidence was not compelling at all, as you will see when the suit is appealed to higher courts.

It's really funny how Apple loses in Korea, and there is no coverage, but they win in the US using a jury form San Jose and it's suddenly the final word.

A little racism perhaps?

Don't forget Apple also lost in the UK, & was ordered to post notices in major newspapers & magazines saying that Samsung DID NOT copy them.

The ONLY court where Apple has had such a resounding win is the US.....

Either all the rest of the courts around the world didn't know what they were doing, or that American Jury didn't....you descide

They start different cases for different patents in different countries - usually based on where they think they'll get the best results.

What Chris was referring to in the article is a document produced by Samsung which basically describes how they copied Apples design. Hard to argue with, in the UK or anywhere else for that matter.

If it was that easy in the US Oracle would have won their case with Google.

And RIM should be pretty secure with respect to Apple. Oddly enough they're not really direct competitors. RIM's market share only really tanked when Android came on the scene.

The Samsung news is great for RIM.

Patents: If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. I feel certain that some large company will patent some obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm, application extension or other crucial technique. If we assume this company has no need of any of our patents then they have a 17-year right to take as much of our profits as they want. The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can. Amazingly we haven't done any patent exchanges that I am aware of. Amazingly we haven't found a way to use our licensing position to avoid having our own customers cause patent problems for us. I know these aren't simple problems but they deserve more effort by both Legal and other groups. For example we need to do a patent exchange with HP as part of our new relationship. In many application categories straightforward thinking ahead allows you to come up with patentable ideas. A recent paper from the League for Programming Freedom (available from the Legal department) explains some problems with the way patents are applied to software.
Bill Gates, circa 1991

RIM Should be alright they have a patent war chest to cut deals with. Now they need to get into a law suite with Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc.. RIM will win some and loose some but the important part is that the court system defines the patents as valid. In this way the oligopoly players can continue to charge large amounts of money for technology that has matured and cut out any new competitors. If Samsung and Apple are forced to exchange patents and the patents themselves are judged as valid it does not really hurt Samsung or Apple that much. They are still the number 1 and 2 mobile device makers. It does however shut out almost all new comers.

I want a lawyer to write an article about why Apple was able to patent all these things with a lot of it not even being invented by them and there being prior art shown off all the time.


It's not WHO invents something first, it's WHO pays to PATENT something first and make it stick by kicking down the people who came up with the idea but didn't have the money and time to go through the patent process, or ability to fight it there-after.

I've "invented" many things.... I'm sure all of us come up with ideas once in a while and say "gee I wonder if that's been done before". Sure, you could go out and spend a fortune and patent it, look for an industry that may benefit from it, and try to sell it. Or you just move on with your life and dismiss the idea.

Large companies have the resources and law firms on stand-by ready to patent just about anything to build up their arsenal, either for future lawsuits against competitors or simply to improve their portfolio and company value. They patent just about anything they can so as to restrict others, and will pay off private individuals to shut up.

If I invented "pinch to zoom" 10 years ago, and Apple came to me before really any tablets were around and offered me $10,000 I would have gladly taken the money and said "go take it and have fun". Then Apple would turn around and use it to make billions or sue others for billions. Otherwise as a private individual it would cost a lot of money to patent it, then try to enforce it, and the risk that companies will just come up with another option and your patent would essentially be good for nothing or sold for cheap.

I'm sure a think-tank of smart college kids, especially in the high-tech fields, could sit together and develop tons of patents, have them searched to determine if anything similar has been previously designed, and build up a huge portfolio of patents that they could later scan the industry and sue other companies for violating them. It's a full time business, that's why there are specific companies that "patent troll" and know precisely how to take advantage of the convoluted and crazy US patent system to turn a profit.

It's not who patents it first, it's who invents it and publishes it first

"To determine whether something is prior art, the filing date of the patent application or patent in question is crucial. If the publication or disclosure (of the invention) was made before the day of filing, it counts as prior art. It doesn't matter how long before the day of filing the publication was made."


Fuck patent Trolls. I'll stick with blackberry. If Samsung wins the appeal... and google gets caught... We'll see what happens.

Patents are only valid for a few years, after the time has passed anybody can use it.

BMW motorcycles famously refused to pay for the "new" Telelever front suspension patent, instead they used it once the patent has expired and made it sound like it was their invention. Now most of their motorcycles use it. They british inventor never got a penny.

In terms of smartphones, everything moves so fast now that every single valid patent will be milked.

The TED video, I believe, does not constitute prior art. In the US, patent claims are judged in terms of the date of invention, not the date of filing for a patent. A published description is prior art only if published a year or more before the patent filing date. So the TED video (Feb 2006) doesn't affect Apple's first pinch-to-zoom patent (#7,812,826, filed Dec 2006).

This Apple patent described a process (using two fingers), not a specific means of implementation. This may someday be reversed, but court decisions in the US are moving toward protecting such descriptions of processes with no description of implementations.

However, the claims in this patent are somewhat limited -- it describes pinching to zoom two times in a row.

This patent was not asserted against Samsung, and some writers are saying that no pinch to zoom claim was asserted no validated by the jury.


It's not who patents it first, it's who invents it and publishes it first

"To determine whether something is prior art, the filing date of the patent application or patent in question is crucial. If the publication or disclosure (of the invention) was made before the day of filing, it counts as prior art. It doesn't matter how long before the day of filing the publication was made."


Pinch-to-zoom requires two hands to work. When I'm on my phone, I'm mostly using it with one hand. In that case, tap to zoom (or slidebar zoom if anyone cares to implement that) is actually more useful.

As some people have said inventing something means nothing, especially when it comes to perception. Plenty of people think Ford invented the car, even though at least two germans got there first, and people believe Edison invented the light bulb, but he didnt. It who owns the patent now.

I do not see this case having much effect on BB 10 sales next year as the general public will have long since forgotten that this case ever occurred by the time RIM launches it's new devices in the new year.

That said, the time to capitalize is NOW and RIM had better be on the phone 24/7 because where RIM does have immediate opportunity is to convince people to hedge their bets and sign BB 10 licensing deals. Android manufacturers all noticed this case and some may have lingering fears that they may be next. That's where RIM can play up the power of BB 10 and it's patent portfolio to get deals signed.

Chris, RIM has always been a fair and honest company, especially when it came to patents. That NTP lawsuit took them by surprise since they had not done anything wrong. You suggest that the NTP case was a warning to RIM, as if to suggest that RIM was negligent prior to that. RIM has always done it their way, but the NTP thing only made them aware that they need to patent their stuff more carefully.

In many ways, RIM has been a most innovative company doing things their own way, yet making great progress in solving the little issues we BlackBerry users have come to love.

Even when pinch to zoom was being copied by Android, RIM was curious to ensure they would not be infringing on anyone's patents. In some ways that hurt the Storm devices which didn't have those fancy gestures, but it was the right call by RIM. Now that there is sufficient evidence to show that Apple did not develop the concept, RIM has added that feature in all BlackBerry devices.

Whether it's good or bad for RIM, I still think the patents that applied in this court case that helped Apple win are ridiculous and shouldn't have been granted in the first place. Agree or disagree, it's something I believe and feel the patent system in the US needs work.

On that note, if Apple are inventors and don't steal, then they're full of crap especiallly after they lost when they copied the UI of creative all those years ago and personally they got where they were with copying that system - They're not innocent either!

I really love that demo shown in the video. The audience's reactions are priceless. I can imagine people in the future looking upon that audience in much the same way as we would look at an audience seeing their first automobile, or airplane or television set - as quaintly humorous; "aww they'd never seen pinch-to-zoom before".

Say whatever, if the Judges think Apple is right then it won't matter if Einstein invented Pinch-to-zoom. The fact of the matter is, Apple is using the flawed American Patent System to its advantage, in order to secure the American market for years to come.

Chris Umiastowski sounds like another APPLE faneboy on this article...

This verdict is bad for everybody. If you think this descision wont effect RIM in any way your only kidding yourself.

mnhockeycoach99 wrote:

"...1. Apple releases one iPhone and one iPad (I realize there are gsm/cdma and wifi/cell variants...but most manufacturers have those same variants to deal with). ...."

And only sell 15-37 Million iPhones/quarter. All of the BB models put together don't sell that many or half that many, per quarter. The point if this statement is?

They only have ~70% of the tablet market; they must be suffering tremendously having only one product.

"2. What is on time? Apple tells you on date X that their product will be available on date Y. They could be late a whole month...but you don't know it because they keep everything so quiet until right before they are ready to release. "

When Apple announces a product will be available on a particular day, it is. See Playbook OS 2.0 for contrast and camparison. Same goes for BB10. Playbook OS was at least a year late, BB10, if it actually is released in Q1 will be the same.

"3.If you are referring to BB10 being delayed, you have to realize that RIM is building a whole new OS...not just adding bits and pieces of functionality to an existing OS like Apple is doing."

What Apple did to come up with iOS is no different than what RIM is doing. Apple used the BSD/Mach kernel, and built the UI on top of it, RIM is also using an existing kernel (the one in QNX) and buildng a UI on top of it. Why is RIM doing anything different than Apple? They bought out QNX for this purpose. Apple bought NeXT to gain access to the Unix expertise, which they already had experience with (OSX is also based on BSD/Mach). Why is RIM "better" than Apple in this regard. Why is what RIM doing any more complex than what Apple did with iOS?

I love my Playbook, and I am a big fan of the Torch (9800 in my case, and would love to get a 9810 (which should have never gone out of production IMHO), but I also use an iPhone 4S. While there is a lot ot like on both platforms, BB users coming up with ever more creative asy of slagging competitors. especially with unfounded statements, really won't help RIM in any way. RIM dug themselves into this hole back in 2007 (with the release of the original iPhone) by ignoring the threat that the iPhone presented, both in terms of the interface (touch based, and icons), the hardware design ("nobody wants virtual keyboards:), and the ability of Apple to not only come up with a good device, but to continually upgrade and improve that same device to the extent that they are now 25-30% of the market, while RIM has declined markedly. The delays in getting BB10 to the market are already costing RIM market share, and will do so on a daily basis. This is reality, deal with it.


Wow I love the Apple hate. I understand why you people hate on them cause their the ones that put the final nail in the BB coffin along with Android. Face it people rimm is done. People want Android and iOS now its 2012 not 2005.