A man from Florida is launching legal proceedings against Apple Inc., saying they stole his 1992 invention and used it as the basis of future iPhones, iPods and iPads.
‘Electronic Reading Device’
The man bringing the legal proceedings is Thomas S Ross. In 1992, he filed for a patent for his ‘electronic reading device’, which is a rectangular, hand-held object with a screen.
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His lawsuit states that he was “the first to file a device so designed and aggregated as to have created a novel combination of media and communication tools… whose identity was, since then, hijacked and exploited by Apple’s iPhones, iPods, iPads and others.”
He continues, “[Apple products] are substantially the same as his technical drawings of the ERD, and that Apple’s three-dimensional derivative devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad), embody the non-functional aesthetic look and feel.”
Apple released the first iPhone in July 2007.
Apple and their ‘dumpster diving’ techniques
Mr. Ross was never granted a patent for his device because he did not pay the required fees, and the application was officially declared abandoned a few years later.
Despite this, he maintains that the Cupertino giant stole his idea when devising the iconic smartphones and other devices.
His lawsuit stated, “Instead of creating its own ideas, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) chose to adopt a culture of dumpster diving as an R&D strategy,” and it went on to quote Steve Jobs, as further evidence, who once said, “we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
It’s not about the money (it never is)
The lawsuit states that Apple, and their imitation of his original idea, have caused “great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money.”
Interestingly enough, that has not deterred Ross from claiming $10 billion he feels he is owed in compensation. On top of that, he is requesting what he calls “a reasonable royalty” of all future Apple device sales. His suggested ‘reasonable’ number is 1.5 percent.
Considering that Apple’s revenue from device sales was over $150 billion, that equates to approximately $2.25 billion a year to Mr. Ross. Although his injury cannot be healed with money, I am confident in saying that $10 billion plus an annual $2.25 billion would go some way to helping Mr. Ross feel a bit better.
Ross is asking for trial by jury in the Florida Southern District Court.