Apple photo gallery patent about to get all Samsung Galaxy phones banned in the EU?

Apple about to get all Samsung Galaxy phones banned in most of Europe

A Dutch court today issued a European Union-wide injunction against the sale of Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, and Galaxy Ace phones, due to violation of an Apple patent involving swiping between photos in a gallery. The injunction would start taking effect in mid-October (around the time of iPhone 5 release).

However, it sounds like the impact might be mitigated somewhat by Apple's failure to file all the proper paperwork for their patents in all the proper countries. Also, the court disregarded most of Apple's other patent claims, focusing their ruling on this one, single area of infringement.

According to FOSS Patents:

Samsung may be able to work around that particular patent without a huge degradation of the usability of its devices because it appears to relate to the way users flip through the pictures in a photo gallery. However, regardless of how Samsung may be able to work around this decision in Europe, it's a setback for Android, a platform that is at issue in more than 50 lawsuits worldwide. In all likelihood, the winning patent is infringed by Android itself -- not the operating system per se, but by one or more of the applications that ship with Android and without which the usefulness of Android would be impaired in one particular area (photo viewing). Apple has now obtained the first enforceable court decision (out of many lawsuits going on around the world) that finds Android to infringe an Apple patent -- and there will definitely be many more to come.

In other words, the Imperial Fleet might have come out of hyperspace too close to this system, but all sides better prepare for ground assault.


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple photo gallery patent about to get all Samsung Galaxy phones banned in the EU?


Link to the actual patent: [link]
It is mind-boggling a court considers the act of swiping patentable technology -- the particulars of a touchscreen implementation, sure, but the gesture itself? Absurd.
If Apple succeeds in this, there is no other endgame than every company rushing to patent every trivial aspect of their UI, and time, money, and innovation-draining lawsuits erupting from all corners at a pace that makes the last year seem like child's play.

I find that some of these patents are not as trivial as we make it seem. Its common place because that feature has been redefined and that gesture has become intuition.
Smart for any company to protect their intellectual property, just because everyone all of a sudden applies it and thinks its a great idea doesn't make it trivial.

The technology behind the swipe-to-change-screen gesture -- the components of that capacitive touch screen, the specific oleophobic coating that prevents the swiping from leaving too-visible smudging -- is impressive, and worthy of patent protection.
But the gesture of swiping, independent of that specific underlying implementation? Absolutely not.

This wont be an issue at have said all they need to do is chanfe phot gallery app..all the other patenta have been denied so it looks more likey a defeat for apple but this article makes it sound like a huge defeat for samsung when there is a ewally simple work around.

Maybe toilet makers should patent their potties too as well as how our asses should be placed/sit on them and the direction of wipes when we clean our asses too. I own an unlocked Galaxy SII and love it as I moved away from Blackberry and IOS to Android...Just love love love my unlocked Samsung.....Go Samsung

His point is that swiping is not a technology, its just a gesture, and it was certainly NOT invented by Apple. Palm OS, for instance, had sweeps long before, done with the stylus instead of a finger, but basically the same thing.
By the current logic, someone can patent the act of the finger pressing down a button and sue everybody under the sun.

The problem is that the patent is for a gesture -- a concept -- that interacts with technology, and not for any underlying technology itself. Perhaps this example from a popular iOS will help:
Loren Brichter (Atebits, now part of Twitter) first introduced the pull-down-to-refresh gesture. It was simple, clean, useful, and now a pretty much ubiquitous gesture as well. By the standards of Apple's patent, Atebits could have easily have filed for a patent in the EU for "vertical pulling on a visible content area in order to refresh the content" and extorted licenses or banned software/hardware shipments from Apple, from Facebook, from Google -- from anybody whose software pulls down, regardless of the means by which that pulling down was implemented.
Some of you might say "that is fine, and sucks for Loren that he did not think of hiring a lawyer back then." I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment, but some of you seem to like the patent system this way.
What you do not realize is that, with this precedent Apple is setting in the EU, every Loren Brichter out there (except the diehard idealists) is going to patent as many of these elements as they can -- it would be company suicide not to. This ruling shows that not only can these broad patents be used defensively, but a broad, technology-independent conceptual patent can be used to do millions of dollars of damage to a rival -- AND it can be held in reserve as a threat, used only when a rival encroaches on your space. The ROI on such a patent application is far too great for any company to pass up. So none of them will. Forget the explosion of Lodsys companies -- Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC are all going to rush to patent everything in their interfaces even remotely patentable, whether it has a basis in technology or not.
You may be fine today with Apple protecting the swipe gesture as its IP, but the day will inevitably come where Apple is defending against a Samsung "eye movement" patent or a Microsoft "two finger shimmy shake" or some other patent that protects a concept rather than a technology. Your tune will change then, but by then it will be far too late.
This ruling has opened a real Pandora's box.

I dont know if your aware, but the action of pull down to refresh is not implemented by apple in any means, or by any of the iOS default programs... THAT makes a difference in court, the program that implements it (ex: Facebook etc) is the complete responsable.

So they have until Oct14 to fix this single thing. And they're able to sell.
While Apple, on the other hand, has had 9 of those 10 patents either invalidated or Samsung has been found not to infringe on them.
So who is this a win for???

Yet this judge ruled that LG Prada's design is too similar to the iPhone as to where Samsung is not copying the iPhone's design...
SO how is it an "iPhone clone"
Are you seeing something the judge didn't see?

To put things in perspective, the patent protects a very specific feature (try it on your iPhone): in the Photos app, pick a picture and enlarge it with two finger gesture. Then swipe till you see the edge of the picture entering the screen. Then swipe further and the next picture will appear in normal size.

Apple hasn't pioneered anything. The only thing they've done is market better then the other guys, most their technology has been around for decades.

He also mentioned ass-wiping and iOS in the same comment. Your observation is meaningless, and makes one believe you might be biased against Samsung... :P

the ass-wipping reference is next to galaxy SII and blackberry first, then iOS, i doubt there is going to be anything less than cleanness before its ass reaches the word iOS

Are you that much of an Apple nob-gobbler that you want all its B.S. "swiping" patents approved?
Apple hasn't innovated anything in the Mobile phone market at all. A swipe is not a technological advancement. Apple has no patents it created for actual technology in the phones such as something relating to radios in it, or the actual screen technology.
I hope that the judges are smart enough to see through Apples worthless patents and invalidate the rest.

I hate to say this, but I guess it's time for Google to patent the drop-down notification area in Android and use that to defend against every patent suit Apple brings against them.

if the time is now, then its already a lost cause , :) iOS is out and if its not patented then its not defendable or owned.

funny how people have 'swiped a finger' thru photo albums for a 100 years to turn a page. Dont recall Apple being around then to invent it.