Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Big Apple

This comes courtesy of, from Rockford, Ill.
Seems an inventor there is accusing Apple of stealing his touchscreen technology. Does he have a case, or is it just sour grapes?

Inventor sues Apple over alleged patent infringement

Feb 28, 2008 @ 09:29 AM

By Nate Legue

ROCKFORD -Illinois

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One of the area’s most prolific inventors filed suit against electronics giant Apple Inc. over a patent he says the company infringed upon with its touch-screen technology.

Attorneys for John Martin, owner of Arachnid Inc. in Loves Park and Martin Automatic Inc. in Rockford, filed the lawsuit Feb. 15 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Martin’s patent is for an electronic game device for airplanes or cruise ships that could be switched between a video gambling machine and an innocuous video game as the vehicle traveled in and out of jurisdictions with legalized gambling. But the infringement lawsuit hinges on Martin’s touch-screen interface for the device.

Martin’s patent describes a fingertip operated touch-screen that enlarges buttons when the user presses them and selects buttons only when the fingertip is removed from the surface. Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch are controlled by fingertip inputs.

The lawsuit does not specify how much money Martin is seeking in damages, but the amount will be “no less than a reasonable royalty,” according to court papers.

“We’ve talked to (Apple),” Martin said. “So far the talk is friendly, and I hope to get the thing settled before we have to go to court.”

Over the years, Martin’s inventions have spurred a few patent disputes. He’s wrangled over patents to a dart-game scoring system and a music-downloading jukebox. He holds 44 patents, including for a printing press innovation that launched a 250-plus employee company and for an electronic dartboard that created the soft tip darts phenomenon in bars across the country.

Apple has not yet responded to the suit in court.

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