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Who invented the smartphone?

Apple dismisses engineer’s claims to key patents

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world in 2007, he described the handheld computing device as “revolutionary” and “magical.” And in the years since, the smartphone has seemingly taken over the lives of many people, acting as a business, entertainment and social tool that has transformed the way we work, play and interact with one another. 

But according to one engineer, Apple should not take credit for bringing the smartphone to the masses, as he contends that the tech company infringed on his patents in their development of the device. For its part, Apple says that the man’s claims are baseless.

Richard L. Ditzik, a 70-year-old engineer and owner of NetAirus Technologies, alleges that Apple infringed on a patent he holds. The patent in question covers a handheld device that combines computer and wireless communications functions over Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Apple’s lawyer, however, feels the claim is baseless. “His invention was using your computer as your cell phone,” said Mark Scarsi in his closing statement. “That’s not an iPhone.” Ditzik’s lawyer, on the other hand, contends that Apple stole the invention. 

Right now, the matter is in the hands of a jury, which will decide if Ditzik is entitled to damages based on sales of the iPhone 4 in the past 13 months. They must consider if Ditzik’s 1997 patent has been infringed upon. The original patent was for a handset that made calls through a computer, but was later changed to put e-mail and other functions directly on the handset.

Ditzik’s lawyer, Ray Niro, said that his client would be happy with a settlement of $500,000, but Scarsi wants the jury to find that Apple did not infringe on Ditzik’s patent.


For more stories on Apple’s involvement in the patent wars, check out the stories below:

Apple and Samsung gear up for next round of patent battle

Google, Apple hit with antitrust labor suit

Apple wins patent infringement case over wireless tech

Apple to make overseas disclosures to SEC

Senior Editor and Community Manager

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Rich Steeves

Richard P. Steeves is Senior Editor and Community Manager of InsideCounsel magazine, where he covers the intellectual property and compliance beats. Rich earned a B.A....

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