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Apple/Samsung feud delves into the origins of touchscreen patents

Documents in latest patent trial reveal that early versions of Android software did not support touchscreen technology

Apple and Samsung have been duking it out in the courts for what seems like an eternity, with allegations of patent infringement going both ways. But recent documents filed in the latest round of the dispute point to some interesting revelations about the early days of the Android operating system and the influence the iPhone had on its evolution. 

According to documents that were released as part of the trial, Android did not originally support touchscreen technology. In a 2006 specification document, Google advised manufacturers that “touchscreens will not be supported.” Those familiar with the products in question will note that this document was released a year before the debut of the iPhone. 

The original designs for Android phones look a lot more like the classic BlackBerry device, with a physical keyboard, than the first Android handsets, which debuted in 2008 and featured touchscreens.

Now, whether the decision to support touchscreen for Android devices led companies like Samsung to infringe on Apple patents will be something for the court to consider. 

Before he passed, Apple head Steve Jobs famously said he wanted to “go thermonuclear war” on Google, and the patents being challenged by Apple in the current case have more to do with the Android operating system than the Samsung hardware. It is starting to look more and more like Apple is going after Samsung as a proxy for its vendetta against Google.

The case is ongoing, so it remains to be seen who will come out on top in this round.


For more patent litigation news, check out the following:

Apple faces off against another patent troll over iMovie application

Marvell Technology patent verdict increases to $1.54B

Examining proposed legislation to reduce the discovery burden in patent cases


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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