Man says he invented the iPhone 20 years ago, sues Apple for $10b

Posted Jun 30, 2016 by James Walker
A man has filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging the company's iPhone, iPad and iPod products infringe on his designs for an "Electronic Reading Device" created over 20 years ago. He is seeking over $10 billion in damages from the company.
Tickets for WWDC 2016 were sold out this year  and Apple had a lot of announcements to make to keep ...
Tickets for WWDC 2016 were sold out this year, and Apple had a lot of announcements to make to keep everyone interested.
As reported by MacRumours this week, Florida resident Thomas S. Ross claims to have invented the iPhone in 1992. He created a series of technical drawings to illustrate his design of an "Electronic Reading Device (ERD)," a touchscreen-based handheld entertainment platform.
Ross' ERD never went into production. If it had, it would have been equipped with features including a folding dual-screen design, 3.5-inch diskette drive for external media, an 80MB hard drive and 2MB of RAM.
The device's twin LCD displays measured up at 3.75-inches wide by 5-inches tall. Beneath the display a physical keyboard would allow users to enter text. Ross suggested the device could be used as a cell-phone with the ability to browse photos and videos, listen to music and store data, features characteristic of modern smartphones.
The plaintiff is now suing Apple for copyright infringement to the tune of $10 billion. Ross also wants the company to award him royalties of 1.5 percent on future sales of all its infringing products. He says the iPhone, iPad and iPod infringe on his hand-drawn designs.
A Florida man who claims to have invented the iPhone in 1992 is suing Apple for $10bn [Image via The...
A Florida man who claims to have invented the iPhone in 1992 is suing Apple for $10bn [Image via The Guardian]
The Guardian
It's unclear whether Ross will be able to make any headway in the case. Despite applying for patents to protect his invention, he never got around to paying the required fees. In 1995, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) declared the application abandoned. In 2014, Ross again became interested in securing his idea. He filed to copyright the drawings with the U.S. Copyright Office.
In 2015, Ross' lawyer contacted Apple CEO Tim Cook, requesting Apple suspend sales of the allegedly infringing products. Apple legal counsel Jeffrey Lasker replied, saying he believed Ross' claims "have no merit" and highlighting how Ross could not present evidence that Apple had accessed the patent applications. Lasker also said Apple "do not believe there is any similarity" between its devices and the ERD.
In an interview with The Guardian, Ross admitted that winning the lawsuit isn't going to be easy. "I am just one person going up against the resources and power of Apple, the biggest corporation in the world," he said. "But what's right is right."
Ross remains resolute that he stands a chance in winning damages from Apple. His case has been dismissed by Florida-based patent lawyer Mark Terry though. Terry told The Guardian "It's pretty clear that this is just a nuisance case who maybe thought he could make some money out of it, but clearly doesn't know what he's doing."
Apple is likely to end up settling the dispute out of court for an amount significantly less than the $10 billion requested. It's possible the case will be dismissed before it's even brought before a jury, seeing as few have recognised significant similarities between the iPhone and Ross' "ERD".