Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Touch Screen Device "Finger Tap" is not Equivalent of "Finger Swipe"

The court granted in part defendant's motion for summary judgment of noninfringement of plaintiff's touch screen interface patent and rejected plaintiff's argument that a finger swipe was the equivalent of a finger tap. "[T]ouch screen devices are often programmed so that the two gestures can both perform the same next-item command. That does not make them equivalent. . . . If consumers distinguish between the two, they are not interchangeable; if they were interchangeable, programmers would be content to use one or the other method rather than providing a choice. Equivalence refers to a situation in which, in an effort to avoid liability for infringement without making a substantive change in a patented product, the alleged infringer makes a trivial change that neither lowers a producer’s costs or alters the consumer’s experience. . . . [Plaintiff's] final equivalents argument is that 'a tap is a zero-length swipe.' That’s silly. It’s like saying that a point is a zero-length line."

Apple, Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., et. al., 1-11-cv-08540 (ILND April 27, 2012, Order) (Posner, C.J.)

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