US man sues Apple for US$10 billion for 'ripping off' his iPhone design patent

Thomas Ross filed a patent for his "electronic reading device" in 1992. Photo / file
Thomas Ross filed a patent for his "electronic reading device" in 1992. Photo / file

The tech industry is a litigious minefield, and suing and countersuing are just part of the fast-paced game. Apple knows this as well as anyone.

However, the latest case taken against them is a bit more ambitious than the others. A Florida resident Thomas Ross, who says Apple ripped off his design for the iPhone, says he will drop the infringement lawsuit if the company recompenses him with US$10 billion - plus 1.5 per cent of worldwide sales of the iPhone, iPad and iPod.

Ross filed a patent for his "electronic reading device" in 1992, which at the time envisaged what his court filing says "a device that could allow one to read stories, novels, news articles, as well as look at pictures, watch video presentations, or even movies, on a flat touchscreen that was backlit."

Mr Ross filed the patent in 1992 but it was declared abandoned in 1995 by the patent office after he failed to pay the necessary fees, reports MacRumors, which first spotted the lawsuit.

While the plaintiff claims that he continues to experience "great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money," commentators note that Ross' device appears to bear strong similarities to Apple's own Newton PDAs device from the 1980s.
Apple has been successfully sued before, having to pay US$21 million to Swiss Federal Railways after being accused of ripping off a 1944 clock.

- NZ Herald

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