Apple’s iPhone was at the center of a recent lawsuit in San Francisco when Professor Slavoljub Milekic sued the company for using his touch screen technology designed for museums on their iOS devices.
Milekic, who represents a self-founded company called FlatWorld Interactives, filed his patent back in 1997 on a touch screen technology that included a way to “drag and drop” items on a screen, as well as “toss them” aside. He claims that a wide variety of Apple’s products infringes on his patent, including but not limited to the iPhone touch screen and the mouse for the OSX Snow Leopard.
FlatWorld Interactives demands “not less than a reasonable royalty” in compensation for the alleged damages.
Analysis: There’s no case here. Milekic’s patent is not only cited by Apple’s patent for the iPhone—which means that it was specifically listed at the time of the patent filing as being different enough from Apple’s new patent to not cause any legal issue—but Milekic’s patent itself cites a previous Apple patent as well. So if Apple’e stealing from Milekic, then Milekic is stealing from Apple.
Plus, when you add in the fact that FlatWorld Interactives was formed and incorporated shortly after Apple announced the iPhone, and that the company lacks even a functional web site, it seems that this is just an attempt to grab some money off of someone who made a similar product. It’s unlikely that he’s a true patent troll as Milekic has used his patent for business on multiple occasions and seems to be more the victim of slow business rather than deliberate apathy. Still, it’s an unnecessary lawsuit that seeks to extend the power of his particular patent beyond its natural scope.
Ultimately, I can’t imagine this lawsuit going in Milekic’s way. Whether he’s just trying to take his share of the Apple success train or if he’s paranoid enough to think he’s getting robbed by big business, it seems unlikely that his lawsuit will amount to much.