Florida man Thomas Ross believes that he divined the future of human communication 15 years before Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. Ross scribbled together a patent application for a device back in 1992, and claims that Apple stole his design. Now, the Florida man is suing Apple for over $US10 billion ($13.4 billion).
OK so this thing doesn’t even look like an iPhone besides the fact that it’s rectangular and has a screen. The Frankenstein of a device is also just a kitchen sink of every possible thing you could think to put in a handheld gadget in 1992, like a mobile antenna, MS-DOS, solar cells (!) and a 10cm diskette drive (!!!). It even has a physical keyboard. One of the iPhone’s biggest innovations, mind you, is the fact that it doesn’t have a keyboard. Ross didn’t even bother to use a straight edge when drawing his design, so it’s a complete mess of tech that no one in their right mind would build in 1992 or ever.
A proto-Kindle? Maybe. The Apple Newton? You’re getting warmer. But not an iPhone. Not even close.
There’s the tiny problem of these patents not actually being patents anymore, since the plaintiff failed pay the appropriate registration fees. The US Patent and Trademark Office declared the application “abandoned” in 1995. Regardless, Ross is asking for $US10 BILLION ($13.4 BILLION) in damages plus 1.5 per cent royalty on Apple’s sales, which comes out to about $US3 or $US4 billion ($4 or $5.3 billion) a year.
Good luck with that, Florida man.