Did this man invent the iPhone in 1992?

A man who claimed he invented the iPhone back in 1992 is suing Apple for $10 billion (£7.45 billion). 

He claims the San Francisco-based computer manufacturing giant stole his ideas when it released the first version of the iPhone nine years ago. 

While it may seem unlikely that someone had an idea of the practical functions of the iPhone before internet use was very widespread – and before mobile broadband was even possible – drawings of a patent filed by Thomas Ross of Florida from 1992 are included in the lawsuit. 

Mr Ross filed the patent for an electronic reading device (ERD), which was a rectangular, handheld gadget with a large screen. 

The lawsuit claims this was the first patent filed for such a device and that it was designed to be used for a combination of media and communication tools. 

It also suggests the identity of this idea was exploited by Apple for the iPhone, iPod, iPad and various other devices. 

Drawings are included in the lawsuit filing and Mr Ross claims that Apple's products are “substantially the same as his technical drawings of the ERD”. He also argues that derivative devices such as the iPhone embody the look and feel of his invention.

Despite the fact that Mr Ross filed his patent application in 1992, he neglected to pay fees for submission, which led to it being abandoned in 1995. Mr Ross attempted to get the decision changed by arguing that these fees were unconstitutional, but to no avail. 

However, he is arguing that the filing itself still gives him the right to sue – and has asked for up to $10 billion, a cut of future sales and for Apple to withdraw all of its patents related to products he argues derive from the iPhone. 

The patent-infringement lawsuit reads: “Apple introduced the iPhone, iPad and iPod line of mobile devices, all of which are the very essence of Ross's ERD.

“Instead of creating its own ideas, Apple chose to adopt a culture of dumpster diving as an R&D strategy.”ADNFCR-2155-ID-801821127-ADNFCR

Written by Mazuma

Mazuma Mobile is the UK's most trusted mobile phone recycling service.

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