Florida Man Claims He Invented iPhone in 1992, Sues Apple for $10 Billion

"Instead of creating its own ideas, Apple chose to adopt a culture of dumpster diving as an R&D strategy."


A Florida businessman has sued Apple for $10 billion, claiming he came up with the "essence" of the iPhone, iPad, and iPad with his own creation back in 1992.

The man, Thomas Ross, told The Guardian that Apple is specifically infringing on his 1992 invention of an Electronic Reading Device (ERD).

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Ross worked on the device, which was going to feature a back-lit screen and media storage, for more than a year. In court documents, Ross described the device as one that would "allow one to read stories, novels, news articles as well as look at pictures, watch video presentations, or even movies, on a flat touchscreen."

The ERD would have also featured iPhone-like features and functionality such as phone support and a rounded edge design. It never advanced further than the design phase, however.

Ross initially filed a patent in November 1992, four years before the Palm Pilot came out and 15 years ahead of the first iPhone release in 2007. However, Ross did not pay the required fees to keep the patent application, and it was abandoned by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in 1995.

The man, who is representing himself in the lawsuit, argues that the iPhone, iPod, and iPad represent "the very essence" of his ERD device.

"Instead of creating its own ideas, Apple chose to adopt a culture of dumpster diving as an R&D strategy," Ross said. He added that Apple might have found his plans for the ERD in the USPTO database after it was abandoned.

That's "just the sort of place that Apple would have been delighted to rummage through and discover diamonds in the rough to be exploited," he said.

Ross sent Apple a cease-and-desist letter to CEO Tim Cook in March 2015. Apple's legal team wrote back to say Ross's claims "have no merit" and that Apple saw no "similarity between Apple's products and Mr. Ross's applications."

Despite the odds seemingly being very much stacked against him, Ross said he is "very confident" in his case.

Head to The Guardian to get the full story; there are many other fascinating details there.

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