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."

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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).

No Caption Provided

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.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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jedicommand7

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I pitched an iPhone to a college class shortly before the first iPhone announcement. Should I sue too?

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Moonco

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Moonco  Moderator

10 billion is a little bit low. I would sue for 100 billion dollars and free tickets for a hot air balloon ride

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EdwardNygma

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@Moonco: Ah Moonco the voice of reason. :) :)

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inebriantia

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He might get something out of this.. I mean representing himself means no lawyer fees, Apple will bury him in paperwork, but there's a chance Apple may not wanna pay their likely very expensive law firm, and just give the guy some money to shut up and save on legal fees. He's not getting 10 Billion, but it's reasonable he might get super lucky and net a few mil at least.

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OldDadGamer

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OldDadGamer  Moderator

@inebriantia: The lawyers apple has on payroll are, at this moment, laughing very hard, telling a 23 year old paralegal to write something up over his lunch break, and moving onto other things.

3 • 
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Suaron_x

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@inebriantia: Unless Apple pulls a MS and let's him off the hook for $10,000, he's getting nothing. He let his patent expire and he's representing himself. Apple's high priced lawyers will cut him to shreds and he'll probably end up owing Apple money.

3 • 
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BobaFettHatesU

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I didn't see Arthur C Clark or Gene Roddenbury suing anyone.

3 • 
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wtf_666

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Self-flying cars. My idea. Patent pending. Or you can buy my idea for 5 billion dollars.

5 • 
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deactivated-5962a4d2614f8

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@wtf_666: More complicated than that

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omnifas215

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Hey guys do I have any legal right to this $10 billion? I drew pictures of "padds" back in 1992 after watching star trek, but I didn't have the money or the knowledge of patent law back in 1992, since I was 6.

6 • 
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FanboyMan

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@omnifas215: LOL! If IP law worked the way that guy thinks, every tech company in the world would owe money to creators of Star Trek and the Jetsons.

2 • 
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alien33

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alien33  Online

https://cdn.meme.am/instances/23557782.jpg

2 • 
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jvconroy

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Your opening line says, "iPhone, iPad, and iPad." Pretty sure there's an "o" masquerading as an "a" in there, somewhere.

4 • 
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ello432

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seems like another day in Florida to me https://www.reddit.com/r/FloridaMan/

2 • 
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drumjod

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@ello432: Florida Man strikes again with his crazy shenanigans.

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tenfour04

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He works at a law firm, so he must be surrounded by people who are telling him this is crazy, but he's still doing it. I'm thinking this guy is maybe not a rational person.

The Guardian article says he's claiming copyright infringement (since he has no patent). This makes no sense, because the iPhone doesn't look like his drawing. There's no such thing as copyright on ideas, so the images are the only thing he has to work with.

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inebriantia

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@tenfour04: Why not sue them? He's representing himself, so he has no lawyer fees, they'll of course file a countersuit, but oh well. They'll likely settle out of court if he's even being somewhat honest about all this, and the guy will walk away with some cash.

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tenfour04

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@inebriantia: Is it that easy to get a settlement?

Well if that's his strategy, he should have started with Google, then Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, HP(Palm) and on backwards through the history of smart devices, each time claiming in turn that they directly copied his idea. :)

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cpl11787

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Edited By cpl11787

That's all apple is to begin with. Let's take an idea that has been done before, but say we were innovative about it in or devices.

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bwats84

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The hell been going on in the state of Florida this past month???

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Xirtahm

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"...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..."

That pretty much negates you from being entitled to anything. Florida Man needs to find better villains to fight.

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DaVillain-

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@Xirtahm: But we're all out of villains :(

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GirlUSoCrazy

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@davillain-: What about Shkreli?

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JoshRMeyer

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You know he's a nut when he's suing for 10 billion, but representing himself. He's going to get torn to pieces in court by apples high paid lawyers.

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linfo28

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Florida man strikes again.

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Ember_to_Flame

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lol 10 billion, they will give him 10 bucks just to be nice so he can take a taxi home.

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iandizion713

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Edited By iandizion713

Seems like dude just admitted Apple legally stole his ideal.

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snugglebear

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Edited By snugglebear

Oh, snap. In that case I invented the TV and the quesodilla, but I originally called them the Storywindow and Goopbread Surprise

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IAmMcGruber

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One mans trash is another mans treasure...booyah

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Brettsky128

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Seems legit, hope he wins!

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

No, he pantented a foldable device with two halves, plenty of buttons, and no touch elements. Any mention of running apps or software? No. This has more in common with a pocket calculator. Meanwhile apple invented the newton in 1987 and this guy did a drawing in 1992. He never produced a physical product and just sat on this patent doing nothing for decades. He's going to get slaughtered in court.

Please don't report on fluff that has nothing to do with gaming, or even reality in this case. This was never worth reporting and is a waste of time. I mean, it's a step up from cat vomit so congrats about that but still shows the sad state of things on GameSpot...

7 • 
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ethanm1834

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Good luck proving that.

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jvconroy

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@ethanm1834: Exactly what I was thinking. Aside from the sheer lunacy of suing for 10 billion dollars, even if he could prove that he came up with a similar device, he has to prove that Apple actively sought it out, "stole it," and incorporated his ideas into any iteration of the iPhone.

Good luck, buddy. You're gonna need it.

2 • 
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Dryvlyne

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Give me a break! There needs to be a statute of limitations for this kind of thing... 1992, he let his patent expire and he's just now suing, get the **** outta here!

4 • 
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jvconroy

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@dryvlyne: Even if the patent was filed 2006, a year before the original iPhone debuted, he's about a decade late in taking any sort of action.

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DaVillain-

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DaVillain-  Moderator

Man if I had $10 billion dollars, I be sitting fucking pretty in the Caribbean Island and let good old President Trump destroyed U.S.

Oh well, a man can dream.

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senorbusyman

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Edited By senorbusyman

in the words of mark zuckerberg "if you invented the iphone, you wouldve invented the iphone" nuff said

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Metallinatus

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@senorbusyman: The same can be said to every mobile device perhaps....

Clearly Zuckerberg fucked up by not saying that to Steve Jobs soon enough.

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balucha

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sorry.... if you let your patent/ownership expire, you lose.

just ask the Dallas Cowboys.

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