Just goes to show, you should never demo anything.
Alas, poor portable electronic device for photo management patent #07814633.9 intended to protect the technology in European markets, you were taken from us too soon, and it’s Steve Jobs’ fault. The Apple patent has been a bone of contention in the Apple-Samsung feud, but a video demonstration Jobs made in 2007 – five months before the patent was filed – killed the patent stone dead, at least within Germany, by showing off the feature before asking the German patent office for protection.
It’s all about the grace period, says patent blogger Florian Mueller, who’s been following the case. In the US there’s a 12 month grace period between invention and filing a patent, but in Europe – at the time – the grace period didn’t exist. “Even an inventor’s own public demos could always be held against his own patents if they took place before the filing of an application,” says Mueller, and that’s exactly what happened here, at about 33:40 in. Jobs’ “boy have we patented it” proclamation was premature. Apple has the option of appealing to the Bundesgerichtshof, but there’s no indication yet that it intends to do so.
This isn’t the end of the matter by any means, and if you have a hankering for an education in patent law I recommend Mueller’s blog. It’s fortunate that Jobs’ resting place isn’t public knowledge, else sightseers might have paid a visit, to find out whether he’s spinning in it.
Source: Ars Technica