Steve Jobs killed iPhone patent in the EU

One of the highlights of Apple Messiah Steve Jobs’ career was also one of his biggest blunders.

The spiritual and temporal head of the cargo cult gave a keynote to Macworld in January 2007 which was one of his best. To the cheering throngs he announced, in detail, a major new product six months before its expected availability. He said that Apple was releasing an iPhone.

This was unusual for Jobs and Apple. The company is as secretive as the Bavarian Illuminati and never tells anyone what it is doing. In this case, Jobs broke the mould.

On paper it was a good idea, it generated the sort of hype which was going to propel the smartphone into a must have item. But Jobs failed to understand the implications the move would have on his German patents which could undo his “thermonuclear war” with rival Samsung.

According to FOSS Patents Florian Mueller, the Bundespatentgericht, or Federal Patent Court of Germany, declared that by giving so many details about the phone six months early, Jobs had invalidated his own patent.

The court declared Apple’s EP2059868 patent for a “Portable electronic device for photo management,” covering a specific use of Apple’s “bounce-back” user interface effect, invalid due to prior art.

US patent law allows inventors a year in which to file a patent document after coming up with a new idea. During this time period, nothing publicly shown or published could be considered prior art.

But in Europe this grace period does not exist and when Jobs gave his 2007 speech he was considered to be pre-filing disclosure and therefore technically prior art.

Apple tried in vain to claim that what was shown in Jobs’ video was much different from what was finally released in the EU, but the Judges did not buy that.

Mueller said that the patent will still be appealed to the Bundesgerichtshof or Federal Court of Justice.