Apple faces new patent infringement accusations from a man from Florida who claims that the company stole his 1992 patent containing an "electronic reading device."
The plaintiff, Thomas S. Ross, is asking for a tall $10 billion (yes, you read that correctly) in damages. It may sound absurd, but the lawsuit is happening.
The legal complaint contains the drawings of his device and was filed in the Florida Southern District Court. The sketches, which show a rectangular box equipped with a physical keyboard and a screen, are paired with written descriptions of the technical specs.
Ross claims that he was the first inventor who "created a novel combination of media and communication tools."
Younger readers should know that the iPhone was the first smartphone to lack a physical keyboard. Despite the obvious discrepancies between his drawings and the iPhone, let's just assume that his argument stands.
In 1992, Ross imagined a gadget that was able to mix media-browsing and communications and featured a touch-screen display. It can also be seen from his sketches that Ross included a disk drive, a modem and solar panels to power up the device.
The lawsuit shows that Ross contemplated a device that was able not only to display "stories, novels, news articles," but also lets a user "look at pictures, watch video presentations, or even movies."
However, there is a small detail that Ross forgets to mention. He did not pay the fees required to register the patent application. This means that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office could not grant the patents in question, leading them to be classified as "abandoned" in 1995.
Ross re-filed an application to copyright his drawings as late as 2014.
The man's demands do not end at the ambitious $10 billion in damages. He also solicits to receive 1.5 percent from upcoming iPhone sales, which currently bring Apple a yearly income of $3.5 billion.
Ross' claim will be debated by a jury in court.
However preposterous his current claims, the man deserves credit for having a forward-thinking approach to mobile technology. He did, after all, include an optional "cellular antenna" in an e-book reader in 1992. Had he actually managed to register the patent, some of his recent claims would have had some real ground.
The Telegraph managed to get hold of the drawings, and you can judge for yourself how much of the iPhone is found in the man's early sketches.
Wrestling with patent trolls is not news for big names in the tech industry, as a recent case involving Apple's iPhone 6 and a Chinese company shows.