Picsel sues Apple over iPhone Graphics Update

Another year, another lawsuit. I assume that Picsel’s lawsuit involves either this patent or this one. Here’s a list of Picsel’s issued patents in case you’re interested.

I’d never heard of Picsel before (their logo looks like something drawn by a bored intern using PowerPoint, so they’re clearly a company lacking in taste) but given their client list (most major consumer electronics companies and most major cellphone manufacturers) they’re obviously not simply patent trolls.

I am not a lawyer, let alone a patent lawyer, and I find the way patents describe processes to be amazingly annoying. The one thing you won’t find in a patent is a vaguely straightforward explanation of what the gizmo actually does. But you can piece it together…

As I read it, the first patent basically involves redrawing the screen using an approximation / cached tiles of the expected display and then replacing it with the actual pixels when they’re available (something pretty much every OS and many applications do to some extent, which seems to me to fall under the “bleeding obvious to anyone in the industry” category — unless Apple for some reason is using the very specific tiling technique described, which seems to me less obvious and less likely), while the latter looks like Picsel attempting to patent something vaguely reminiscent of Quartz Compositor (and hence falls under the “prior art” category since Apple has had Quartz Compositor since long before the patent was issued).

So, I’m guessing there’s at least some merit to the lawsuit and Apple will pay something in the tens or hundreds of millions. (After all, they settled with Burst for $10M and their case was a joke.)