The patent was filed by Ross nearly 15 years before the first iPhone was released. However, it was declared abandoned by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1995 after Ross failed to pay the necessary application fees.
A man who claims Apple stole his idea for the iPhone, iPad and iPod is suing the tech giant for $10 billion.
Florida resident Thomas Ross drew up designs for an Electronic Reading Device (ERD) in 1992, which he claims was “hijacked and exploited” by Apple.
“Instead of creating its own ideas, Apple chose to adopt a culture of dumpster diving as an R&D [research and development] strategy,” Ross’ lawsuit states.
Ross’ technical drawings for the ERD outline a device that can be used to read novels and news articles, watch videos, and browse pictures. He also imagined it could be used to communicate as either a phone or an Internet modem.
The lawsuit, first spotted by Mac Rumors, claims that Ross continues to experience “great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money,” while demanding Apple pays $10 billion in damages, as well as 1.5 percent of Apple’s future sales as “a reasonable royalty.”
Apple’s 2015 earnings were $235 billion, meaning that in the very unlikely event that Ross wins the case, the Cupertino company would be forced to pay him $3.5 billion per year, in addition to the $10 billion.
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is quoted in the lawsuit, having once said: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”