January 19, 2019

Korean venture calls Apple’s Touch ID a copycat

PUBLISHED : April 12, 2018 - 16:31

UPDATED : April 13, 2018 - 18:40

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[THE INVESTOR] Korean mobile technology solutions firm Firstface will file a suit against US tech giant Apple for copying a feature to unlock the smartphone screen through bitometric sensor-based user authentication, according to news reports on April 12.

Firstface co-CEO Jung Jae-lark has registered its own patents in multiple nations including Korea, Japan, and the US since 2011 on a solution that enables users to unlock the smartphone home screen immediately after they authenticate themselves by pressing their fingers on the fingerprint sensor-installed home button.

“The solution that activates the smartphone screen upon authenticating a user’s fingerprint was something unprecedented before Jung’s invention,” Shim Young-tack, another Firstface co-CEO who also serves as a professor at the Korean campus of New York State University, was quoted by local news outlet FN News as saying.

Shim said he and Jung are working together with US attorney and patent lawyer Lee Jae-gyu. He also said the CEOs approached Apple to find a middle ground for the case by inking a licensing deal, but the US firm has rejected the offer.

Apple calls the aforementioned authentication and screen activation technology as “Touch ID,” which was first adopted in the iPhone 5s in 2013. In the US, the Korean company owns the patent, numbered US20130102273A1, which describes the screen unlock feature though user identification.

Previous to the iPhone 5S, Apple's screen unlock feature was a two-step process, which required a user to press a home button first to activate the screen, and then, to place their finger on the fingerprint scanner, Firstface co-CEO Shim explained. 

The Korean firm's patented technology, on the other hand, allows immediate access to the home screen through the fingerprint authentication, removing the need to activate the screen first.

By Kim Young-won (

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