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Apple's latest trump card is a patent on multitouch, granted to Steve Jobs, iPhone software lead Scott Forstall, and FingerWorks co-founder Wayne Westerman.  (Source: AppleInsider)

Apple's patent covers multitouch and a number of gestures raising the possibility of suits against other companies implementing multitouch in portable devices.  (Source: AppleInsider)
Apple secures the means to legally punish would-be competitors

DailyTech previously reported that Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook hinted in an earnings call that litigation against competitors whom Apple believes are trying to infringe its intellectual property may be in the works.  Now Apple has gained a solid foothold to sue would be competitors like Palm who release similar multi-touch devices.

Apple was granted a patent for multi-touch, featured in its popular iPhone, on January 20, 2009.  The patent encompasses the basic technical deals of multi-touch technology, as well as finger gestures such as pinch, swipe and rotation.  Apple's CEO Steve Jobs, currently on medical leave, and Scott Forstall are among those credited with "inventing" multi-touch.

On a basic level, the patent is an interesting, if a bit lengthy 358-page recap of Apple's iPhone technology, including various algorithms to better process typed text on a touch keypad and other things of that nature.  It also hints at "a blogging application" and "a digital video camera application", possible new features in future iPhones or iPod Touches.  The patent also hints at voice activated dialing for the iPhone describing a system that "converts the electrical signal [from human sound waves] to audio data and transmits the audio data to the peripherals interface for processing."

However, more important is the legal power that the patent grants Apple.  Apple's patent states that it describes a "touch-sensitive area of the device that, unlike the touch screen, does not display visual output.  The touchpad may be a touch-sensitive surface that is separate from the touch screen or an extension of the touch-sensitive surface formed by the touch screen."

Palm's advertising materials for the Pre state, "[The Pre has a] gesture area, which enables simple, intuitive gestures for navigation."

So obviously the Pre and phones from other competitors seem to directly encroach on the IP domain laid by Apple's new patent.  The patent also raises the potential for possible IP conflicts with Microsoft in the portable computer domain.  Microsoft is heavily pushing multi-touch as a key feature of the upcoming Windows 7 OS

While it would be hard for Apple to argue infringement against Microsoft in a desktop design, certain laptop designs, especially ultraportables might be subject to scrutiny.  And considering that there's no loss of love between Apple and Microsoft, which have a colorful history, it seems unlikely that Apple would fail to pursue such legal opportunities, if they present themselves.

Other non-multi-touch smart phones like the Blackberry Storm, which has swipe gestures, may also be potential targets, though these functions may be considered to be covered by previous patents licensed by RIM and others. 

Thus far, Apple has announced no litigation against its smart phone adversaries.



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This is rediculous
By inighthawki on 1/27/2009 2:10:31 PM , Rating: 5
Multi-touch has been around far longer than when Apple started using it, and "pinch", "rotate" etc of the fingers is hardly anything revolutionary. I've seen similar functionality from Microsoft among others already. I can't wait for Apple to sue everything and slow down the adoption rate of such a great technology...




RE: This is rediculous
By chmilz on 1/27/2009 2:16:35 PM , Rating: 5
The patent office is a complete joke.


RE: This is rediculous
By mxnerd on 1/27/2009 3:04:02 PM , Rating: 5
Giving out patent for algorithm might be justified. But giving gesture a patent is absolutely ridiculous.


RE: This is rediculous
By omnicronx on 1/27/2009 4:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the gesture patent is somewhat justified although some may disagree (through the acquisition of fingerworks), but a general patent for multitouch devices whether it be PC, laptops or mobile devices? Someone got paid off here, there is no justifiable reason that someone should be granted a patent for something that was widely used before Apple brought it to the mainstream.(if you even want to call it that, some big players in the industry had multitouch products on the horizon years before the iphone was a glimmer in Steves eye).


RE: This is rediculous
By baadcatj on 1/27/2009 9:25:49 PM , Rating: 5
Oh boy, do I have a 'gesture' or two for the patent office! What about the 'gestures' used by Palm or WinMo (and it's predecessors) using a stylus? Wouldn't a natural progression be to use two fingers from 1 finger from 1 stylus?

This is beyond lame and exhibits that the P O. is either greased or ignorant.

Here's to the gestures I have for them ;-)


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 9:45:37 AM , Rating: 2
Stylus?? Maybe they should patent it also. there is a problem though, styles you can loose. On the other hand, fingers, that's an other matter.

Despite your dismay a touch screen is a particular input device and it also has a patent. Come to think of it the hardware and software of your keyboard, an other input device is riddled with patents. I know you forgot.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 9:40:14 AM , Rating: 1
"Someone got paid off here, there is no justifiable reason that someone should be granted a patent for something that was widely used before Apple brought it to the mainstream..."
No doubt you have proof? Or are the slander laws broken as well, or you are just speculating in which case you should state that.


RE: This is rediculous
By bigjaicher on 1/27/2009 6:06:41 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, giving a gesture a patent is ridiculous. Maybe I should apply for a patent on the gesture that I love to direct towards morons on the road.

I would make so much money off of other people using it.


RE: This is rediculous
By Marlonsm on 1/27/2009 7:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
Not before I patent my way of moving, putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly, people would either pay to me, or be forced to walk sideways.(That is basically what Apple wants to do to others).


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 9:50:39 AM , Rating: 2
"Maybe I should apply for a patent on the gesture that I love to direct towards morons on the road."

I don't think the earth atmosphere is a input device.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 9:37:38 AM , Rating: 2
You would stifle innovation? Apparently so. Ridiculous, in one mind, is brilliance in an other.


RE: This is rediculous
By descendency on 1/27/2009 10:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
This goes under the "epic fail" category.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 9:54:02 AM , Rating: 2
"This goes under the "epic fail" category"

Than all patents on any input devices, including drivers and general software is included. You fail to see the purpose of patents. This is not a candy store where you can pick and choose.


RE: This is rediculous
By kelmon on 1/28/2009 3:23:46 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The patent office is a complete joke.


And there's your problem right there. I have absolutely no issue with Apple patenting this for the simple reason that it wasn't already and if they don't then someone else will and then we'll all be discussing another court case filed in that wonderful place in Texas.


RE: This is rediculous
By Dreifort on 1/27/2009 2:21:33 PM , Rating: 5
what about all the cash registers, kiosks, and computers (mainly HP TouchSmarts) that vigorously use multi-touch type technology?

Guess Apple will sue all those manufactures too.

Still have NO idea why ppl thought MS was the monopoly and Apple their savior. Guess it’s the same way ppl think Bush is evil and Obama their savior. In the end, you'll find both were nothing but brand names - the presidents I am referring to.


RE: This is rediculous
By quiksilvr on 1/27/2009 2:25:50 PM , Rating: 3
That's the worst analogy I've ever heard of in my life. Microsoft has raised BILLIONS of dollars in charities and other philanthropic movements. Bush doesn't deserve to be labeled as Microsoft.


RE: This is rediculous
By KITH on 1/27/2009 3:09:52 PM , Rating: 4
As I understand, Bush has done great things for Africa.

http://www.google.com/search?q=bush+africa+aids


RE: This is rediculous
By omnicronx on 1/27/2009 4:18:26 PM , Rating: 5
May I remind you that most of this so called 'MS money' come out of Gates's pocket? He also plans on setting up a trust for when he dies, most of his money will not go to his kids but to charity.


RE: This is rediculous
By exploderator on 1/28/2009 5:01:00 AM , Rating: 2
Gates is worth $58 billion. If he gave his kids 0.1% of that it would still be $58 million, and they wouldn't need to ever work another day in their lives. Or their children, or their children and so on.

So I should hope that he gives most of his money to charity, since no one could rightfully need that kind of money.


RE: This is rediculous
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 1/28/2009 8:45:25 AM , Rating: 2
What has need go to do with anything?


RE: This is rediculous
By segerstein on 1/27/09, Rating: -1
RE: This is rediculous
By erector16 on 1/27/2009 6:51:37 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Mr Hussein will ...


"Hello, my name is segerstein, and I am a bigot."

Ass. Did Rush tell you to say that?


RE: This is rediculous
By Dreifort on 1/27/2009 3:17:10 PM , Rating: 4
you mean like Bush raising money for charities and helping international reliefs and causes such as aids research and treatment world wide?

Don't mind the 2.5 billion he was able to get to domestic charities that ranged from immigration support (legal immigrants) to alcohol support programs?

Or the huge Global Aids program, PEPFAR....money raised around the meager total of...$19 billion.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 9:59:07 AM , Rating: 2
"Or the huge Global Aids program, PEPFAR....money raised around the meager total of...$19 billion." Wonderful!

Maybe, he should have applied his sense of morality to the financial markets 'before' they melted down. Say good night to America the great.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:14:53 AM , Rating: 2
So Microsoft, convicted felon for shady business practices is now alright because Gates ill gotten gains are given to charity? Rich! That kind of morality led to the financial melt down.


RE: This is rediculous
By kelmon on 1/28/2009 3:29:33 AM , Rating: 2
Firstly, there is no indication here that Apple has any plans to sue anyone else. Rather, this is an obvious means to defend themselves against frivolous patent infringement cases that seem all too common in the US. If you don't patent your own products it seems that someone else will and then they'll sue you for it.

Secondly, Bush wasn't evil, just a moron. Al Gore really has a lot to answer for...


RE: This is rediculous
By Marlonsm on 1/28/2009 10:31:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
there is no indication here that Apple has any plans to sue anyone else

what else would Apple use patents for?

quote:
patent your own products

too bad multitouch wasn't Apple's invention.


RE: This is rediculous
By robinthakur on 1/29/2009 6:02:17 AM , Rating: 2
I would say that Apple actually did popularise Multi-Touch especially the way in which it functions on a phone. To compare the touch functionality included on the first iPhone to that available on say Wimo at the time is a joke, if you've ever used both. I'm not saying that touch controlled phones didn't exist before (and since) the iPhone but Apple's implementation is clearly the best for several reasons:

-No need for a precision stylus as finger control is now precise enough
-Gestures like pinch, pull, rotate
-Capacitative touch screen
-The software behind it all (fingerworks I believe) is the star

This combination of technologies are what Apple is patenting here which enables Multi-touch on their device, and like it or not a large part of that is Apple developed tech which they most likely threw a tonne of R&D at. Why should they let Palm et al simply rip them off in the current climate? Certainly this is far from a generic patent and the iPhone as a package representing American design both in terms of software and the exterior detail has such iconic merit that it deserves to be protected from Asian companies simply duplicating it as well as Palm and the rest like RIM and Nokia (Tube phone...HAha)chasing after Apple's successful innovation. Its mind boggling how most of these supposed iPhone killers turn out so bad.

Those that bad-mouth the iPhone forget how stagnant the mobile phone tech market was in terms of OS prior to its introduction. Apple has made terms like "Appstore" common place and now expected of all providers. Whilst there will always be people who would rather see a DOS-prompt on their phone, most people would also cite the interface and general responsiveness as being revolutionary. The only people this will upset are those hoping that the touch functionality comes to cheaper non-Apple handsets, and really that's just sour grapes.


RE: This is rediculous
By robinthakur on 1/29/2009 6:02:21 AM , Rating: 2
I would say that Apple actually did popularise Multi-Touch especially the way in which it functions on a phone. To compare the touch functionality included on the first iPhone to that available on say Wimo at the time is a joke, if you've ever used both. I'm not saying that touch controlled phones didn't exist before (and since) the iPhone but Apple's implementation is clearly the best for several reasons:

-No need for a precision stylus as finger control is now precise enough
-Gestures like pinch, pull, rotate
-Capacitative touch screen
-The software behind it all (fingerworks I believe) is the star

This combination of technologies are what Apple is patenting here which enables Multi-touch on their device, and like it or not a large part of that is Apple developed tech which they most likely threw a tonne of R&D at. Why should they let Palm et al simply rip them off in the current climate? Certainly this is far from a generic patent and the iPhone as a package representing American design both in terms of software and the exterior detail has such iconic merit that it deserves to be protected from Asian companies simply duplicating it as well as Palm and the rest like RIM and Nokia (Tube phone...HAha)chasing after Apple's successful innovation. Its mind boggling how most of these supposed iPhone killers turn out so bad.

Those that bad-mouth the iPhone forget how stagnant the mobile phone tech market was in terms of OS prior to its introduction. Apple has made terms like "Appstore" common place and now expected of all providers. Whilst there will always be people who would rather see a DOS-prompt on their phone, most people would also cite the interface and general responsiveness as being revolutionary. The only people this will upset are those hoping that the touch functionality comes to cheaper non-Apple handsets, and really that's just sour grapes.


RE: This is rediculous
By dickeywang on 1/29/2009 8:17:18 AM , Rating: 2
By your same analogy, millions of software piracies did popularize softwares like MS Windows, MS Office, Photoshop... oh and the Mac OSX. Shouldn't we just award patent for those softwares to thepiratebay.com?


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:31:42 AM , Rating: 2
You saying Piratebay is legal? I think you are mistaken, Microsoft Windows and Office and the Mac OS as patented. Ask Linux?


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:18:18 AM , Rating: 2
"what else would Apple use patents for?"

License Fees? Apple patent Firewire. License Fees.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:18:33 AM , Rating: 2
"what else would Apple use patents for?"

License Fees? Apple patent Firewire. License Fees.


RE: This is rediculous
By kelmon on 1/29/2009 11:48:26 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
what else would Apple use patents for?


Given the number of yahoo court cases for patent infringement, I'd suggest that you patent your products to ensure that someone else doesn't patent them for you, and then sues you. Let's be fair here - Apple has sold some 16 million iPhones so far so that's one heck of a cash cow for any potential "patent enforcer" (i.e. patent troll).

Some people are so cynical these days...


RE: This is rediculous
By mars777 on 1/29/2009 1:52:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you don't patent your own products


I'm good with that, but multi touch is not an Apple product...
And what's even better: to win over patent infringement on court you just have to give evidence of previous application for that patent.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:34:22 AM , Rating: 2
Read the patent or write a reasoned detail response why you think it is not an Apple product?


RE: This is rediculous
By kelmon on 1/29/2009 11:45:36 AM , Rating: 2
+1 For you!


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:08:12 AM , Rating: 2
"Secondly, Bush wasn't evil, just a moron. Al Gore really has a lot to answer for...", ??. Bush does not? I guess your business has yet to be impacted by the Depression underway. It will come soon.


RE: This is rediculous
By kelmon on 1/29/2009 11:51:49 AM , Rating: 2
Apologies, did I come across as a Bush apologist? I'm sorry about that. What I meant was that if Al Gore had done a proper job in the elections then the nightmare of the past 8-years might never have happened. Whatever his presidency might have been like, it surely could not have been worse.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:04:19 AM , Rating: 2
So protecting once R & D, innovations is bad? If HP had invented it, it would have patent it. They are not stupid. Apple will get their license fee. It's called Capitalism and despite recent failures it is still the best system in the world.


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:11:28 AM , Rating: 2
Read! Gestures! Finger, multi-finger inputs! "...the cash registers, kiosks, and computers..." you are failing to address the right issue, Dude.


RE: This is rediculous
By FaceMaster on 1/28/2009 5:32:51 AM , Rating: 2
Apple seems really greedy and selfish. The most horrible thing is that most people will still think of them as cooler and nicer than 'EVELL MICRO$UCKS' or something.


RE: This is rediculous
By redeem4god on 1/28/2009 11:13:22 AM , Rating: 3
Actually "touch screen" technology has been around for quite some time yes but not multi-touch with the capabilities that both apple and Microsoft (surface technology) have.

Touch screens in the past have been limited utilizing thermal sensing (pinholes on the actual screen and as far as Palm their devices could only interact with a stylus. try using your fingers and it would not recognize. No one company utilizes touch technology in the same manner.

Take HP's all in one built into their 24" Monitor. It's clumsy, non-responsive at times and just plain crap.

I too think it would be ridiculous to award a patent just for the capability for a device to respond simply to touch. However, the "touch" part of this ambiguous patent may be utilized in such a manner that makes the core engineering design exclusive to apple.

Why should this be any different to MS for having their "surface" technology patented? Can you stick your cell phone on your Ipod or Palm, have it recognize the brand of phone you have, allow for multiple responsive touches simultaneously and swipe photos to the phone with a simple swipe gesture seamlessly?


RE: This is rediculous
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 9:35:39 AM , Rating: 2
It is immaterial how long you use it. It the one who has the patent that wins. That is how it works. that is why there are patents. There is quarter given for failing to patent it.


RE: This is rediculous
By Fusible on 1/29/2009 12:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
Well I guess Blackberry should just patent Copy&Paste on the Storm. Some of these patents are just stupid.


Palm Pre
By archcommus on 1/27/2009 2:10:56 PM , Rating: 4
I was excited about the Palm Pre. They showcased everything before this patent was approved. I hope this doesn't screw it up.




RE: Palm Pre
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 1/27/2009 2:17:20 PM , Rating: 4
This patent won't hold up in court. Microsoft, Palm, and other companies also use multi-touch and would have no problem challenging this in court. Apple is nowhere near the first company to play around with "multi-touch".


RE: Palm Pre
By othercents on 1/27/2009 2:29:14 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
This patent won't hold up in court.

It probably won't, but Apple could hold up a competitor in court for years before it is decided that the patent was invalid.

Other


RE: Palm Pre
By 67STANG on 1/27/2009 3:03:39 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. That's really all this does for them. They'll never sue a company that has the financial means of defending themselves.

Smaller companies on the other hand, might be discouraged by a lengthy court battle that would cost well over 7 figures.


RE: Palm Pre
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:45:44 AM , Rating: 2
How soon they forget! Apple sued Microsoft, way back when. So there goes your argument, up in smoke.


RE: Palm Pre
By Smilin on 1/27/2009 3:24:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think it would hold up for all the 5 minutes it takes to produce a prior work.


RE: Palm Pre
By hduser on 1/27/2009 3:51:14 PM , Rating: 5
5 minutes and the 10 years of appeals and millions of dollars in legal fees. By then the Pre will be Post.


RE: Palm Pre
By omnicronx on 1/27/2009 4:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It probably won't, but Apple could hold up a competitor in court for years before it is decided that the patent was invalid.
But isnt it part of the procedure that the company in question does not have to cease and desist production/pay royalties until the patent case is settled?


RE: Palm Pre
By othercents on 1/27/2009 7:28:10 PM , Rating: 2
Depends that's up to the courts to decide. Sometimes they do sometimes they don't. However if there is a lawsuit it wouldn't be hard for the bad publicity to effect sales especially since the media uses the term "iPhone killer" for any phone with a touch screen no matter if the phone really fits in the same market. Right now Palm is not what it once use to be and they need a real good launch. A lengthy legal battle could put Palm in a financial bind.

Other


RE: Palm Pre
By omnicronx on 1/27/2009 4:08:49 PM , Rating: 2
Multitouch technology predates Apple itself.

My guess is you are correct that this will not hold out in court. Apple probably made the case that they own all the IP of fingerworks and as such their work predates everyone elses.

YET multitouch technology was not developed by fingerworks and dates back to the early 80's.

I would also like to make a notes on gestures

http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html

Go to the 2003 entry labelled: 2003: University of Toronto (Toronto) and tell me thats not on screen multitouch gestures.

Freeform rotation. (a) Two fingers are used to rotate an object. (b) Though the pivot finger is lifted, the second finger can continue the rotation.

Fingerworks came close, but this was a seperate touchpad, it was not on screen. Funny part is it was named the 'iGesture', I wonder where the iPod got its name ;)


RE: Palm Pre
By omnicronx on 1/27/2009 4:16:15 PM , Rating: 5
Furthermore companies like HP hold huge amounts of patents on plain old touch screen displays. If Apple steps in and says 'MS pay up for multitouch in Windows 7', HP whom highly depends on MS could step in and say, well 'Ok Apple, payup for ALL of your touch display uses on all of your various devices.'

Could Apple be opening the Pandora's box of patent infringement?


RE: Palm Pre
By crystal clear on 1/28/2009 10:34:38 AM , Rating: 2
Apple will be very disappointed to hear that they are just too late & will end up paying N-trig a huge penalty.

N-trig based in Israel + Austin + Taiwan have all the patents rights on their technology developed.

Microsoft recently invested in an Israeli start up N-trig-

N-trig’s touch technology is currently deployed in Dell’s Latitude XT, and was recently launched on HP’s TouchSmart tx2

The company also plans to announce more OEM design wins in the coming year, representing industry standardization of the N-trig hardware in the marketplace and further breaking down the barriers between the user and their computer.

Ian LeGrow, Group Program Manager for Windows Client at Microsoft Corp. “By simulating the way people write and touch naturally, N-trig is helping to make it easier to navigate your PC and enable a new class of Windows experiences.”

http://www.n-trig.com/Content.aspx?Page=PressRelea...


RE: Palm Pre
By psychobriggsy on 1/28/2009 9:10:54 AM , Rating: 1
I certainly remember having basic multitouch on my iBook touchpad in 2005 - there were two-finger actions for scrolling, etc. I believe that was a feature taken from PowerBooks released earlier that year.

So Apple have got about four years of multitouch technology being available to the public (never mind development prior to that). The Palm Pre isn't available yet. As for pinch and rotate, well that was shown in Minority Report, but an idea isn't patentable until you've implemented it, and Apple did that.

And I expect that as with most Apple patents, it is primarily a defensive patent, and a bargaining patent. It will also be used to defend against very close iPhone rip-offs.


RE: Palm Pre
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:43:38 AM , Rating: 2
We will see. That is why we have a court of law and patents.


RE: Palm Pre
By ajv2003 on 1/29/2009 10:25:54 AM , Rating: 2
The patent is back dated to April 2007. Looks like Palm gambled and lost. Now they will in the best scenario pay a license fee. If they come out fighting they may have to swallow the cost of a none shipping product. Let's see how smart they really are.


Is Apple going to sue me?
By HeavyB on 1/27/2009 3:00:27 PM , Rating: 5
I multi-touch myself at least once a day. Should I find myself a lawyer?




RE: Is Apple going to sue me?
By SlipDizzy on 1/27/2009 3:11:00 PM , Rating: 5
No sir, I think a towel will suffice.


RE: Is Apple going to sue me?
By KITH on 1/27/2009 3:13:00 PM , Rating: 5
Don't know about a lawyer but maybe a hobby. I mean a different one...


RE: Is Apple going to sue me?
By diego10arg on 1/27/2009 3:14:38 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
...finger gestures such as pinch, swipe and rotation.


If you are female maybe you can sue them first for using your techniques.


RE: Is Apple going to sue me?
By Bateluer on 1/27/2009 4:47:07 PM , Rating: 5
This has the be funniest thing I've heard all day. Thanks.


RE: Is Apple going to sue me?
By dj LiTh on 1/27/09, Rating: 0
Design or utility?
By Screwballl on 1/27/2009 2:25:12 PM , Rating: 4
They have won the patent, but all it will do is slow it down.

If it is just a design patent, not a utility patent, after 14 years these types of patents become public knowledge and anyone can make any duplicate without the patent holders permission... provided that Apple does not file for an extension which will add an additional 7 years. After the full 21 years is up, it is publicly accessible and reproducible.

If it is a utility patent, then they are covered for 20 years, no extensions.

Either way this is another way for Apple to lock down a function that should be allowed on any electronic device that can make use of it, not locked into one company because it does not actually patent anything other than finger motions on an electronic pad... if they want to get technical then they can sue every laptop manufacturer for the touchpad.

I got a finger for them, typically called the birdie...




RE: Design or utility?
By MadMan007 on 1/27/2009 2:42:17 PM , Rating: 4
Unfortunately slowing down for 'only 20 years' is an eternity in tech development.


RE: Design or utility?
By dajeepster on 1/27/2009 2:48:47 PM , Rating: 3
the patent was granted them.. they haven't won anything. They can lose thier patent in a court of law, should the court invalidate thier patent.... such as evidence showing that someone else invented, had, or used the technology, or it was available before hand... or some other such thing.

The patent office grants patents... the courts are where they are enforced.

oh... and here's the link to the patent
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT...


You got be kidding
By dickeywang on 1/27/2009 2:12:57 PM , Rating: 2
Multitouch, and even voice recognition belongs to Apple? What kind of patent agency do they have?




RE: You got be kidding
By Malhavoc on 1/27/2009 2:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't patent reform under Obama's to do list? Can't wait so I don't have to see retarded shit like this. Apple should get their head out of their ass.


RE: You got be kidding
By ZachDontScare on 1/27/2009 2:42:18 PM , Rating: 3
Keep dreaming. The democrat party is bought and owned by the trial-lawyers. They arent going to promote any 'reform' that actually inhibits rediculous patents because otherwise their big contributers would lose out on the money to be made from the resultant lawsuits.


RE: You got be kidding
By 67STANG on 1/28/2009 1:35:00 AM , Rating: 2
It's on Obama's todo list... Right after building up our military and reversing the assualt weapons ban.


Prior art
By nismotigerwvu on 1/27/2009 4:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
Has the concept of prior art been completely forgotten?




RE: Prior art
By omnicronx on 1/27/2009 4:59:33 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently ;) I for one didnt even realize the US employed a first to invent system opposed to a first to file patent.

The United States uses a first-to-invent system. Invention is generally defined to comprise two steps: conception of the invention and reduction to practice of the invention. When an inventor conceives of an invention and diligently reduces the invention to practice (by filing a patent application, by practicing the invention, etc), the inventor's date of invention will be the date of conception. Thus, provided an inventor is diligent in reducing an application to practice, he or she will be the first inventor and the inventor entitled to a patent, even if another files a patent application (reduces the invention to practice) before the inventor.


RE: Prior art
By omnicronx on 1/27/2009 5:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
The question here is, how did Apple get past the part where it is their duty to disclose possible 'prior art' findings, and how was the patent agent not aware of prior multitouch uses (which is part of their job). I hope somebody fry's for this..

inequitable conduct anyone??

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inequitable_conduct


RE: Prior art
By energy1man on 1/27/2009 8:00:41 PM , Rating: 2
This startup pays for people providing prior art that invalidates bad patents.

http://www.articleonepartners.com/welcome.php

Story in Business Week recently.


this is madness!
By Murloc on 1/27/2009 2:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
all this patent fuss is a joke, now apple will start to sue everyone.
Hopefully they won't be successfully, because this would just be patent trolling.




RE: this is madness!
By kelmon on 1/28/2009 3:42:32 AM , Rating: 2
As noted in previous comments, I suspect that this is simply to fend off the patent trolls who seem to be on a roll over recent years. If you don't protect yourself and you are successful then you can expect to be attacked in the courts. It's a crazy system.


App£€
By Marlonsm on 1/27/2009 3:15:35 PM , Rating: 2
It's getting worse than Microsoft.
What's next? Patenting the laptop?
This patent won't last for long... as MS already has is under development for Seven, same goes for Palm Pre, ASUS Eee...




RE: App£€
By vapore0n on 1/27/2009 3:33:46 PM , Rating: 2
My guess is that Apple will go against those that compete directly with their products.

Like those that use multitouch combined with gestures.

My Asus eee has a multi touch touchpad with gestures. I guess I wont be getting any updated drivers or more functionality any time soon.


Errr..
By kayronjm on 1/27/2009 5:25:47 PM , Rating: 2
My Asus EeePC 1000H netbook has multi-touch..
I'm guessing this patent doesn't mean that other companies can't use those features on their products because that would be playing stupid. Apple deserves no credit, for nothing - they're cack. I would most certainly not buy an Apple product because of this even if they were the only ones 'allowed' to employ use of such technology, or because of any Apple patented technology for that matter. Some people choose to boycott and curse Microsoft...I choose to boycott and curse Apple, screw 'em.




RE: Errr..
By Marlonsm on 1/27/2009 7:35:27 PM , Rating: 2
Too bad many people still see Apple and all their iThings as the best.
I really wanted to see if it would get this far if Apple and MS were treated equally by people.


Palm Pilot?
By danrien on 1/28/2009 12:24:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
"touch-sensitive area of the device that, unlike the touch screen, does not display visual output. The touchpad may be a touch-sensitive surface that is separate from the touch screen or an extension of the touch-sensitive surface formed by the touch screen."


Huh. Wierd. My 2004-ish Palm Pilot does that. Didn't know the iPhone was 'round back then.




RE: Palm Pilot?
By psychobriggsy on 1/28/2009 9:22:09 AM , Rating: 2
And that's not what the patent is about. That's one element of the patent. Other elements include multitouch, and gestures using multitouch, the fact it is in a phone/PDA, etc.

Breaching a single aspect isn't infringement. The patent will be about the sum of all the elements.

Basically the Palm Pre could be toast. And Windows Mobile with multitouch too.

But Microsoft Surface, and the EeePC, and so on, should be okay.

And Apple will use it to get rights to dodgy patents that other companies have, i.e., it is a defensive or cost-reduction strategy patent primarily. Blame the system. Any company would have patented that patent in Apple's position, it would be foolish not too. Apple has been burned too many times with look and feel cases to rely on simple copyright to protect their designs.


Prior art?
By Lonyo on 1/27/2009 2:19:07 PM , Rating: 2
Any case for prior art? Multi touch isn't something particularly new, and the patent was only filed in April 2008, which means that (I presume) it's pretty worthless as a catch all, unless it hinders certain implementations of touch registering (much like the Immersion rumble patent which didn't include Nintendo because they used a different system IIRC).
The general concepts can't really be patented at this sort of time, just the Apple specific implementation (I would hope).




Really. Apple's idea?
By SoylentG on 1/27/2009 4:09:36 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O1bTNbbWk4
Warcraft 3 using multi-touch.

What about Black and White for gestures? That game seems to be a bit older than the iPhone or MacBook.




Crazy
By mthhurley on 1/27/2009 4:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
Um...Didn't Jeff Han's team at NYU create the multi-touch interface pre-2006? If so, I assume they filed a patent before Apple did....or did they sell the right to Apple?




iPod Large...
By ZmaxDP on 1/27/2009 4:45:01 PM , Rating: 2
All I'm going to say is that if that "hand" in the 4th picture is to scale, that is one freakin' huge iPod/iPhone...




joke of the day for engineers
By The0ne on 1/28/2009 1:34:17 AM , Rating: 2
I think it must be :o




Voice Activated Dialing
By afkrotch on 1/28/2009 10:55:37 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe it's just me, but haven't tons of phones already have this option?




Misread
By plowak on 1/28/2009 3:30:33 PM , Rating: 2
Hahaha...I misread the line in paragraph three as, "if a bit lengthy 358-page crap of Apple's iPhone technology." Ya know, I think I like my misread better.




Read This
By kelmon on 1/28/2009 12:24:02 PM , Rating: 1
Engadget has posted an excellent analysis of the situation and I suggest everyone reads it:

http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/28/apple-vs-palm-t...

The upshot is that Apple's patents tend to cover pretty specific stuff (not this "OMG, APPLE PATENTED MULTI-TOUCH!!!!!!!) and the Pre does indeed seem to infringe on them, at least based on the demonstrations made so far. However, Palm also has its own patents that Apple appears to infringe and, at this stage of the game, Apple has more to lose from a lawsuit gone bad (shitloads of actual revenue earned compared to Palm's potential revenue from the Pre). So, chances are that we have a high-stakes game of poker here and both companies are unlikely to be calling their opponent for a while.

Anyway, it's nice to see some actual journalism on the subject for once...




Lets all bash Apple!
By icanhascpu on 1/27/09, Rating: -1
RE: Lets all bash Apple!
By wolfwood on 1/27/2009 8:43:14 PM , Rating: 5
The patent office deserves any and all bashing it gets. Not so much from this story, but moreso for the years and years of issuing many BS patents.


"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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