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Input Devices Businesses Patents Apple

Multitouch Gesture Patents Could Prevent Standardization 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the reach-out-and-multitouch-someone dept.
ozmanjusri brings us a Wired report on Apple's efforts to patent the multitouch gestures used on their laptops, smartphones, and tablets. The article discusses concerns over how this could affect the standardization of certain gestures in developing multitouch technology. We've previously discussed the patent applications themselves. Quoting Wired: "If Apple's patent applications are successful, other manufacturers may have no choice but to implement multitouch gestures of their own. The upshot: You might pinch to zoom on your phone, swirl your finger around to zoom on your notebook, and triple-tap to zoom on the web-browsing remote control in your home theater. That's an outcome many in the industry would like to avoid. Synaptics, a company that by most estimates supplies 65 to 70 percent of the notebook industry with its touchpad technology, is working on its own set of universal touch gestures that it hopes will become a standard. These gestures include scrolling by making a circular motion, moving pictures or documents with a flip of the finger, and zooming in or out by making, yes, a pinching gesture."
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Multitouch Gesture Patents Could Prevent Standardization

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  • Middle Finger (Score:5, Insightful)

    by religious freak (1005821) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:03PM (#22536870)
    I say they all deserve a middle finger gesture if they can't work out a sensible standard. Apple should especially be chastised for trying to patent this stuff. It's like patenting an 'x' for denoting closing a window.

    It makes sense for competitors to collaborate on certain things to move the industry as a whole forward.
    • Re:Middle Finger (Score:5, Insightful)

      by torkus (1133985) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:15PM (#22537062)
      Immagine if someone tried to pattent the double click? That's essentially what they're doing here.
      • by shogun (657)
        If you can patent a single click [stanford.edu] whats to stop you patenting a double?
        • Not exactly... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gription (1006467)
          They didn't patent the single click. They patented a process that was initiated by a single click. The process (method) is the point.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by marcello_dl (667940)
            So one can patent one click to do other things, like a one click process to reply with a goatse guy jpeg at full res. Which is almost worse than having a patent on single click, which could more easily be challenged. Sigh.
      • Re:Middle Finger (Score:5, Informative)

        by fermion (181285) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:13PM (#22537678) Homepage Journal
        What they are in fact doing is patenting a new method to interact with the computer. Interaction with the computer has become increasing complex, from a several switches, to a few dozen switches on a keyboard, back to a single switch that is used with a context sensitive position data, to a small touch area that responds to patterns of pressure and motion.

        Apple is patenting the method that makes the touchpad functional. In a way, they have a reason to do this as they were innovating the touchpad while everyone else was adding buttons to mice and arguing that the touch pad would never be as good as the mouse. These people lack creativity. It is easy to add buttons to a mouse, or a scroll wheel, or add USB ports to a computer, or other trivia that most firms rely on to imply innovation. But the trackpad is now a competitor to the mouse, and unless one has had issues, I see the mouse and mouselike interfaces going away on anything that is not a desktop machine.

        OTOH, one reason that this patent may not cause too much trouble is that the engineering to make gestures happen may be expensive, and therefore we are much more likely to see cheap knockoffs, safe from the patents, rather than infringing duplication. For instance, MS did not go with a iPod style control on the original Zune, but the cheap click pad. Likewise, MS developed an affordable navigation pad on the new zune, rather than moving to a full touch screen model. Most manufacturers who wish to stay below the cost of the Apple product has done the same.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by snl2587 (1177409)

          But how is this more than simply a logical extension of computer interaction (and therefore not patentable)?

          • by LingNoi (1066278)
            ..because patents are about the illogical barrier of restricting what you can do. Soon there will be patents on breathing and we'll all asphyxiate.
        • Re:Middle Finger (Score:5, Informative)

          by PietjeJantje (917584) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:37PM (#22537920)
          Apple did not creatively innovate multi touch gestures nor mp3 players nor phones, they marketed it into a successful high-end products for "cool" people, which is something else. Multi-touch has been pioneered since 1982 (wikipedia). This is more equal to patenting double-click or one-click ordering. It's about creating a barrier of entrance to competitors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cheater512 (783349)
          They are not patenting any hardware technology. They are patenting specific gestures.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by torkus (1133985)
          To add to some comments from others, apple is not pattenting 'multi-touch' as an interface. They're trying to pattent the meanings of the physical patterns. (e.g. pinching to zoom out/in)

          This isn't about apple's 'creativity' in designing a new interface. The interface has been around since the early 90's with various different mechanics. This seems more like them trying to take ownership of the limited number of blatantly obvious hand/finger gestures practical on a small to medium size screen. If grant
          • Exactly. Modern electronic producers like Apple don't create the hardware elements, they just shop and combine and add software and marketing. For example, all mp3 player "manufacturers" shop at only a couple of (chinese) factories where they buy the same elements such as memory, sound chip, display, etc. For example, you'll find the same soundchip in many cheap mp3 players as present in the iPod. What Apple added was marketing and software such as the interface. In this case, the hardware is the innovation
            • by torkus (1133985)
              Yeah, you can probably come up with - at most - a couple dozen gestures without getting unreasonable complicated. Guess what else? If you gave 100 other people the same task independantly you'd probably get at least 75% of the SAME gestures.

              If Apple gets a pattent for something that essentially monkeys can create by doodling then how can anyone NOT see the begging for pattent reform?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            You know, sometimes I wonder if companies patent stuff like this mainly to head off patent trolls. Apple has been stung by quite a few of these, and so it's no surprise that they are now patenting stuff that really shouldn't be patentable. (Yes, I'm one of those idiots who feel software patents are harmful, as software is instructions, but not an invention in and of itself.)

            It would be nice if Apple could come forward and state that anybody may use their patents for stuff like this free of charge, but their
        • by shyberfoptik (1177855) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @07:24PM (#22539536)

          What they are in fact doing is patenting a new method to interact with the computer.

          No, they are not. They are patenting gestures. Don't make this more magical than is necessary.

          What bothers me is that they prattle on and on about this kind of interaction being "intuitive." If the gestures are "intuitive," doesn't that by definition mean that they are already "inside" every person? That is, the gesture-as-representation-of-information, if it is "natural," is something discovered, and not invented. If this is not the case, then it's not "intuitive." So which is it?

          If I develop an interface that interprets "waving goodbye" as "turn off computer," can I patent "waving goodbye?" Can I make it illegal for everyone else to use this very "intuitive" gesture?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by KiahZero (610862)
            Yes, you could patent "waving goodbye" as a procedure to shut down a computer.

            Of course, now you can't, because the idea's been published.
          • Really, gestures should not need to exist in a multitouch interface. The only interactions in such an interface should be the natural concept of dragging elements, as one could physical objects.

            The idea of "making a house shape to go to the home page" is arbitrary, unnatural and unintuitive. The people who came up with that while faced with such a potentially flexible interface system as multitouch should be ashamed of their own lacks of imagination and by their poor grasps on accessibility.

            A more flexible
      • Immagine if someone tried to pattent the double click? That's essentially what they're doing here.
        Ha! I've already done so! Now I just sit back and wait for Jobs to come crawling to me, begging for mercy. Just wait until he finds out I've got the patent on the right-button mouse! *cackle* *glee*
    • Re:Middle Finger (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Smallpond (221300) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:28PM (#22537194) Homepage Journal
      There's nothing wrong with patenting a specific implementation, assuming it is a novel design. What is unfortunate about software patents is that I can't write a program to do the same thing done in a different way and avoid the patent, because software patents are on the idea. The implementation is usually described as "software means obvious to one skilled in the art".

      Look back at Wang's patent on the SIMM. It only covered 9-bit parity modules. 36-bit SIMMS did not violate the patent. Hardware patents are forced to describe an implementation.
    • Prior Art (Score:3, Informative)

      by KillerCow (213458)
      Jeff Han: Unveiling the genius of multi-touch interface design [ted.com]

      Feb 2006 talk. Publicly posted Aug 2006. No "Patent pending" anywhere.
  • Universal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (837964) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:08PM (#22536958) Homepage
    If there's a company that stands to lose from having a non-standard input scheme, it's definitely not the one that has >90% of the desktop market. I mean, if you not only have to learn a new OS, new shortcuts, in some cases new applications, and now a new input scheme, it seems that Apple would be erecting a new barrier to Mac adoption, not encouraging Mac adoption. If Microsoft implements gestures of its own (like what it has said it'll do in Windows 7), I'd bet those are more likely to become the standard than Apple's gestures.
    • Re:Universal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theurge14 (820596) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:39PM (#22537314)
      On the other hand, Apple has the momentum. They've been shipping products with multi-touch features for almost a year now. The most Microsoft has done is demo something that they haven't even begun to sell yet. They're playing catchup just like the Zune is doing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I don't think so.

      Microsoft doesn't have any significant marketshare of devices that accept touch input. Outside of tablets, I can't think of any serious product that currently exists that accepts that interface. It's not like new computers come with a Wacom tablet by default, or some other "touch-interface".

      The iPhone and the Touch will be popular devices for years to come; I'd be very surprised if they don't significantly oversell tablet laptops, if only because they're cheaper, if they aren't already in t
    • Apple Is..... (Score:3, Insightful)

      Trying to become the new Microsoft by patenting its way to obnoxiousness.
    • Apple does something, then Microsoft copies it and it will take off. Just like the Zune right?
  • Swirl around your head to pan? WTF??

    Anyone else think we have gone way overboard here and need to return to a much simpler time?
  • by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:10PM (#22536998) Homepage Journal
    > that it hopes will become a standard. These gestures include: scrolling by making a circular motion and move the finger up and down to turn the picture? Come on!
  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) * on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:16PM (#22537066) Journal
    Two fingered mouse gestures are a fad that will pass.

    Ctrl +, Ctrl - has worked fine for zooming in and out for years.

    Various CAD tool vendors tried to get people to use mouse gestures for years, but people stuck with the mouse+keyboard because it is a much more definite form of input.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kerohazel (913211)
      I'm very curious as to how someone is supposed to easily ctrl + and - on a tablet or a small gadget. Mouse+keyboard only works on devices with mice. 2 of the 3 device categories mentioned do not typically have mice, and the third (laptops) frequently do not - the one I am typing on right now does not. If I had a single standard way to zoom, move text around, etc. - like a scroll wheel on a mouse - I might be more inclined to use this laptop for my regular day-to-day activities. As it is, I'm only using it r
      • >Then your mention of CAD is completely irrelevant. CAD requires a great deal of precision and control, and is not likely to be used often even on laptops, let alone the smaller devices. Reading an email, on the other hand, just needs a simple way to manipulate the screen. Who cares if it is a very coarse method of control, as long as it enables me to quickly get to what I want?

        I don't consider it to be irrelevant. Mouse gestures in CAD tools are a precursor to the multitouch hand gestures, in that the m
      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)
        Precision motions in CAD aren't made on the basis of a mouse alone. While I do miss my old 16-button digitizer and a larger working area than a mouse offers, I am pretty darn comfortable with my MacBook Pro's touchpad and single button. The big issue is that the software has to be better at working with the UI.

        So... part of me thinks it isn't terrible to patent the gestures, as long as you offer free licensing to free software and reasonable fees for commercial software.
  • The original multitouch demo used pinch to zoom in and out on images and on the workspace. How can Apple patent it after that?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tgatliff (311583)
      Patent law specifies that you have 1 year after the "release" of a product to patent its technologies. It is also quite easy to get around this, however, as I would assume MS showed with their FAT filesystem patent. I am still baffled how they actually got a patent on such old technology. I would agree that Apple patenting such trivial items goes contrary to the original intention of the patent system, but it is my belief that the problem is with the patent laws and not with how Apple is using them.

      In sh
  • by Black Art (3335) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:25PM (#22537164)
    I think "Kids In The Hall" have prior art here.
    • I think "Kids In The Hall" have prior art here.

      ROFL. It's never ceased to amaze me that someone hasn't yet sat down and determined how it's possible that a joke whose premise is based entirely around the antics and unknowable reality of a delusional psychotic can strike a chord in millions of perfectly normal people.

      Come to think of it, that almost sounds like I'm talking about Steve Jobs.
      • Come to think of it, that almost sounds like I'm talking about Steve Jobs.

        Well, let's face it. Jobs is not the first leader in history to possess a personal reality distortion field. There have been a number of interesting sci-fi stories about ancient artifacts that allow those who possess them to control men's minds (Martin Caidin's Messiah Stone, for example):

        Doug Stavers plays the mercenary game, and every time he plays he wins: in Africa, Central America, Vietnam or in the USA. Now he's on the big
  • by nguy (1207026) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:28PM (#22537186)
    In the 1980's, Apple tried to claim ownership of all modern GUIs; they lost on a technicality.

    Multitouch as an input method goes back a long time; it wasn't put to much use because the hardware was expensive and GUI library developers were still coping with bigger issues.

    Apple shouldn't be allowed to monopolize multi-touch, in any shape or form: not only would it be bad public policy, Apple simply didn't invent this stuff. Pretty much the only patents that should be valid in this space in 2008 are patents on better multi-touch hardware and low-level firmware.
    • by DECS (891519) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @06:25PM (#22538994) Homepage Journal
      That's not even remotely true. Apple invested well over $60 million (in early 80s dollars) into developing the Lisa desktop interface, along with the followup Mac desktop in parallel between the late 70s and 1984. By the time the Mac arrived, Apple had been showing the tech off for 2-3 years, so rivals began copying a lot of the same ideas. Apple didn't sue any of those rivals apart from two that were transferring a copy of Apple's tech directly to IBM's PC.

      Apple didn't sue Atari's TOS, the Commodore Amiga, Berkeley System's GEOS, DRI's GEM/1, Acorn Archimedes or any of the other graphical desktops. It only sued Microsoft and HP, which was selling an add-on for Windows that made it more Mac-like. [1]

      The reason Apple sued Microsoft to stop it was because Apple had entered an development contract with MS in 1982, giving MS early access to Mac technology. MS agreed not to release a competing product for IBM's PC until the Mac was delivered, but found a technicality that enabled it to announce Windows 1.0 in 1983. Even though Windows 1.0 was unusable garbage, it cloned enough of the Mac ideas to create a product concept that could make the PC look useful, and create the suggestion that Windows would deliver something similar to the Mac. It didn't even come close until 1995, more than a decade later. Windows was a vaporware distraction based entirely upon theft of ideas Apple released to Microsoft as a trusted partner.

      Interestingly, Wikipedia presents this as a revised history where Microsoft invented Windows 1.0 first and suggests Apple copied it for the Mac. Windows Enthusiasts like Rob Enderle have also stated that Microsoft developed the Mac OS for Apple, despite the fact that at the time, Apple was already a huge company turning out blockbuster products and engaging in major R&D, while Microsoft was still a contract developer that simply relicensed Unix and DOS adding very little value, and didn't really develop any of its own original products for another ten years. Microsoft didn't even invent Excel, it only cloned the existing VisiCalc inside Apple's Mac GUI. It bought Word directly from Xerox. That's why those of use who were paying attention find it hard to swallow the idea the Microsoft has some significant history in the original development of the GUI. It did not.

      Even MS knew that it infringed enough upon Apple's technology that it could not sell Windows 1.0. Despite showing off an early preview in 1983, MS didn't sell Windows 1.0 until 1985, partly because it had to keep working on it, and partly because it had to force Apple into licensing its Mac technology first. MS used the threat of porting Mac Excel to the PC as leverage to obtain a license from John Sculley's Apple for Mac interface ideas that were unique to Apple (as opposed to GUI ideas that had originated at Xerox PARC or other places). MS then used that 1985 license to copy even more of the Mac UI for Windows 2.0, which served almost entirely as a vehicle for porting Mac Excel to the PC.

      No PC makers preinstalled Windows on their machines until Windows 3.0 in 1990. Apple's 1986 suit against MS was limited to copyright ideas about the user interface, because at the time, there was no established concept of software patents. Recall that Bill Gates was also warning the world that software patents would be a bad idea and stifle competition. He believed that at the time (1990) because he wanted full access to Apple's technology without paying for it. After MS began patenting its own software ideas, the company changed its tune. It now threatens to sue open source using its patent pool.

      In a world where everyone patents every idea they think might ever have any value, and where companies are all sued by small inventors who have patented ideas that may seem obvious but end up getting millions awarded in claims from the court, the idea of patenting every line of research isn't evil, but necessary.

      Open Source developers are at the mercy of lots of patent nonsense, so they critically need to cont
  • by winmine (934311)
    Why isn't it just another setting? Sure, the defaults could be generally agreed upon. But why make everyone use the same set of pinches and twirls? I thought this new technology was supposed to obsolete rigid things like keyboards.
  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:37PM (#22537304)
    It probably wouldn't kill device manufacturers to make the gestures on their devices customizable. That way, if you are used to the Apple gestures, you can use them; otherwise, you can use the defaults or whatever else you prefer. That would make Apple's patents irrelevant, as well as leave Apple at a disadvantage with its One UI to Rule Them All philosophy.
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:42PM (#22537344)
    Hitchhiking Gesture Patent
    The thumb is positioned in an erect manner with the rest of the fingers clenched into a fist. Optionally the forearm can be successively pivoted at the elbow joint.


    If any of you want to go hitchhiking you will have to invent gestures of your own that do not violate my patent. Perhaps you could do a sort of Egyptian walk to attract attention instead, although it is possible that the Bangles have a patent on that particular gesture. I will of course licence you to use my hitchhiking gesture at a fee that renders the whole purpose of hitchhiking completely pointless :)
  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:46PM (#22537384) Homepage Journal

    For over 200 years, the basic role of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has remained the same: to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries (Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution). - USPTO [uspto.gov]

    That's right - these same laws that are obstructing innovation and progress are intended to have the opposite purpose.

  • Defensive use? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bidule (173941) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:48PM (#22537392) Homepage
    I am surprised nobody mentioned that those other companies (RIM, Nokia and Synaptics) also hold spurious patents that could block iPhones? It seems Apple is just joining the fray by carving its own territory. Hateful but oh so typical of the industry.

    In a sense, the industry uses patent minefield in the same way that France used the Maginot line. When someone blitzkriegs around it with a paradigm shift, everyone is in a hurry to dig new trenches and claim new territories.

    • by Joe Decker (3806)
      I am surprised nobody mentioned that those other companies (RIM, Nokia and Synaptics) also hold spurious patents that could block iPhones?

      Perhaps they didn't mention it because they don't know it, or don't believe it? What do you mean by spurious? Which patents? Are all three of those companies prosecuting those patents so far?

      seems Apple is just joining the fray

      The article directly states that Apple has been filing for gesture patents for years, so ... I'm not sure I could agree that they're "just

    • by Vexorian (959249)
      Yeah, we should try to mention other irrelevant things about apple that don't change the fact their patents are preventing standardization, for example, they have added transparent stuff to Leopard! Yay!
  • by maokh (781515) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:52PM (#22537444)
    What company, in their right mind, wouldn't patent multitouch gestures and protect themselves? I'd much rather see a company patent this and actually use the technology than a troll come along and assert their litigation power on every company who adopts a defacto standard.
    • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:38PM (#22537926)
      A company with a sense of fair play. By trying to patent their specific gestures, thus locking everyone else out, Apple IS patent trolling, imho. These are not concepts which should be patentable, they're too basic.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gnasher719 (869701)

        A company with a sense of fair play. By trying to patent their specific gestures, thus locking everyone else out, Apple IS patent trolling, imho.

        First, you don't have any idea whether or not Apple tries to lock out anyone. Sure, Apple will ask for license fees, but there is no indication whatsoever that Apple would refuse to license this patent. But second and more important, I think you have a very wrong understanding of what is meant by "patent troll".

        There are three main reasons why things get patented: By inventors (individuals and companies) who try to create valuable inventions, which can then be sold to someone who is interested in it. By

  • Fine, then if people like Apple's intellectual property enough to make it a standard, then pay the licensing fee until the patent expires.

    Yes but is it intellectual property? I mean is "the pinch" to zoom in/out is intellectual property? Or is this just the natural progression of human/machine interface. I would guess most engineers or engineering groups when given a flat surface as a machine input would naturally gravitate towards such gestures within the first day or week.

    I see this more like Apple wanti

    • Yes but is it intellectual property? I mean is "the pinch" to zoom in/out is intellectual property? Or is this just the natural progression of human/machine interface. I would guess most engineers or engineering groups when given a flat surface as a machine input would naturally gravitate towards such gestures within the first day or week.

      The question is: Is it obvious? But not obvious now, when you've read the patent, but obvious before you heard about the patent or saw an implementation by Apple.

  • Already obsolescent? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:00PM (#22537540)
    In a world in which digital cameras have face and smile recognition (perhaps the most pointless development of neural network technology anywhere?) how long before the touchpad is replaced by a little short focus digital camera that detects the fingers? In which case, rather than multitouch, you could have three dimensional object recognition and a hugely expanded gesture set.

    This is one case where an industry standard is the only thing that makes sense. Make the gesture set standard and allow people to patent specific implementations (physical not software) which offer new features.

    Unfortunately, in my experience it's the marketing and sales departments who, because of their competitive mindset, don't understand the benefits of collaboration in growing the overall market. When they do turn up at standards meetings as observers, the results are sometimes laughable but usually cringeworthy for the engineers from their companies. Microsoft XML is a case in point. I confidently expect these people to continue to act as a brake on the wheels of input mechanism progress.

    • There's several problems I see in three-dimensional control schemes. The first is that there's no way to click. In the control scheme you suggest, there's no way to differentiate "I'm moving my cursor over here" and "I'm clicking and dragging this thing over here." Defining an imaginary plane to be the screen surface, and a click event to be moving past this surface wouldn't work. You have no feedback telling you how close you are.

      Another big problem is that they're not very precise - mice and touchpads

  • Besides swirling, the zoom gesture can be done via touching the corner of the display or photo's window edge and dragging towards the opposite corner. If it's done from the top corner that can be shrink, if from the bottom corner that can be zooming in (expanding). Or vice versa (maybe top to bottom can be expand?) Actually this is in some ways better than pinching/unpinching cause your finger has a longer way to move so you can zoom in or out more than what pinch would allow. Also, it probably should dete
  • OOOOOOOOR (Score:4, Interesting)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@@@comcast...net> on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:20PM (#22537756) Journal
    Apple could just simply license it, which they have for most of their technology anyway... Do people really realize how much of the computing world relys on Apple patents? Your PC sitting under your desk running XP likely has at least 3-4 parts that are LICENSED from Apple.

    Just because something is patented doesnt mean people cant use it, and companies wont license it.

  • What moron makes the patent system such that patent holders don't HAVE to license their patent. I agree that if you come up with an idea, you should get a share of the revenue if other people use your idea in a product. BUT, the law should be this : you MUST license your idea to ANYONE who asks, as long as they pay the royalty. (you can deny license to people or firms who consistently neglect to pay patent royalties to other patent holders). Second, the royalty is capped to a FRACTION of the gross reven
  • Apple users will be using one set of gestures and the other 95% of the population will be using another set. So kids will grow up knowing the gestures almost everyone uses and they will not choose Apple products because of the foreign user interface. This guarantees Apple's failure in the future.
  • Obviousness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CokeJunky (51666) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @05:23PM (#22538402)
    I wonder if there is any chance that these patents could fail on the basis of obviousness.

    I figure that the better the gestures are for doing specific tasks, the more obvious they should be. I don't have a problem with patents on the technology behind the touch and multi-touch sensors, but I have to say that it would be a bad idea to use patents to prevent people from moving their hands in a particular way. Otherwise, you might get in the situation where you have a multi-touch sensor on a computer, but only the licensee of the software is allowed to use those gestures.

    • Surely you should know by now that Captain Obvious doesn't work at the patent office? How long have you been reading Slashdot?
  • Apple isn't trying to sell standardized products, it's trying to sell distinctive products. The ipod isn't just a MP3 player, it's a player with a distinctive user interface, with a distinctive design. It's something that others want to copy. Patents make sure that simply copying the ipod in its entirety isn't possible.
  • having seen the non apple demos, I would guess that the basic zoom and slide to scroll stuff would be covered by 'prior art', not to mention MS's efforts. I should also mention that about 15-17 years ago apple did some demos of gestures in the finder, which used a mouse instead of your finger and there are gestures in the 'ink' pen interface which they may translate into finger gestures, and the already have scrolling in their touch pads. So if you replace 'finger' with 'pointing device' apple has had stuff
  • I was pinching things years before I got an iPhone... just ask my wife!

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