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New Apple Multi-Touch Patent Is Too Broad 310

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they-usually-are dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Nearly three and a half years later, Apple has finally been awarded the U.S. patent number 7,966,578, which according to the patent experts should worry rivals. According to exclusive interviews with patent experts, the incredibly broad patent puts Apple in a strong position when it comes to displaying content and using certain finger gestures on smart phones. The patent is so broad that not only will Apple's legal team target iPhone competitors but will also look to go after iPad and iPod rivals. Experts also discussed the scenario of Apple licensing its patented technology or for that matter, the courts completely scrapping the patent in public's interest."
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New Apple Multi-Touch Patent Is Too Broad

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  • They all do this. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:00PM (#36529740)

    If companies like Nokia can hold broad patents and require Apple to pay them $10 for every iPhone in licensing fees. Apple should be allowed to do the same to Nokia. The patent system has upheld these broad patents time and time again. If you want to do something in the publics interest, the entire patent system should be reformed.

  • Unfortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

    by imamac (1083405) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:01PM (#36529748)
    Apple and others will continue to try for broad patents like this for the forseable future in order to protect themselves from crazy lawsuits made by others who have broad patents. Vicious cycle...
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:05PM (#36529824) Homepage

    Experts also discussed the scenario of Apple licensing its patented technology or for that matter, the courts completely scrapping the patent in public's interest.

    Don't hate the player, hate the game. The problem isn't so much specifically that Apple applied for (and got) this patent. It's that the patent system itself is out of control and stupid, and encourages companies to apply for overly broad patents.

    I'm sure if Microsoft had a product in the works at that time, they'd have applied for this patent -- same goes for IBM, Google, or pretty much anybody.

    If the courts are going to start scrapping individual patents in the public interest, they should do this for a very broad set of patents which do nothing but patent something which lots of people independently came up with.

    Overhaul the patent system or fix the damned patent office ... but don't cherry pick which patents we figure should be over-turned so other companies can come out with products as well. Because there's a lot of patents which are just as fundamentally blocking to developing products as this multi-touch one.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:10PM (#36529916)

    Don't hate the player, hate the game.

    It's a shame then that they don't practice what they preach and "Think Differently".

  • Re:Hate Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rwven (663186) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:24PM (#36530170)

    They're not defensive. They go after people with their patents. Good luck trying to prove they actually invented this crap in court though.

  • No I think I can (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hellfire (86129) <deviladv @ g m a i l . c om> on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:24PM (#36530188) Homepage

    I personally hate gun makers for lobbing in a broken system to keep guns legal and to keep regulations at a minimum so they can sell as much as they can, but if I get shot in the leg by some person on the street, depending on the situation I think I'm well within my moral rights to hate the person holding the gun, no matter who gave it to them.

  • Have to agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:24PM (#36530190) Journal
    From the "expert" commentary in TFA:

    'Apple's patent essentially gives it ownership of the capacitive multitouch interface the company pioneered with its iPhone'.

    Well, ok then. Isn't that what patents are all about ? This is the system *working* as designed. You can argue that the system itself is broken, but this seems to be exactly how it ought to be, within our current frame of reference. Apple designed a totally new and radical way of interacting with phones, and patented it. Sounds ... reasonable.

    Simon

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:28PM (#36530282) Homepage Journal

    Also, you can hate the player. Stop giving excuse to these jackholes.

    The could play the game differently. They could push for a more rational system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:33PM (#36530358)

    The iPhone was neither obvious nor derivative, and all the devices that have come since have benefited greatly from the research and development time and funds that Apple poured into the concept.

    You obviously missed the TED talk (from before Apple filed for the multitouch patent) where a researcher demonstrated a multi-touch interface. If you had seen that talk, you'd know that the iPhone is both obvious and derivative.

    If anything, Apple et al should be paying that researcher millions of dollars for researching the multitouch concept.

  • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @01:17PM (#36531172)
    True, but this is not a patent for multi touch technology; this is a patent for multi touch gestures. "An N-finger translation gesture is detected on or near the touch screen display. In response, the page content, including the displayed portion of the frame content and the other content of the page, is translated to display a new portion of page content on the touch screen display." In other words, touch and drag. People do this with a mouse, and it's intuitively obvious to they layman how the finger can be used instead.
  • by organgtool (966989) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @01:57PM (#36531900)

    This is one of the few widely-publicized patents in recent memory that I think is probably justified.

    It's hard to remember back to before the iPhone existed, but devices like it weren't even on the radar of any major phone manufacturer until after Steve Jobs' announcement. Sure, the individual technologies had existed, but real progress comes from combining [everythingisaremix.info] those technologies in completely unexpected ways. The iPhone was neither obvious nor derivative, and all the devices that have come since have benefited greatly from the research and development time and funds that Apple poured into the concept. This seems like exactly the sort of situation the patent system is meant for.

    When it comes to multitouch, Apple didn't invent shit! Apple was just one of the first companies to use the multitouch technology developed by a German company called Balda AG. The only thing Apple did was create software that took advantage of the one intended purpose of Balda AG's technology. If this patent is as broad as the summary makes it out to be, then Apple's patent may cover almost any use of Balda AG's multitouch technology. That would mean that all of Balda AG's customers, and possibly customers of any other type of multitouch technology, could be at risk of violating Apple's broad patent.

    Sure, the individual technologies had existed, but real progress comes from combining those technologies in completely unexpected ways.

    If Apple had to create some new technologies in order to integrate this multitouch screen, then those specific technologies would be worthy of patents. However, the only thing Apple did was place the screen in the iPhone and write software that made use of its one intended purpose - multitouch. How can anyone argue that using a technology for its one intended purpose is worthy of a patent?

    The iPhone was neither obvious nor derivative, and all the devices that have come since have benefited greatly from the research and development time and funds that Apple poured into the concept

    Please explain what new technology Apple invented for the iPhone. I frequently hear claims such as yours, but no one can seem to provide specific technical details of why the iPhone was not derivative. Yes, it revolutionized the smartphone market, but it was far from a technological revolution. The best technological components of the phone were the multitouch capability (we already established that technology was not invented by Apple) and its nice glass screen surface (thought to be made possible also by Balda AG's touchscreen technology).

    This seems like exactly the sort of situation the patent system is meant for.

    Not even close! That is unless you can provide specific details of new technology that Apple invented in the iPhone. Otherwise, the iPhone was simply an integration of other company's technologies with a nice software interface. Yes, it was extremely popular, spurred incredible interest in the smartphone market, and is worthy of all of its success, but patents are not granted based on the results of popularity contests.

  • by DriedClexler (814907) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @02:13PM (#36532226)

    But Apple's patent wouldn't be like patenting the wheel -- it would be even worse. It would prevent you from having any remotely-circle-like shape that rolls (say, a decagon).

    That seems to be the pattern with all the worst patents: they claim an *end* rather than a means. Patents are supposed to protect the inventor of a *way* of doing something (such as a *way* of accomplishing multitouch, or of buying a product with one click), and yet they're being used to cover _anything_ that accomplishes some end goal whatsoever!

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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