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Displays Patents Apple

Apple Patents Portrait-Landscape Flipping 354

Posted by timothy
from the video-is-unrelated dept.
theodp writes "On Tuesday, the USPTO granted a patent to Apple for Portrait-landscape rotation heuristics for a portable multifunction device (USPTO), which covers 'displaying information on the touch screen display in a portrait view or a landscape view based on an analysis of data received from the one or more accelerometers.' Perhaps the USPTO Examiners didn't get a chance to review the circa-1991 Computer Chronicles video of the Radius Pivot monitor before deeming Apple's invention patentable. Or check out the winning touchArcade trivia contest entry, which noted the circa-1982 Corvus Concept sported a 15-inch, high-resolution, bit-mapped display screen that also flipped between portrait and landscape views when rotated, like our friend the iPhone. Hey, everything old is new again, right?"
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Apple Patents Portrait-Landscape Flipping

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  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:44PM (#36770598) Journal

    ...it's whether you can get away with patenting it.

  • Re:Not prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lattyware (934246) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:45PM (#36770604) Homepage Journal
    And taking an existing invention and putting it into something smaller is patentable innovation? Come on. Even if that is the way it works (which I'm pretty sure it isn't) - anyone with half a brain can see that's stupid and not the intention of patents.
  • Re:Not prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:47PM (#36770616)

    Forgive me, but that's like saying something like:

    "Yes, you have prior art for an alarm clock, and for a radio, but my patent is for an alarmclock radio!"

    The same reasons why you would want a display that can auto-rotate the contents based on screen orientation on a large fixed display would be equally applicable to a portable one, thus making the invention fail the obviousness requirement.

    Duh-- If you are holding something in your hand, you would consider it useful for it to rotate when you turned it over, so you arent reading it upside down or sideways. Same with rotating a fixed display.

  • Re:Accelerometers? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lattyware (934246) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:49PM (#36770640) Homepage Journal
    So using an accelerometer (a component used to detect orientation) to detect the orientation of a device... This is clearly patentable genius! Come on, patents are there to give incentive to innovate and develop. Using a component for it's intended use is not that. If they developed the Accelerometer, fair play, otherwise, this is rubbish.
  • Re:But ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:50PM (#36770644)

    And to clarify, touch is part of the patent. It doesn't just cover flipping the image, but also flipping the touch co-ordinates.

    Whatever your feelings are on this, it's a valid patent under the current laws because it's an improvement.

  • Re:What's next? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:50PM (#36770646) Homepage Journal

    If those previous models did rely on accelerometers, how does one exactly go about challenging this ruling and show prior art?

    First, have more money than Apple to use for legal fees.

    Second, have more money than Apple to use for legal fees.

  • Re:Not prior art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @09:03PM (#36770766) Homepage

    Because someone has to be first regardless of who. That's hardly an argument against obviousness. Screens have been rotating for decades. The sensor devices have been in cameras and other devices for about as long. Cameras have demonstrated this long before Apple did it. Somewhere out there in the patent jungle, there is a patent on this as applied to cameras. I think this is more than enough... more than enough to prove that the USPTO needs to learn to say "hell no."

  • Re:But ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @09:09PM (#36770812)

    Whatever your feelings are on this, it's a valid patent under the current laws because it's an improvement.

    I suspect you'll find that's what people are complaining about. If this is a valid patent under current laws then current laws are absurd.

  • Re:But ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @09:34PM (#36770982) Journal

    I may be reading the patent wrong, but it sounds like it's not about changing orientation only from accelerometer input, but rather changing it according to the gesture, and then locking that change (i.e. preventing further accelerometer-triggered changes) until the device is positioned such that the locked orientation corresponds to natural orientation.

    If I understand correctly, what it means is this. Suppose I'm sitting and holding an iPad in portrait mode, surfing the web. I then want to lie down on the side and read a book from it. When I put the iPad down on the side, the orientation will change to landscape, which isn't what I want, so I use the touch gesture (holding the corners and rotating?) to rotate it back into portrait. Now it's locked in that orientation, and I can read it for however long I want. But when I stand up and pick up the device, its locked orientation now matches its physical one, and so it auto-unlocks - so if I rotate it after standing up, it will change orientation automatically again (which is what I want).

  • Patent Everything (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @09:38PM (#36771010) Journal
    It's a necessity today for companies to patent everything they possibly can. It is becoming impossible to create anything without having an arsenal of patents to fire back at the inevitable patents suits against your own device or software.

    Look at Google. They've (seemingly sensibly) not accumulated a huge portfolio of patents. The unfortunate consequence of that is that Android is going to get squeezed more and more by patent claims.

    Patent trolls' strongest weapon is the fact that they don't make anything, and so there's nothing against which a counter-claim can be made.

    The long-term bright side of this is that sooner or later Google and others will have no choice but to mount a campaign for sweeping change in the patent system. But until then, small developers will find it harder and harder to produce useful software and devices without spending all their income defending patent claims.

  • Re:Not prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pauljlucas (529435) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @09:58PM (#36771124) Homepage Journal

    Putting together two things together which already exist isn't an invention, and shouldn't be patentable.

    Motors existed. Bicycles existed. By your logic, the first motorcycle shouldn't have been patentable.

    Putting two things together than previously existed most certainly is patentable.

  • Re:Besides... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luckyo (1726890) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @10:01PM (#36771138)

    Unenforceable but widely applied patent is an extremely powerful tool in big corporations' hands. It can be used as a part of a package to hit smaller companies who simply do not have the resources to debunk such attacks, as a deterrent to competition, as an additional bargaining chip in patent negotiations, etc.

    The sheer amount of effort and costs associated debunking the patent against a crack team of lawyers backing it up, and en-masse usage where focusing on these elementary patents takes away from harder aspects of the case are what makes it valuable.

  • Re:But ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14, 2011 @11:13PM (#36771480)

    Well shit, so walking is fine, and chewing gum is fine, but if you do both then you have to pay apple?

    I mean its an obvious 'next step'.

  • Re:Brainflash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @11:13PM (#36771484) Homepage Journal

    Since when has prior art stopped the USPTO from granting a patent?

  • by decora (1710862) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:22AM (#36772136) Journal

    if big business back in the 1980s had come down on Apple like Apple comes down on joe blow hacker nowdays, Apple could never have gotten out of the garage.

  • by decora (1710862) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:27AM (#36772150) Journal

    a linkage to make the engine connect to the wheels, thats a patent.

    a method to make the engine work reliably, thats a patent.

    a device to crank the engine through a battery, thats a patent.

    "stick motor on wheels" should not be a patent.

  • Re:Not prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by peppepz (1311345) on Friday July 15, 2011 @04:03AM (#36772616)

    Putting together two things together which already exist isn't an invention, and shouldn't be patentable.

    Motors existed. Bicycles existed. By your logic, the first motorcycle shouldn't have been patentable.

    Putting two things together than previously existed most certainly is patentable.

    Putting a motor on a bicycle involves a large number of non-trivial technical challenges that I'm sure you don't ignore. The particular ways to overcome those problems can be patented, not the idea of a motorcycle itself. In fact, the first motorcycle hasn't been patented, and that's why we have had motorcycles from different manufacturers since the beginning of the history of motorcycles. And that has been good for motorcycle buyers and for the progress of motorcycling.

  • Re:But ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by poor_boi (548340) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:10AM (#36772830)
    Filing a patent requires a lot of expensive lawyer time; a company like Apple typically will not file one that it cannot defend.

    It's not true. Tech companies spam the USPTO with patent applications, taking the shotgun approach of hoping something, anything will stick. It is not terribly expensive to file patents, especially when compared with the amount of money that Apple can throw around.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday July 15, 2011 @06:46AM (#36773158) Journal

    Innovation is NOT dead thanks to lawyers. It is dead to thanks to people like Steve Jobs who HIRE lawyers. Let me guess, you hold the hitman to account while letting the mafia boss who hired him untouched as well right? Prosecute the soldier but not the general?

    Lawyers are a tool, don't blame the tool, blame the person wielding it.

    Or would that make every iPhone owner here to uncomfortable because they are financing all this?

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