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Patent Suit Targets Every Touch-based Apple Product 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the trollin'-trollin'-trollin' dept.
suraj.sun writes with news that a new patent suit has been filed against Apple over all of the company's touch-based products. From the article: "According to the complaint (PDF), Professor Slavoljub Milekic conceived a system that used a touchscreen that allowed children to move virtual objects around the screen, which he used to build interactive displays for the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY, in 1997, and filed for a patent on his design that same year. The patent in the suit, U.S. Patent #6,920,619 named 'User interface for removing an object from a display,' was issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in 2005. According to the lawsuit, Milekic formed FlatWorld Interactives in 2007 to 'promote and commercialize' his invention. Curiously, FlatWorld was incorporated on January 2007, just weeks after Apple announced the original iPhone at Macworld Expo. In July 2007, just after Apple shipped the original iPhone, FlatWorld filed a reissue request for the patent, which appears to have been done in order to modify some of the patent's dependent claims."
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Patent Suit Targets Every Touch-based Apple Product

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  • Prior art: 1990 (Score:5, Informative)

    by jabberw0k (62554) on Monday April 23, 2012 @05:07PM (#39775883) Homepage Journal
    I was a programmer for the "Earth Over Time" interactive videodisc in 1990. Produced by Digital Techniques Inc., of Burlington Massachusetts for the Interactive Video Science Consortium, the system was designed primarily for school-age children, and installed in dozens of museums worldwide including the National Geographic in Washington DC. Earth Over Time featured a touchscreen display of Continents which the user could "click and drag" to re-assemble Pangaea, the prehistoric proto-continent. This multimedia application (called an "interactive videodisc" in the days before "multimedia" was a common word) won several awards including an ITVA Golden Reel and the Best Overall Achievement Nebraska Interactive Videodisc award in 1990. I also have implementation notes from the project in my files.
  • by halfEvilTech (1171369) on Monday April 23, 2012 @05:26PM (#39776141)

    Except for those that read TFA - The patent is actually narrowly defined.

    "However, the patent quite narrowly claims a system used to "throw" objects off a screen when the "velocity of the touch exceeds a predetermined threshold," It also describes some specific gestures to move objects on the screen, none of which appear similar to gestures used in either iOS or Mac OS X.

    It's not clear from a cursory reading of the patent, nor from FlatWorld's infringement claims, exactly how Apple's products infringe. However, we discovered that some of Apple's own patents relating to the iPhone cite Milekic's original patent—it seems likely that the company was aware of the patent and did not believe its particular implementation of a touch-based interface infringed on its narrow claims"

  • Prior Art? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday April 23, 2012 @05:30PM (#39776181) Homepage Journal

    Apple Newton, 1993 [wikipedia.org].

    Doesn't it count as prior art? Not to mention all the other touch devices that had been available before the Newton.

  • by AeroMed45N (919761) on Monday April 23, 2012 @05:35PM (#39776239)

    It is referred to as laches - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity) [wikipedia.org] - when a party waits well beyond the point when they knew they were being infringed, in order to allow the defendant to get in much deeper before asserting your claim. If this claim is valid (and it sounds like that is a big if) it would seem that the timing of their changes means it is highly likely they were thinking about infringement from that initial point. To allow Apple to create several generations of iPhones and then the iPad before asserting the claim sounds like a laches defense might be appropriate. (Though if I read it right, the laches defense comes after the infringement suit has been won, and in the process of arguing damages).

    That said, I am not a lawyer, I don't play one on TV, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I just have spent way too many hours with patent attorneys in my career.

  • Re:Seems to me... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Monday April 23, 2012 @06:23PM (#39776713) Homepage

    Oh, really? I don't recall any matching the patent's claims:

    When... the system detects that the velocity with which the image is being dragged exceeds a threshold velocity, the system responds by removing the image from the display without leaving any representative thereof in the display.

    In other words, swiping your finger across the display to go to the next page of apps. Note that it is not covering "any touch-sensitive device", or "any device with a dragging mechanism", or any such nonsense. The patent's pretty specific.

    The claims are the important part of the patent, not the Slashdot summary.

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Monday April 23, 2012 @08:59PM (#39778037) Journal

    It's the claims that do

    And claim 1 states:

    when the image is being dragged in response to the location inputs and the system detects that the velocity with which the image is being dragged exceeds a threshold velocity, the system responds by removing the image from the display without leaving any representative thereof in the display

    2-6 are all variations of 1. Claim 7 states:

    when the point being touched is being continually moved and the system detects that the velocity at which the point is moving exceeds a predetermined threshold velocity, the image being continually moved is removed from the screen without leaving any representative thereof on the screen.

    8-14 are all variations of 7. 15 states

    the computer responding to a continuing touch that moves the image across the touch screen such that when the computer detects that the velocity of the touch exceeds a predetermined threshold

    16 and 17 are variations on 15.

    If you do not use the velocity of the touch to decide whether something is removed from the screen or not, you do not infringe on the patent as stated. It remains to be seen whether this guy can sucker some jury with a Doctrine of Equivalents story.

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