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Cellphones Patents Apple

HTC Defeats Apple In Slide-To-Unlock Patent Dispute 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the horizontal-motion-is-innovative dept.
another random user sends this quote from the BBC: "HTC is claiming victory in a patent dispute with Apple after a ruling by the High Court in London. The judge ruled that HTC had not infringed four technologies that Apple had claimed as its own. He said Apple's slide-to-unlock feature was an 'obvious' development in the light of a similar function on an earlier Swedish handset. Lawyers fighting other lawsuits against Apple are likely to pay close attention to the decision regarding its slide-to-unlock patent."
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HTC Defeats Apple In Slide-To-Unlock Patent Dispute

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  • Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hazelfield (1557317) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:00PM (#40543229)
    I think it was pretty obvious that it was obvious. "Slide-to-unlock"? Aargh! The stupidity of the patent system is staggering.
    • Re:Obvious (Score:4, Interesting)

      by danomac (1032160) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:07PM (#40543295)

      It may be obvious to us techy-types, but it's nice to see that it's not only us that sees it that way. I wonder if it'll affect the other litigation against the Galaxy Nexus? Pretty sure that same patent is used in that case.

      • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:19PM (#40543373)

        From what I understand, the search-from-multiple-sources is the Galaxy Nexus' reason for alleged infringement.

        Yes, the Firefox awesome bar which searches your local history and online results is effectively being called into question.

        • Copernic would pretty well qualify then as the prior art. I was using their unified search program in 1999 at least. Pretty much any search system which used multiple database tables and separate functions for each qualifies which would take you back to probably to what, probably the 70's.

        • From what I understand, the search-from-multiple-sources is the Galaxy Nexus' reason for alleged infringement.

          Yes, the Firefox awesome bar which searches your local history and online results is effectively being called into question.

          Guess they never heard of dogpile... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogpile [wikipedia.org]

        • by john29 (2676023)
          yes you are right.
        • by Xest (935314)

          Can anyone clarify how Apple's patent on that is even valid?

          Searching multiple sources has been around for years, in so many ways, on so much hardware, in so many programs.

          Is it because of some obscure legal definition of a "source"? Windows explorer has quite happily search multiple media sources for me for years. Google search has quite happily returned results from a number of sources. Searching multiple sources from one interface has been a cornerstone of search for decades now.

          Why was Apple's patent on

          • by boorack (1345877)

            Think of it as "money is speech" issue. With their infinite pockets they're able to ram through UPSTO any kind of crap they want. Plus now that they're too big to ensure future growth conventional way, they are moving to rent-seeking - with monopoly rent being the most attractive options for them. Getting rid of any competition and then squeezing last drops od market (hopefully for them - monopolized) is the only way forward for them and they'll try to accomplish this with any possible method/tool at their

      • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bert64 (520050) <bert@s[ ]hdot.fi ... m ['las' in gap]> on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:23PM (#40543421) Homepage

        Slide to unlock is pretty obvious to anyone who has ever used a bolt...

        This is what one looks like for anyone unfamiliar with the term:

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Bolt_lock.jpg [wikimedia.org]

        • Re:Obvious (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:42PM (#40543553)
        • Slide to unlock is pretty obvious to anyone who has ever used a bolt...

          This is what one looks like for anyone unfamiliar with the term:

          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Bolt_lock.jpg [wikimedia.org]

          And if Apple's patent claimed "sliding an implement from one position to another to unlock a portal" then you'd be right, but it doesn't. In other words, if a physical bolt would infringe Apple's patent, and the physical bolt came first (which it did), then the bolt would anticipate the patent and render it invalid.

          But it doesn't... here's the first claim:

          1. A method of unlocking a hand-held electronic device, the device including a touch-sensitive display, the method comprising:
          detecting a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image;
          continuously moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the contact while continuous contact with the touch screen is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device; and
          unlocking the hand-held electronic device if the moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display results in movement of the unlock image from the first predefined location to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.

          A bolt lock wouldn't infringe that claim, and therefore, a bolt lock also doesn't anticipate that claim.

          • Re:Obvious (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Fjandr (66656) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @10:52PM (#40547651) Homepage Journal

            Actually, the patent text says almost exactly what you claim it doesn't, as the addition of the word "portal" is an attempt at deflection which adds nothing functional to the rebuttal. Slide locks have implementations which secure numerous things, of which portals are but a single example.

            You slide the graphical representation of something along a software-defined and graphically-displayed route and the device unlocks once the graphical object contacts the defined unlock region.

            The bolt was an example of a physical item for which the slide-unlock, as it is currently implemented, is an exact digital representation.

            If you wish to be pedantic, a typical bolt would not infringe the claim (leaving aside the touchscreen in place of a physical object aspect), but a spring-loaded bolt would. One would require continuous contact with the bolt in releasing the lock, or it would reset.

            If the touchscreen is what differentiates the claim, then all digital analogues to physical manipulation are open to being patented. If that's the case, our views on what constitute legitimate patents are hopelessly at odds, so further discussion would be pointless.

        • They could replace the slide-to-unlock graphic with a piece of paper on one side and a garbage can on the other. Drag-and-drop to unlock would be exactly the same motion. All that's different is the graphic.
      • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Interesting)

        by White Flame (1074973) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:32PM (#40543481)

        Have you ever used a briefcase? Any ancient clamshell case with slide-to-unlock clips (sewing kits, tool cases, etc)? This concept is ancient.

        The fact that putting it on a screen is patentable is retarded, and the fact that it was only overturned because somebody else had it on a screen before and not the obviousness of the process itself is even more retarded.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The fact that putting it on a screen is patentable is retarded, and the fact that it was only overturned because somebody else had it on a screen before and not the obviousness of the process itself is even more retarded.

          Generally speaking, judges don't rule on something if they don't have to, especially if it is fuzzy.

          In the USA, patents need 3 things to be valid:

          - be useful
          - be new
          - be non-obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art

          The third step is often contentious, and judges don't like being

          • Regardless of the judges, it's the fault of the patent office for being way too grant-happy, and of the idiot politicians who pressure the USPTO to grant more patents because it looks good in national e-peen metrics.

          • A worthy post right up until, "Of course, some judges are activist judges, but that is a different story."

            Let me rewrite that for you, "Of course, some judges make decisions with which I disagree."

            The only difference between an "activist" judge and a non-"activist" judge seems to be a commentator's agreement or disagreement with the judges ruling.

        • by jrumney (197329)
          In 1999, I was using a mobile phone with a switch on the side that locked the keypad. So even in connection with phones, slide to lock has prior art, which probably isn't patented because the "inventor" thought it was obvious.
      • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

        by macemoneta (154740) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @02:20PM (#40543763) Homepage

        It may be obvious to us techy-types, but it's nice to see that it's not only us that sees it that way. I wonder if it'll affect the other litigation against the Galaxy Nexus? Pretty sure that same patent is used in that case.

        It doesn't take a techy to see it's obvious. They've had slide to unlock mechanical bolts on doors and cabinets for centuries. Animating a physical device doesn't make it newly patentable.

    • by digitig (1056110)
      "Slide to unlock" has been around since the first person fitted a bolt to a door or gate. I suspect the patent is a little more detailed.
      • by Fjandr (66656)

        All it adds is that the unlock path may be one of multiple options. So, instead of a straight line, like a door bolt, it might be L-shaped like a rifle bolt or whatnot.

    • by john29 (2676023)
      very good for htc.
    • by Eraesr (1629799)
      It's not about whether or not it's obvious or something that sprang forth from a genius epiphany. Apple (and other companies) try to get patents on everything not to make sure their innovation can be used as sellingpoint that is unique to their products, it is to fight legal battles like these. They're just taking potshots at everything in hopes they'll just hit one of them.

      What I'm trying to say is that in the tech world, there's so much patent trolling going on, it's unreal. Anyone's astonishment at the
  • Shysters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:00PM (#40543233)

    How can anyone with a straight face say that patents promote the progress of the useful arts and sciences? It seems to me that, in all countries, patents serve more to promote the pocketbooks of lawyers.

    • Re:Shysters (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tonywong (96839) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:08PM (#40543307) Homepage
      Well patents could be useful if the patent filers hadn't figured out how to game the system. They've basically used verbiage and obfuscation to paper up the claims and make it harder for the examiners to figure out what's going on. Part of this is to broaden the scope of the patent so there are fewer ways to work around them, but it also broadens the applicability to industries and products the filers never thought about.

      However this means that the patent officers are always overworked and underpaid, and the broad scope of knowledge they must possess is ever expanding. I guess you'd have to ask a patent officer how they could revise and reform the system but it is truly becoming a system of little worth to the public at this point.
      • Re:Shysters (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:12PM (#40543333)

        They've basically used verbiage and obfuscation to paper up the claims and make it harder for the examiners to figure out what's going on.

        In a sensible world, if the patent examiners didn't understand a patent, it wouldn't be granted.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          In a sensible world, if the patent examiners didn't understand a patent, it wouldn't be granted.

          But who's going to admit that?

      • They've basically used verbiage and obfuscation to paper up the claims and make it harder for the examiners to figure out what's going on.

        Pretty much the same thing the banking industry has done with the Federal Trade Commission as of late...

      • Which is why we need to simply abolish patents in the first place.

        There's no redeeming quality with patents anymore. If you have a good idea, put it in a product. Any modern product is much more than just the general concept. If we needed patents to have success, why are there generics of just about everything AND the "brand name". If patents were needed, everyone would buy Kangaroo Krunch (a hypothetical generic to Captain Crunch) that sells for 25% less than Captain Crunch rather than Captain Crunch s
        • There's no redeeming quality with patents anymore. If you have a good idea, put it in a product.

          Okay, let's say I have a great idea, I make a product, and I put it on the market without a patent. It starts selling, and Big Company X takes notice. They completely rip off my product, sell it for 50% cheaper, and launch a world-wide marketing campaign to promote it. What legal recourse do I have without patents?

          Or let's even back up a bit. Let's say I have my great idea and I want to get capital just to start producing it. I go to a VC and I pitch my idea. The first thing he asks me when I'm done my p

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Lawyers with straight faces could say that, even that is important for mankind, or at least, the sector of mankind that are lawyers [citation needed]
  • by another random user (2645241) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:03PM (#40543263) Homepage

    This judgement covers one of the patents that has also been used by Apple in blocking the Galaxy Nexus from sale in the US - http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18705285 [bbc.com]

    As this mentions the 'slide-to-unlock' function as obvious based on existing functions in earlier handests - could this be used in evidence as part of the arguments around the Nexus ban?

    • As this mentions the 'slide-to-unlock' function as obvious based on existing functions in earlier handests - could this be used in evidence as part of the arguments around the Nexus ban?

      No, its not evidence. It might be precedent (persuasive only, because it is from a foreign jurisdiction, and of limited persuasive value because, in addition to the fact its a foreign jurisdiction, its applying a different patent law than applies in the US.)

      More importantly, while the invalidity argument here is one that is,

  • by zero.kalvin (1231372) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:06PM (#40543281)
    What's with this new sudden wave of common sense ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pro151 (2021702)
      Don' worry, it won't last long.
    • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:17PM (#40543367) Homepage Journal

      You must feel like you're caught in a landslide, with no escape from reality.

    • Neither Apple nor HTC are British companies. The only British-designed component they share is the ARM processor. We don't have any economic fallout if Apple loses (or HTC, for that matter).
    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:42PM (#40543551) Homepage

      Well, what you're seeing now is the eventual outcome of the vast majority of legal endeavors. That silly "common sense" almost always prevails, because, shockingly enough, judges are humans with the capacity to understand the details of a case and see past the misdirection the media throws at the general public. Of course, that misdirection is always highest at the start of a lawsuit, because an audacious corporation making outrageous claims is a good sensationalist story that people will pay attention to, and that brings prestige and profit.

      Within the past few years, there have been several lawsuits brought up that the media could make a circus out of, and now they're all starting to conclude. The judgments will be made according to a mix of law and interpretation that the judge thinks is fair. Since it's ludicrously unlikely for a judge to actually agree with the absurd assertions the media has put forth, everything will seem like a sudden outburst of common sense when it's really just business as usual for the American legal system.

      Pro151 is right (though at the moment modded at -1): it won't last long. I'd expect that by the end of the week, there will be some new legal shenanigans reported and sensationalized, so the anti-corporate zealots can have their Two Minutes Hate against those evil abusive companies, and the pro-corporate zealots can shout about how this is all the fault of government interfering in business, and the nonconformists can tout their crazy plans for how to fix everything by abolishing society and rebuilding it effectively the same but with all the problems magically gone. Everybody feels good about their particular opinion, and the media gets to feel good about starting a rousing discussion. It's a win-win, right?

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:09PM (#40543315) Homepage

    Is someone keeping track of all the pre-iPhone tech/software that Apple copied in order to create the iPhone out of thin air?

    It would be useful to paste it as a generic response to Apple fanboys, like that guy who used to paste the big-ol' response to any suggested spam solution ("Your spam solution will not work because...").

    I never knew that Apple had copied swipe-to-unlock from the Swedish Neonode N1 phone.

    • by White Flame (1074973) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:33PM (#40543491)

      Doesn't matter. They'll just claim the innovation was the gestalt of putting it all together, not the individual parts.

      • by Terrasque (796014) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @04:19PM (#40544725) Homepage Journal

        They'll just claim the innovation was the gestalt of putting it all together, not the individual parts.

        This have already happened in many discussions I've been in. After methodically refuting every "innovation" they then get to that part. At which point I try to tell them that the market was already moving in that direction (LG Prada, Samsung F700 for example), and that the concept of touch phones is ages old (IBM Simon).

        Being the first out in a race does not mean you invented running :p

        But at that point, it's really a lost cause, since they then just vaguely argue that the iPhone is somehow magically different than all those, but seemingly unable to tell why. If I feel particularly bored or spiteful, I start arguing that technically, the iPhone shouldn't even be counted as a smartphone until the App Store was opened mid-2008. For some reason, this really push some of those people over the edge.

      • by DCFusor (1763438)
        Didn't work for Oracle, when they tried to claim the same about Google's use of Jave "structure and org", did it. Of course, suing a search engine in a world where prior art matters is kind of stupid and brash, just like Ellison.
    • by Truedat (2545458)
      Not just apple fan boys but that would be useful against android fanboys too. And any other fanboys. Just imagine it, we could have whole flame wars fought entirely with copy and pasted comments.
      • In my experience, Apple fanboys are the ones claiming that their company produces unique items that no other company in the world could possibly do, and thus should get patents on them. Android fanboys have other hobby horses, like "openness uber alles". I can't recall ever having seen Android fanboys defending Google's patents (not to mention that, prior to Motorola, Google pretty much had none, at least in the mobile area).

        • by Truedat (2545458)
          Yes, I meant ammunition of any variety. The biggest raw nerve that I've observed when it comes to android (well maybe google) fanboys seems to be about privacy violations though.
  • I am not a programmer or software designer. Can someone explain to me why something as mundane as this can be patented?
    • Re:patent? how? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:40PM (#40543539)

      I am not a programmer or software designer. Can someone explain to me why something as mundane as this can be patented?

      Say "Troll" then say "Apple".

    • Here is how it happens. Governments participate in your regular everyday scams just like any other business. It is more profitable for a Patent Office to issue Patents easily encouraging companies to file for multiple patents hopping they stick like spaghetti on the wall so that they troll cash out when a competitor employ's "their idea" in a way that takes their customers away from them or to just to collect a nice paycheck. Meanwhile the Patent Office rakes it in on the fees.

      The Patent office does not

  • Rant (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:15PM (#40543355) Homepage Journal

    This is the perfect opportunity for me to rant on HTC's slide to unlock implementation. Their phones use a custom (non-stock android) lock screen that must have been designed be a total idiot. Instead of sliding to the side, you slide straight up and down. Further, the slider bar is the width of the entire screen, so it is huge. Now, this is stupid beyond belief because millions of people carry their phone in their pocket, so of course as the phone is pulled in and out of the pocket.... it unlocks.

    Worse, when a call is coming in, sliding up ignores the call, sliding down answers the call. I have answered or ignored literally DOZENS of phone calls by accident because of this garbage. I actually have to put my phone in my pocket either upside down or right side up in anticipation of which way the slider will go if I take my phone out to answer a call.

    Their locking implementation really has to go down in the annals of GUI design as one of the worst designs ever.

    • Here is your chance to file a "Circle to Unlock" patent before 1 of a billion people with a brain beat you or a corporation to it!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So change it?

      That's the beauty of Android. If there's something you don't like, something some other phone does, or something you want to do more efficiently, there's usually a replacement application for it.

      i.e. You want Face Unlock on a 2.1/2.2 device? Look up Visidon App Lock (which incidentally functions as a lock screen replacement, if I recall)

      • by Inda (580031)
        WidgetLocker is what he needs.

        Not only can you add custom sliders to the lock screen, you can also add widgets. Calendar and battery widgets on the lock screen are nice.
    • by Frankie70 (803801)

      This is the real reason Apple patented it - to save customers of other implementations from bad implementations. Too bad the stupid judge didn't realize it.

      • Huh? The Judge was stupid for other reasons, but patenting something to save people from something else seems to be a little illogical. Perhaps you should clarify what you mean.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      The unlock screen was probably designed that way to try and avoid the slide to unlock patent...

    • Re:Rant (Score:4, Informative)

      by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:47PM (#40543579)

      Most probably they were trying to cover themselves in case Apple's stupid patent was held valid. Now they can do it in the way that is best for the customer and Apple can fuck themselves. At least when this decision is mirrored in the US court system, which seems rather likely.

    • by khipu (2511498)

      Now, this is stupid beyond belief because millions of people carry their phone in their pocket, so of course as the phone is pulled in and out of the pocket.... it unlocks.

      Yes, a lot of those "stupid decisions" are an attempt to avoid lawsuits by Apple over Apple's phony copyright, design patents, software patents, or just general look-and-feel. So, go thank Apple.

      Fortunately, smaller app developers don't give a sh*t about Apple, so whatever aspect of the iPhone you like, you can actually get for Android w

    • by markdavis (642305)

      You do realize that the slide-unlock design you are complaining about was replaced over two years ago with a totally different lock screen?

      If you want a LEGIT complaint about the non-historic HTC lock screen, it would be that it has absolutely no security. And if you try to ADD security to it (like the pattern unlock), you have to FIRST unlock the screen with the "pretty" HTC interface, and THEN UNLOCK IT YET AGAIN with the security screen.

    • Instead of sliding to the side, you slide straight up and down. Further, the slider bar is the width of the entire screen, so it is huge. Now, this is stupid beyond belief...

      And yet, at 8am in the morning, I am still incapable of either :-

      a) sliding it in the right direction
      b) hitting it at all!

      Can someone please invent a slide-to-unlock that is both bigger (dinner-plate size should do) and requires zero hand eye coordination.
    • See?! Apple was right in trying to stop this travesty from getting into the public's hands!

      I knew Apple were the good guys... *dreamily looking at my picture of Steve Jobs*

      (The above is intended as humor...)

  • Popcorn (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:55PM (#40543639) Homepage Journal

    I think at this point I've mentally checked out of the patent wars. 'Mutually assured destruction' was supposed to be a deterrent, not a gameplan. Time to make some popcorn, sit back, and watch the carnage.

    • by Truedat (2545458)
      Except it didn't turn out that way. Before apple decided to not to play ball the big players operated an old boys club of shared patents with a license fee stake high enough to keep newer upstarts out. I would much rather they all went to war with each other than cooperate in a cosy cartel, but I'm open to changing my mind if I hear any decent arguments as to why thats less evil.
  • http://team-nocturnal.tumblr.com/post/26388747742/proof-apple-stole-from-google-boycottapple

    #BoycottApple is still trending strong on Google+, and elsewhere.

  • Worth a quick look, just for the graphics.

    Google Fanboys Furious Over Apple Getting The Nexus Phone Banned, Flock To Google+ And Start A #Boycottapple

    July 2, 2012

    Maybe this will put to bed the idea that Google+ is a ghost town.

    After Apple won an injunction against the Nexus phone for violation of a search patent, Android fans took to

    Google+ to express their outrage. The topic #boycottapple was trending this weekend. The #boycottapple posts are still flowing in.

    The gist of the complaints are that Android has

  • Pretty much any on-screen display of an interface meant to mimic a physical device should go straight into the "not patentable, prior art" pile at every patent office. There is nothing original, novel, or non-obvious regarding user interfaces which are similar in operation to physical devices.

    Patent offices are funded by the application fees and tax moneys in most jurisdictions. I suggest they add an additional revenue stream for patent spamming. Start really examining the patent applications and if a co

  • My ~2003 UIQ2 Motorola A1000 has a physical "slide to unlock" button (slide up to lock, down and then toggle down to unlock) and had haptics plus handwriting recognition that worked far better than Newton's ever did. Moving from that to a screen slider isn't that big a leap. I'm glad the court ruled the way it did.

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