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Apple Wins Mobile Patent On Displaying Lists, Documents

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:02AM (#40681803)

    It looks like Apple has controlling shares in the USPO

    • by Tancred (3904) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:06AM (#40681831)

      We (U.S. citizens) do, and we should be telling our congresscritters that this has to stop.

      • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @04:47AM (#40683339) Homepage

        Many of us do... the problem is the other "legal personhoods" speak louder and more frequently and with more money.

      • by MitchDev (2526834)
        A-fucking-men. They do realize that they are making the anti-patent crowd's argument for them with this kind of stupid shit. right?
      • by Greyfox (87712)
        I think Apple has a patent on telling your congresscritters this has to stop, on a mobile device. This is the same pattern we saw with all the "On the internet" patents a few years ago. I suspect Google Glasses are just an end-run around a lot of these mobile device patents, and wouldn't be surprised if Google is just quietly shoveling all these "On mobile device" patents back into the office updated with "On Google Glasses."
  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:03AM (#40681809)
    I don't quite see the business model of filing an idiotically general patent, waiting around, suing someone for using it, spending millions defending it in court, and getting the patent thrown out and paying the competitor's legal fees.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:05AM (#40681817)

      I wonder... can I get a patent on filing stupid patents?

      I mean just think, that will pre-empt thousands and thousands of these things.

      it'll be a god damn money pit.

      • If you can, let me patent the processes of suing for patent violations on patents about stupid patents first.

      • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

        can I get a patent on filing stupid patents?

        No, you can't

        Simply because there has already been a lot of precedences

        But you can try your luck on getting a patent on filing not-that-bright patents, since nobody has done that yet
         

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:05AM (#40681819)

      I don't quite see the business model of filing an idiotically general patent, waiting around, suing someone for using it, spending millions defending it in court, and getting the patent thrown out and paying the competitor's legal fees.

      By suing someone you slow down their ability to bring competing products to the market.

    • by Tancred (3904)

      But toss it on the pile of other bogus patents and it makes a good bargaining chip (threat).

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Informative)

      by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:10AM (#40681857)

      It's not general, the summary is just dumb. As far as I can tell, it's a patent on a scrollbar that disappears when you're not dragging the view. If that's right, it's certainly a crummy patent, but not a general one.

      • Good! Because for a moment I was thinking Apple went haywire and patented the <li> tag!

      • by oobayly (1056050)

        Fine so it's not general, but guess what, my Galaxy Nexus on both ICS and MJB have done exactly this. No scrollbar is visible in the browser or lists (I just checked) until I touch the screen. When I touch the screen a UI hint appears on the right (or bottom), its size is inversely proportional to the length of the page and its location informs you of where you are. Prior art?

        I'm pretty sure Unity does something like this, but that's using a scroll wheel not a touchscreen so obviously its a completely diffe

      • by chrismcb (983081)
        According to the patent "is not a scroll bar"
        HOW is this NOVEL in any way, shape, or form? In 2007?
        • by ThePeices (635180)

          According to the patent "is not a scroll bar"

          HOW is this NOVEL in any way, shape, or form? In 2007?

          It doesnt have to be novel. It just has to be patentable.

      • by cdp0 (1979036)

        Like the one on Nokia N9 / MeeGo [youtube.com] ?

    • But Apple's law firm does, and you nicely described all of the revenue generating functions.

      Of course there's a difference between a business model predicated on bringing something of value to society and the business model of a rent seeking parasite that only owes its existence to an unaddressed inefficiency.

      • by tuppe666 (904118)

        But Apple's law firm does, and you nicely described all of the revenue generating functions.

        Of course there's a difference between a business model predicated on bringing something of value to society and the business model of a rent seeking parasite that only owes its existence to an unaddressed inefficiency.

        I am happy for you to call lawyers, accountants, advertisers etc Devils sperm, but they are there to advise management who take the decisions. I'm not sure why we quite see the blame shifted onto the lawyers is beyond me.

        • by don.g (6394)

          Does it make you any less of a dick because someone else paid you to be one?

        • Legal status quos that do nothing for society and only generate busy work for lawyers is a simple matter of parasitism.

          Of course there is valid and important work lawyers do for society.

          Now be intellectually honest and admit there's a whole bunch of other lawyerly work which is unjustified, wasteful and useless.

          I think the word they like is "frivolous".

        • by no-body (127863)

          ... I'm not sure why we quite see the blame shifted onto the lawyers is beyond me.

          Because they sold their soul for $$'s and make all the crap possible.

        • why we quite see the blame shifted onto the lawyers is beyond me.

          It's not so hard to understand

          A hired hit-man that actually performs the murder is generally seen as more despicable as the person who hired him. And even if you might disagree you surely must see why that hit-man would take so much heat from the public.

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      They also go after an injunction on the competitor selling infringing hardware. If they manage to keep the case running long enough, their competitor's legal bills will be a fraction of what they've lost in sales. Apple profits.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:24AM (#40681945)

      How about the business model of filing an idiotically general patent, suing a new entrant to your market before they have millions of dollars to defend themselves in court, sucking their coffers dry and driving them out of the market, thus ensuring your market position?

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "How about the business model of filing an idiotically general patent, suing a new entrant to your market before they have millions of dollars to defend themselves in court, sucking their coffers dry and driving them out of the market, thus ensuring your market position?"

        Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

        • by Patch86 (1465427)

          I hope you like paper, because I feel a patent for "viewing newsletters on a mobile device" coming on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How about clicking the link and reading the description. It's actually pretty specific about it.

        I mean, fuck Apple, but don't just jump on that bandwagon.

        "Abstract
        In a computer-implemented method, a portion of an electronic document is displayed on the touch screen display. The displayed portion of the electronic document has a vertical position in the electronic document. An object is detected on or near the displayed portion of the electronic document. In response to detecting the object on or near the di

        • Wait, wait, get this - it's a a scrollbar, but it's on a touchscreen. What innovation! Oh, the humanity! Nobody has ever used such an interface before across so many different devices and interfaces it could possibly be called "general"!

          • Actually you're wrong. In the first claim of the patent they explicitly state the following: "and the vertical bar is not a scroll bar;"

            Essentially if you have a scroll bar in your implementation, you can't be sued with this patent as it's explicitly stated that it's not a scroll bar.

            Also, it was filed in March of this year. It would be pretty damned easy to show prior art or that in fact your own implementation of this existed prior to Apple's filing of their application.
            • Actually you're wrong. In the first claim of the patent they explicitly state the following: "and the vertical bar is not a scroll bar;"

              They say that. But they don't offer any definitions of a "scroll bar", and they go on to describe exactly the function of a scroll bar.

              Essentially if you have a scroll bar in your implementation, you can't be sued with this patent as it's explicitly stated that it's not a scroll bar.

              You can be sued for anything. They may not be successful in their suite, however...

              Also, it was filed in March of this year. It would be pretty damned easy to show prior art or that in fact your own implementation of this existed prior to Apple's filing of their application.

              ...assuming you can afford the requisite legal costs to actually make it to court and argue that claim, along with the slew of other patent violations you'd undoubtedly be served with at the same time.

              • by alvinrod (889928)
                If you read the description section, they provide more details and it becomes quite evident what is meant by the term "scroll bar". Here's a bit from the application: "In some portable devices, scroll bars are used to indicate the position in the document or list of the displayed portion. But scroll bars are fixed user interface features that take up valuable display screen area on an already small display screen." Given that, I doubt even the most gifted legal expert could argue that traditional scroll ba
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by LordLucless (582312)

                  "In some portable devices, scroll bars are used to indicate the position in the document or list of the displayed portion. But scroll bars are fixed user interface features that take up valuable display screen area on an already small display screen."

                  It's a scrollbar that disappears when you aren't using it. They're just trying to divorce it from the usual scrollbar to make it seem more novel.

                  If someone is hit with a frivolous lawsuit and have a loose million, they have legal recourse available and could conceivably countersue Apple for court fees.

                  FTFY

                  If you don't think that this patent is valid, find some prior art. Otherwise if no one else has up to this point been using this idea, perhaps its more novel than most would consider now that it has been patented.

                  Patents need more than to be novel. They need to be non-obvious to one skilled in the art. Just because you're the first to do something, doesn't mean you get a government-enforced monopoly on it. It's supposed to be something that significantly contributes to the body of human knowledge, something significant enough to be worth placing restrictions on the rest

                • If you don't think that this patent is valid, find some prior art.

                  The stock browser on my Android phone (2.1, which is Eclair, right?) has scroll 'indicators' which appear (right and/or bottom of the screen) when I move the view, showing where and what fraction of the overall canvas my viewport displays. After I've stopped moving the viewport, they disappear. (Of course, in true /. tradition, I've not RTFA)

      • by a_hanso (1891616)
        Also, how about the patent office doing its job and determining whether something is patent-worthy or not, rather than passing the responsibility to the courts?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MacGyver2210 (1053110)

        And I'm sorry, they're suing *Microsoft* for anti-competitive business practices? How is this not the definition of an antitrust situation?

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      You're missing the model, then.

      The actual model is:

      * file idiotically general patent based on common sense applications in existence today, but for $todays_hot_technology
      * sit silently and wait for competitors to spend billions of manhours developing new product in concurrency with your product feature improvements
      * pay a couple million (or billion, if you're Apple) to an unaccountable board which decides import restrictions to prevent your biggest threats from being imported for months if not permanently
      *

    • by vux984 (928602)

      I don't quite see the business model of filing an idiotically general patent, waiting around, suing someone for using it, spending millions defending it in court, and getting the patent thrown out and paying the competitor's legal fees.

      That assumes the competitor can afford the fight. Given apple's current bank balance...

    • by Zaelath (2588189)

      The business model is:
      1. File idiotic patent with lots of prior art
      2. Block your competitor from selling their equipment for 6+ months while the patent is re-examined in court
      3. Pay competitor some fraction of the profit earned in stage 2.

      It's a clear winner.

      I still say step 2 should only work until you've reached step 3 once, i.e. if you've blocked a competitor based on a patent that gets thrown out you can no longer "win" injunctions, you can only sue for losses after the fact.

    • by jeti (105266)

      The lawsuit costs the competitor money. For smaller companies, the costs can be ruinous. Apple has a hundred billion dollars to burn to prevent competition.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not a very general patent. The broadest claim is:

      1. A method, comprising: at a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display: displaying a portion of an electronic document on the touch screen display, wherein the displayed portion of the electronic document has a vertical position in the electronic document; displaying a vertical bar on top of the displayed portion of the electronic document, the vertical bar displayed proximate to a vertical edge of the displayed portion of the electronic

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      The business model makes a lot more sense if you imagine them suing only small competitors that don't have the financial resources to battle a huge army of lawyers, even if a win is 99% certain.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      I don't quite see the business model of filing an idiotically general patent, waiting around, suing someone for using it, spending millions defending it in court, and getting the patent thrown out and paying the competitor's legal fees.

      The business model is "buy a few years where there is no competition". A few million in lawyers fees is nothing compared to the profits the temporary monopoly will give them.

  • by Tr3vin (1220548) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:11AM (#40681869)
    The fact that we use the term "win" so often when talking about software patents shows how we really need to change how they are handled at the very least. If we could get it to the point were companies earned patents then it wouldn't be so bad.
  • There goes my career as a web and mobile app developer.
  • by grouchomarxist (127479) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:20AM (#40681927)

    I couldn't see the images in the link above, but this site has them:
    http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2012/07/apple-wins-another-major-iphone-ios-interface-patent.html [patentlyapple.com]

  • New Method (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:33AM (#40681987) Journal

    ________ with a touch interface! Patent awarded!

    • Well exactly. Wading through the patent document, it mentioned the following points:

      (1) Defining scrollbar behaviour.
      (2) Showing and hiding a UI element based on user input.
      (3) Defining a touchscreen apparatus to use your finger as an input device.

      So (1) is a scrollbar (2) is autohide. Combining them produces a scrollbar that dynamically shows or hides based on user input. Nothing revolutionary given any UI toolkit could trap keyboard or mouse wheel events and show the scrollbar only while active. That Appl

      • Although I generally agree the patent is silly, Apple did and in fact still does sell two button mice with scroll wheels (that are spheres instead of simply wheels).

        It's been a long time since Apple sold a single button mouse, and even then it was not really a single button mouse as the system always was defined to access contactual menus via a modifier key.

        Basically your point would have driven home much harder if you didn't trot out the old fallacies of Apple mice. It cheapens your argument.

        • ?? Where did I trot out the old fallacies a single button mouse?

          I thought they had the following inputs
          (1) Magic Trackpad - touchpad for desktop systems
          (2) Mighty Mouse - touch sensitive zero button mouse

          So basically devices that use multi-touch over bluetooth to simulate traditional mouse behaviour. One you slide your finger around for motion, the other that moves across the desk.

          I'm not aware they actually sell Apple branded mice with buttons and a scroll wheel.

          • They don't sell them any more, but: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Mighty_Mouse [wikipedia.org]

            BTW, Mac OS has responded to control clicks as a right click on one button mice for 15 or more years. Also, pretty much any 2 button USB mouse that is connected gets recognized for what it is, and the right mouse button works just like you'd expect it to.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        Well I have an icon that only appears on my screen when I press my middle mouse button, and I can scroll up and down when this icon is visible and I hold down the button. Patent please.
  • Let's take inventory. IPhone 4s. A minor upgrade. Ipad 3. A minor upgrade, and a downgrade in terms of weight, thickness and battery life. New products. None.

    OK, I think I can see the pattern now. Apple plans to milk its existing assets for everything they're worth and has no intention of creating new ones. That would cost money, you see.

  • fucking paper

  • What you should be most angry about is that you are paying someone tens of thousands of dollars a year to pump out this garbage so some asshole can sue your company and cause you to lose your job.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:08AM (#40682475) Journal

    Is this the most idiotic patent awarded to Apple, yet?

    The tragedy isn't (just) that Apple had the gull to submit this shite to the USPTO, and it's not just a tragedy that it has been awarded: the other tragic fact is, Apple is actually going to use this shit, to thwart competitors.

  • How fondly I remember them from the Ericsson R380 [gsmarena.com] back in 2000. I guess it wasn't patented then because not only was it so freaking obvious, it had been done before with various other PDAs. Still, there's a reality distortion field to combat now, so let's see the epic battle betwixt that and prior art begin!

  • That's the only reason I can come up with that we in the US still allow software patents that are non-obvious. I can't wait until these assholes see the error of their ways and use some common sense in such matters. Unfortunately, I feel that, by the time that occurs, it'll be too late for reasonable reform. Much like the rest of the political sphere, unfortunately.

    For someone who care as much as I do about what technology can offer, it's hard not to get depressed. Thank God for cannabis.

  • Captain Picard says it all http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3q4z0l/ [quickmeme.com] It's great how a meme can capture a moment like this.
  • Well, here you go, another idiotic patent which patents something which was already done and done, _but_ - wait for it... - this is for a portable electronic device, yay.

    I won't even go into this, and don't talk about how the US SW patent system is a joke. So many people at so many places have talked this out already, without any effect whatsoever, that it seems utterly pointless to even start any new discussion about it. Yes, this is giving up from my part, since this seems just another thing that we can
  • by ihavnoid (749312) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @04:50AM (#40683357)

    What the patent seemed to describe was the thin vertical bar which appears when you touch the screen(which represents the vertical location of the current screen) and vanishes the moment you put your fingers off.

    An easy way to circumvent this patent is to display the scroll location whether you touch the screen or not. The thin bar may have been a significant display estate on the good old years, but as the display resolution increase, it may be a better idea to display the bar continuously anyway.

    Not sure if the patent is actually innovative, though. It seemed to have an awful lot of clauses to avoid an awful lot of prior arts.

  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:53PM (#40687671) Homepage

    Let it be known henceforth and herafter that 1) using any kind of electronic device to store, process, or display any kind of information, and 2) providing graphical, aural, tactile, or physical controls to manipulate, browse, or otherwise act upon the data are obvious to all skilled in the art and therefore not patentable !

    Jesus Fucking Christ...

  • by knarf (34928) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:33PM (#40692605) Homepage

    Auto-hiding scroll widgets have been around for ages, on everything from flash-driven text display widgets through video games. Even the 'touch screen' magic does not make this innovative, as touch screen equipped kiosks have been around for a long time as well - just show one of those displaying such a flash widget from the early 2000's and this patent meets its maker.

    To be honest it should not even be necessary to point at auto-hiding scrollbars to defuse this patent. In essence it comes down to auto-hiding visual interaction widgets after a period of user inactivity, so all those auto-hiding pointers (from the lowly inverse block cursor in text-based interfaces to the mouse-driven arrows and other shapes in GUIs) should be enough.

    Even on a mobile device.

    Or on a touch screen.

    Or on a combination of both.

    Or on the mobile touch-screen-driven rounded cornered internet.

    Why has the USPTO not been reined in? Is it all lawyers supporting lawyers supporting lawyers (ad infinitum) or does the political establishment still believe this is the way to further progress in the arts and sciences?

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