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German Court Finds Apple's 'Slide To Unlock' Patent Invalid 120

Posted by timothy
from the einfach-zu-einfach dept.
New submitter anderzole writes "Germany's Federal Patent Court on Thursday invalidated all of Apple's claims for its slide-to-unlock patent. They death blow for Apple's slide to unlock patent was likely a Swedish phone called the Neonode N1m that launched well before the iPhone and featured its own slide to unlock implementation. The N1m was released in 2005 while Apple's own patent for slide to unlock wasn't filed until December of 2005."
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German Court Finds Apple's 'Slide To Unlock' Patent Invalid

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  • neonode info (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2013 @04:20PM (#43380829)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Tj-KS2kfIr0
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neonode

    • Re:neonode info (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Takatata (2864109) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @05:16PM (#43381103)
      Could someone please explain, why the parent is modded Offtopic? The article clearly mentions Neonode N1m as possible reason for the invalidation of this patent. The parent posted a link to a youtube presentation of the Neonode and a Wikpedia article of the neonode. Definitely not Offtopic.
      • Re:neonode info (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @06:02PM (#43381303)
        Because it was posted AC and someone else said it was a goatse troll. So people modded it down without looking.
      • by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @06:25PM (#43381405)

        It offends the Apple faithful. It is heretical. They're going to be a little touchy until Apple invents 'widgets' in iOS 7.

        • It offends the Apple faithful. It is heretical. They're going to be a little touchy until Apple invents 'widgets' in iOS 7.

          Or, given their track record, do you mean, "until Apple 'invents' widgets in iOS 7."?
          [ BTW, that would be "iWidgets." ]

          • [ BTW, that would be "iWidgets." ]

            I'm hoping Nintendo beats them to the punch with Wii Widgets...

            • by tepples (727027)

              I'm hoping Nintendo beats them to the punch with Wii Widgets...

              Wii Menu has supported a rough equivalent of Android "widgets" since 3.0, where channels can show text from the WiiConnect24 service in their banners. News Channel, for example, shows scrolling headlines.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @08:34PM (#43381937)

        You see it in any thread discussing Apple. Anything that reflects badly on Apple, no matter how true and accurate, gets down modded. Usually there are more than enough upmods to offset it, but it happens.

        There are Apple fanboys that just cannot, will not, accept that Apple has every done anything wrong, every been anything but 100% innovative, etc. So they just to Apple's defense at every opportunity. Same thing with your post, same thing that is likely to happen to my post. They'll "defend" Apple by trying to silence people who say things unflattering.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          It is wrong to imply they are Apple 'fanboys', this is insulting to 'fanyboys' all over. They are paid 'PR' hacks and trolls, paid to lie, paid to attack and paid to mod to set guidelines add to that Apple employees who are fully aware of Apple B$ and like any fad how vulnerable the bubble is to deflating.

          • I dunno dude, all I hear over most of the internet is constant Apple bashing. This is from sites like this all the way to Wall Street. So this notion that there's some conspiracy by Apple to do all this PR sounds like complete bullshit. At a minimum, you would have to say they're completely incompetent at it because almost all the news I hear nowadays about Apple is completely negative. So, wanna try again?

            • by rtb61 (674572)

              Apple did it for years, if fact nigh on a decade, what comes around goes around, it's called karma, "wanna try again", sure, Apple marketdroids suck professional trolls that flood every forum it's endlessly annoying. Seriously individuals run around wanting to defend one of the richest companies on earth, why, because they feel sorry for them or they believe the B$ marketing about those overpriced 'i' products, give me a break. What genuine individuals will waste their time defending corporations in this a

              • Do you have a source for this decade long onslaught that was initiated by Apple's PR folks? You also still don't get it...at all. The vast majority of the press is very against Apple these days. Also, just because you hate Apple doesn't mean others have to.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                I'm not saying you're wrong, but do not underestimate the nutjob factor, either.

                It is sad but true that there are people having such a low sense of self-worth that they're compelled to validate themselves by identifying with some One True Group to the point of exclusion of logic and reason, should they conflict with OTG dogma.

                I've noticed, though, that Apple seem especially good at inspiring these sorts of followers.

                • It's a form of tribal behaviour, you can see it all over, whether about football teams or political parties or products or whatever, same exact instinct. That people can't objectively weigh up the pros and cons of any given product objectively and make decisions on that basis is baffling to me, but I'm no psychologist...

                  • Yeah, the tribal thing, exactly.

                    Adolescent males and those who've never quite grown out of that mindset seem to be the most militant ones.

            • It's a perception thing I guess. But other than the tech sites all media seemed much more sympathetic to Apple than Samsung in their court case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2013 @04:27PM (#43380859)

    Now Apple should pay 1/10th of it's value as a penalty.
    Result: no more stupid patents filled by thieves.

    • by Takatata (2864109)
      No problem. I pay for Apple. What is this patent worth now? Ahhh yes... $0.00. I pay $0.00/10.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think the idea was for Apple to pay 1/10 of the companies worth not the patents.

        • by Takatata (2864109)
          Ok, that would hurt. But might be a little bit too harsh. You cannot always know that there is somewhere prior art. And of course there is the patent office, which accepts the patent. I certainly don't want to defend Apple, it is a disgusting company, but you can hardly blame them alone. The patent system has to be changed, but punishing companies for frivolous patents is not the right way.
          • by ThisIsSaei (2397758) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @05:53PM (#43381249)
            Um, that's exactly the right way.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Takatata (2864109)
              I don't think so. Whether a patent is frivolous or not is a matter of opinion. Great fodder for lawyers and more often than not won by the side with deeper pockets. A more general solution would be much more desirable.
              • You're asserting that all opinions are equal, that because there is not a unanimous opinion that an opinion can't be a binding legal obligation -- allow me correct you there. A court's opinion is more important in this case, it has ruled the patent to be without merit. Fines to dissuade further abuse of the patent system are in order.

                While systemic changes to reduce the ability for abuse are needed, this isn't a time for better planning -- it's about responding to abuse that has already happened. You don

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by elashish14 (1302231)

            The onus lies on the patent applicant to do prior art searches.

            And in this case, it's not even a question of prior art - everyone knows that Apple's actions are a deliberate troll attempt to impede the viability of competitors. That in itself is a crime.

            • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

              by Takatata (2864109)

              That in itself is a crime.

              It really is? Or should it only be? Serious question. I don't know American laws.

              • That in itself is a crime.

                It really is? Or should it only be? Serious question. I don't know American laws.

                What do American laws have to do with this? The summary clearly states this was a German court.

                • American laws have all to do with it.
                  The patent was original filed in america. Then by "international contract" it gets more or less automatically accepted in germany/europe if you simply file for it and giving the american patent number.
                  So, unless no one objects afterwards, which obviously happend in this case, the patent becomes active.
                  OTOH if Apple had filed for the patent originally in germany it would have been rejected straight away as user interactions and software implementations are not patentable

              • It's not a crime in law. That doesn't mean that it's not a crime!

              • That in itself is a crime.

                It really is? Or should it only be? Serious question. I don't know American laws.

                "deliberate..attempt(s) to impede the viability of competitors."

                In American law, I believe this would fall under Anti-Trust laws. Just because you aren't a monopoly(yet), doesn't mean that you aren't doing illegal things to attempt to create one. (Like, I dunno.. suing competitors into oblivion over something that is obviously prior art, or non-innovative(Can anyone say: rounded corners?))

                Though, I could be wrong. IANAL.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              Up to this point you could reasonably argue that Apple was just a patent bully. Their design patents were ridiculous but at least they genuinely believed that they were enforceable. Now they have crossed into the realm of being a blatant troll, trying to abuse a patent that anyone can see has both prior art and is too obvious to patent in the first place (which is probably why it wasn't patented by the original inventor).

          • Wrong! You don't get it. Apple is the epitome of evil in the world and there will never be world peace for as long as they exist. You're just the typical Apple fanboi.

          • by sjames (1099)

            How about they pay what they were seeking?

        • This would just cause everyone to isolate their patents in holding companies.

    • An eye for an eye.... an eye squared.
      Invalidating 10 good patents as chosen by the competitors would be more fitting IMHO

      • by ewibble (1655195)

        Just going though all of apples patients in the hopes of finding 10 good ones would probably be cost prohibitive.

        Just a joke I have no Idea how may patients apple actually have, but I would like to know

  • Hello Slashdotters, I'm looking for the code to implement features of this now invalidated patent. I know we have hackers who can output this code fast and I know I'm not alone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2013 @04:54PM (#43381011)

    How did this nonsense patent even get granted in the first place? I've worked on getting patents filed, and we usually meet with all sorts of resistance even when there is actually something to the patent. Who is getting paid off to grant nonsense patents like this?

    • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @06:07PM (#43381329)
      Much of the process is to make sure the paperwork is correct, not the content. If they indicate no prior art, it is not the job of the examiner to verify that claim, but to accept it and if someone else challenges it, the paperwork demonstrates the "no prior art" claim, and providing some invalidates the patent.

      They do not have sufficient resources to evaluate the content, just the format. The two are unrelated.
      • by dfghjk (711126)

        This is untrue. Examiners do consider content it is in their domain to do so. There's just no assurance that they get it right.

        Saying that the burden is on the filer to research prior art is like saying it's the fox's job to guard the henhouse.

        • by AK Marc (707885)

          Saying that the burden is on the filer to research prior art is like saying it's the fox's job to guard the henhouse.

          I thought that was the design.

      • Spoken like someone who has obviously never been involved in getting a patent in any capacity in his entire life....

      • by gnupun (752725)

        Much of the process is to make sure the paperwork is correct, not the content.

        Neither the patent filer (Apple) nor the patent examiner is psychic and could not have known (reasonably) about the prior art of "slide to unlock" in Neonode N1m.

        Even without the Neonode prior art, this patent should be considered invalid as the mechanism is in widespread use: laptops, windows, doors, suitcases etc. employ slide to unlock in the physical world. Just because you show that mechanism graphically does not make it a patent worthy.

      • by sjames (1099)

        It is absolutely the examiner's job. The examiner is to make sure the patent meets all of the criteria including novelty.

    • by penglust (676005)
      Some Apple fan boy at the patent office probably got a free iPhone.
    • The USPTO is more or less a "deny first, accept later" kind of place. They deny patents out of hand when they are first filed. So, modify, refile, modify, refile, etc, etc eventually you get one. Of course that is easy to do for a big company, not so feasible for a small guy.

    • Almost certainly it's a revolving door type of process rather than outright bribery ... ie. you need a firm with lots of ex USPTO staff with inside connections (waiting for their chance to hit the revolving door).

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @04:55PM (#43381021)

    I know Apple are Patent rapists, but should we care. The iPhone is still the second most popular phone range in the US but it is doing badly everywhere else. I have seen this video...I have seen this prior art mentioned...now 6 years later its invalidated...in one country, Android have already worked around this patent, and pretty nifty it is too, we even have some very fun alternative unlocking methods including fingertips and facial recognition.

    Why are we not discussing the great technology from other manufacturing companies like IR being reintroduced to phones...or waterpoofing phones, or the ever growing screen size. Hell even compare two screen phones DS style to electronic paper/led screen phones. Lets discuss relevant electronics companies that innovate, in fact lets talk about that technology.

    • Apple phones are already almost water proof. There are videos of people putting them in tanks of water and they remain on the entire time. Google it.
      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Better yet, try it with your own iPhone.

      • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @06:44PM (#43381485)

        Apple phones are already almost water proof. There are videos of people putting them in tanks of water and they remain on the entire time. Google it.

        For about $80 you can have any phone get a 'completely waterproof' coating applied to it, warrantied for 2 years, not just water-resistant.

        I'm not an Apple hater, I've always thought they are amazing devices, but they just aren't the cutting edge leader in phone tech they once were. Attempting to keep their lead, Apple has been trying to kill the encroaching competition through frivolous patent lawsuits, and not doing too well at it. They should have innovated new killer tech instead of just treading water.

        The iPhone popularized touchpad input, and that gave them the needed edge to become the leader in smartphones, they were the coolest phone then. That was a decade ago, and Apple just doesn't have that exclusiveness anymore. Android devices have caught up and in many ways surpassed iPhones. Apple continues on now based solely on customer loyalty.

        Over a year ago I opted for the Android system due to its being less costly up front. Having been immersed in smartphone culture since, I've realized that smartphones are portable computers with internet/ bluetooth connectivity, that also have phone 'apps'. And an iPhone is basically an app player, with an alternate OS. They haven't come out with anything new that sets it apart from the competition. Unless the next iPhone has something the others don't, then Apple's had it's time in the sun.

    • Well yeah, on one hand it's just a trivial UI feature that isn't really necessary. But on the other hand it's about the anti-competitive business tactics of one of the worlds biggest corporations that drove one of the most popular phone makers to the edge of bankruptcy and attempts to stifle the healthy competition which makes the innovations you mentioned viable in the first place.

  • How many bytes can you take out of an Apple?

  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @05:34PM (#43381165)
    From Reuters:

    Samsung Electronics Co Ltd infringed a key portion of an Apple Inc patent by including a text-selection feature in its smartphones and tablets, an International Trade Commission judge said in a preliminary decision.

    South Korean-based Samsung did not infringe portions of a second Apple patent that allows a device to detect if a microphone or other device is plugged into its microphone jack, the judge said in a decision that was issued on March 26 but kept confidential until late Thursday to allow the companies to redact sensitive business information.

    The full commission must now decide if they will uphold it or overturn the judge's decision. A final decision is expected in August.

    If it is upheld, the ITC can order any infringing device to be barred from importation into the United States. Apple has alleged that Samsung's Galaxy, Transform and Nexus devices, among others, were among those made with the infringing technology. Apple had filed a complaint in mid-2011, accusing Samsung of infringing its patents in making a wide range of smartphones and tablet.

    ITC Judge Thomas Pender said in a preliminary decision in October that Samsung infringed four Apple patents but did not violate two others listed in the complaint. There had been seven listed initially, but one was dropped during litigation. The full commission then said it wanted the agency's judge to take a second look at portions of two patents where he had found that Samsung infringed. That remanded decision, issued in late March, was unsealed on Thursday.

    Samsung is the world's largest smartphone maker, while Apple is in second place, according to Gartner Inc, a technology research firm. Apple is waging war on several fronts against Google Inc, whose Android software powers many Samsung devices. The legal battles between Apple and Samsung have taken place in some 10 countries as they vie for market share in the booming mobile industry.

    Google's Android software, which Apple's late founder Steve Jobs denounced as a "stolen product," has become the world's No. 1 smartphone operating system. Apple's battle against Google's Android software has dragged in hardware vendors that use it, including Samsung and HTC. Samsung is also a parts supplier to Apple, producing micro processors, flat screens and memory chips for the iPhone, iPad and iPod. Apple has reduced orders from Samsung for chips and screens. The case at the International Trade Commission is No. 337-796

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/05/us-apple-samsung-patent-idUSBRE9340NI20130405 [reuters.com]

    http://thedroidguy.com/2013/04/the-never-ending-samsung-vs-apple-infringement-case/ [thedroidguy.com]

  • ... I read in a German article was that Apple was quoted saying that that patent wasn't important for them ... yeah, right, which is why you patented it and used it to sue Android makers ...

  • I know a lot of people consider patents "broken" for one reason or another, and here is yet another example where it seems the patent should never have been granted in the first place, let alone been something Apple could use to bully other companies.

    So, I agree that patents are broken and easily/often abused. Now, what is the "fix"? Should the patent office be held to task for granting these things when obvious prior art exists? Or should the barrier for going after a supposed patent infringement be rai

    • Ditching design, software and method patents entirely would be a good start ... nothing good has ever come out of their protection.

  • I don't see why this even needs prior art to invalidate. It's obvious as fuck. Trying to patent something like that reeks of greed and general prickishness.

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