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Another Garbage Patent 612

*no comment* writes "Literally "garbage patent" that is, Apple was rewarded a patent for the "Garbage" icon in Mac OS X. The patent documents can be found at the USPTO by clicking here. More on this and other Apple patents are in this article over at the macobserver."
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Another Garbage Patent

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  • by josh crawley ( 537561 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:10PM (#5437493)
    Is I'm looking at a Slashdot ad of Xerox.

    fp
  • by Rooked_One ( 591287 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:10PM (#5437498) Journal
    their own company symbol for trash now.
  • by BalkanBoy ( 201243 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:13PM (#5437517)
    Patent the "Start" button!! QUICK QUICK before Jeff Bezos comes out of the woodwork!! :)
    • by derubergeek ( 594673 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:43PM (#5437697) Homepage Journal
      They already have...5,757,371 [uspto.gov] Taskbar with start menu
      • by atrus ( 73476 ) <.gro.eilavirtsurta. .ta. .surta.> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @10:49PM (#5437989) Homepage
        Where is the +1 Sad moderation?
      • by Repton ( 60818 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @12:13AM (#5438328) Homepage

        I liked this quote from the abstract of the start menu patent:

        The taskbar may also be displayed in a mode where it is not displayed [...]
  • by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:14PM (#5437522) Homepage Journal
    Garbage in, Garbage out.
  • In their patent app, they say that anyone can copy the facsimile supplied to the patent office. That means we can all use a butt-ugly version of the trash can wherever we like.

    I submit that the first major MacOS X worm should have a specific payload: replace everyone's trash icon with the ugly black and white version in Apple's patent application.
  • it's a design patent (Score:5, Informative)

    by brer_rabbit ( 195413 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:15PM (#5437534) Journal
    Design patents aren't that big of a deal. If I designed a toaster, I'd get a design patent on *my* toaster so nobody else can call it their own. And no, I can't collect royalties or sue everyone that makes toast. It's different from a trademark, but IANAL so I'm not sure of the differences.

    Ever see those infomercials where they start off with "our new, innovative, *patented* design..." Well, odds are they've got a design patent.
    • by angle_slam ( 623817 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:23PM (#5437580)
      Here is an About.com article about design patents [about.com]. Key quote:

      In general terms, a "utility patent" protects the way an article is used and works, while a "design patent" protects the way an article looks.
      The concept of a trash can isn't being protected, only a trash can that looks like the one in the design patent application.
      • by csnydermvpsoft ( 596111 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:35PM (#5437653)
        How is this different than a copyright, then? Apple already had a copyright, since you get one automatically unless you declare something to be in the public domain.
        • My guess is that a copyright only protects that particular set of pixels. Apple's (and other) desktops are rapidly gaining scaling and other functions, and the design patent probably allows them more flexibility with protecting the look of their trashcan. I mean, if MS were to implement an inverse vector algorithm or something they could probably argue that they didn't copy Apple's stuff, but they did copy the design. This protects that.

          But hey, IANAL, so what do I know.

        • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @04:13AM (#5439078)
          Traditionally, copyrights didn't protect the appearance of industrial designs, only limited classes of printed materials. That's why we got design patents. Nowadays, there may be some overlap.
    • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @10:12PM (#5437821)
      In meatspace, patents are black and white. Judges interput physical patent very strictly. Even slight modifications can get around someone's patent. Best part is, you have access to the patented parts of the design. They are included in the grant.

      The problem with software patents is lack of code disclosure. If the patent judges could compare line-by-line a MS .asp page feature with a php/apache page, they would laugh most of this stuff out of court. Unfortunately, they can't force them to include the patented code, because code is also protected under copyright and trade secret. The patent office is allowing a "black box" style patent--without even proof of a working system. They used to require detailed specs and proof of actual working devices. Now companies like Rambus can draw some pretty pictures and then prosecute the people who actually spend time and resources building the thing. This goes aginst 200 years of precedent!

      That alone should be enough to get these thrown out, but patents don't work that way. They are assumed to be sacred, holy, creative genius by the courts until someone spends the time and money to strike each one down. Our wonderfull legal system doesn't allow the courts to "see" what goes on in the real world, only what comes into court--they can't even overturn bad Laws until someone's hanged for breaking it!

    • Also from the about.com above:

      In addition, 35 U.S.C. 171 requires that a design to be patentable must be "original." Clearly a design that simulates a well-known or naturally occurring object or person is not original as required by the statute. Furthermore, subject matter that could be considered offensive to any race, religion, sex, ethnic group, or nationality is not proper subject matter for a design patent application.

      Anyone want to tell me that a trash can for things you want to get rid of is, O-rig-inal? Looks more like a well known object to me. If a trash can is orignial and non-obvious then a picture of my go-nads is uncommon and inoffensive. The patent office is insane and might actually consider a porno motif for design patent. I'll send them the pictures right away. I'm in the money, I'm in the money.

  • by wembley ( 81899 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:18PM (#5437546) Homepage
    This was probably done in collusion with Children's Television Workshop (CTW) so that they can prevent someone from making an OS X version of "The Grouch", one of the greatest MacOS hacks ever.

    It was great. Empty the trash, and Oscar the Grouch would come out of the trashcan singing. Then CTW sued the the muppety pants off the author and it pretty much disappeard.
  • by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:18PM (#5437548) Homepage Journal
    There is this possibility: countless children twist it into a legal reason for not having to take the garbage out.
  • by SlowMovingTarget ( 550823 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:19PM (#5437557) Homepage

    All your icons are belong to us...

    What I can't wait for is when Apple patents the space character in file names. Whew! Imagine the royalties on the "Program Files" (c:\Progra~1 to 8.3 folks out there) folder.

    This just in: Apple patents the technique of "double-click launching" to launch applications visually.

  • I'm afraid of Apple lawsuits.

    As a result, I've just been leaving my trash on the floor, just outside the garbage can.
  • I wonder (Score:3, Funny)

    by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:21PM (#5437566) Homepage Journal
    If we used a modified garbage icon: a trash can with a picture of a rotten, partially eaten apple in it, would it violate the patent?

    If not I'm making one right now!!!

    Check my .sig soon to know when its available for download.

  • necessary evil... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antispamist ( 653732 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:21PM (#5437568) Homepage Journal
    Although I hate hearing about google, red hat, apple, etc. owning some common detail such as Instant Messaging; one needs to keep in mind that these patents are often the only incentive-protecting mechanism that are available to companies.

    If companies couldn't get a patent for something it would be much harder for them to profit and thus they wouldn't develop items/technology as quickly or at all.

    To offset this "monopoly" that is legally created, patents have expiration dates. For example: Tylenol(acetaminophen) once cost 'too much' but once it's patent ran out other companies rushed in and the price dropped significantly.

    Paying that higher price for some feature on a laptop sucks but would you rather not be able to buy a laptop because no one wanted to produce/invent it?
    • Re:necessary evil... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Minna Kirai ( 624281 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @10:31PM (#5437912)
      Things like Instant Messaging and weighted search results are of such obviously high usefulness that they would be invented, regardless of the inventor thinking he would be able to get patent protection.

      In fact, your very example has disproved you, for ICQ very willingly invented and published "Instant Messenging" techniques without any protection, and there were many immediate copies (AOL, Microsoft, and others). Yet, even knowing they had no way to prevent clones, Mirabilis still went ahead and created the field.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "one needs to keep in mind that these patents are often the only incentive-protecting mechanism that are available to companies"

      No, that's an utter lie. Thank you. You've been bought by the marketing and legal departments out there. Don't cry when they come for more of your paycheck.

      The incentive is profits. The incentive is memes--that your idea is what set the motion forward, regardless of whether or not it is now the dominant idea or method or not. The incentive is creativity itself.

      People have this stupid notion that people will think of things because they'll get paid. What bullshit. People think of things because that's what they do innately. Because they have nothing better to do. Because they want to help someone or improve something.

      The incentive for invention was thought itself, not profits.

      You want people to do something noble? Honorable? To be really good?

      Don't advertise the pay scale. MDs did, and most of the talent left. Lawyers got power and 6 figures, and now every 3rd radio commercial is about some pro or anti DUI defending jackass.

      I, for one, find it ludicrous crap like this is is patentable. This is getting so pissy that I'm starting to believe our entire economy is in the shits because of business practices preventing competition, not fostering it. I think how ludicrous that ink jet cartridges sell for $26. Want to enter the ink jet printer market? Can't. Tech is patented. Want to duplicate ink jet cartridges? Can't. Cartridges are patented. DMCA violation since they chip the cartridges. Want to enter the CDMA market? GSM? Patented. Even if you could, you don't have the loot to buy the bandwidth from the FCC anyways.

      Funny thing, I don't blame Apple. Or Amazon. They don't have much of a choice--do it or get blasted later. I'm simply pissed such overbearing laws that have gone well beyond their constitutional intent perpetuate in our seemingly intelligent and thoughtful 21st century society.

      No wonder I'm sitting here with a broadband connection with nothing decent to watch tonight--DVDs take time to come in the mail, the bandwidth sucks for video, and there's nothing good on TV. Everything's closed where I live. Makes me almost wish I drank; at least I'd go to a stinkin bar.

      Fuck 'em. I'm saving my loot.

      How innovative. How much better off we are. BAHH! Damn sheep. CNBC speculates that corporate spending will increase soon. Yeah, right. Who's buying?
      • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskettNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:01PM (#5438042)
        People think of things because

        You really think most stuff that is patented because someone just dreamed it up?

        I tell you what.. pour a few years of your life, lots of your own money, and all your ambition into inventing, developing, proving, and finally patenting your new invention, and then come back to us about "thinking things up".

        Because they have nothing better to do. Because they want to help someone or improve something.

        This is all great when you are talking about some bullshit little piddly toy. Sure, that icon that represents the trash, or a little widget here or there.

        But lets talk about real things. Things with 4000 moving parts, things that take millions of dollars and a million man years to design and develop. Let's talk about microprocessors, let's talk about jet engines, let's talk about industrial machinery, let's talk about all of that and more.

        Non-trivial inventions are expensive. You don't just think them up. You research them. New drugs don't just dream themselves up. They are discovered through vicious cycles of testing, refinement, testing, refinement. Failure is expensive. Success is hard.

        It is not unusual to see companies spending $1B trying to come up with a new product - to take something from a fanciful thought to a working prototype to market.

        Patents are often used to curb knockoffs. Any idea how much GSM cost to develop? Any guesses? Millions? Billions?

        A world without patents is not far from what is going on in most Asian manufacturing places. A company spends money to develop, refine, and bring to market a new product. Once that legwork is done a competitor dissects that product, eliminates some/all of the quality, and reproduces it for the fraction of it's cost. This destroys the original company who must charge highers costs to cover the development.

        The same applies to the concepts of software. Yeah, you know what, a lot of patents are stupid. But not all are. We can all say after the fact that "ohh, thats obvious!" - but where's the beef? Where is the proof it was obvious? How can you show it? The idea of a "taskbar" is obvious right? Then where was it before MS got the patent? Who thougt of it first? Why did it take 7 software engineers to come up with it, to make it a reality?

        Look.. get over your gripe. All the things you mention will be in the open in a few years or at most a decade. Then it can be knocked off en masse. Till then reward those inventors or not. It's up to you.

        Patents work. Patents are the reason why we aren't a cesspool of cheap knockoff's.
        • Oooookayyy...... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dmaxwell ( 43234 )
          What about cheezy software patents where the basic idea is patented but no implementation is supplied? Then on top of that, the patenting company does absolutely nothing whatsoever to market the idea or even make it practical. They just sit and wait for someone else to do all the hard work of marketing and implementation so they can surface the submarine and fire volleys of lawyer torpedoes?

          I would say that patents can work but the current system for them is horridly broken. The current patent office would hand out patents on the wheel if the application used sufficiently large words and creatively tarted up diagrams. A working patent system would be wonderful. No patent system whatsoever would be be better than the corrupt and inept monstrosity we're dealing with now.

          As for Microsoft's "innovation" here is screenie of a NEXTSTEP desktop that predates 95:

          http://www120.pair.com/mccarthy/nextstep/intro.h tm ld/desktop1.gif

          I would say in a multitasking gui, the idea that you have to do SOMETHING to organize those tasks is pretty obvious.
  • RTFA (as usual) (Score:5, Informative)

    by transient ( 232842 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:25PM (#5437606)
    This is a design patent, not a utility patent (which is the type of patent often lambasted 'round these parts). This protects the image that is Apple's trash can, not the function of a trash can on a computer. From the USPTO [uspto.gov]:
    n general terms, a ?utility patent? protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a ?design patent? protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171). Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance. While utility and design patents afford legally separate protection, the utility and ornamentality of an article are not easily separable. Articles of manufacture may possess both functional and ornamental characteristics.

    Keep this in mind before flaming anyone.

    • Re:RTFA (as usual) (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:37PM (#5437664)
      "This protects the image that is Apple's trash can, not the function of a trash can on a computer. From the USPTO [uspto.gov]: "

      That's a bummer because that trash can was an interesting innovation. Anybody remember the olden days of computers back in the early 80's? People were afraid of them. One of the most voiced fears is "I'm afraid I'll hit the wrong button and wipe out everything!". The "you're putting it there, but it's not your final decision yet" approach was really useful in reducing people's fears that they'll break their computer.

      Just because we take it for granted today doesn't mean it's wrong. (Though I do question why this is news and not patented back years ago when it was used...)

      • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:55PM (#5437757)
        One of the most voiced fears is "I'm afraid I'll hit the wrong button and wipe out everything!".

        Years ago('94-ish), I was a total PC kiddie and didn't know anything about Mac's. At one point I had to load a program on a mac, and put a floppy in the computer. We spent forever trying to figure out how to eject the disk. Eventually someone told us to trash it, and my answer was, "are you sure?" Of course, it worked and since then I've realized that Mac's are far too logical for me.

        -Sean
        • Originally, the ability to eject disks by trashing them was a "hack" only intended for use internally. The UI designers did decide that it didn't make any sense and that being able to trash a mounted disk to eject it was wrong. So this feature was removed. The resulting annoyance of people who had gotten used to trashing disks to unmount them resulted in this feature getting put back in.

          You could very easily get by using floppies without ever knowing that you could eject by trashing, however. As others have mentioned, "Eject Disk" (Command-E) was under the Special menu. "Put Away" (Command-Y) also worked, although the idea there is that something should be put back to where it came from. Usually you used "Put Away" for files.
          • by k_187 ( 61692 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:20AM (#5440173) Journal
            No, Put Away was made for back when Macs didn't ship with Hard Drives. ejecting left a ghost image of the disk on the desktop, then you could insert another disk and drag your files over, the mac would then prompt you to insert the other disk to make the copy. Put away ejected the disk and removed the icon from the desktop.
    • Re:RTFA (as usual) (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:42PM (#5437688)
      Can some explain why a patent is required for this. Since it will only ever exist as an image on a computer screen it seems more like art to me and would seem more appropriate under copywrite laws. The IANAL disclaimer applies big time here.
      • Re:RTFA (as usual) (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:54PM (#5437748) Journal
        If I took the icon from Apple's system and distributed it with a rival system, Apple would be able to claim copyright infringement. However, if I included a picture of a generic trash can in my operating sytem, Apple would have a tough time proving that that element was in fact derived from Apple code, and was not in fact, derived from a generic trash can.

        However, a design patent would protect this element. Presumably this will expire in twenty years.
  • In All Fairness... (Score:5, Informative)

    by InfraredEyes ( 207602 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:28PM (#5437621)
    ...this is a Design Patent. This means that it offers protection to a very specific, usually decorative design. There are no text claims, just drawings. Design patents are often used for things like cellphone cases, as each manufacturer tries to lock up distinctive visual fefatures to differentiate otherwise similar items. They are also found in the food industry -- novelty shapes for pasta and breakfast cereal are often protected this way. So, realistically, this is not some huge, evil attempt to patent the very idea of a garbage can icon.
  • Oh, this is rich (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:29PM (#5437624) Homepage
    As I loaded the front page and saw the Apple patent (patents are bad, remember?) there was a plain-text ad at the top that linked to:

    http://www.invention.com
    http://www.litmanlaw.c om
    http://www.gilmanresearch.com/pages/944483/ind ex.h tm
    http://www.isc-online.com/forms/inventorinfore q_se arch.asp
    http://www.qualitypatent.com

    How low can you go!
  • by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:29PM (#5437627) Journal
    Steve Jobs: We need to file some more patents quickly. My stock options are dropping.
    Terrified Employee: Well sir...umm...(looks around room) how about our round corners?
    Jobs: Already in heavy use. You're fired
    Employee 2: How about the idea of color coding computers to go with your decor?
    Jobs: Nah, we already cornered the artist market. You're fired.
    Employee 3: Well....how about this (picks up trash can)
    Jobs: Brilliant! Get a picture of that to the Patent office as soon as possible.
  • by cmason32 ( 636063 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:32PM (#5437639)
    Design patents are offered for those marks in which companies have proprietary rights. Because Apple won't be using the Garbage Icon as an indication of goodwill , it wouldn't qualify for Trademark status.

    All in all this is much ado about nothing.
  • by lspd ( 566786 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:42PM (#5437687) Homepage Journal

    The USPTO defines "design patents" here. [uspto.gov]

    For ADHD slashdotters:
    A design consists of the visual ornamental characteristics embodied in, or applied to, an article of manufacture...

    In general terms, a "utility patent" protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a "design patent" protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171)...

    Clearly a design that simulates a well-known or naturally occurring object or person is not original as required by the statute. Furthermore, subject matter that could be considered offensive to any race, religion, sex, ethnic group, or nationality is not proper subject matter for a design patent application (35 U.S.C. 171 and 37 CFR 1.3).


  • by nuzoo ( 588862 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:42PM (#5437691)
    Don't worry. This is only a design patent [uspto.gov], which is fundamentally different than a "utility" patent.

    According to the PTO web site:

    • In general terms, a "utility patent" protects the way an article is used and works, while a "design patent" protects the way an article looks...A design for an article of manufacture that is dictated primarily by the function of the article lacks ornamentality and is not proper statutory subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 171. Specifically, if at the time the design was created, there was no unique or distinctive shape or appearance to the article not dictated by the function that it performs, the design lacks ornamentality and is not proper subject matter. In addition, 35 U.S.C. 171 requires that a design to be patentable must be "original." Clearly a design that simulates a well-known or naturally occurring object or person is not original as required by the statute.

    So, it doesn't cover any functionality. In fact, if the design relates closely to functionaly, then that weakens the patent. In this case, I'd say the design of the garbage can icon pretty precisely relates to the functionalty of throwing away files.

    With this in mind, it seems that it's probably a pretty toothless patent. Don't lose any sleep over it.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MSBob ( 307239 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:49PM (#5437728)
    This is actually good. The more such patents are approved the more meaningless the concept of a patent will become. Over time nobody will give a damn about patent laws because they will infringe something no matter what the hell they do.

    There will be a point when the whole system will have to be scrapped or totally overhauled. More such "garbage" patents will bring this day closer. I can't wait.

  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:55PM (#5437756) Journal
    Its not just computers folks. I have had to do some research on patents, to make sure we were not stepping on any toes, and you wouldn't believe the BS they patent, and get away with. I finally decided it was easier to argue it in court than figure out the conveluted crap they allow to be patented.

    BTW, Im talking about tanning lamps, not computers. Same crap. Someone might as well patent the sun as a tanning device and charge us all royalties. Its just as phunked up in the real world.

    Why WOULDN'T we expect Apple to patent a garbage icon? The problem isn't Apple, its the US Patent process. And the fact that so many companies feel forced to do defensive patents.
  • screw that (Score:5, Funny)

    by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:57PM (#5437765)
    Im gonna patent TRASH. then, if they want to use the 'trash' can, they need to pay me royalties for trash.
    And all I need is a picture of my room to prove nobody comes close to 'prior art'. I hear that argument a lot, nobody comes close to the 'prior art' that I posess...
  • Prior Art (Score:3, Funny)

    by adam613 ( 449819 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @09:59PM (#5437774)
    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_ num=-1&SKU=100712&RN=53&xyz=xyz

    (I have one of these. My mom refers to it as an "OS X garbage can")
  • by Suppafly ( 179830 ) <slashdot@sup[ ]ly.net ['paf' in gap]> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @10:10PM (#5437809)
    The real reason to patent the garbage can picture is to keep slashdot from choosing to use it to refer to macos in the future instead of the shiny silver apple.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that dumping floppies into trash should REFORMAT instead of EJECTING?:)
    • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @10:37PM (#5437937) Homepage
      That's what I thought. I'll never forget the first time I had to use a Mac. I tried and tried to get the floppy out but couldn't. I finally had to call up a mac friend and ask. The answer is so utterly counter-intuitive that I was shocked. I had been so brainwashed into thinking that Mac were designed for ease of use I couldn't believe that they'd do something so stupid. But they did!
      • by Graff ( 532189 )
        I tried and tried to get the floppy out but couldn't. I finally had to call up a mac friend and ask. The answer is so utterly counter-intuitive that I was shocked.

        You mean it was counter-intuitive to select the disk and go to the menu marked "File" and use the "Eject" item (key combo: apple-E)? You could also have used the "Put Away" (key combo: apple-Y) item in the "Special" menu . Later on when contextual menus were available you could control-click on the disk and hit the "Eject Disk" item.

        Dragging the disk to the trash was just one of several ways to eject a disk. Some may have been more intuitive than others but the quickest way was to drag it to the trash. Think of it as a power user shortcut, not the default action.

        With MacOS X the trash icon becomes a disk eject icon when you start to drag a disk anywhere. When you hover over the eject icon it says Eject. So now you do not drag the disk to the trash, you drag it to the eject.
    • No, it should EJECT them, but aimed at the closest physical trash can.
    • I agree completely!

      I always found this aspect of macs... rather... disturbing. (always hated them, too.)

      I recently got my first mac (Titanium PowerBook) and i just use the eject button on my keyboard (F12).

      Or i rightclick on a CD/etc and select eject. Works for disconnecting from network shares, too.

      This dragging shit into the trash is for deleting. I don't CARE if it changes into an eject icon. It was still a trash icon before i began dragging ...

      D.
    • That would be the "recycle bin." Trash goes to the landfill. Coke bottles go to make your 49.95 Crate and Barrel wine glasses imported from Guatemala.
    • by MoneyT ( 548795 )
      Not quite. The original idea of the trash can was to "remove" items. So for example, you have a file or folder on your computer, to REMOVE it you would drag it to the trash. Likewise, if you had a floppy or a CD in your computer, to REMOVE it, you would drag it to the drash. Not really all that odd, no more odd than having shutdown in the start menu.
  • Hmmmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by TiMac ( 621390 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @10:26PM (#5437889)
    /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Res ources/trashfull.png

    /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Res ources/trashempty.png

    It would be SO easy....

  • by callipygian-showsyst ( 631222 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:00PM (#5438032) Homepage
    Unlike wasteful Apple, the folks at Microsoft furnish Windows XP with a recycle bin!

    You'd think the Northern California latte liberals at Apple would care more about their environment than Microsoft folks do, but that isn't the case. While Apple's filling up our landfills with garbage bits, Microsoft recycles them so they can be used again.

    • by IdahoEv ( 195056 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:34PM (#5438181) Homepage
      While Apple's filling up our landfills with garbage bits, Microsoft recycles them so they can be used again.

      No, Micro$oft really is the evil empire. What happens when you recycle garbage? It is sent to a central facility where it gets carefully sorted through and the useful things get picked out to get turned into new products. The facility makes a tidy profit on this.

      So, when you dump your homework / old code / other data in M$ recycle bin, it gets sent...

      The best thing is, because they call it the recycle bin, they're not even lying about scouring your data for useful stuff!

      Sleep well.

    • After the Mac had it's trash can, NeXT had it's recycler (in the dock). So actually no, Microsoft did not take Apple's trash can and make it a recycle bin. Jobs's company NeXT did that long before Microsoft did.

      For those who don't know, Mac OS X is essentially NextStep with a lot of the Apple stuff hacked into it.

      Anyway.. as far as the patent goes, it seems it is just on that very specific design of a trash can which I do not have a problem with. Notice that they even cited prior art because the claim doesn't seem to be that they are the first trash can, the claim seems to be that they are the first trashcan with this particular design.

  • wait (Score:3, Funny)

    by pummer ( 637413 ) <spam @ p umm.org> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:03PM (#5438050) Homepage Journal
    are you sure they didn't mean they wanted to have a patent on THROWING Macs in the garbage?? Now that would be interesting...
  • by lecca ( 84194 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:03PM (#5438057) Homepage
    ... Can we all get the stupid trash can off our desktops now? Honestly, does anyone leave it on and actually go rescue things from it? When I click delete, I want the file deleted, not moved somewhere to be found by a nosy roomate or something.
    Just because something is cute doesn't mean it needs to be in gnome/kde/windows/apple/gem/whatever desktop.
    When people first encounter lack of trash on a unix box, they come running to the sysadmin, who tells them "You cannot undelete files, there gone there gone."
    Data isnt something to be hap-hazardly pushed about and retrieved from garbage cans. Back it up, keep track of it if its important. Trash cans encourage a lax attitude toward work habits on the computer.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:58PM (#5438274) Journal
      Maybe you're perfect, but the rest of us slip up every now and then. It's nice to be able to back up a bit and "undo" the errors. Maybe that's why so much software has an "undo" operation -- or are you suggesting that the "Undo" concept is a bad idea as well? If you're comfortable working in an environment where the luxury of making mistakes doesn't exist, more power to you. Most of us aren't. I would assume it would be in any company's best interest to try to appeal to the real needs of its clients rather than just to the ideal case.

      As an aside, before computers, there was paper, and people were accidentally throwing out important documents long before you or I were even born -- If people were fortunate enough to realize their error quickly, they could retrieve the documents from the physical wastebasket before the janitorial staff came around to throw it all in the incenerator. The trash can metaphor seems to me to be just a computerized extension of that way of doing business.

      Personally, the only thing I'd change about the trash can as it currently (and most commonly) exists is to be able to say exactly how much disk space I want stuff in the trash to take up before it automatically and permanantly wipes older stuff.

  • Design Patent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:12PM (#5438092)

    This may be a design patent; however according to this [uspto.gov], "a design which simulates a well known, or naturally occurring object or person is not original as required by the statute."


    I think a trash can might be a well known object.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:15PM (#5438105)
    These are patents on ornamental designs. This is fairly typical, and is used to protect how thinks look.
    Jewelery, etc, often has ornamental design patents on it.
    As for laptop design patents,
    "While a design patent may be issued for a utilitarian article, such a patent may be obtained only to the extent that the ornamental features dominate the functional features. To the extent to which a design is predominately utilitarian in nature, it is not protectable by a design patent in the United States. "

    The only thing the patents prevent you from doing is making something that looks exactly like say, a powerbook g4, such that an ordinary observer might purchase the "fake" product thinking it was the patented product.

    I wouldn't worry much about it, since the only protectable parts are the parts of say, the trash icon, not found in the prior art.
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:36PM (#5438187) Journal
    OK, does anyone remember when Apple came out with the garbage can? I'll give you a hint: It was part of the whole package which signalled an entirely new era in computing.

    That's significant. A new era! The beginning of something other than EVERYTHING that had proceeded it. (Yeah, Xerox notwithstanding. That's another story.) The garbage can WAS a completely different, new, and innovative idea.

    Do they deserve a patent for it? Hmm. Tough call. Would I be as fair to Microsoft if they'd invented it? Tougher call--I've tried to be fair to MS when they do something creative or right, but it's been such a rare event that I can't promise unbiased commentary.

    But as long as a general patent like this is legally valid, I'd say that this specific patent is valid. At the time, it was creative enough to change computing, and that's impressive.
  • Too Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by ReadParse ( 38517 ) <john@fuCOBOLnnycow.com minus language> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @11:40PM (#5438207) Homepage
    As patents get sillier, the jokes almost write themselves. I withdraw my joke on the grounds that it's just too easy.

  • It figures (Score:3, Funny)

    by falsification ( 644190 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @12:01AM (#5438288) Journal
    So many cartoons represent garbage with crumpled papers and apple cores. It figures that a half-eaten Apple would end up associating itself with the trash. This is funny. I'll try to remember this for the next time some Apple-whacker starts telling me, as if I were utterly unaware of its very existence, of the inarguable superiority of his preferred platform. "Yes," I'll say, "Apple is so innovative, they even patented garbage. . . . No, it's not that it's an innovative technique, but it's that no one else would have ever thought of it. That's what makes it art. It's like the guy who patented silence, except more audacious."
  • haha (Score:5, Funny)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @12:02AM (#5438293) Homepage
    I just downloaded the patent to my OS X desktop, and threw it in the garbage. It gave me a warm feeling.

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