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Steve Jobs Patents "The Dock"

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the what's-next dept.

Patents 580

theodp writes "If you're a PC, you may be unfamiliar with The Dock, the bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of a Mac and provides easy access to Apple applications. But don't count on it becoming a standard on the PC. On Tuesday, the USPTO awarded Apple — and inventor Steve Jobs — a patent for their User Interface for Providing Consolidation and Access, aka 'The Dock,' after a rather lengthy nine-year wait."

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580 comments

CDE? (5, Insightful)

goaliemn (19761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298775)

you have to be kidding.. CDE has had this for years, if not decades..

Re:CDE? (4, Insightful)

furball (2853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298823)

You mean NextStep has had this for years, if not decades.

Re:CDE? (3, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299067)

Don't PCs already have a dock? "The bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of a Mac and provides easy access to Apple applications."

The sounds like a description of the start menu, and its corresponding bar.
Hmmm.
I wonder why Jobs did not patent the Trashcan/recycle bin utility?

Re:CDE? (3, Interesting)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298825)

PC. On Tuesday, the USPTO awarded Apple â" and inventor Steve Jobs â" a patent for their User Interface for Providing Consolidation and Access, aka 'The Dock', after a rather lengthy nine-year wait."

Didn't everyone already have a dock 9 years ago ?

Re:CDE? (4, Interesting)

Froze (398171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298841)

I can recall using CDE on an AIX box just over ten years ago. It was a well established part of the interface at that time. Anyone actually know the inception date of CDE's dock?

What about OS/2 ? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25298859)

OS2 Had the Dock as well !

Re:CDE? (5, Informative)

GauteL (29207) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298869)

CDE [wikipedia.org] came out in 1993. The MacOS dock has its origin in NeXT [wikipedia.org] who was later purchased by Apple, leading to Steve Jobs coming back to Apple.

Nextstep [wikipedia.org] was first released in 1989 with previews all the way back to 1986 (according to Wikipedia anyway).

Thus, Nextstep does seem to preceed CDE by quite a few years and with NeXT Apple purchased these IP rights.

What this means for other OSes and Dock implementations I don't know.

Re:CDE? (2, Insightful)

kidde_valind (1060754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299053)

Mod parent up! As much as software patents apall me, I can't se why this would be any less valid than any other.

Re:CDE? (4, Insightful)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299191)

Thus, Nextstep does seem to preceed CDE by quite a few years and with NeXT Apple purchased these IP rights.

"These" IP rights? What IP rights would that be? Even if NeXT had been the first company to do this in the 80's, they would have had to apply for patents then, not more than a decade later.

Second, there were equivalent constructions for X and Smalltalk. Oh, and in case you were wondering, both of those predated NeXT and NeXT liberally copied from both of them.

Re:CDE? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299237)

If the previews had the dock in them and they had not yet filed the patent then they are invalid.
You can not show something then file the patent for it.

NeXT in 1988 (1)

Henriok (6762) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298945)

CDE was introduced in 1993 [wikipedia.org] . NeXT Introduced a Dock like function in 1988. I havn't read the patent application but it might be a continuation of the Dock like functions in NeXT Step

The Death of Y'z Dock (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298785)

I don't think this was covered on Slashdot and I wish I could find a better citation than this but it's been said [neowin.net] that Apple has threatened makers of "docks" for PCs with lawsuits. I can't verify that but I do know that I downloaded and installed a beta program called Y'z Dock [softpedia.com] which was developed by a now defunct crew [designtechnika.com] .

The Y'z Dock software was really really slick and very comparable to Apple's. You can still find the beta distros on pages like Fileforum and other third party hosters (I won't link because you will have to use those at your own risk).

I don't think anyone in the community ever thought they could get away with mimicking the dock ... but my default response to software patents is that they're broken. Those of you that use Windows will never know the dock because Steve Jobs doesn't want it that way. Also, I'm kind of pissed that "a PC" means Windows ... it means personal computer, does it not? Isn't my Linux machine a personal computer? I hate that. But that's a totally offtopic rant triggered by marketing from all camps.

Re:The Death of Y'z Dock (2, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298887)

  • From a marketshare perspective, "PC" meaning "PC running a Windows OS" is less wrong than "PC" meaning "PC running Linux".
  • "PC" is easier to say than "PC running a Windows OS".
  • People are lazy.

Re:The Death of Y'z Dock (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299127)

People used to say "IBM PC-compatible" or more simply "IBM PC" in casual chatting. I don't know why that went out of style, because it does differentiate the difference between IBM PC-compatible, IBM PC, or Macintosh PC, or Amiga PC, or Commodore PC, or Atari PC, or......

Re:The Death of Y'z Dock (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299165)

As long as we're being pedantic, the birth of the IBM-compatible clones meant that "IBM PC" is just as incorrect as "PC". Unless, of course, you actually do have an IBM PC.

Re:The Death of Y'z Dock (4, Insightful)

Joe U (443617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299211)

I don't know why that went out of style

It completely went out of style when:

Hi, I'm a Mac.
And I'm a PC.

Re:The Death of Y'z Dock (2, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299227)

People used to say "IBM PC-compatible" or more simply "IBM PC" in casual chatting. I don't know why that went out of style, because it does differentiate the difference between IBM PC-compatible, IBM PC, or Macintosh PC, or Amiga PC, or Commodore PC, or Atari PC, or......

A better way would be to use the processor type to set Apple hardware and OS apart from the others. You could say Apple vs. x86 machines or even Intel based machi....

Oh wait. Nevermind.

Re:The Death of Y'z Dock (5, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298899)

This is probably actually a move to advance that agenda--Apple's paranoia about its software running on generic hardware actually extends to any representation of its interface running on generic hardware. There have been about a dozen Windows dock applications under various names, many of which have gotten cease-and-desist orders. Aqua-Soft [aqua-soft.org] has been something of a hub for this kind of stuff in the past, and their various policies and histories are very prominent indirect evidence of exactly what the landscape looks like. (They used to host things more directly, if I recall.)

I wonder if StarDock will come under fire for ObjectDock.

Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (3, Insightful)

AnswerIs42 (622520) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298795)

You know, that area on the windows tool bar that gives you quick access to applications? Been there since Windows95 I think..

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298875)

No, he means the 'system tray', which is the closest equivalent to 'the dock' that exists on Windows. 'The dock' has been part of the Macintosh OS and user interface since its introduction in 1984. There have been plenty of imitators, such as the GNOME System Notification Area and The Windows 9x System Tray and the 'dock area' in so many other environments -- KDE, NeXTStep, OpenStep/GNUStep, XFCE, CDE, etc., but I don't think any of them predate the Mac's 'dock'.

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (2, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298957)

The "Dock" allows quick access to both commonly-run applications (like the quick launch and/or start menu) and currently-running applications and windows (like the task buttons and system tray). Either way, Windows has had the same thing since Win95.

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25299073)

Windows doesn't have any widget that gives you access to both running apps and common apps in the same place. A task bar combined with a quick launch bar is slightly different, as you'll end up with 2 icons for something launched from the quick launch bar, one representing the running app, and the other prepared to launch another instance. Mac's interface is different from windows.

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299035)

Uh no. Not "the dock" that they're claiming here hasn't.

Features such as magnification and zoom were not around back then I would suspect (but not 100%)

I am sure plenty of them predate the mac's "dock" in this case....they're claiming the new doc plus unrelated features that are really just desktop components....they took the concept of "hey, this is the mac doc style" and turned it into "we're patenting the graphic and functional nature of the OS"

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298927)

Shhh... Don't you know that Windows stole everything from Macs plus they are boring. Haven't you seen the brainwashing videos, I mean commercials.

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (0)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299173)

One thing neither Windows or Macintosh have not yet "stolen" is the Amiga OS' ability to have multiple screens. For example an Amiga could have a hi-res screen of 1280x1024 for web-surfing, and a lo-res 320x200 screen playing some ancient NES videogame. Both were running at the same time.

Neither Windows nor Mac can perform the same function. They can display one or the other screen, but not both.

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (3, Funny)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298959)

You know, that area on the windows tool bar that gives you quick access to applications? Been there since Windows95 I think..

ooh! can Microsoft patent the icon? How bout right click? Well, I'm sure everyone can agree that they can patent the "crash".

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298973)

You know, that area on the windows tool bar that gives you quick access to applications? Been there since Windows95 I think..

Yup. First of all, the tray bar was there since the original launch of Windows 95, which often was used by apps to implement similar functionality.

A bit later, IE4 for Windows 95 (distributed later as Windows 95 OSR2.x) added also:

- the quick launch bar
- custom toolbars displaying folders and shortcuts of your choice
- address toolbar

There is no much to patent on the OSX toolbar, apart from the look-and-feel, and we know how well this went in the past.

Re:Oh.. you mean the Quick Start Bar? (1)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299023)

You know, that area on the windows tool bar that gives you quick access to applications? Been there since Windows95 I think..

You know, that area at the screen edge that gives you all your application tiles? Been there since Nextstep I think..

I havent seen Apple's version (1, Insightful)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298809)

but what's the difference between this and the quick launch bar in Windows?

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (4, Informative)

onecheapgeek (964280) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298853)

Reading the patent, it specifices a magnification effect on the icon the mouse is over.

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (4, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298975)

So basically, CSS Dock [ndesign-studio.com] is now illegal despite the fact that it is just JavaScript (written using jQuery) and CSS? Great. Now when I'm doing web development, I need to make sure I'm not stepping on the patents of people in completely different arenas.

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (1, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299137)

No, congress passed a law last year exempting interpreted scripting languages from patent claims.

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (1)

DiniZuli (621956) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299167)

That CSS-dock is sooo cool - thanks for the link ! :-) (even though it might be illegal)

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (2, Insightful)

linuxpng (314861) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299077)

Which is odd, considering magnification is not enabled by default on new installs.

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (1)

TofuMatt (1105351) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298963)

The dock is the quick launch bar and the taskbar combined into one, basically; you have all of your running apps in the dock, but you can also put the icons of apps you want quick access to there.

Really though, there's not a lot of difference, and this is a pretty stupid patent.

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (2, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298965)

Well, the dock can auto magnify icons when you put the cursor over them, and provides some useful shortcuts like being able to specify whether an item should be loaded on startup if you right click on its icon in the Dock. It's more analagous to the quick launch plus the task bar though because it keeps track of currently open applications and hidden windows too.

No, I don't think it's worthy of a patent, it's just a menu bar and probably a lot of the ideas in it have prior art. I don't really think software should be able to be patented anyway.. copyright is enough for me to protect distribution of complete applications. If someone else can copy my design and improve on it, then good for them..

I used to think the Dock was quite tacky when I first saw it, but now that I've set it up with only the applications I use regularly, I'm used to using it as a tool and have grown to like it. I just realised right now that I've disabled the auto-magnification of icons (I forgot I even did that) - that's probably the reason I stopped thinking of it as a gimmicky/tacky..

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299003)

Heh. According to what a few other people have said, the magnification feature might have been the only patentable idea... and I agree that it's quite gimmicky/tacky.

Re:I havent seen Apple's version (0, Flamebait)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299001)

Uh, Apple's is an order of magnitude prettier?

Oh, and it comes in a slick white box, and costs more.

SIZE (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299019)

The Apple dock wastes far more screen real estate? Or is designed for people who are bad with mice?

I wonder if it was the inspiration for the Microsoft ribbons. Big fucking huge toolbars with giant monster buttons.

The Stacks also remind me of the Places bar in Gnome...but with a thumbnail feature and again, supersized.

Would that be more like... (0, Redundant)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298819)

So is the patent more like the windows "start" menu, which collects icons for frequently used programs, the "tray" which collects icons for frequently used programs which are loaded into memory, or the "quicklaunch" bar (which I know nothing about since I use the start menu for such things)?

Re:Would that be more like... (2, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299069)

More like a mix of the quicklaunch and taskbar. You can customise it to hold whatever applications you want, and it also keeps track of all open applications, as well as minimised windows and the trashcan.

I only have OS 10.4 and it doesn't have any option of showing regularly used applications that I can see. Perhaps that's a 10.5 thing - either that or the wording of the patent is just overly ambiguous (since you can indeed customise it manually to show regularly used apps).

None of the above. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299163)

Did you RTFP? It references those things itself.

The patent is for the magnification effect.

And if you're XFCE.. (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298843)

Then you've been knowing 'the dock' for a very, very long time now.

Re:And if you're XFCE.. (2, Interesting)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299015)

Since 1996. Apple was using it in 1985 right? This looks like it may have some harsh repercussions.

It's just a ripoff of OS/2 Warp... (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298873)

As much as Apple fans extol the "dock", if you leave the 3d graphics out of the equation, its just a baked over version of the "taskbar" like thing that came with OS/2 Warp, and honestly, its not as good.

Re:It's just a ripoff of OS/2 Warp... (2, Interesting)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299057)

I don't know about Apple fans, but Mac users certainly don't "extol" the Dock. Most people disable magnification, move it away from the bottom of the screen, set it to autohide, and/or replace it with something else (and then complain because you're still forced to use the dock for some things, since a full API for replacing it is not available). Only absolute newbies use the horrible default configuration.

Re:It's just a ripoff of OS/2 Warp... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299195)

Ahh, but there's a fundamental difference between "users" and "fanbois". To Apple's "fanbois", Apple can do no wrong, thus the horrible default configuration must be wonderful.

Another example of prior art. (3, Informative)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298881)

Another example of prior art is HP's Dashboard. (It was a 'Program Manager' replacement for Windows 3.1. It's main design hurdle was that it was in the middle of the screen and thus you had to either keep minimizing apps, or resize them around the center program launcher if you wanted to quickly swap around to different applications. Once you got around it's quirks if was a very fine piece of software for its time.

Well, if you are OK with patents... (1)

Silicon Jedi (878120) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298889)

This is an interesting call. It really hinges on whether there was an "expanding" dock before OSX/Nextstep. If you accept Software Patents at all this one is relatively sane, but I like RocketDock and would be sad if it went bye bye.

Read Claim 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25298895)

This is the Dock's icon magnification effect when the cursor hovers over it.

This must be a joke (0, Redundant)

red star hardkore (1242136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298897)

I've had a 'dock' in XP for years now... On my desktop my Start menu is at the top of the screen and I have a toolbar at the bottom (and I can just as easily move it to the side), it's set to auto-hide. I have shortcuts to my most frequently used applications there. If I want to run a program I just move my mouse to the bottom of the screen, the toolbar pops up just like Apple's dock and I click an icon. Hey presto, my app opens. AFAIK that capability has been available since Windows 98.

Re:This must be a joke (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298981)

Aren't you forgetting Windows 95?

Re:This must be a joke (1)

red star hardkore (1242136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299031)

Did that have floating toolbars that could dock to screen edges? That's why I said 'AFAIK', I wasn't sure if it was there before Win '98.

Re:This must be a joke (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299083)

I think this guy [slashdot.org] thinks so. My memory isn't as good as his (actually, I just didn't like the feature, so I don't remember when it was introduced!).

Magnification? (0)

gorehog (534288) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298901)

I think the justification for the patent is the magnification feature. Everything else in there seems pretty obvious and was covered by prior art.

Re:Magnification? (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299005)

I think Stardock had the magnification feature within about fourteen seconds of Apple's initial release....

Huh? (0)

haubey (1367009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298909)

I get why, but I can't believe he would pull a move like this. If I want a mac-looking PC I can't download a program to have a dock like appearance. Unless he has something up his sleeve on October 14th.... Seriously. This was a bad move and makes apple look, to me, like a selfish company who doesn't car about getting more people. If I had a program like the dock on my PC, and I said "Gee, this is great. I want a Mac now," I can't do that because I can't download a dock-like program.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25299051)

News Flash: Apple is a selfish company. They don't care about you.
Jesus (Steve Jobs to non-fanbois) in particular only cares about his pocket.

I don't know when all you fanbois will wake up and realize this.
Once you remove Jobs' jizz from your eyes you might be able to see this.

Have a nice day.

Re:Huh? (1)

haubey (1367009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299109)

Ok anonymous Coward. I am not an Apple fanboy. I don't have a Mac. I don't like Apple as a company, but I do like apple as a product manufacturer. This is why I am on the fence with them.

What about Cairo-Dock and the likes for Linux ? (1)

DiniZuli (621956) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298919)

Are they down and out now ? This is ridiculous - patenting a general desktop-GUI-thingy like that. I hope Apple/Steve don't enforce the patent.

How specific is the patent? (1)

Gregb05 (754217) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298923)

How specific is the patent? Between Windows' Quick Start Bar, Google Desktop, Vista's desktop startbar, it seems like this has the possibility to stamp on a few related applications.

How specific is this patent?
Does it cover only docks at the bottom of the screen?
How would you distinguish between the Quick Launch bar in Windows, Google Desktop, and a dock? They're similar mechanisms which allow similar behaviors. The difference is primarily in the presentation: OSX's dock doesn't span the screen and has animated icons.

The worst part is (5, Funny)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298947)

Inventors: Ording; Bas (Sunnyvale, CA), Jobs; Steven P. (Palo Alto, CA), Lindsay; Donald J. (Mountain View, CA)

Since when does the comma take precedence over the semicolon? Normally, that would be read as a list of four items: Ording, Jobs Bas, Lindsay Steven P., and Donald J. The fact that such vile abuse of punctuation is standard as the USPTO is irrefutable proof that the entire institution is corrupt.

Re:The worst part is (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299079)

The semi-colon can be used as a separator in complex lists where items contain commas, so the proper use would be:

Ording, Bas (Sunnyvale, CA); Jobs, Steven P. (Palo Alto, CA); Lindsay, Donald J. (Mountain View, CA)

Re:The worst part is (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299217)

Yeah, and I can't say I've ever seen someone using semicolons to punctuate names as "Last; First". It's always a comma...

Re:The worst part is (2, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299107)

The fact that such vile abuse of punctuation is standard as the USPTO is irrefutable proof that the entire institution is corrupt.

Never attribute to malice that which can just as easily be attributed to stupidity. The punctuation abuse is irrefutable proof that the USPTO is not entirely sane.

Not a patent on the dock (5, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298967)

Can you even bother to read the abstract?

To provide greater access and consolidation to frequently used items in the graphical user interface, a userbar is established which includes a plurality of item representations.

Not the patentable part...

To permit a greater number of items to reside in the userbar, a magnification function can be provided which magnifies items within the userbar when they are proximate the cursor associated with the graphical user interface.

Ah, yes, there we go. The patent is for rollover magnification of the items in the dock.

Re:Not a patent on the dock (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299039)

Ah, yes, there we go. The patent is for rollover magnification of the items in the dock.

Ooh. In that case, Microsoft should patent the sub-menu.

Re:Not a patent on the dock (3, Interesting)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299087)

To permit a greater number of items to reside in the userbar, a magnification function can be provided which magnifies items within the userbar when they are proximate the cursor associated with the graphical user interface.

Ah, yes, there we go. The patent is for rollover magnification of the items in the dock.

This concept is also old as the world. You can find a myriad of, for example, Flash UI-s and experiments on the web as early as 1996-8 that offer all kinds of navigation via "lens zoom" when you hover.

But I guess the irony comes from the fact that kind of zoom is a usability disaster, and Apple themselves have disabled it by default on Leopard.

Re:Not a patent on the dock (1)

MouseR (3264) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299105)

Doesn't Android use that in their app switcher? They're screwed.

Re:Not a patent on the dock (1)

Adam Jorgensen (1302989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299113)

Still means that other Docks could suffer. Off the top of my head, the iTaskNG module for E17 violates this lame patent...

Re:Not a patent on the dock (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299177)

I'm not a Mac user, so I honestly don't know. But, except for the manigication bit, that sounds just like the "Quick Launch" bar on Windows. Can someone point out the difference?

Re:Not a patent on the dock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25299203)

I wonder if it would impact Enlightenment's IBar which can also magnify icons when you mouse over with the cursor.

Prior art: NeXTStep (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25298987)

Look at the NeXT windowing OS. It has a dock, and AFAIK, it was NAMED dock.

Heck, even the NeXT-like window manager for *nix (WindowMaker) had a dock, and the most impressively functional one I have ever seen, at that...

"I'm my own grandpaw"? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299145)

This *is* the NeXTstep Dock. The current release of the NeXT OS is known as Mac OS X.

Are you saying they're their own prior art?

apple apologists (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299063)

watch them twist and turn in their attempts to validate this one. gui's had this for over a decade... but they won't let facts get in the way of steve's glory!!!

RTFP (3, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299193)

Well, yes, Steve Jobs (ever heard of him?) introduced the Dock at NeXT almost 20 years ago.

This patent is for the annoying magnification effect that was added in OS X only 10 years ago.

I was worried there for a moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25299129)

I thought it said he patented the cock when I looked at the title quickly. Good thing I was wrong. Hate to have to pay a fee to use my junk.

How to get a 'Dock'. (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299141)

This works in Windows, Linux, or any icon-based GUI.

1. Make a new folder (or directory).
2. Drag the icons for your applications (or shortcuts/links to them) into that folder.
3. Size and customize that folder to your liking. I suggest the height of the screen and one icon wide, stuck against the right side of the desktop. You can make it horizontal, make it a text list, adjust 'magnification' by adjusting icon size, etc.
4. Leave that folder open on your desktop.

I've been doing this on Windows machines for years. It's superior to the Start Menu list or the task bar because you can drag documents onto the icons and the applications will open them.

I suppose someone should patent task bars, desktop icon grids, and digital clocks next.

Good! (5, Funny)

pmontra (738736) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299221)

Good! That row of icons that I never liked will be relegated to the Apple desktop and won't clutter anymore the screens of any other OS :-)

Norton Commander (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299239)

Wasn't there an add-on TSR for Norton Commander that would store short-cuts (but they weren't called that) in a small frame at the bottom of the screen?

What the patent covers (5, Informative)

radarjd (931774) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299253)

Here are the patent's independent claims [wikipedia.org] :

1. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a bar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a size of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display and for repositioning others of said plurality of tiles along said bar to accommodate the varied size of said one tile.

Roughly, increasing the size of the icon which the mouse is over, and repositioning icons around it.

36. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a userbar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a position of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display, in accordance with a predefined relationship between an effect width W, a default height h of said at least one of said plurality of tiles and a selected maximum height H of said at least one of said plurality of tiles wherein said predefined relationship includes a function S defined as: S=((H-h)/2)/sine(.pi..times.(h+2)/(W.times.2)).

Roughly, a bar in a gui where the position of icons nearby the mouse is modified according to the formula given.

65. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a userbar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a position of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display, wherein said processor displays a label associated with said at least one of said plurality of tiles with a first predetermined fade-in rate when said cursor moves proximate said at least one of said plurality of tiles from another of said plurality of tiles, and with a second predetermined fade-in rate when said cursor moves proximate said at least one of said plurality of tiles from outside a region associated with said userbar.

Roughly, displaying the name of a program (by fading it in) when you run the mouse over the associated icon from outside the dock.

67. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a userbar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a position of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display, wherein said processor displays a label associated with said at least one of said plurality of tiles with a first predetermined fade-in rate when said cursor moves proximate said at least one of said plurality of tiles from another of said plurality of tiles, and wherein said processor fades out said label when said cursor moves away from said at least one of said plurality of tiles using a first fade out rate when said cursor moves into another of said at least one of said plurality of tiles, and using a second fade out rate when said cursor moves out of a region associated with said bar.

Roughly, displaying the name of a program (by fading it in) when you run the mouse over the associated icon from another icon.

69. A method for displaying items in a graphical user interface comprising the steps of: providing a plurality of said items in a region of said graphical user interface, each of said items having a default height associated therewith; moving a cursor along said region; and selectively magnifying at least one of said items closest to said cursor to a first level and magnifying items proximate to said one item to other levels less than said first level.

Roughly, increasing the size of an icon in the dock when the mouse is over it and increasing the size of nearby icons, but not as much.

104. A computer-readable medium containing program instructions for displaying items in a graphical user interface that, when executed by a computer, cause the computer to perform the following operations: providing a plurality of said items in a region of said graphical user interface, each of said items having a default height associated therewith; detecting movement of a cursor along said region; and selectively magnifying at least one of said items closest to said cursor to a first level and magnifying items proximate to said one item to other levels less than said first level.

Roughly, a hard disk or other storage medium which has a program which implements a gui which displays a set of icons and magnifying the icon which the mouse is over, and magnifying nearby icons somewhat less.

105. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a bar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a size of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display and for varying a position of another of said plurality of tiles in accordance with a predefined relationship that includes a function S defined as: S=((H-h)/2)/sine(.pi..times.(h/2)/(W.times.2)), where W is an effect width, h is a default height of said at least one of said plurality of tiles and H is a selected maximum height of said at least one of said plurality of tiles.

Roughly, a bar in a gui where the position of icons nearby the mouse is modified according to the formula given.

108. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a bar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a size of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display and displaying a label associated with at least one of said plurality of tiles at a first predetermined fade-in rate when said cursor moves proximate said at least one of said plurality of tiles from another of said plurality of tiles, and at a second predetermined fade-in rate when said cursor moves proximate said at least one of said plurality of tiles from outside a region associated with said bar.

Roughly, displaying the name of a program (by fading it in) when you run the mouse over the associated icon from another icon.

114. A method for displaying representations of objects in a graphical user interface for a computer system, comprising the steps of: displaying a plurality of icons in a row, where each icon represents an object in the computer system; displaying a movable cursor via which the user can select individual ones of said icons; magnifying the size of at least one of said icons as said cursor is moved into the vicinity of said one icon; and repositioning others of the icons along said row to accommodate the magnified size of said one icon.

Roughly, a method whereby icons are displayed, the icon which the mouse is under is magnified, and nearby icons are repositioned in response to the increased size of the highlighted icon.

124. A method for displaying items in a graphical user interface, comprising the steps of: displaying a plurality of user interface items along an edge of a display area in the form of a bar consisting of at least one row of said items; detecting the positioning of a cursor within a predetermined distance from at least one of said items; in response to said detection, magnifying the size of the item closest to said cursor to a designated level and magnifying other items proximate said closest item to levels less than said designated level; and moving the items along said row to accommodate the magnified sizes of items so that items in the vicinity of said magnified items are not obscured.

Roughly, the same as the above, but the icon bar has to be on the edge of the screen, and nearby icons are magnified as well.

127. A computer-readable medium containing program instructions that when executed, cause a computer to present a graphical user interface that displays a plurality of user interface items along an edge of a display area in the form of a bar consisting of at least one row of said items, and that is responsive to the positioning of a cursor within a predetermined distance of at least one of said items to magnify the size of the item closest to said cursor to a designated level and magnify other items proximate said closest item to levels less than said designated level, and to move the items along said row to accommodate the magnified sizes of items so that items in the vicinity of said magnified items are not obscured.

Roughly, the same as the above, but claiming the medium on which the program is stored and not the method.

It's sort of surprising the patent office granted this, as they have become extremely hostile to business method patents of late. This was likely very expensive and time consuming to prosecute.

Please note, these rough explanations should not be used to determine if a particular project is infringing or not. They are extremely rough and quick explanations for your entertainment. Whether or not you believe Steve Jobs is evil is likely strongly correlated to the number of Macs you own...

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