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Touchpad Patent Holder Tsera Sues Just About Everyone

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the how-about-a-first-known-infringement-filing-deadline-link dept.

Patents 168

eldavojohn writes "Okay, well, maybe not everyone but more than twenty companies (including Apple, Qualcomm, Motorola and Microsoft) are being sued for a generic patent that reads: 'Apparatus and methods for controlling a portable electronic device, such as an MP3 player; portable radio, voice recorder, or portable CD player are disclosed. A touchpad is mounted on the housing of the device, and a user enters commands by tracing patterns with his finger on a surface of the touchpad. No immediate visual feedback is provided as a command pattern is traced, and the user does not need to view the device to enter commands.' Sounds like their may be a few companies using that technology. The suit was filed on July 15th in the favoritest place ever to file patent claim lawsuits: Texas Eastern District Court. It's a pretty classic patent troll; they've been holding this patent since 2003 and they just noticed now that everyone and his dog are using touchpads to control portable electronic devices."

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168 comments

I'm going to patent (-1, Redundant)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#28787949)

filing patent claims in East texas

And I'm going to patent (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788003)

Making the same joke about patenting patent-abuse methods over and over again in every slashdot article about patents.

Re:And I'm going to patent (2, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788103)

And I'm going to patent the patent patenting patent process, just to annoy you, you pedant!

Re:And I'm going to patent (2, Insightful)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789961)

And I'm going to infringe on your patent for vehicular homicide.

Re:And I'm going to patent (2, Funny)

Fyzzle (1603701) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788151)

Making the same joke about patenting patent-abuse methods over and over again in every slashdot article about patents.

Yo dawg I herd you like patents, so we're going to patent your patent so you can sue while you sue.

Re:And I'm going to patent (2, Funny)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788191)

And I'm going to let you, then violate your patent and offer to compensate you face to face, so that we can finally see what you look like, mister Anonymous Coward, if that is your real name...

Re:And I'm going to patent (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788475)

mister Anonymous Coward, if that is your real name...

Did you miss the memo? His name is now "Anonymous Cowardon". Apparently the Slashdot coders decided to give him a new name.

Re:And I'm going to patent (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789383)

No - the space is not displayed well

Anonymous Cowardon Wednesday July 22

is

Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22

Re:And I'm going to patent (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789435)

*facepalm*

Re:And I'm going to patent (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789463)

The style sheet has been that way for months. You would think that somebody would have noticed.

Re:And I'm going to patent (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789487)

That would require the Slashdot coders to actual be competent. That little comments box on the AJAX version has also been broken for about as long and no one seems to have noticed that either. You're supposed to be able to dock it to the top of the page but if you click the button it just gets black outline and stays in the same place.

It isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28789587)

I'm David.

Re:I'm going to patent (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788859)

On the other hand it takes patent trolls to prove how flawed the patent system is. By winning these insane lawsuits the question on whether the patent system is ready for reformation or not is raised.

Re:I'm going to patent (0, Redundant)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788903)

Maybe someone should patent the touchpad interface used by iPods - because Tsera sure hasn't done so here. The patent is for an invention that allows the user to issue commands to a portable electronic device by making gestures with their finger over a touch sensitive surface (just like patent application 20060026535) in order to perform some function which doesn't require visual feedback. Sure, I'm paraphrasing - and the wording is so vague in some places that maybe they could twist it to apply to scroll wheel on the iPod - but this is really all there is to the patent. It's weak. The really crappy part is that if you decided you wanted to build this into your device (it's an obvious combination of a gesture based interface with a touch screen), then reading this patent would give you no help whatsoever in implementing it. Utter drivel! Can someone explain why is it acceptable to: 1. Have a cool idea 2. Patent idea Instead of: 1. Have a cool idea 2. Design it 3. Build a prototype 4. Patent novelties in your prototype Anyone??

Re:I'm going to patent (4, Insightful)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788947)

Oops, perhaps a patent to automatically detect if users meant to set the format to Plain Old Text is in order...
-------------
Maybe someone should patent the touchpad interface used by iPods - because Tsera sure hasn't done so here. The patent is for an invention that allows the user to issue commands to a portable electronic device by making gestures with their finger over a touch sensitive surface (just like patent application 20060026535) in order to perform some function which doesn't require visual feedback.

Sure, I'm paraphrasing - and the wording is so vague in some places that maybe they could twist it to apply to scroll wheel on the iPod - but this is really all there is to the patent. It's weak. The really crappy part is that if you decided you wanted to build this into your device (it's an obvious combination of a gesture based interface with a touch screen), then reading this patent would give you no help whatsoever in implementing it. Utter drivel! Can someone explain why is it acceptable to:

1. Have a cool idea
2. Patent idea

Instead of:

1. Have a cool idea
2. Design it
3. Build a prototype
4. Patent novelties in your prototype

Anyone??

Re:I'm going to patent (1)

JustinRLynn (831164) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789615)

Indeed. It would be nice, although completely untenable, if the Patent Office required physical prototypes or accurate models of said prototypes of all patented inventions to be on file for later inspection for an application to even be considered. That'd kill all of this nonsense, but would also probably kill our budget.

Re:I'm going to patent (1)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789641)

Completely agree, but perhaps have another slant on it.

We might consider it acceptable to patent a pure idea but when taken to court compensation should only be awarded based on a realistic estimate of the companies actual losses due to infringement. Which is to say, if the patent owner cannot produce any evidence of a reasonable attempt to design a working version of the device or idea then there simply are no damages at all.

I don't mind people patenting things (even pure ideas) that they make a true and sincere investment to bring into the world. It's the patenting of things with no intention to ever invest in the idea beyond the patent that is pure evil.

New Sign for the US Patent Office (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28790513)

"Working Prototype Or It DIdn't Happen"

Re:I'm going to patent (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789063)

I could be wrong, but I think there's prior art that might invalidate your patent... Unfortunately...

Visual Feedback (4, Interesting)

daenris (892027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788025)

I haven't used an iPhone or iPod Touch for more than a few seconds, but are there touch commands that don't provide feedback? I mean, if you're scrolling, or zooming an image or whatnot immediate visual feedback is provided and ongoing while you're performing the command, which would seem to contradict the patents claim: "No immediate visual feedback is provided as a command pattern is traced"

Re:Visual Feedback (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788111)

This patent is for touchpads not touch screens

Re:Visual Feedback (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788405)

You still get "immediate visual feedback" when you use a touchpad.

Re:Visual Feedback (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788713)

If you're looking at the touchpad of an iPod Classic you don't -- only when you look up at the screen do you see music lists scrolling by.

Still -- make a product. Don't sue for ideas.

Re:Visual Feedback (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788737)

You still get "immediate visual feedback" when you use a touchpad.

I'm blind, you insensitive clod!

Re:Visual Feedback (1)

auLucifer (1371577) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788995)

So on an ipod you would get instant feedback from the 'click' the clickwheel makes. Would immediate audable feedback count in this situation?

Re:Visual Feedback (1)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789211)

I think this is related to the next part that says "and the user does not need to view the device to enter commands". This sounds more like a fancy touch screen TV/Cable/Satellite remote control device, that doesn't need to provide any visual feedback. In fact, MP3 devices with a touch screen, don't need to provide visual feedback, they just need to execute whatever functionality issued by a particular trace, raise volume, next track, etc..

Even if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788029)

Even if anyone believes invented it first, purposely waiting for it to get big before suing everyone for it has to be considered just a little fishy.

Re:Even if (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788375)

I would have to say that there is plenty of prior art. I know I have an old pentium based compaq laptop that has a touchpad mouse that is older than this patent.

Re:Even if (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788487)

Yes but your touchpad mouse gives an "immediate visual feedback" which wouldn't be the same as the claim in this patent.

Re:Even if (2, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789133)

And your mouse is not a portable electronic device.... oh, wait...

"Apparatus and methods for controlling a portable electronic device, such as an MP3 player; portable radio, voice recorder, or portable CD player are disclosed. A touchpad is mounted on the housing of the device, and a user enters commands by tracing patterns with his finger on a surface of the touchpad. No immediate visual feedback is provided as a command pattern is traced, and the user does not need to view the device to enter commands."

In 1999 the Diamond Rio existed but not the iPod, but this seems to cover all portable electronic devices with a touchpad. It goes on to give examples of devices that play music, but it's trying to patent every portable electronic device. It's vague enough that it you could lump laptops in with the mix, after all a laptop is a portable electronic device and you trace patterns with your finger on a surface of a touchpad.

Think it could be fought, but it'd probably be cheaper to throw them 100 grand then to fight it.

Re:Even if (1)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788519)

Even if anyone believes invented it first, purposely waiting for it to get big before suing everyone for it has to be considered just a little fishy.

Fishy, but perfectly legal. Remember that patents and copyright/trademarks are completely different.

I could have a patent on something and hold on to it until 6 months before it expires and sue everyone that violated it.

Now, is the patent itself valid? Let's hope not.

Re:Even if (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788735)

Even if anyone believes invented it first, purposely waiting for it to get big before suing everyone for it has to be considered just a little fishy.

I've wondered the same thing myself. Could some lawyer person explain why the concept of laches [wikipedia.org] does not apply to this kind of scenario?

Uh? (1)

Kayden (1406747) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788037)

Can I patent a device covered with keys covered in alphanumeric characters that are to be pressed sequentially to convey thoughts, ideas, or other forms of communication and sue everyone to ever make a keyboard?

Previous ART, 1999, National Semiconductor -WebPad (3, Interesting)

tvlinux (867035) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788051)

I was programming a "touch screen" in the year 2000. I still have the device, it was made to demonstrate the NSC Geode chip. The name of it was "WebPad" I can find out the manufacturer when I get home.

Re:Previous ART, 1999, National Semiconductor -Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788339)

The patent was filed in 1999, you insensitive patent infringer!

Re:Previous ART, 1999, National Semiconductor -Web (3, Informative)

Life2Short (593815) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788621)

OK, how about the old HP-150 [wikipedia.org]? The place I worked at part-time in college had one of these back in 1984. Oh, by the way, GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

Party like it's 1999 (1)

celtic_hackr (579828) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789957)

The patent was applied for in 1999, but I notice they mention touchpads and a a touchscreen. So, they are trying to pull them both in with this patent.

Too bad the following patents predate this patent by a few years to which they seem to be claiming to have invented.

US3662105: Electrical Sensor Of Plane Coordinates, Issued May 9, 1972

US3798370: Electrographic Sensor For Determining Planar Coordinates, Issued March 19, 1974

Two prior patents which I notice they neglected to mention, and only include a bunch of patents that all have individual parts of what they are claiming. It looks like they simply looked through a bunch of patents and said, hmm, Let's combine these patents into one. Voila! New innovative patent that no one has thought of.

Patents are Unsane (1)

Conzar (1603461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788053)

But capitalism is also unsane. Tired of patents, get rid of capitalism and try something that will really solve our problems: a Resource Based Economy.

Re:Patents are Unsane (1)

hobbit (5915) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788185)

Perhaps you haven't noticed that resources aren't exactly evenly distributed the world over? Good luck keeping your military-industrial complex ticking over without oil.

Re:Patents are Unsane (2, Funny)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788325)

Er, the military industrial complex uses very little oil, actually. Most of our military vehicles are electrical or biodiesel at this point.

Re:Patents are Unsane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788517)

Sure they are. Hey, buddy, wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn?

Re:Patents are Unsane (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788553)

you cant be serious. military fuel consumption makes the Department of Defense the single largest consumer of petroleum in the U.S.
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/13199 [energybulletin.net]

Re:Patents are Unsane (1, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 4 years ago | (#28790507)

No, it makes them the biggest purchaser and stockpiler. Not the biggest user. Enormous difference. But go on, keep quoting the CEO of the American Petroleum Institude, Red Cavaney. It's not like he, as CEO of ConecoPhillips, was the primary architect of Bush's eight year campaign of lies about the nature of petroleum, nor is it the case that Bush regularly told lies about the military to generate support he desired.

But I suppose knowing the first thing about the source you're citing is too much to ask from an argumentative SlashDot nobody these days. He was, by the way, also involved with the Enron energy scandal, and helped architect the Walker v. Cheney oil scandal.

Also you should ask WalMart about how to treat minimum wage people.

Incidentally, just because something is of strategic value and is being purchased as such doesn't mean that it's being burned as fuel.

Now, I don't mean to scare you, but I did a little bit of basic research. For one, the number you get when reading around varies about 700%; that page alone lets it vary by 120%, and NPR cites the number as about 40% lower. For two, the number cited is 340,000 barrels per day (roughly the output of two mid-sized offshore drilling rigs) during an active two nation war, whereas the American public consumes 20,800,000 billion barrels per day, loding the military at 1.6 percent of the nation's usage.

You know, the nation served by six gas companies.

CNOOC just bought a 75 billion barrel a year contract from Marathon - three and a half times America's total consumption, and more than 50 times what the military uses. Neither of those are particularly big, as far as oil companies go.

So yeah, the military is the biggest buyer of light refined oil, because the oil companies buy rights, and everyone else buys gasoline or crude. You just have to phrase scale very carefully, and ignore the blatantly obvious lie you're telling.

To give you a sense of scale, USPIRG - a far more reliable source of information about oil than an oil executive - suggests that public bus transportation in New York City alone suppressed the use of 1.8 billion gallons of oil versus what cars would have used. That's nearly fourteen times what the entire military used just saved by busses in one city.

If you really, genuinely believe that the US military is the world's largest oil buyer, you need to take off the blinders. It's the largest single purchaser of unprocessed light refined oil who doesn't deal in futures, and the only reason they don't deal in futures is that they cannot tolerage shortages. Of course they're the world's largest buyer of light refined oil - the only other people with the facilities to process it into something usable are the sellers.

That's a little bit like saying that a grocery store chain is the largest purchaser of beef because McDonalds buys hamburger instead.

Please be less gulliable.

Re:Patents are Unsane (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788271)

No offense, but you do know that you're a kook? Nothing wrong with that, as long as you know...

Re:Patents are Unsane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788383)

I agree, capitalism does more harm to society as a whole than it does good. Its only there so the rich get more riches and the poor gets even less, not to mention the debt its generating, which can only be solved by.. more debt. Yeah we do have a lot of technology coming out of this system, mostly gizmos that are useless and marketing thats propaganda. We would get much more if we allow everyone on the planet to participate instead of restricting what they can and cant do with the use of money thats created out of thin air and regulated for the interests of the already wealthy.

You are right that patents are unsane, its completely illogic and irrational. But its only a single piece of a larger problem, and nobody is ready to face it yet.

Re:Patents are Unsane (0, Offtopic)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788867)

Says the downtrodden prole with his own 3000-MHz computer.

Re:Patents are Unsane (0, Offtopic)

jerep (794296) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789121)

Please, we have enough resources for every human on this planet to have its own free 3000Mhz computer and free internet and whatnot. But its more profitable for a handful of people to have the remaining billions pay for such things.

Re:Patents are Unsane (0, Offtopic)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789637)

But this isn't about every human being on the planet, now, is it? What entitles you to a 3000 MHz computer, while so many go without?

Re:Patents are Unsane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788857)

Yes, because government-enforced monopolies on vague, abstract ideas is just what Adam Smith and the other early philosophers of capitalism had in mind.

Freaking dumbshit...

Re:Patents are Unsane (3, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788875)

Capitalism is a bad system but it's pretty much showed itself to be better than the alternatives on a large scale. Or rather hybrids based mostly on capitalism have proven to be better than the alternatives. Same thing goes for democracy.

Human natures is still in the days when humanity was a bunch of small tribes whose hobby was murdering each other. That's not going to change no matter how much you cover your ears and repeat it's not true. Capitalism works because it actually assumes many humans are greedy, selfish bastards who care about little except their own satisfaction. Enough of them are ambitious, intelligent, vicious and driven to butcher any system that's foolish enough to assume they don't exist.

Re:Patents are Unsane (1)

jerep (794296) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789083)

Better than the alternatives? If capitalism is the best we can come up with, I am not impressed. And democracy in its current state is a joke, it doesnt represent we the people, we havent had real political choices since I cant remember when. Every political party share the same long term goals, they just have different methods of getting there, how is that democracy?

Re:Patents are Unsane (0, Offtopic)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789751)

I am not impressed

And rightly so. Capitalism is just one of several known forms of economy, and they are pretty much all bad. The difference is minor; in capitalism you can be richer or poorer; in socialism you can be just as poor as any of your neighbors. Neither of them offers an advantage on average, even if we agree on how to measure the said advantage. Both capitalism and socialism exhibited positive and negative surges, and both have decayed into uselessness by now. Small businesses are near death, and in many markets they are dead for many years, obsoleted by box stores of Safeway and Wal-Mart kind. You just can't compete on prices with Wal-Mart. Cleaners still hang around, and burrito places, and noodle shops, but they are irrelevant to the economy; they are not in stock market indexes.

There is no democracy anywhere on the planet; what you have is just varying means to pacify the populace, complete with elections of prearranged candidates (a.k.a. sock puppets.) Countries were, and still are, ruled by the elite that does not represent anyone but themselves. Premiers and Presidents are simply their helmsmen - and you never see the captain. But indirectly you can use the golden rule to figure out who commands the ship.

Capitalism's acceptance of human greed is more honest, compared to socialism. However socialism's resistance to human greed is a better goal. Remember a ST:TNG episode where Enterprise rescued some frozen elite from capitalist past - how horrible their attitude was, how much out of place in a nearly communist society of ST they were? Humans themselves are the problem, and rearrangement of chairs on the deck of Titanic won't help. Many a philosopher posed this question, and the answers that we know (such as coming from Marx and Lenin) are not particularly helpful. Eventually, though, chances are that the people will have to change themselves or die. IMO the latter option is far more likely because human behavior, aggressive and always seeking dominance, is encoded in genes. And of course most aggressive humans climb to the top, to rule over the rest. I'm not impressed by any of that either; I'd much prefer to live in a nearly-static society where sentient beings have no aggression, mild curiosity, and no desire for power over others. Unfortunately whenever a SciFi writer depicts such a society, in the very next chapter it is all wiped out by a trigger-happy platoon of Klingon types or sold into slavery by greedy Ferengi types. Sad.

Re:Patents are Unsane (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789907)

Pure democracy has proven itself time and time again to be one of the most consistantly tyrannical forms of government in existance. Even Tyrannical Despotisms have a hard time topping pure democracy in that regard. It turns the entire country into a mob, and when the mob rules, everyone who is not the majority cowers in fear.

Monarchies are unpredictable, will it be 50 years of tyranny or 50 years of prosperity? An Oligarchy is just a monarchy with a board of directors, just as unpredictable as a monarchy but with a better chance of being tyrannical. Theocracies are as bad as monarchies, but have the added element of the religion dictating things. Depending on the religion it may or may not be difficult for the theocratic leader to twist it to his will.

A democratic republic is the most consistantly beneficial to the greatest number of citizens of a country. Democracy is good in small numbers, but very quickly it breaks down and becomes unwieldy. In a democratic republic we break democracy down into manageable chunks, and it works. We have a sort of oligarchy with a high accountability to the public, therefor they have a very great incentive to do the will of the public. However, the will of the public is balanced by individual representatives who, because they are separated from the public they represent, are generally not caught up in the mass hysteria that the public can sometimes generate. Nothing is perfect, but a democratic republic is as close as we have come. You can look at all of the most successful countries in the world - the safest, richest, farest countries - and they are all heavily into various incarnations of the democratic republic. Some still have trappings of old styles of government, but they still be have as a democratic republic.

Think about that the next time someone pushes to have all issues that Congress or your local legislature address voted on by the people. It is really easy to swing from the best system ever concieved to the worst system to have ever existed.

The only reason Capitalism is any good is, if it is kept in check properly and not overly imposed upon (it requires both), it naturally adjusts itself to provide the most benefit possible to the economy it is used in. No other system can touch the flexibility and efficiency of capitalism, but obviously it is easy for it to go astray with poor oversight. The recent economic troubles are a wonderful example of poor management of capitalism. The government was imposing far too many demands in some areas, and putting in too few restrictions in others.

But if you want to change it out with Communism or Fascism, go ahead. Why you'd want to replace Capitalism, which has shown itself to work better than anything else, with a system that has failed spectacularly every time it has been tried is beyond me. Other forms of socialism don't count, they're all just hybrid bastardizations of capitalism. Bartering is out of the question, it is far too inflexible for any kind of large economy.

Re:Patents are Unsane (4, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 4 years ago | (#28790075)

. Why you'd want to replace Capitalism, which has shown itself to work better than anything else, with a system that has failed spectacularly every time it has been tried is beyond me.

I think when people talk of "replacing capitalism" they mean "capitalism" in the libertarian or "free market trumps all" sense, not in the semi-regulated you speak of. When the greed of a select few is capable of causing huge amounts of harm to all of society then there is a problem (economy exists for people, not visa versa), as is when wealth equals political power directly, with no reguard for the the people whatsoever. This is what a lot of people (mostly zealots) mean when they talk of "capitalism", not "any market in which good are exchanged".

Good points. Btw,

Re:Patents are Unsane (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789947)

But capitalism is also unsane. Tired of patents, get rid of capitalism and try something that will really solve our problems: a Resource Based Economy.

We require more Vespene gas!

PDA (2, Interesting)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788079)

Um, I know in 2003 I had a palm pilot which had a touchscreen in which I entered commands, possible with my finger if I lost my stylus. I'm sure PDAs have been around for a few years prior to 2003 if I had one in 2003. I could record voice, play music, and perform other functions covered by the broad definition of a portable electronic device (remote control was awesome for messing with people).

Re:PDA (3, Informative)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788265)

In the patent itself they use the Palm Pilot as an example of the technology difference. The PDA is a touch screen device with visual cues guiding your touch. The patent is for blind operation via a touch surface, distinguishing commands my motions or patterns. The patent exempts computers and distinctly applies itself to portable media/entertainment devices.

Re:PDA (2, Informative)

znu (31198) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788397)

The Graffiti entry area on early Palms provided no visual feedback, and could be used to enter commands as well as characters.

Re:PDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788527)

In the patent itself they use the Palm Pilot as an example of the technology difference. The PDA is a touch screen device with visual cues guiding your touch. The patent is for blind operation via a touch surface, distinguishing commands my motions or patterns. The patent exempts computers and distinctly applies itself to portable media/entertainment devices.

Why would that even be patentable? I'm filing a patent right now on using the Internet... but with no visual cues to guide you. How is it even considered an invention to duplicate an existing device and omit a small piece of it?

Re:PDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788727)

I seem to remember that early Palm Pilots, well before 2003 when this was filed, did not actually have a touch screen. There was a small touch-sensitive area below the screen. At the time, its main (IIRC only) use was tracing out letters to type into documents. That sounds an awful lot like the gesture-based commands in the patent. Their patent is at least an obvious extension of that small touch-pad on older Palm models. Still, that's only one kind of touch-based system that was in use prior to 2003. As many posters before me pointed out, there are a bunch of opportunities for proving prior art.

Therefore, if they want to argue specific differences in technology from their contemporaries, then two scenarios present themselves here. a) Their patent is invalid due to prior art or obvious extension of at least one existing technology from 2003, or b) their patent is so different from the logical progression of touch-based devices over the past decade that nothing is infringing on it.

Either way, they lose.

Re:PDA (3, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789037)

The patent exempts computers and distinctly applies itself to portable media/entertainment devices.

I *hate* that kind of patent. It pretty much says that this is something that's already being done in closely related devices, and they're staking their claim at the land office before it inevitably is applied to this class of device. There were about a gazillion GPS and mobile computer patents like this in the late 90s eary 00s.

Re:PDA (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788331)

Mine even had swipe options to allow me to control applications with my finger. Heck, the "show graffiti" swipe from the bottom to the top of the screen dates back to the first Palm.

Not prior art (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789263)

First, the patent was filed in 1999, so 2003 doesn't really matter.

Second, the patent doesn't cover touchscreens, it covers using gestures on touchscreens. That is, the panning of the iPhone, or using the finger swiping gesture to change pages.

Anyone for chess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788143)

Lawyer to King's Bishop 2

On no Amazon!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788197)

Hope we don't all wake up to find our touchscreens missing and a dollar bill in it's place.

For heaven's sake, it's the CLAIMS that matter! (4, Informative)

Janthkin (32289) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788209)

Why do these articles always quote from the abstract or summary? Here's Claim 1, with some bonus white space to make it readable:

1. A portable electronic device comprising: a housing; and a touch-sensitive surface mounted on the housing, the portable electronic device controlled by a user tracing a command pattern on the touch-sensitive surface with a finger, the command pattern matching one of a plurality of preset patterns, each of the plurality of the present patterns corresponding to a predefined function of the portable electronic device, the command pattern being traced without requiring the user to view the portable electronic device, wherein at least one of the plurality of patterns corresponds to a predefined function that is performed only for so long as contact is maintained with the touch-sensitive surface, wherein the command pattern is composed of one of more motions of the finger on the touch-sensitive surface, the one or more motions selected from a group of motions consisting of a left-to-right motion, a right-to-left motion, an upward motion, a downward motion, a clockwise circular motion, a counterclockwise circular motion, a diagonal motion, a tapping motion, and holding the pointing device against the touch-sensitive surface.

Re:For heaven's sake, it's the CLAIMS that matter! (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788371)

Sounds like the patent is on gestures, not on touchpads. Surely there must be prior art for gestures? Apple just recently started pushing gestures as a competitive advantage for the iPhone/iTouch, so this might be a legit case.

Re:For heaven's sake, it's the CLAIMS that matter! (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788435)

Now that I think about it, the Palm Pilot used gestures for some of the characters (e.g. a fish for K) in about 1990, so there is prior art. Using a finger instead of a stylus seems pretty obvious to anyone that has ever misplaced their stylus. Now, if they had a patent on multi-touch, then they might have a lawsuit against Apple, but few other vendors are currently supporting it.

Re:For heaven's sake, it's the CLAIMS that matter! (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788543)

Yeah, it looks like it covers gestures. Probably anticipated by the prior art, including Graffiti and Unistrokes. At least it's not as obviously bogus as the abstract makes it appear.

Re:For heaven's sake, it's the CLAIMS that matter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28790163)

When I was at high school back in the late 80's/90's, a friend of mine had a Casio organiser which he got from Hong Kong and THAT had a touch pad on it for entering text. You trace your finger round the grid in a certain way and that would correspond to a letter or number.

Palm took it to the next level with their gestures, but the concept is still the same.

Jumping the gun? (3, Insightful)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788223)

I don't see home some of the media players fit into this patent for "blind operation via touchpad"
For example, the iPod - The click wheel visually navigates on-screen. The controls are physical buttons underneath the touchpad. Maybe for the fastforward/rewind motions, but its hard to get there blindly if I recall. You still need visual feedback to use it.

Re:Jumping the gun? (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788445)

I can text with out pulling my phone outta my pocket, so if someone could find a song without having to look at a screen it could easily apply.

iPhone/iPodTouch/&others disqualified? (2, Insightful)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788289)

and a user enters commands by tracing patterns with his finger on a surface of the touchpad. No immediate visual feedback is provided as a command pattern is traced, and the user does not need to view the device to enter commands.

Is it just me, or does 'tapping' not constitute 'tracing patterns with his/her finger'?
Gestures? Visual feedback is immediate (zooming, scrolling, rotations, etc)

Not going anywhere (2, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788299)

My Palm 1000 from 1996 invalidates the claims in this patent through prior art. I seem to remember the Apple Newton being touchscreen too, but I didn't have one, so I'm not sure.

This isn't going anywhere.

Re:Not going anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788619)

It's going to my stomache. I think I'm going to throw up.

Re:Not going anywhere (3, Informative)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788811)

My Palm 1000 from 1996 invalidates the claims in this patent through prior art. I seem to remember the Apple Newton being touchscreen too, but I didn't have one, so I'm not sure.

This isn't going anywhere.

Newton certainly had a touch screen. It also had gesture recognition with things like "scribble" to delete a graphical object onscreen. And, it isn't like Newton invented the touchscreen, either. (Though, it wouldn't surprise me if Apple was out in front at that point with some of the "gesture" stuff, while previous examples used menus and such for everything.)

And, from an end user standpoint, is there that much difference between a touch screen used with a stylus vs. a classic light pen?

Re:Not going anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28790297)

"Though, it wouldn't surprise me if Apple was out in front at that point with some of the "gesture" stuff, while previous examples used menus and such for everything."

Apple doesn't invent basically anything ever. Every example you give will come back to a counterexample 20 or more years older. The Newton, for example, is 12 years into the history of touchscreen handhelds.

Go on, name just one thing Apple actually invented. Prepare to be shot down.

seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28788357)

You know, my college roommate had an HP computer that didn't have a mouse, it was controlled by a touchscreen. Did I mention that this was in 1985?

Only fair.. (1)

Iffie (1410897) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788671)

It you have a patent system then these things will happen. If the patent was granted when the technology didn't exist it is simply a patent that needs to be honoured. imho this is actually a very valid claim, as sombody is actually making money out of the idea. Questioning the patent system in general is another matter. That would make enourmous sens because many patents are granted that either make no sense or where in the public domain..

Re:Only fair.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28789485)

If the technology didn't exist at the them, then there is no invention, and no valid patent.

I'd like to patent warp drive please.....

too much prior art to stick (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788729)

can't see this one doing any more than costing money. Trackpads have been in computers for a decade and several systems have gestures built in long before 2003. I doubt that suggesting a finger vs a pen/stylus would make this unique enough to make it patentable.

Well, I hate to *point* it out, but.... (2, Funny)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788781)

Tsera's lawyers are just a wee bit *touchy* on this topic...

Re:Well, I hate to *point* it out, but.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28789217)

I've got a gesture for them. Accompanied with audible feedback.

Sounds familair... (4, Insightful)

plazman30 (531348) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789015)

Doesn't Palm's Graffiti or even the Newton constitute prior art for this thing??

Remember the good old days, when you had to actually build a working model of something to patent it. You couldn't just have an idea...

Jail them (1, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789221)

Patent Trolls, legislators that approved that laws, judges that rule that they are right, etc, and their families, in an alternate world where all of them are right, and always been. After living 5 minutes there, where they cant even light a match or have basically any machine, they will enter into reason (or not, and leaving of all them locked there wont hurt exactly).

Obama (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#28790009)

Not only Health Care,

In the US the Court System needs reforms so games like these can not be played!
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