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Patented Gestures Detailed

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-hail-the-listicle dept.

Patents 87

An anonymous reader writes "Annalee Newitz wrote a fresh/interesting/informative piece on the io9 site about 10 Gestures that are already patented; unsurprisingly by the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Nintendo. But it's the other patent holders on the list that seem more interesting to me: Xerox, Lucent, Palm and lesser known Gesturetek have very broad patents for this tech."

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87 comments

Common MS gesture (4, Funny)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#36361956)

There's a gesture I often make to MS products, but it's been done so often by so many people that the prior art makes it unpatentable.

Re:Common MS gesture (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362022)

What gesture? Or should I read between the lines?

Re:Common MS gesture (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362056)

What gesture? Or should I read between the lines?

Yeah, the "three finger salute". Sorta read between the lines although no one I know can hit ctrl-alt-delete with ring, index, pointer fingers on one hand.

Re:Common MS gesture (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362100)

(assuming you mean ring/middle/index, since pointer == index)

Severe carpal tunnel syndrome? Ring/pointer/pinkie is more comfortable, but even with my moderate CTS, I can do it with ring/middle/index on a desktop KB.

Laptops and netbooks are right out of the running, though, since none of them can seem to agree where the hell home/end/ins/del should go...

Re:Common MS gesture (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362194)

Why on Earth would you even try to do that? My lord what an uncomfortable position. I can do it, but it feels so very wrong. Just slide your thumb over to alt and the rest is pretty easy no matter which fingers you use.

Re:Common MS gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362266)

that works on laptops and netbooks, since alt and ctl are together, not on most desktop keyboards.

Re:Common MS gesture (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362412)

Using the left hand I can hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete with my ring, middle, and index fingers. Ring hits R. Alt. Index hits R. Ctrl. Middle hits Delete.
Using the right hand I can hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete with my thumb, pinky, and ring fingers. Thumb hits R. Alt. Pinky hits R. Ctrl. Ring hits Delete.

Neither is particularly comfortable.

Re:Common MS gesture (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362576)

My keyboard lets me use Right ALT, so with my right hand I can do it. It's not particularly useful as I'm used to doing it with 2 hands. It's not often I have to press CTRL ALT DEL with my wanking hand...

Re:Common MS gesture (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362634)

I came about it in the old days of buggering up pointers and writing my name into the middle of the kernel stack. :D

My left hand was too busy with whatever caffeinated beverage was fueling my obsession at that given point. :)

Re:Common MS gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36364622)

Caffeinated beverage.... that is certainly a new name for it.

Re:Common MS gesture (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36363872)

I fail to see the problem. Why can't you just press CTRL and ALT with your thumb? Or do you have one of those strange keyboards that has extra META-keys between CTRL and ALT?

Re:Common MS gesture (1)

Jesse_vd (821123) | more than 2 years ago | (#36364542)

You're all doing it wrong. :)

Without ever taking your right hand off the mouse, use your left hand to hit CTRL+SHIFT+ESC up the left side of the keyboard. this also bypasses the prompt screen and takes you right to task manager! also works with remote desktop to bring up task manager on the remote machine

Re:Common MS gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362286)

turn the keyboard so that the back is facing you and then use index on delete, middle on rctrl, and ring on ralt.

Re:Common MS gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36370970)

I have no trouble at all doing Ctrl+Alt+Delete one handed. I hit Alt with thumb, Ctrl with index, Del with middle finger. It's even easier on my laptop keyboard where Ctrl+Alt are adjacent - press both with thumb, then Del with index.

Re:Common MS gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362140)

It's when you curl your fingers tightly against the top of your palms of both hands and then bring both hands sharply down on the desk, generally while engaging in a brief but vociferous inquisition as to the matrophilial nature of an unspecified party.

raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger extended (0)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#36361974)

The is inconceivable.

The patent office is stupid. There is no way activity by a person, even equiped with any sort of tool, should be patentable. Sure the tool can be, but not human activity.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362040)

:rolls eyes, sighs.

Don't, whatever you do, take 30 seconds to read past the headline and find what the article is actually about, please. It really spoils the arm pumping action following a First Post.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362272)

I'm more intrigued by the post stating that xerox is not in the "unsurprisingly" list.

I mean, they actually invented the mouse and all the gesture concept. (except for the parts already invented by Engelbart)

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362278)

So what do you think the article is about? Because when I read the article, I thought to myself that this isn't like patenting, say, a saw. No, it's like patenting moving a saw from side to side in a sawing motion. Sure, if you're a competitor, you can invent and sell another saw, but you can't invent one that works by allowing the user to cut by moving that saw side to side in a sawing motion, because we own that. And unless I'm mistaken, that's pretty much what the GP was referring to.

Even worse (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362370)

Actually, when I read the article, it seemed to go pretty far beyond that. It's more like patenting every motion one could possibly make [gawkerassets.com] while using a saw, even if you never intend to use such motions. That way, for practical purposes, you can't invent and sell another saw, even one that uses a crappy circular motion, because we own that too.

All of these patents should be invalidated immediately, but then, most patents applied for these days should never even be granted to begin with.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (2)

anegg (1390659) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362060)

I'm not sure the gestures are patented; that seems to be an assumption made by the author of the article (yes, I read the article - but not the patents called out by the article). What I would expect to be covered in the patents are the mechanisms for recognizing/processing those gestures to bring about certain results. This seems to be almost required to be so for something like a patent on manipulating 3D objects in a virtual reality space; how could one patent the very concept which is obviously not original as it happens on non-virtual space all of the time? However, the mechanisms for recognizing the movements to manipulate the 3D objects and making the necessary changes in the VR space to show the changed objects might be patentable.

That is how I understand it, anyway.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362324)

What's being patented is the use of software to detect such gestures. That's stupid. The idea of using software to detect a hand wave is as obvious as the use of a hand wave. No innovation there. I can arbitrarily say, "I have a patent on all software that detects a hand wave, I also have a patent on all software that detects a nod, I also have a patent on all software that detects someone sticking out their tongue, etc... since I came up with these ideas". I can be completely computer illiterate, barley knowing how to turn on a computer, yet alone how to program, and I can still come up with these ideas to patent. This shouldn't be patent worthy by any stretch of the imagination.

The use of the gestures by the user may not be patented, but the recognition of the gestures are patented. But that's an idea that any non-tech moron who just barley learned how to use his webcam and never wrote an application in his entire life can come up with. "I'm going to think of gestures to patent if used with a computer". That's not innovation or invention.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

second_coming (2014346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362416)

I'm going to patent the gesture of someone knocking one out.... I'm gonna be mega rich !11!!

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362132)

Question... How are some of these gestures being passed off as "more intuitive?" Like the 4-finger swipe? It is not obvious to the casual observer that that's what you need to do to get the intended affect. You have to be trained to know. Reminds me how intuitive "writing" was on some of the Palm PDAs. You had to learn how to write the alphabet all over again. It just makes devices more difficult to learn how to use. Not easier.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (4, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362136)

I read it. They patented communication. That a particular action is interpreted as a sign of a particular intent.
Consider the hand signs used by the deaf, or the action in the title I used. An action is a symbol recognition for any intent is communication.

Patents can apply to a way to recognize an action. Or a way to apply a signaled intent.
But a symbol, and that is all a gesture of any sort is, is way beyond what should be covered.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362740)

Fuck you you god damned statist. These companies spent MILLIONS of dollars inventing these gestures and no god gamned government-loving communist fucktard is going to come in here and tell them they cannot protect their valuable intellectual property. *THIS* kind of idiotic slashdot-leftist-nonsense has become endemic around here. Do you people sit around smoking dope and saluting the communist flag or something? GET A JOB.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362824)

Should have signed in. I would have modded you +1 funny.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36364648)

How do you invent a gesture?

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

losfromla (1294594) | more than 2 years ago | (#36364732)

bravely spoken. oh, wait.
Geez I hope you're funning. Otherwise, say hi to Palin at her next rally, tell her she needs to work out.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (2)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362170)

This doesn't let you off the hook for not reading TFA, but the article was horribly written. It doesn't link to several of the patents they were talking about. It confuses patents with published patent applications. It quotes titles, abstracts, and drawings as indicating what's patented, instead of quoting the claims.

All in all, none of the patents or applications discussed in TFA actually covers the gesture itself. Instead, they cover the technology used to recognize the gestures (and one design patent, not linked in TFA, covers the design of Apple's "slide to unlock" UI).

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36363996)

All in all, none of the patents or applications discussed in TFA actually covers the gesture itself. Instead, they cover the technology used to recognize the gestures

You're raining on everyone's parade, you know that? Ssshhh... this is /., and want something we can be angry about

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362188)

The is inconceivable.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

The US Patent Office is, like most of the US government these days, simply a tool of control by the major megacorps. I'd give them a nice big 'up yours' gesture, but I might be violating a patent if I do that.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#36364294)

The is inconceivable.

The patent office is stupid. There is no way activity by a person, even equiped with any sort of tool, should be patentable. Sure the tool can be, but not human activity.

When you have a wiener like Wiener [artnet.de] in politics, anything is possible.

Re:raised fist, knuckles down, middle finger exten (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36364442)

Not the gesture itself, but the computer reacting toward it maybe.
And I agree, the "up yours" gesture, maybe used as a reaction toward getting a blue screen of death and having to reboot?

Slide to unlock (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362030)

FTFA:

This patent may be one reason why the unlock screens for Android phones don't allow you to pick an unlock gesture that's one, single slide across the screen.

Now for some reason my Android phone has exactly that gesture for unlocking. OK you first have to activate the screen by pressing one of the buttons (makes sense they do not wake the screen immediately every time it's touched - not sure how this is on iPhones), but after that it's a straight line across the screen.

Oh well, it's again someone who doesn't know what a "design patent" is. As long as it doesn't look exactly like iPhone's slider, you're OK.

Re:Slide to unlock (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36363666)

The unlock gesture on my Android phone used to be a curved slide, but since the update to 2.1, it's always been straight slide. Wouldn't google be on safer ground with the curved slide? I kinda liked it.

Re:Slide to unlock (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#36363942)

It's a design patent, so as long as it doesn't look exactly like Apple's design they should be OK.

My phone has Android 2.2, no experience with earlier versions.

If this goes on (0)

return 42 (459012) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362052)

This letter serves to inform you that you owe our client the sum of $10,853,266.23 due to your infringement of our client's patent on the act of breathing. In addition to payment in full due within 30 days, you must also agree to cease-and-desist your infringement immediately. Failure to comply will result in severe civil and criminal penalties.

Re:If this goes on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362122)

If someone could selectively enforce this patent on patent trolls... i would be ok with it.

The summary says Nintendo... (4, Informative)

Goose In Orbit (199293) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362064)

TFA, on the other hand...

"Interestingly, Nintendo did not patent any gestures at all in the creation of the Wii controller, instead focusing entirely on patenting facets of the device. Their patent covers a controller that contains an accelerometer, but not the gestures used to operate it."

*rolls eyes*

Re:The summary says Nintendo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362516)

Nintendo did that right... I don't think the gestures will hold up in court because we as humans make those gestures naturally. Patenting a gesture is like patenting pressing w to write in vi.

Re:The summary says Nintendo... (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362994)

>

*rolls eyes*

Now if only someone would have patented the disgustingly self satisfied gesture of "eye rolling".

Re:The summary says Nintendo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36364870)

I think you mean to say "If I had a nickel for every time someone rolled their eyes"

1. *rolls eyes*
2. ??????? ( hint: ask the government to help )
3. Profit

Fuck those assholes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362208)

They won't get a penny from me. Enough said.

This just proves patent laws are a joke (1)

Quato (132194) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362214)

Nobody wants to see the guy who invents the better mousetrap lose his ability to make money. At the same time you donâ(TM)t want corporate lawyers to bend patent laws to give their corporations unfair advantages.
Patent laws are a joke. This is just the weekly posting on some completely ridiculous thing that has passed as a patent. These types of patents only helps companies squash their competitors. Itâ(TM)s a shitty group of laws that people can bend to monopolize a marketplace. Unfortunately the people with the money influence who makes and reforms the laws, so expect more outrageous patent attempts and successful filings.

Next: Gang Signs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36371644)

Why the hell not?

I can't wait (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362246)

Until 20-30 years from now when every single software concept has been patented and those patents have all expired. What a wonderful time it will be.

Though I'm probably giving the patent trolls too little credit for adequately reworking existing concepts to "qualify" for fresh patents, and the USPTO too much credit for being able to identify these shenanigans.

M, I, C... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362312)

..K, E, Y... Fucking you and me! Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!

Software patents will never properly expire. The patent system will be raped by corporations, just like Disney raped copyright. Mark my words.

Re:M, I, C... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362590)

I agree. There is just too much money in those patents to lose them without a fight. I can't say how long, but there will come a time when many parent holders start to spend as much money as it takes lobbying for an extension. I'm only surprised that it hasn't happened already.

Re:I can't wait (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362320)

Until 20-30 years from now when every single software concept has been patented and those patents have all expired. What a wonderful time it will be.

Though I'm probably giving the patent trolls too little credit for adequately reworking existing concepts to "qualify" for fresh patents, and the USPTO too much credit for being able to identify these shenanigans.

Both have pretty much already happened; that's why we see patents for ordinary stuff people have been doing on computers for decades, just "on a mobile phone" or "on a media player".

Need a GPL for gestures (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362332)

Perhaps the community needs to think about copyrighting just about every conceivable human joint movement for the control of an electronic interface. Then licence this under the GPL such that if any gesture is incorporated into an interface then every gesture used in the interface must be made available under the GPL.

Re:I can't wait (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#36363154)

and those patents have all expired

Assuming that will happen. Copyrights are already in indefinite extension mode, maybe patents will follow?

Legal promiscuity (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362260)

This is not something that ought to be eligible for patent coverage. Aren't there some ambulances that need chasing?

Re:Legal promiscuity (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#36365298)

That's probably already patented...

And this one clearly suffers from prior art:

7. Shaking your mobile device
Ever get pissed off at your phone and shake it up and down until it reboots?

Hmmph. Etch-a-Sketch had that feature decades earlier.

American Sign Language (ASL) ... (1)

littlewink (996298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362298)

and other signed languages might have something to say about this. ASL should fall under prior art.

Signed languages in the West go back 300 years at the least IIRC.

Absurd (2)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362408)

I can understand the physical technology that enables touchscreen technology being patentable. How the hell is it that finger gestures can be patented?

Couldn't prior art be argued given that many of these movements are performed on a regular basis in real life? Just because it's a virtual interpretation of that action shouldn't make it patentable. Apple's slide patent, for example, should automatically be invalided for this reason. Aren't these all things that could be copyrighted instead?

It just seems absurd to me.

Re:Absurd (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#36366342)

I can understand the physical technology that enables touchscreen technology being patentable. How the hell is it that finger gestures can be patented?

Couldn't prior art be argued given that many of these movements are performed on a regular basis in real life? Just because it's a virtual interpretation of that action shouldn't make it patentable. Apple's slide patent, for example, should automatically be invalided for this reason. Aren't these all things that could be copyrighted instead?

It just seems absurd to me.

No, you were right in the first sentence. Contrary to the summary and the article, none of these patents claim the gestures. They all claim a device manipulated using specific gestures to accomplish certain actions. In other words, you can make any gesture you want without infringing... it's only infringement if you have a device configured to respond certain ways to certain input actions. They even mention this in the reference to the Apple patent, but then quietly ignore that for the rest of the article.

Re:Absurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36370130)

it's only infringement if you have a device configured to respond certain ways to certain input actions.

In other words language and the lowlifes at the PTO allowed it.

Gestures are NOT supposed to be patentable! (2)

dwheeler (321049) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362578)

NONE of these should have been granted a U.S. patent. This is ridiculous!

U.S. law (Section 101 of Title 35 U.S.C.) defines what is patentable subject matter: "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title." Gestures are not processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter, so they are NEVER supposed to be patented.

Gestures are basically signals, and signals are specifically NOT patentable. The Federal Circuit has ruled that signals are not statutory subject matter, because articles of manufacture (the only plausible category) do not include intangible, incorporeal, transitory entities (in In re Nuitjen, 500 F.3d 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2007)).

This is another example of unwarranted interference by the government in the free market. Is there really a need to grant monopolies to companies for specific gestures? No. It's not justified by any law. What's more, it harms society. Just imagine if each car company had to have a radically different interface due to patents - it would harm safety! This just worsens the digital divide, with no legal or societal justification.

We need the courts to require a re-review of every patent, at no cost to defendants, before any case is tried, and for the courts to assume that the patent office is a registration of claim, not anything meaningful. There are too many bad patents to believe otherwise.

(Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and speak only for myself. I'm sure not impressed by the work of some lawyers, though.)

Re:Gestures are NOT supposed to be patentable! (1)

warGod3 (198094) | more than 2 years ago | (#36363090)

Except that a gesture used to interface with a touch screen is a process. It's a process to interface with the system.

Re:Gestures are NOT supposed to be patentable! (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#36366372)

NONE of these should have been granted a U.S. patent. This is ridiculous!

U.S. law (Section 101 of Title 35 U.S.C.) defines what is patentable subject matter: "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title." Gestures are not processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter, so they are NEVER supposed to be patented.

Contrary to the article and the summary, none of the gestures are patented. Instead, what's claimed is a process of manipulating a device by interacting with the device through certain gestures, or a device - i.e. a "machine" - configured to respond in certain ways in response to a gesture. You performing the gesture in mid-air? Not infringement. A device configured with a certain type of slide-to-unlock screen? Infringement.

The article even mentions this in number 1, but then quietly ignores it for the rest of the article.

Re:Gestures are NOT supposed to be patentable! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36382360)

This could even be a case of patent officers not willfully not applying a strong knowledge of the law in making their decisions to grant a patent.

Basically if the response to hearing of the thing being patented is "that's a good idea" it's not an invention. If the response is "well, how do they do that?" you've got an invention.

Why is Nintendo mentioned? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362614)

The article actually makes a point of saying that Nintendo is a notable absentee from the list, since the Wii's gestures aren't patented. Rather, the technology behind the Wiimote, such as the way it uses an accelerometer, is patented.

Also, in a lot of these cases, the gesture itself (e.g. slide, pinch, open hand, shake) isn't patented. Rather, the usage of the gesture to mean a specific action is patented (e.g. slide to unlock, pinch to zoom, open hand to select, shake to reboot). I'm not saying that's much better, but it is worth pointing out. And given that the patents do apply to the use of gestures for those actions, which effectively locks these actions into use by the patent holder, is it any wonder that usability has suffered [slashdot.org] ? We really need a common gestural "language" that we can carry between these devices.

patent trolls be gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36362796)

Anyone think that patents have gone to far and stifle innovation? If everyone shared the technological breakthroughs we may be much farther ahead.

Cause you know that we all would have robot monkey butlers my now.

App to recognize who patented a gesture? (2)

billrp (1530055) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362926)

So would it be legal to write an iPhone app to recognize gestures and then display who patented that gesture? Then if I create a new gesture I would be able to tell if it's legal? Or how about a synthetic gesture generator that would create and automatically fill out a patent application for all possible gestures, for say n numbers of strokes?

Gestures used in a game (1)

braindrainbahrain (874202) | more than 2 years ago | (#36362938)

While not patented, this game based on hand gestures [boardgamegeek.com] is under copyright. To be fair, the game is copyrighted, not necessarily the gestures. Could the gestures be used in another game? Also, the author is quite liberal in his enforcement of his copyright [mud.co.uk] . I suspect the game is rarely played by gestures in any case, rather is it played online or in a pencil-and-paper version.

Quick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36363242)

How long before sex is patented?
Better get to it before any religion gets to it.

No can see (1)

OFnow (1098151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36363252)

You cannot even read any content from io9 without enabling all sorts of scripting. Basically a blank page. So I'll make a gesture: I'll ignore io9 entirely.

Finally the Queen can patent her waive! (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#36363528)

What is the difference between a waive and a gesture? Nothing! A gesture based interface amounts to a language. Presumably users are supposed to learn a different gesture language for each device. And they wonder why products fail!

Fat humorless idiot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36363740)

Annalee Newitz is a fat humorless idiot. Really she is.

WRONG (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36364308)

They didn't patent an alphabet, they patented the systems that recognize the alphabet:

http://www.patents.com/us-6493464.html [patents.com]

What is claimed is:

1. An electronic handwriting recognition system[...]
2. An electronic handwriting recognition system[...]
3. An automated method[...]
4. An automated method[...]
5. A computer program[...]
6. A computer program[...]
7. The invention of claims 1 or 2[...]
8. The invention of claim 2[...]
9. The invention of claim 4[...]
10. The invention of claim 6[...]
11. An electronic handwriting recognition system[...]
12. An electronic handwriting recognition system[...]
13. An automated method[...]
14. An automated method[...]
15. A computer program[...]
16. A computer program[...]
17. A pen based computer[...]
18. A pen based computer[...]

All specify "an apparatus" or "a process". There isn't one "an alphabet" in the lot, though the recognizabilty of the alphabet may be a critical component in one of the claims.

Also, there's no way for anyone to enforce a patent on the way you write with your own hands. Only if you've designed a system to recognize what you're writing in particular by requiring it to be in that design of alphabet.

I Patented POOP (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36364626)

I am Patenting my POOP.
The texture, the color, the weight, the feel, the smell, and the taste..
LOL

PATENT THIS! (EOM) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36365820)

PATENT THIS (EOM)

1. Not a gesture and 2. Not a utility patent (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#36366434)

1. Slide to unlock
Of course this is owned by Apple, as any iPhone user can tell you. Apple owns a design patent on the "ornamental" design of the lock screen that asks you to "slide to unlock" by tracing your finger in a straight line across the screen. So they haven't exactly patented the gesture itself, but instead the design that draws you into making the gesture. So you'd better not create any designs that invite people to "slide to unlock" anything. This patent may be one reason why the unlock screens for Android phones don't allow you to pick an unlock gesture that's one, single slide across the screen.

The summary and article are just misleading. This is a design patent on the specific appearance of the iOS slide-to-unlock screen. The gesture? Not patented, or even patentable. But a specific design of a interface element? Yeah, you can patent the ornamental aspects. Same as Google had a design patent for their home page. That doesn't mean that "all home pages are patented".

GNU Emacs had Strokes Mode since 1997: Relevant? (2)

dto1138 (1858604) | more than 2 years ago | (#36369126)

Since 1997 GNU Emacs has contained a gesture-recording and recognition system called Strokes Mode. I don't know if this is relevant to the case at hand, but perhaps these links will help other Slashdotters investigate what I am talking about. The current source of strokes-mode is here:

http://bzr.savannah.gnu.org/lh/emacs/trunk/annotate/head:/lisp/strokes.el [gnu.org]

I once made a fun video demo with GNU Emacs and Strokes-Mode on an HP TouchSmart Tablet PC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw8SQqmHPbI [youtube.com]

The source code for the gestures I made are here, along with a few tweaks to make strokes-mode behave better with a touchscreen. https://github.com/dto/emacs-gestures [github.com]

Keep in mind, I used Strokes-mode to create the gestures shown in the video---no gestures are included, you can create them yourself by just drawing them into strokes-mode. My point in setting up this repository would be so that GNU Emacs users could build a library of gestures amongst ourselves, and share code to adapt GNU Emacs better to touchscreen/pen environments. Which sounds like it could fall afoul of some patent or other. Right?

Interestingly, Apple publishes here an older version of Strokes-mode: http://www.opensource.apple.com/source/emacs/emacs-39/emacs/lisp/strokes.el [apple.com]

Even more interestingly, Apple's version says "This file is part of GNU Emacs. GNU Emacs is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option) any later version."

Well, "any later version" could be GPLv3, which contains this passage:

"You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License. For example, you may not impose a license fee, royalty, or other charge for exercise of rights granted under this License, and you may not initiate litigation (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that any patent claim is infringed by making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the Program or any portion of it."

(pasted from http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html [gnu.org] )

Anyone think this could be relevant? --dave

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