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Apple Patents Portrait-Landscape Flipping

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the video-is-unrelated dept.

Displays 354

theodp writes "On Tuesday, the USPTO granted a patent to Apple for Portrait-landscape rotation heuristics for a portable multifunction device (USPTO), which covers 'displaying information on the touch screen display in a portrait view or a landscape view based on an analysis of data received from the one or more accelerometers.' Perhaps the USPTO Examiners didn't get a chance to review the circa-1991 Computer Chronicles video of the Radius Pivot monitor before deeming Apple's invention patentable. Or check out the winning touchArcade trivia contest entry, which noted the circa-1982 Corvus Concept sported a 15-inch, high-resolution, bit-mapped display screen that also flipped between portrait and landscape views when rotated, like our friend the iPhone. Hey, everything old is new again, right?"

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354 comments

What's next? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770556)

If those previous models did rely on accelerometers, how does one exactly go about challenging this ruling and show prior art?

Besides... (0)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770626)

Even if poster were right and the prior art applied, what would be the big deal? An unenforceable patent is hardly anything more than no patent at all. You might pay someone a little money just to get it out of your face (i.e. it's not worth your time), but you know it'll almost certainly be defeated in court if push comes to shove. The USPTO rejects more than half of the patent applications they receive--but if litigation ever arises, prior art gets a MUCH more thorough review.

Re:Besides... (4, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771138)

Unenforceable but widely applied patent is an extremely powerful tool in big corporations' hands. It can be used as a part of a package to hit smaller companies who simply do not have the resources to debunk such attacks, as a deterrent to competition, as an additional bargaining chip in patent negotiations, etc.

The sheer amount of effort and costs associated debunking the patent against a crack team of lawyers backing it up, and en-masse usage where focusing on these elementary patents takes away from harder aspects of the case are what makes it valuable.

Re:What's next? (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770646)

If those previous models did rely on accelerometers, how does one exactly go about challenging this ruling and show prior art?

First, have more money than Apple to use for legal fees.

Second, have more money than Apple to use for legal fees.

Re:What's next? (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771038)

If you can get legal fees if they sue you and you invalidate their patent, then I think any lawyer might want that job.

Re:What's next? (2)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771088)

As far as I can tell, both the "prior art" monitors used a contact switch rather than multiple accelerometers to determine orientation. Apple's patent is on figuring out which way is "down" based on accelerometer readings and selecting "portrait" or "landscape" based on that.

Re:What's next? (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771238)

If those previous models did rely on accelerometers, how does one exactly go about challenging this ruling and show prior art?

What ruling? It's just a patent. If they use it to sue someone then the prior art will be the defence and patent will be invalidated.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770580)

Watch out android Apples coming after you with a lawsuit now.

Not prior art (2, Interesting)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770584)

Neither of the two cited examples of "prior art" cited in the summary were portable as is claimed (also according to the summary) by the Apple patent.

Re:Not prior art (3, Insightful)

lattyware (934246) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770604)

And taking an existing invention and putting it into something smaller is patentable innovation? Come on. Even if that is the way it works (which I'm pretty sure it isn't) - anyone with half a brain can see that's stupid and not the intention of patents.

Re:Not prior art (2)

Internal Modem (1281796) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770666)

If it was "obvious," why was Apple the first to implement it in a mobile phone user interface? Why is it "not the intention of patents" that Apple should be able to protect (through patent) just one aspect that made the iPhone unique and created a spawn of imitators?

Re:Not prior art (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770766)

Because someone has to be first regardless of who. That's hardly an argument against obviousness. Screens have been rotating for decades. The sensor devices have been in cameras and other devices for about as long. Cameras have demonstrated this long before Apple did it. Somewhere out there in the patent jungle, there is a patent on this as applied to cameras. I think this is more than enough... more than enough to prove that the USPTO needs to learn to say "hell no."

Re:Not prior art (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770802)

If something has been done - by definition someone must have been the first to do it. It is obvious to use a device for it's intended purpose.

Re:Not prior art (3, Interesting)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770838)

Not Apple, it was Nokia who did it first on a phone. And it's annoying as hell. It can be disabled (a must for sanity), but then you get warnings all the time about the "orientation lock". You see, I'm secure with my orientation and please get the hell away from trying to get me to change it.

Re:Not prior art (1)

thesh0ck (1983948) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771070)

Apple was not the first. Many "text messaging" non smart phones that had slide out keyboards would flip between portait and landscape when you opened the keyboard.

Re:Not prior art (2, Informative)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770742)

And taking an existing invention and putting it into something smaller is patentable innovation?

The cited "prior art" didn't work using accelerometers either, so there was really no "existing invention" (at least the cited ones weren't).

Re:Not prior art (2)

lattyware (934246) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770890)

Accelerometers exist. Their purpose is to give orientation data.
Devices which use orientation data to chance screen layout exist.

Are you saying that using a device for it's intended purpose to do something people have done before is non-obvious?

Re:Not prior art (2)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770926)

Can you name a product that used them together the way the iPhone and iPad do? If not, then, apparently, it's not sufficiently obvious to all the other consumer gadget makers out there otherwise somebody else would have done it.

Re:Not prior art (0)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771084)

Then how come recces hasn't sued all the people mixing chocolate and peanut butter?

Putting together two things together which already exist isn't an invention, and shouldn't be patentable.

Note: I know recces prob wasn't the first, you get the point though.

Re:Not prior art (3, Insightful)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771124)

Putting together two things together which already exist isn't an invention, and shouldn't be patentable.

Motors existed. Bicycles existed. By your logic, the first motorcycle shouldn't have been patentable.

Putting two things together than previously existed most certainly is patentable.

Re:Not prior art (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771156)

Putting together two things together which already exist isn't an invention, and shouldn't be patentable.

That's completely absurd.

Internal combustion engine + wheels... car! Damn, never should have received any patents, the whole thing was obvious. Same thing with windshield wiper and variable timer. Or is that one ok because the little guy got millions from the automakers eventually...

Almost everything created and patented these days is a combination or modification of something else. That's explicitly clear in patent law to be a major part of the point...

Re:Not prior art (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771098)

It isn't sufficient to marry Part A to Part 2 in ways that both Part A and Part 2 are designed to work.

Rotating display, as a previous user noted RADIUS had them Back when there were still Apple Mac IIs being sold. I actually sold a few back in that day. Dell has rotating Monitors for years now.

Accelerometers have been in use for all sorts of purposes. It was bound to happen to marry the two eventually. Tell me, what is the difference between a couple mercury switches and an Accelerometer if they do the same exact thing (rotate screen orientation)? What makes the difference "novel" enough for a Patent? Being first? Meh it wasn't even the first.

Re:Not prior art (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771204)

If you think a rotating display is the same thing, take one of those displays in your hand and turn it around in the air. You know what happens, nothing. They did not rotate based on an orientation sensor. They rotated based on a electro-mechanical switch...

Re:Not prior art (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771118)

Can you name a product that used them together the way the iPhone and iPad do? If not, then, apparently, it's not sufficiently obvious to all the other consumer gadget makers out there otherwise somebody else would have done it.

Nokia N95. 3-axis accelerometer used to orient screen. 2006.

Re:Not prior art (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770868)

Quite the opposite. At least according to the lawyers. If you can take an existing process and substantially add to it, or modify it, and make original claims, it makes no difference if the existing process is patented. You can still be awarded the patent...

However....... that does not eliminate your obligations to the patent holder of the existing process. You need to have a licensing deal with them, and in order for them to use your "added value" process they need to license from you.

It does work that way, but it is quite rare because nobody puts the resources in to put a patent "on top" of another patent. The "top" can be effectively prohibited from bringing a product to market and the "bottom" can just sit there forever and not care.

And taking an existing invention and putting it into something smaller is patentable innovation? Come on

We don't know the entire facts here unless you read their whole patent and then look at their claims. They're might be real innovation there we can't see.

However, there is a huge problem in the USPTO where they just don't find existing prior art that most Slashdotters could tell you about in five minutes if you just asked.

Just like in my last post regarding patents, I think there should be a 3 month public review of patents where it is under a probationary status and anyone is allowed to submit instances of prior art. If anything should be crowdsourced, it is this. That would help the examiners immensely because they could have targeted research based on public input. There are an awful lot of older IT people that can tell you about prior art for hours on end and even more historians out there that will remember of the top of their head that somebody did something like that already.

Re:Not prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770984)

Having just looked at a peer-to-patent application, and seeing how there is a single prior art reference submitted, I'm dubious.

Not to mention that the statement "most Slashdotters could tell you" prior art for patent application ignores at least two very real problems:
1) "most Slashdotters" don't understand patents nearly as well as they think they do, nor do the discussions here generally put forth anything close to real prior art, and
2) even in the absence of (1), the fact that a single Slashdot reader gives a prior art reference against a claim does not establish that ALL Slashdot readers, or even a majority, could have done the same.

You are basically complaining that Patent Examiners are not omniscient.

Re:Not prior art (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771222)

However....... that does not eliminate your obligations to the patent holder of the existing process. You need to have a licensing deal with them, and in order for them to use your "added value" process they need to license from you.

It does work that way, but it is quite rare because nobody puts the resources in to put a patent "on top" of another patent. The "top" can be effectively prohibited from bringing a product to market and the "bottom" can just sit there forever and not care.

Uh, it's much more common than you think.

If a competitor isn't willing to license a patent to you, you find something to add on to theirs that they are going to have to use in the future. Some simple mod like "but portable!". Patent it. Then wave it in front of their faces and make them cross-license. Pretty industry standard. Also a pretty good way to build a patent portfolio if you need to -- just simply modify existing important patents and get your own patent toolchest.

Re:Not prior art (3, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770616)

Forgive me, but that's like saying something like:

"Yes, you have prior art for an alarm clock, and for a radio, but my patent is for an alarmclock radio!"

The same reasons why you would want a display that can auto-rotate the contents based on screen orientation on a large fixed display would be equally applicable to a portable one, thus making the invention fail the obviousness requirement.

Duh-- If you are holding something in your hand, you would consider it useful for it to rotate when you turned it over, so you arent reading it upside down or sideways. Same with rotating a fixed display.

Re:Not prior art (1)

Internal Modem (1281796) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770700)

Duh-- If you are holding something in your hand, you would consider it useful for it to rotate when you turned it over, so you arent reading it upside down or sideways. Same with rotating a fixed display.

Based on your definition, nothing is patentable (unless it would be considered useless)?

Re:Not prior art (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771216)

"they say great science is built on the solders of giants, not here, we do all our science from scratch" cave jonhson

Re:Not prior art (2)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770628)

More than that, the Radius monitor didn't use an accelerometer. It had a switch in the housing that was tripped when you rotated the display.

-jcr

Go Away Idiot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770678)

Go back to crying over Android destroying the piece of shit iPhone in sales dipshit.

Re:Go Away Idiot (1, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770704)

I might if such a thing ever happened.

-jcr

Re:Go Away Idiot (1)

chaboud (231590) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771154)

Read much?

Anyway, I'd wager that this was in cameras before phones, and I'd also heard that some mobile phones were earlier to the accelerometer gig.

The *stated* applications for MEMS accelerometers in the parts books included orientation determination. I have a hard time with "on a mobile device" becoming the new "with a computer."

Re:Not prior art (4, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770716)

It's a cheap kind of accelerometer.

In the Pivot monitor, it's a mercury switch, operated by gravity (acceleration at 9.8m/sec^2).

Apple could have used a mercury switch and done the same thing and the user would not have noticed the difference. The only thing about an acelerometer chip is that it's a mercury switch without the mercury (I'm oversimplifying, of course).

--
BMO

Re:Not prior art (1)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770792)


Odd trivia: Radius was co-founded by Burrell Smith, one of the designers of the original Macintosh.

Re:Not prior art (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770794)

Replace accelerometer with "sensor device" and you've got it. What Apple did was take something simple and made it more complex... and this makes it patentable? The switch on rotate is a sensor just as an accelerometer is. Get over yourself.

Re:Not prior art (3, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770892)

You are missing the point entirely. Steve Jobs has invented acceleration! That's what all the fuss is about.

Re:Not prior art (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771108)

I was under the impression that Steve Jobs had invented magic, hence all their revolutionary products/patents. /trollin'

Re:Not prior art (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770958)

In a lot of senses, Apple's solution is much more elegant since you can figure out the orientation of a device that can be rotated around 3 axes (assuming triple axis accelerometer), the sensor can be in motion and the device still works, you can have a bit of a hysteresis effect in the rotation, and it does not use hazardous chemicals that are fluid at STP. Remember, it's the implementation that they're patenting, not the idea.

That being said, I do feel that the solution is obvious since one of the first things you notice when using an accelerometer is that it detects the Earth's gravitational field. For a stationary device, that makes it quite easy to determine the orientation. For a moving device, you could still hazard a good guess.

Re:Not prior art (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771092)

Give a mid-entry level programmer an accelerometer, an SDK for it, and 2 days (on and off) and watch them come up with the same solution as this patent.

Re:Not prior art (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770912)

That's why it all comes down to claims and obviousness of the invention. If the accelerometer made that much of a difference it could easily by bypassed just by the switching mechanism you mention. I can imagine a non-toxic conductive liquid in a simple loop around the device that can close and open circuits as you rotate and flip the device. Bulky, and would require more to make it work, but just a really simplistic example.

I am sure that the patent will not hold up to scrutiny though and the first person to be sued will have an army of prior art and obviousness supporters behind them.

That's the other part of a patent. It has to be non obvious. This is obvious to everybody within the last 15 years and should not be patentable. Somebody could patent the technology to accomplish the obvious method or process, but not the obvious method or process itself.

Re:Not prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770662)

Or maybe they missed these terminals from Above-Net (http://www.abovenet.com.br/default.asp) manufactured and sold in the USA in the mid-2000's. Notice the nice tilting display on the desktop unit. The handheld unit used a position sensor (not accelerometer) to determine position. It is portable. It works. Whoopie, Apple... maybe you should patent oxygen next.

Re:Not prior art (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770726)

You're right. I'm going ot go patent the same thing "on the internet and a can opener attached."

Re:Not prior art (1)

CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771048)

Neither of the two cited examples of "prior art" cited in the summary were portable as is claimed (also according to the summary) by the Apple patent.

Not to mention that they didn't act on the actual orientation (as indicated by accelerometers), but on a simple switch in the pivot. Turn them on the side (not rotate them around the pivot) and the image is on the side, no matter how you then rotate them. Turn an iPhone/iPad on the side and the image is up right.

Anybody not able to understand the fucking difference will also believe that the horse is prior art to a motor cycle because you can sit on its back, ride down the street, and if you go "vroom-vroom", nobody will be able to tell the difference.

Re:Not prior art (1)

Tehrasha (624164) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771054)

Perhaps they would like to see my Canon digital camera... it is far older than any iPhone, and has this functionality.

Re:Not prior art (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771148)

Because, God knows, the concept of making something portable is so incredibly revolutionary it could NEVER be thought of as an obvious extension of an existing non portable thing.

Re:Not prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771212)

OK... so first it was something well known, but on a computer, and now we get another round of the same, but on a portable computer. Meanwhile everyone an USPTO insured themselves of job security well into the next decade.

But ... (4, Informative)

Tjp($)pjT (266360) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770588)

The others used other gravity sensors like little metal balls and contact sets or mercury switches not accelerometers. And they weren't touchscreen devices. Trivial differences, but different technology. Better to argue it was obvious than say the others represent prior art. Still accelerometers in portable media players and phones is pretty much an Apple thing for display orientation, since everyone before had an attached keyboard!

Re:But ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770644)

And to clarify, touch is part of the patent. It doesn't just cover flipping the image, but also flipping the touch co-ordinates.

Whatever your feelings are on this, it's a valid patent under the current laws because it's an improvement.

Re:But ... (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770812)

Whatever your feelings are on this, it's a valid patent under the current laws because it's an improvement.

I suspect you'll find that's what people are complaining about. If this is a valid patent under current laws then current laws are absurd.

Re:But ... (2, Informative)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771074)

As is so often the case, Slashdot has mischaracterized the patent. (I'm only talking about "Portrait-landscape rotation heuristics for a portable multifunction device." I don't have time to read the others.)

The patent is on a touch-based mechanism to change and lock screen orientation IN CONJUNCTION with the use of accelerometers. Filing a patent requires a lot of expensive lawyer time; a company like Apple typically will not file one that it cannot defend. It knows that it's competitors have plenty of lawyers of their own to challenge invalid patents and, in egregious cases, they can find themselves on the hook for both sides' legal bills.

Here's the abstract of the actual patent; it's in the mind-numbing legalese that is the specialty of patent attorneys, but you can probably still see the problem with the /. description starting in the third sentence:

"In accordance with some embodiments, a computer-implemented method is performed at a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display and one or more accelerometers. The method includes displaying information on the touch screen display in a portrait view or a landscape view based on an analysis of data received from the one or more accelerometers. The method also includes detecting a predetermined finger gesture on or near the touch screen display while the information is displayed in a first view, and in response to detecting the predetermined finger gesture, displaying the information in a second view and locking the display of information in the second view. The method further includes unlocking the display of information in the second view when the device is placed in an orientation where the second view is displayed based on an analysis of data received from the one or more accelerometers."

Re:But ... (5, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770982)

I may be reading the patent wrong, but it sounds like it's not about changing orientation only from accelerometer input, but rather changing it according to the gesture, and then locking that change (i.e. preventing further accelerometer-triggered changes) until the device is positioned such that the locked orientation corresponds to natural orientation.

If I understand correctly, what it means is this. Suppose I'm sitting and holding an iPad in portrait mode, surfing the web. I then want to lie down on the side and read a book from it. When I put the iPad down on the side, the orientation will change to landscape, which isn't what I want, so I use the touch gesture (holding the corners and rotating?) to rotate it back into portrait. Now it's locked in that orientation, and I can read it for however long I want. But when I stand up and pick up the device, its locked orientation now matches its physical one, and so it auto-unlocks - so if I rotate it after standing up, it will change orientation automatically again (which is what I want).

Re:But ... (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771056)

Besides, isn't this exactly what the patent system is for? No one can argue that before the iPhone there existed a hand-held touchscreen device that flipped its interface based on an accelerometer. This doesn't even fall into the complaints of patenting pure math-- it's an actual device with a specific function that didn't exist before Apple created it. If this isn't the sort of R&D investment that patents are supposed to protect, then what is?

If it's not innovative, and if a mercury switch is all that's needed, then Android and Blackberry devices should be happy to keep doing things the old way.

Re:But ... (1)

dindinx (24418) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771180)

Ok. Then I'll make a purple hand-held touchscreen device that flips its interface based on an accelerometer, and file a patent for this. No one would be able to argue that such a purple device existed before mine. Do you still think I should be granted a patent for this?

Re:But ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771248)

I dunno... even including the flipped touch coordinates, I feel like I'm holding prior art in my hand right now...

Re:But ... (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771094)

The others used other gravity sensors like little metal balls and contact sets or mercury switches not accelerometers. And they weren't touchscreen devices. Trivial differences, but different technology.

You're making it too complex. This is the idea: a display surface rotates, and the image it is displaying gets automatically re-oriented according to the rotation. It's kind of ridiculous to start claiming that somehow it's a new idea because the things that are around and outside the display surface are different, or that the display surface is made of a different material, or that the sensor that detects movement is different. It's the same idea, and the patent office needs to stop with granting patents for the same old crap in a different package and focus on things that are actually new.

Re:But ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771182)

This application does not use the fact that it is an accelerometer nor the fact that the display is a touchscreen. Unless you want to argue that I should be able to patent the same thing but using a LED screen...

Accelerometers? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770590)

Did the Radius monitors use accelerometer data? Nope, they used a positional switch mounted on their stationary base. Since this specifically addresses use of accelerometer data (no fixed mount on a netbook or smartphone) that isn't prior art here, sorry. Making in-jokes about the patent system mocks its all-to-real deficiencies, of which this is not one. Oh, and way to write a terrible headline - Apple hasn't patented portrait-landscape flipping. You really did read about this before writing.....didn't you?

Re:Accelerometers? (2, Insightful)

lattyware (934246) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770640)

So using an accelerometer (a component used to detect orientation) to detect the orientation of a device... This is clearly patentable genius! Come on, patents are there to give incentive to innovate and develop. Using a component for it's intended use is not that. If they developed the Accelerometer, fair play, otherwise, this is rubbish.

Re:Accelerometers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770916)

The patent is for automatically switching between landscape & portrait mode. Not for detecting orientation. Did you even read the title?

Re:Accelerometers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771192)

It's easy to determine if something is innovative, if a patent doesn't already exists for it then it is innovative!

It's not whether it's new... (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770598)

...it's whether you can get away with patenting it.

Re:It's not whether it's new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770860)

No, it's whether you cab get away with enforcing it. But I doubt this gives Apple a patent on any kind of display that switches from portrait to landscape when rotated. So it is likely that other manufacturers can 'get around' it.

Re:It's not whether it's new... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770934)

...it's whether you can get away with patenting it.

It's not whether or not you can get away with patenting it....

It's whether or not you have the resources to sue people that will be willing to settle just to make you go away, and whether or not your patent can stand up in a court case in Texas.

If the patent was just stupid to begin with and a mistake it is only a threat to smaller people who cannot defend themselves, a cost of business to larger people that can afford to just pay the extortion fee.

The real key with patents like this is not to pick a fight with somebody your own size.

Meta patent (1)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770672)

Can we just patent the action of patenting something so that we never have to read another news story on patenting?

Already Done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770950)

IBM thought of that.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-9803429-16.html

Better luck next time.

15" monitor is portable, by theodp. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770682)

So the submitter believes that a 15" monitor constitutes a portable devices?

BUT THIS IS STEVE'S INVENTION !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770692)

When it comes from the mind of Steve, it's an INVENTION !! Even out Steve's ass, it's an INVENTION !!

Sorry Apple, you're late... cameras had it first.. (2)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770762)

Many cameras - not phones - cameras, had this functionality way before the iPhone did. Granted that in most circumstances it was only available in a camera application, but I had my Nokia N95 about three months before the original iPhone came out, and it used the exact same chip to do the same thing...

I'm pretty sure that some high end digital SLRs had this function, possibly as far back as 2003 if memory serves me correctly.

Re:Sorry Apple, you're late... cameras had it firs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770880)

SLR's weren't multi-function devices, and they didn't (at that time) have touch screens.

Re:Sorry Apple, you're late... cameras had it firs (1)

Rockets84 (2047424) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770910)

Sadly camera isn't a "multifunction device". To me this is a bad patent but I'm sure a jury in East Texas will disagree with me.

More Proof (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770776)

Apple is the same or worse than Microsoft, just smaller.

People, it's not trendy, it doesn't "just work" - it is just the same bullshit with a better marketing campaign. Gods help us if Apple ever attains a real market share in PCs.

Re:More Proof (1)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770870)

Apple is the same or worse than Microsoft, just smaller

Except that by some metrics now they are bigger, and arguably far more powerful since they've escaped virtually any regulatory control. Microsoft is now truly a tamed beast, while Apple is a like Godzilla on the loose stomping all over the place.

Re:More Proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771042)

lolno

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I hope they sue everyone currently using it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770822)

Good! Now maybe none of the decent phones will be burdened with this fucking useless "feature." I would absolutely love to have a button to rotate the screen when I want it rotated. It is so annoying to have the damned screen rotate when you move then have to wait two seconds for it to rotate back the way you want it. Or when you hold your phone horizontally and it can't decide which way it should be. Or even worse is when laying on my side and trying to read the screen it's impossible to get it the way I want it.

stephanworks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770832)

Apple will want to patent buttons and 12v current

Does it count as obvious? (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770884)

I was playing around with a Wiimote on my Mac a few years ago, looking at the plots generated from the X/Y/Z accelerometers. The first thing that I noticed about the readings for a stationary Wiimote was, "oh, one of the accelerometers is giving a non-zero reading." My second thought was, "like duh, that's acceleration due to the gravitational field." Then I tested the theory, and it worked.

Now I'm not going to claim that I came up with rotating a display based upon the readings from accelerometers. On the other hand, if you put me on the design team for a portable device and someone said, "how can we implement a rotating display based on orientation?" Well, I would know the answer in an instant. And it's not because I'm a genius or invested a huge amounts of money in it. It is simply a case of knowing that part A worked and part A would solve the problem posed. To me that qualifies as obvious. To a court, well, I can't claim to understand what goes through the minds of judges and lawyers.

it's whether you can get away with patenting it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36770898)

it's whether you can get away with patenting it. George Lucas (Verb) Lucasing, Lucased (a) The act of committing graphics overkill.

Is there still any moron who still thinks that (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770914)

patent system is workable ? we are one step away from someone being able to patent a basic logic process.

Speaking of accelerating returns... (1)

az1324 (458137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770956)

The patent standards need to be evolving with the technology itself. So the number of things that fall under "obvious" should be increasing as quickly as the pace of technological progress is by the law of accelerating returns. Also the patent expiration period should be decreasing at the same rate.

Has anyone actually RTFAed? (4, Informative)

KNicolson (147698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36770978)

Stupid question I know, but Apple is NOT patenting rotation, but rather two gestures to lock the screen in either portrait or landscape mode, regardless of detected orientation. Whether or not such a matter is patentable is another kettle of fish.

On a related matter, Apple long ago bought a patent from British Telecom that appears actually to be for screen rotation [theregister.co.uk] .

Patent Everything (3, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771010)

It's a necessity today for companies to patent everything they possibly can. It is becoming impossible to create anything without having an arsenal of patents to fire back at the inevitable patents suits against your own device or software.

Look at Google. They've (seemingly sensibly) not accumulated a huge portfolio of patents. The unfortunate consequence of that is that Android is going to get squeezed more and more by patent claims.

Patent trolls' strongest weapon is the fact that they don't make anything, and so there's nothing against which a counter-claim can be made.

The long-term bright side of this is that sooner or later Google and others will have no choice but to mount a campaign for sweeping change in the patent system. But until then, small developers will find it harder and harder to produce useful software and devices without spending all their income defending patent claims.

Er, WTF?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771022)

Right, this madness has to END, NOW.

But this patent is for a **TOUCH SCREEN** (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771122)

That makes it different.
 
Right?
 
right?
 
write

Aha! Quick! To The Patent Cave! (1)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771176)

I need a rush on this patent to change things back from portrait to landscape once they have rotated the screen back..also the other way. ..taps toe...

People Who Know What They're Doing (0)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 2 years ago | (#36771230)

Do not work for the government, and this includes the USPTO. There are many people who are young, smart, idealistic, and/or unaware of what it means to work for the government who go to work for the government, but they do not stay for long because they immediately see what a hopelessly dysfunctional soup of sociopaths it is. They leave. What remains are, you guessed it, sociopaths and the lowest common denominator denizens of DC for whom Uncle Sam is a big sugar daddy that gives you get full health benefits, lets you work from 10-3pm, and expects nothing of you but putting an ass in a chair. The sociopaths don't even pretend to work because they're sociopaths and devote 99.9% of their energy maintaining the facade they use to fool everyone. So that leaves the mouth breathers to do things like evaluate patents. Small wonder that they make great decisions like granting patents for things that clearly have prior art like the Thinkpad convertible tablets that had the ability to convert to/from landscape view based on position and whose touchscreen worked with a pen.

Search for prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36771236)

Google is your friend.

Here is an example: http://www.michaeldolan.com/1103
When was this software made available to outside people, perhaps by storage in a public file server or other publication?

That article leads to the following article (published mid-2006) which discloses the availability of software to control On-screen display orientation in response to an integrated accelerometer.

http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/l-knockage/index.html

Actual developers would know better when this idea became available to the general public.

Rooting around, I found "gyro.tar", distributed in 2005 by Eric C. Cooper, which simulates the rotation of a portable device display based on an accelerometer.

Obviously, this idea was widely known years before Apple filed it's application.

The patent office seems to be having it's way with the public again. Don't they know about Google?

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