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Apple Granted Patent For Slide To Unlock

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the slide-to-unlock-a-can-of-worms dept.

Patents 622

generalhavok writes "The United States Patent & Trademark Office has approved Apple's patent on the slide to unlock gesture used on iOS devices. Interestingly, this patent was earlier dismissed in Europe due to prior art. With many Android phones using a similar slide gesture, it will be interesting to see how this new patent will affect the patent wars between Apple and Android vendors."

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622 comments

Oh ffs (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841818)

Go away apple!

Re:Oh ffs (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841826)

Seconded. Everybody who buys Apple products is supporting this abuse of the patent system and the market in general.

Re:Oh ffs (0)

MichaelKristopeitBro (2488396) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841846)

The way I see it is that the patent was filed when the first iPhone was released but was granted only today. AFAIK, this is the first device I've ever seen doing this. And no, the N1m is no prior art at all. There is no unlocking of anything on the video, so how could it be a prior art of "slide to unlock" ?

Blame it on the patent system, but not on apple for playing by the rules of the system.

Re:Oh ffs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841878)

System's fucked?
They play it to fuck everyone else?
They're as guilty as the system.

Re:Oh ffs (2, Interesting)

MichaelKristopeitDad (2488356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841960)

On a ring, the rules are you're allowed to hit someone on the face. So by doing it, you play by the rules and are not "guilty". If you did the same in the street, you'd be arrested (assuming a cop gets by). How is this different?

They may be morally wrong or anything, but so was Eric Schmitt when he was on the Apple board, got plenty of inside information on mobile operating systems from Apple, told nothing to no one and got the best of it in his own mobile OS. So, which is wronger?

And I'm not asking which is doing the more damage, but which is morally worse than the other?

Re:Oh ffs (3, Insightful)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841904)

Apple is gaming the system, not playing by the rules. How many ways could this be implemented in code? Thousands? Millions? There is no clear boundary with this patent and Apple is sure to apply this to Android phones as a few of them use a very similar method to unlock the phone.

This patent is sure to hinder innovation and competition as Apple engages in business combat, not simple competition. Competition is about creating choice in the marketplace, not destroying it. Apple seems bent on destroying choice, just like Microsoft.

Re:Oh ffs (3, Informative)

MichaelKristopeitBro (2488396) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841936)

Apple is not gaming the system. Apple is playing by the rules, and the rules are utterly stupid.

How many ways could this be implemented in code? Thousands? Millions? There is no clear boundary with this patent and Apple is sure to apply this to Android phones as a few of them use a very similar method to unlock the phone.

This is a problem with all software patents, not just Apple's.

This patent is sure to hinder innovation and competition as Apple engages in business combat, not simple competition. Competition is about creating choice in the marketplace, not destroying it. Apple seems bent on destroying choice, just like Microsoft.

The USPTO is telling Apple they are allowed to do so. The outcome may be bad, but, once again, Apple is playing by the rules here. Plain and simple.

Re:Oh ffs (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842056)

Just because someone is playing by the rules doesn't mean that you should absolve them of all responsibility. The companies that try to be as douchy as they can within the rules, are more likely to just go and outright break the rules when they think they can get away with it. So far Apple don't appear to have done anything completely illegal, so they haven't quite reached the MS and Intel charged criminal levels yet, but I don't think it will be long. Well, maybe now that Steve's gone again they won't be so bad, who knows.

There are companies that have the same rules to play by, but don't try to do things like patent a rectangle with rounded corners. Ask your brother, I'm sure he'll tell you how pathetic that is.

Re:Oh ffs (1)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842088)

So, what's the point of having rules, if not to be used as the limit for behavior?

Re:Oh ffs (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842166)

The point is to limit what people with no morals can do, yes. It doesn't mean that everything they do within the rules is still respectable. People should be allowed to complain if they think that someone is not acting within the spirit of the law, or even if they're well within the law, but still damaging society. Patent and Copyright laws were put in place to encourage innovation, but companies such as Apple like to patent things and not even license them out to anyone that they see as a competitor. Both MS and Apple seem to revel in "destroying" their competitors, rather than competing with them.

Re:Oh ffs (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842094)

Just because someone is playing by the rules doesn't mean that you should absolve them of all responsibility.

You know, it's all about context. The thread is about whether or not Apple is abusing the patent system. Nobody is absolving them.

The companies that try to be as douchy as they can within the rules, are more likely to just go and outright break the rules when they think they can get away with it. So far Apple don't appear to have done anything completely illegal, so they haven't quite reached the MS and Intel charged criminal levels yet, but I don't think it will be long. Well, maybe now that Steve's gone again they won't be so bad, who knows.

There are companies that have the same rules to play by, but don't try to do things like patent a rectangle with rounded corners. Ask your brother, I'm sure he'll tell you how pathetic that is.

Agreed.

Re:Oh ffs (4, Insightful)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842014)

AFAIK, this is the first device I've ever seen doing this.

I have a door in my bathroom which works exactly like the described 'invention'.
If you read the Jobs biography, it becomes clear just how delusional the man was. He claims to have invented not only the GUI, menu's, and the modern mouse but also the concept of a PC, the internet, the rectangle, fonts, and what more. If he had not existed, noone would have invented it. Looks like he dropped acid too many times.

Re:Oh ffs (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842144)

Some of that stuff is delusional, but you can't argue that phone interfaces were shit until Apple released the iPhone and everyone else had to up their game. Phone hardware had been good for a while, but the UIs were awful.. often lazy companies will just stick with whatever currently sells, without trying to do better. The phone industry is especially bad for trying to squeeze blood out of stones and not really innovating.

That's my only real defence of Apple out of the way though. All of their mobile stuff since the iPod has had an element of douchebaggery to it, something that damages or at least inconveniences consumers in some way to try and keep them locked in.

Re:Oh ffs (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841900)

Yeah, what happened to Apples "People are prepared to pay more for quality, and we're the best" philosophy.

Re:Oh ffs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841980)

Yeah, what happened to Apples "People are prepared to pay more for quality, and we're the best" philosophy.

Did you really fall for that marketing drivel then I have a piece of moon property to sell to you.

Re:Oh ffs (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842156)

Me? Nah, I'm just asking the fanbois.

None of these lawsuits should be surprising to people who've been paying attention. It's always been part of the iPhone business plan. See 7:36 in this video.

Contrast with this [youtube.com]

Re:Oh ffs (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842138)

That was the NeXT philosophy, and it was only true for a very small subset of people (as shown by the fact that NeXT shipped about 50K computers in the company's entire life). A lot of the NeXT people came to Apple with Steve Jobs and took fairly senior positions. They've mostly retired now. Unfortunately, so have all of the competent pre-merger HCI people that Apple used to employ.

Re:Oh ffs (1, Troll)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841832)

Maybe I should file patents on slide-to-scroll? How about type-to-send-SMS or type-to-send-email? Surely those are equally patent-worthy?

The way its done... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841820)

I'd agree with Europe, sorry Apple, that boat sailed, slide unlock is now "just the way its done" ... perhaps Henry Ford should have sued anyone who dared put black paint on their cars?

Don't blame Henry Ford (4, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841994)

I know what you mean but you have it backward. Ford was trolled by the Apples of his day (the low volume high cost carmakers) who claimed to have patented everything from the wheel up. He had to spend years and a lot of money fighting them. He won, and the car was democratised. Whatever his faults, Henry Ford ought to have some special place as a Slashdot hero, because in a sense he "open sourced" the motor car.

The US will just cripple its own tech (5, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841822)

Manufacturers will simply ignore US patents everywhere else in the world and provide a crippled product with various functions disabled for the US market if this sort of nonsense continues. It strikes me the US patent office still thinks its 1950 with the US deciding the direction of technological advances. Someone should throw some strong coffee in their faces and wake them up to the reality of the 21st century before they fuck up US industry for good.

(And I'm not a US citizen).

Re:The US will just cripple its own tech (5, Interesting)

melonman (608440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841840)

I think a more likely outcome is something like the patent pool that was forced into place by the US government around the 1920s to avoid a situation where, basically, no company could build a plane without infringing another company's patents. Otherwise, sooner or later, Android will be in trouble, but so will Apple and all other US companies.

Re:The US will just cripple its own tech (3, Insightful)

MichaelKristopeitDad (2488356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841862)

This. Right on spot. The only thing the USPTO is accomplishing is crippling the US market and making it less and less attractive to companies, given the higher risk of litigation. And really, this benefits to no one.

Re:The US will just cripple its own tech (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842198)

"This. Right on spot. The only thing the USPTO is accomplishing is crippling the US market and making it less and less attractive to companies, given the higher risk of litigation. And really, this benefits to no one."

Lawyers ?

Re:The US will just cripple its own tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841924)

Someone should throw some strong coffee in their faces and wake them up

I have an inkling someone's already patented "a process for increasing a subject's alertness via high-speed facial delivery of a brewed, caffeinated drink."

Re:The US will just cripple its own tech (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841952)

Speaking as an American who lives abroad and works in Europe... this is how it has been working already for some time. The company I work for sells a software product globally. The version shipped into the US market was up until recently crippled to avoid infringing a ridiculous US patent that was granted in the mid-90's and just recently expired. Now we can finally ship a full featured product to the US.

It's utterly amazing that the patent system in the US is still this bad. Where is the reform we keep hearing about?

Re:The US will just cripple its own tech (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842124)

As a non-American myself it is incredibly disheartening to see so many innovations created by American companies being denied to large segments of the American populace itself thanks to it's own utterly absurd patent system. Whatever people think about US...foreign policy, popular culture, overt consumerism or whatever..the one thing you cannot deny is that quality of life has been drastically improved for so many thanks to technological advances made by US companies. To then go and deny their own population the benefits of those advances because of bizarre and outdated patent laws just seems morally and ethically wrong on so many levels.

Whats next, patent to use your hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841830)

Why do they manage to get patents like this.
Google has it with their home screen....a logo, a text box and 2 buttons.
Thought we were intelligent species.

Re:Whats next, patent to use your hands (3, Funny)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841914)

You truly thought we were an intelligent species? Really, now?

Re:Whats next, patent to use your hands (0)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841998)

I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

Here's the report we sent to our home system (1)

EnergyScholar (801915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842040)

DeathElk, the time has come to reveal our presence to the Earthlings. Our species has been observing humans for some years. While our species should have risen above the threatening sounds you make, I well understand your sentiment. Our time observing humans is now up, we are leaving.

Humans, here is the report we sent to our home system about your species. [dieoff.org] Your your own sake, humans, I hope you are able to learn your true nature.

Re:Whats next, patent to use your hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842196)

How can you call yourself an intelligent species, if you can't even invent something as simple as this slide-to-unlock crap.

Fuckers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841834)

fuckers, americans with their USPTO are fuckers. Apple bought them, that's clear now that they ignored EU findings.

Re:Fuckers (-1, Flamebait)

zoloto (586738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841926)

funny thing, we can ignore everything EU because it has no jurisdiction. and Apple did it first - so fuck all you for bitching about it.

Re:Fuckers (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842158)

Stop being a dick. This is a stupid patent and you know it.

New Apple patent (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841838)

This just in: Apple patents the element with an atomic number of 8, also known as oxygen. You are now required to pay $1.99 for every litre of oxygen you consume. iOxygen is currently only available in the US and UK via the iTunes store. Citizens of other countries are kindly requested to stop breathing.

Re:New Apple patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841850)

Apple does own everything that's ever been done, said, spoken, thought of, mimed out and prophesied after all!

Slide to...? (1)

indre1 (1422435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841848)

Doest it cover all slide gestures, like slide to answer, decline?
If not, then can't we just say that from now on nobody lock's their phones. They just use the sliding gesture to get to their home page?

Re:Slide to...? (1)

gTsiros (205624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841880)

just stop using slide to unlock and use two quick taps in either side of the sliding (now "tapping") widget

Re:Slide to...? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841884)

"It's not a lock screen, it's a ... clock ... from which the only way out is with a slide gesture."

Re:Slide to...? (2)

mamas (468872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842006)

Spot on.

With ICS (and probably others) allowing doing more things in that clock screen, like getting access to notifications, and direct access to the camera, this argument gains even more weight.

Re:Slide to...? (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841938)

Or just do like the Android lock screen, which requires you to drag something accross the screen.
And if that's covered by the patent, we'll just change the graphics and require the user to "push" an object accross the screen.
Alternatively call it "scroll" and change the graphics so the lock-screen as a whole is moved.
Or did Apple patent the physical action and am I no longer allowed to pull my finger accross a touch screen?
If all else fails, replace the lock-screen with an Apple logo and detect a certain handshape with a singular extended digit in the middle.

Re:Slide to...? (4, Informative)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841992)

No, the first claim of the patent [uspto.gov] is for a gesture dragging a graphic along a "predefined, displayed path". So if the unlock gesture isn't a fixed path (like the Samsung S2 [youtube.com], which can unlock in any direction; or the path isn't displayed, like a puzzle piece which moves along a fixed path to its destination but that path isn't visible, then it's not covered by the patent.

Re:Slide to...? (3, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841996)

No, notably, it covers *only* gestures that involve having your finger in continuous contact with your screen *and* having a GUI widget moving continuously under your finger. So all the hype about prior art like entering codes by tapping is bullshit (because your finger isn't in constant contact), and all the hype about android's various unlock mechanisms being in violation are similarly bullshit (because no widget follows the finger continuously).

An article about patents explains the patent in such a broad way that it sounds like it covers everything under the sun? Who'd have thought it!

Re:Slide to...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842180)

gestures that involve having your finger in continuous contact with your screen *and* having a GUI widget moving continuously under your finger

Isn't that your every-day run-of-the-mill drag-and-drop that has been around since ... well ... the first graphical UI; and has been on every touch screen since day 1?

How about the sliding gesture to wipe my ass? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841856)

Is that still free to use, or do I owe money to some "innovative" patent troll?

Re:How about the sliding gesture to wipe my ass? (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841886)

Still free to use, but not for long now. I hope you rushed to the patent office to fill it.

Re:How about the sliding gesture to wipe my ass? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841910)

He just proceeded to wipe his ass, then submitted the toilet paper, and unsurprisingly, a very broad patent was granted to him on the spot.

I've got a gesture for the patent office... (3, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841858)

Re:I've got a gesture for the patent office... (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842128)

I wouldn't be surprised if someone has already patented that gesture.

My gesture to the patent office is: ring and little finger and then thumb folded on the palm, middle and index finger in a V hand moved from horizontal to vertical with back of hand toward the recipient.

(I was born in a commonwealth country, and the cesture dates back to the hundred years war.

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841860)

Uh yeah, can you say prior art?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-briefcase-lock-image16422460

Apple Vs Predator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841868)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWeZOS8ta04

It really is time (2)

saphena (322272) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841870)

that everyone's patent laws were brought sharply up to date by restricting the term to TWO YEARS instead of the hugely anachronistic 20.

Re:It really is time (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841974)

Extension seems more likely. Like what happened to copyright. A few major patent holders see that their most profitable patents are near expiration and lobby for an extension, then another, and another. I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet. Technology companies have as much to lose as to gain, but pharmacuticals... patents are pure profit to them.

some background info on the Dutch ruling (4, Informative)

TESTNOK (2476330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841872)

Here [blogspot.com] is an article from the FOSS Patents Blog with some details on the case ruled on in last August in the Netherlands, which is what I guess is being referred to as "earlier dismissed in Europe". It's certainly amazing how one judge can say "this clearly existed before" and another can say "no it didn't" based on the same info.

Re:some background info on the Dutch ruling (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841956)

It's not really that amazing if you take into account that the judges are in completely different jurisdictions with differing laws and criteria for determinations of this sort.

Re:some background info on the Dutch ruling (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842154)

It's less amazing when you recognise America's history of protectionism when it comes to this type of thing.

I guarantee if someone like HTC or Samsung had gone for the same patent they would not have been granted it.

"Great American Companies" (tm) have a massive advantage of widespread patriotic bias on their home turf in the courts and at the patent office.

Prior art? (5, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841874)

Re:Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841894)

A bolt is not a touch screen

Re:Prior art? (3, Insightful)

mamas (468872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842028)

By that reasoning, everything you do in the analog world that will be replicated in the digital world is patentable as "innovation".

E.g., under that reasoning, I would patent a method to input text letter by letter, by pressing specific areas in a touchscreen, which may or may not have the letters drown on the touchscreen.

Then you'd say, a "keyboard is not a touch screen".

Re:Prior art? (5, Insightful)

am 2k (217885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842062)

But it's on a phone, so it's something completely new and nonobvious! "On the Internet" patents are soo 2000.

More Demantia from Software Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841882)

Nothing to see here. Except perhaps the crazy types who occasionally show up to try and defend this insanity.

'predefined' (1)

quick_dry_3 (112334) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841896)

I admit to only a quick scan through of the patent doc - but if they're 'predefined' paths, whether or not this is dismissed as prior art, does it count as a predefined path if you nominate your end points to swipe, or just have a swipe in some general direction e.g. left right, or up/down anywhere on the screen... then there was the Android style of sensing a swipe pattern. Would these fall foul? or only an iOS style "here is the predefined one way to unlock" built in to the OS?

fire them (1)

SuperDre (982372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841934)

How is it possible for the USPTO to grant the patent when there is prior art (which doesn't matter where it was done first)? This seems like a big 'here you have some cash boy and grant us the patent'. So no matter what, they should fire a lot of people at USPTO as they are NOT doing their work as it should (or because they got a bribe or they just didn't search enough).. So on the otherhand it won't be difficult to get the patent invalidated again as it has prior art..

Re:fire them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841982)

If they are that blind, or corrupt then please someone, Quickly patent the word Apple at the USPTO.

Re:fire them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842032)

It took them 5 years. Apple probably paid them to postpone it for 5 years.

Re:fire them (3, Insightful)

tfg004 (974156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842110)

When a patent gets invalidated, the USPTO should be forced to return the fees.
Then it won't take long before they finally learn how to do their work properly.

Nokia physical slider (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37841954)

Does this mean that Nokia's physical slider for unlocking phones is patentable? I wonder if Nokia has a patent for that and if not, whether USPTO would grant one?

patent a gesture? (1)

ticktickboom (1054594) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841964)

patent a way you move your hands? is it jsut me or is it getting a lil silly. im gonna patent heavy breathing.....

Re:patent a gesture? (2)

MadMaverick9 (1470565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842164)

it's a desperate move.

europe and usa do not have any manufacturing at all. well - almost next to nothing. most manufacturing has been moved to low-cost countries.

and so - knowledge is all that these companies are left with. they desperately try to hold on to it with patents.

but - they forget one important rule ...

knowledge wants to be free [wikipedia.org].

Childish (3, Interesting)

jevring (618916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841966)

All I see is "wahh, waah, we want to be a monopoly!" I hear that doesn't get people attention from the government at all.

Neonode N1M - prior art (5, Informative)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841970)

Given that the Neonode N1M is likely to be considered prior art [blogspot.com], how would one go about getting the patent ruled invalid?

Well what about this ? (5, Informative)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842010)

Announced 1Q, 2005
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj-KS2kfIr0

Go to 4:00 to see the slide to unlock in action ...

Now Apple requested the patent on December 2005, I am guessing some form of prior art should kill that.

Re:Well what about this ? (0)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842050)

That video is from mid 2007 and the reviewer implies that the phone is just released.. also it doesn't prove that they didnt include slide to unlock after seeing it at the iPhone launch in January 2007.

I agree the slide to unlock gesture shouldn't get a patent .. but what you've shown isn't proof.

This is sick (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842036)

This only makes my determination to never buy anything Apple related stronger. Yes, other corps are "evil" too, sometimes patenting stuff which is too obvious, but this is one shining example of ignorance and greed (USPO also continues to "amaze" me). Apple which I known for openness and will of providing amazing tech has grown into controlling monster of greed. It seems that most IT business success stories in US ends up like that.

I won't even bother to comment about obviousness of this patent. Maybe there was a reason why Jobs died from cancer.

its the time frame which matters (0, Troll)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842038)

While a lot of patents are nonsense and software patents in general, it still amazes me how fast things are now adapted in the case of the iphone. We would still have phones with thousand of buttons and switches if apple would not have shown an other way. The sliding idea to unlock the device was new and the engineer who has invented it should has his or her invention protected for a while. Innovation should be rewarded for a couple of years but then freed up. It is the time frame which is a problem. Intellectual property and patent protection should last only a couple of years, but enforced strongly. This gives the artist or inventor a living for a few years. 10 years maximum. After that, the technology or art should go in the public domain. The inventor or artist will be forced to become creative again. I do not know how fast the code for the iphone could have been adapted and copied so fast by others. The only obvious mechanism which comes to mind is that today when we give email and other communication services more and more to external companies, this information is also mined. An apple engineer using an external free email service for example might give away a lot of code just by communicating with others about the projects. In the case of the iphone, the adaption went too fast. When introduced in 2007, the iphone had a lot of innovative features. The interface,including the way how to interact with the device would be unlocked, was new. 2010, three years after, almost identical competitors were already outselling them. Of course this is good for us customers, but the question is, whether in the future, there will be an other boost of innovation from companies. I mean innovation, not just copying or refining what has been done before. If the risk that your innovation is copied in 3 years and outselling yours, there is no point any more for such exploits. For apple it still worked, but who will dare such a thing again? Again: protect intellectual property, new ideas and new art vigorously, go after copy-cats, freeloaders and rip-offs, but then free the technology or art after a decade.

Re:thousand of buttons but for Apple: WTF? (2)

Jerry Atrick (2461566) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842104)

Yet people continue to buy Blackberry and use the full keyboard on it. People still buy Android phones with full hard keyboards. I only just retired mine, in favour of an Xperia Play, a phone with around 20 keys mostly dedicated to game play and it's a hell of a lot better than trying to play with touch controls. Apple haven't eliminated phones with 'thousands of keys' because sometimes a lot of keys works better. And that assumes Apple invented touchscreen phones, which the didn't - there were touch screen smartphones on sale before the iPhone was even announced. Apple did touch control well and they patented the life out if it but they didn't actually invent very much. Apple are just as brazen as Microsoft about stealing other peoples research and passing it off as their own.

Re:its the time frame which matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842134)

"We would still have phones with thousand of buttons and switches if apple would not have shown an other way."

The technology to enable this needed to exist first - the big shiny touchscreen which allows the iPhone to be an iPhone didn't exist previously (at least not to a sufficient level of sophistication). It is fallacious to suggest that no-one else would have done it just because Apple got a high profile product using it out the door before others.

Re:its the time frame which matters (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842148)

The LG-Shine was slide to unlock. And I think many phones before that had a slide to unlock feature. They where sliding phones. So, just apply that to a touchscreen and you have slide to unlock on the iPhone. A good idea, yes. Mind-blowing innovating, no. Should be used to kill competition?... I'm sorry, what was the idea behind patents again?

Re:its the time frame which matters (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842172)

I hate to break this to you but Apple invented Jack a shite ... and Jack left town a looong time ago.

The first company to get rid of most buttons on a mobile phone would have been IBM. Try the IBM Simon Personal Communicator (1993) on for size and tell me why IBM doesnt get the credit for a keyless touch screen phone?

Re:its the time frame which matters (4, Insightful)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842174)

We would still have phones with thousand of buttons and switches if apple would not have shown an other way.

Guess you never used a Palm Pilot?

Re:its the time frame which matters (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842178)

We would still have phones with thousand of buttons and switches if apple would not have shown an other way.

Really? We wouldn't have got there any other way? I give you the LG Prada [wikipedia.org]. Announced before the iPhone. Released before the iPhone.

i smell bribery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842072)

nobody is that stupid. the problem is how *can* we do anything about it. the people obviously doesn't mean anything anymore. now it's just business as usual....

prior art back in the 1980s (1)

MadMaverick9 (1470565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842074)

we had this gesture already way back when on the Apple ][e.

alas - not graphical but <a target="_blank" href="http://textfiles.com/art/afinger.txt">ascii art</a>.

intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842098)

Are the people who approves this kind of patent considered to have intelligence?

What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842102)

Apple uses slide to unlock. Android uses drag to unlock.

Anyone who isn't a fool can see that...

Though I guess Apple users can't.

Why is this only SW patent problem? (3, Interesting)

wienerschnizzel (1409447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842106)

Why don't we see a drugs manufacturers killing themselves with an 'oval shaped pills' (or as they would put it 'an anatomically efficient vessel for introduction of effective chemicals into the gastro-intestinal system') patent?

What the hell is the department of the Patent Office responsible for SW doing?!

USPTO Sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842114)

For the last decade, America has been hiring engineers from China and India. Decent people, HOWEVER, the issue is that many of them have not see the developments of physical and virtual entities over their lifetime. As such, they have little to no prior knowledge within the west (note that in another 10 years, they will be of use, but may have left America by then). Yet, they have to rule on it, while being given very little time to judge the patent. Just look at the occurring prior art discussions that we have on this site. Over and over and over, we see that USPTO does not know about FUNDAMENTAL prior art that destroys these patents that are granted on a whim.

europeans do it better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842126)

in europe should have been trashed from the beginning just because you cannot patent "schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;"
I love you europe. the old continent laws are always ahead compared to US :)

Some ideas to make USPTO react on their policy (1)

dweeves (520351) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842136)

I think the most easy way to get rid of USPTO policy would be to patent "patent acceptation model" in a so subtle way they could not even detect it , or something like "a method to consume air for biological devices" (ie:breathing).

At least since the Carter administration... (1, Funny)

procrastinatos (1004262) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842184)

I slide to unlock my wife. Now searching the attic for my Betamax home videos so I can demonstrate prior art.
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