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Apple Patents GUI Theme Engine

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the what-*will*-they-think-of-next? dept.

Patents 252

SirFlakey writes: "Just browsing the Patents database at delphion I came across this patent from a couple of weeks back. Apparently Apple Computer has patented a method of theming the OS. I wonder how this affects theming on Linux ?" Perhaps unsurprizing, considering Apple's general unhappiness with Apple-like themes, and that they convinced themes.org to remove Aqua, AquaX and others. Apple obviously has a lot tied up in their look-and-feel, but the patent's actual claims strike me as pretty thin. Sounds like Apple wants to be the sole owner of complex desktop customization, which I think some people might object to.

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Re:OS X, Whistler, etc. (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 13 years ago | (#403995)

why would you want to theme cde?

Dunno. Why not ask them [openmotif.org] ?


1st Law Of Networking: Loose ends are bad, termination is good.

Re:Interesting magic date. (1)

dair (210) | more than 13 years ago | (#403996)

I suspect this is a defensive patent. One of those "we should see if the PTO will grant this, cause if they give it to anyone else we are screwed" patents.

It does sound like it - this was definitely pitched as a big deal for Copland, and even when the Appearance Manager was spun off for Mac OS 8 themes were still being mentioned. One of the constant reminders when the Appearance Manager was introduced was that you shouldn't hand-roll your own UI components in case the look and feel changed again in the future (and if you must hand-roll them, to use the built in brushes and primitives so that you'll look somewhat right).

I seriously doubt it'd be resurrected today, but I guess it looked like a prudent idea at the time.

-dair

Re:and why not? (1)

dair (210) | more than 13 years ago | (#403997)

And Platinum was, in turn, based on a theme prepared for Apple's Copland OS

Yep, I was a bit vague - Aaron was based on the then Copland look (since that was his name :-), and the name "Platinum" came along later.

-dair

Re:How about the line in the claim: (1)

dair (210) | more than 13 years ago | (#403998)

Legalese not being my forte, I had imagined...
A CLI <-> Explorer <-> HTML browser <-> Finder
When selecting themes.


Going by the then planned OS (Copland, which is where this patent will have come from), I don't think so. The behavioural changes that were present in the build of Copland that was half-released were all pretty trivial - menus flipped over vertically like some kind of paddle when you moused over them, dragging windows around produced sounds, etc.

It's arguable if these are really 'behaviours' as such - but irrespective of the theme your buttons were still buttons, zoom boxes were still zoom boxes, etc.

-dair

Re:and why not? (1)

nathana (2525) | more than 13 years ago | (#404003)

Part of the agreement between IBM and Microsoft was that Microsoft would be able to retain the right to resell MS-DOS to others. (I remember reading somewhere that Microsoft wanted this fact to be very clear to IBM, and IBM accepted it.) If IBM had told Microsoft that they would only license MS-DOS if Microsoft would agree not to license it to anyone else and Microsoft agreed, then Compaq would have faced a much greater and more costly (financially and time-wise) challenge: to have to clone and reverse-engineer MS-DOS in addition to the IBM PC BIOS. I doubt Compaq would have had much incentive to do this if that were the case.

So, yes, in a sense the Microsoft OS "helped Compaq [to] clone the IBM PC."

Levels of sofistication (1)

cyberassasin (4943) | more than 13 years ago | (#404006)

After skimming the patent, I think it is reffering to behavioral models, such as the Simple Finder (Mac users will know what I mean), whereas different levels of useability are associated with the interface. This can be very useful, especially for new or young users. It allows for varying degrees of sophistication. An example might be a window, where in Level 1, you just have a close button, Level 2 might have a minimize/maximize button, and Level 3 might include the first two plus a button to bring up preferences for that window (color, transparency, etc.)

Just my $0.02

Re:Read the claim before posting! (1)

schani (8889) | more than 13 years ago | (#404009)

Of course, changing the behaviour, could also just mean switching scrollbars from athena-style to motif-style. Does this deserve a patent???

bye
schani

Re:Potential prior art? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 13 years ago | (#404012)

MUI on the Amiga dates back to around 1992 or maybe 1993.


---

Grr. (1)

Resident Geek (16074) | more than 13 years ago | (#404014)

You know, I was just thinking about buying a Cube--not just because of the hardware, but OSX looks quite slick. I'm not about to change my mind, but it saddens me that Apple, in a move to protect a good idea, is going too far. I really wish Jobs and co. had a dose of sanity to go with the LSD-augmented genius.

Fighting the War on the War on Drugs.

Re:I dunno if Apple is going too far. (1)

ttyRazor (20815) | more than 13 years ago | (#404018)

You haven't used enlightenment, have you (or really mucked around with its theming stuff, anyway)?

Re:Prior art... (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 13 years ago | (#404019)

The X11 libraries have an option to put an image
in the border or the title bar. Just look up the
manpages and documentation on a nearby unix-
workalike computer.

Re:Windows 95 Plus Pack, Login Preferences (1)

TheInternet (35082) | more than 13 years ago | (#404032)

Then again, Microsoft's bloc of non-voting shares in Apple (circa 1996?) may still be a strong deterrent against Apple's wielding this particular patent over them.

They were purchased in 1997. At the same time, Apple and Microsoft signed a broad patent cross-licensing agreement. This was possibly due to the whole fiasco with Microsoft allegedly stealing QuickTime code to make Video for Windows.

- Scott
--
Scott Stevenson
WildTofu [wildtofu.com]

Re:and why not? (1)

penguinboy (35085) | more than 13 years ago | (#404033)

Because there was a Microsoft to provide an OS to them machines that Compaq managed to hack away the IP rights from IBM we all enjoy hardware advances we would have never seen otherwise. All this, at costs WAY below what would otherwise have been available.

If my deciphering of that is correct, you're saying that the MS OS helped Compaq clone the IBM PC. The truth is, Compaq only had to clone IBM's copyrighted ROM BIOS. And there's always the allegation that Gates & co. didn't even write DOS, but stole it..

Re:Prior art... (1)

penguinboy (35085) | more than 13 years ago | (#404034)

I just read that Viacom patent and one of their claims really stood out:

creating, using a computer program for developing customized drawings under a control of a user, the pictorial frame elements having an arbitrary pictorial design;

I'm not a patent lawyer, but it certainly looks like they're claiming to have patented drawing images on a computer.

I'd like some of what they're smoking (1)

Lexq (43797) | more than 13 years ago | (#404039)

You know, I like Apple products. I even like Jobs himself (His technotheocratic attitudes are fun to watch, and at least he's not out for World Domination, at least not that I know of). But damnit, Apple needs to higher a new legal team. And while they're at it, they need to hire a new Ad company. Better yet, just let Stevey boy do all that stuff. He might be insane, but at least he's not an idiot.

Examples of prior art (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 13 years ago | (#404042)

Some examples of prior art that would negate this patent:
  • Neuron Data Open Interface (later known as Elements Environment) used hard coded themes to allow the user to dynamically switch between WinXX, Mac, Motif, etc. "themes" way back in 1989-90. The Mac theme was only enabled on Macs for production, but the development version let you use it on other platforms for the first couple years. It doesn't qualify for the data-driven aspects, however.
  • Win98 Plus Pack supported visual/audio themes, but not widget behavior changes.
  • Enlightenment supports themes, but I'm not sure when they started the support.
  • XVT, the major competitor to Neuron Data's products for cross platform-development, not only supported look-and-feel theming in the late 1980's, but encouraged themed widgets that would adjust their behavior according to the platform simulated.
  • Java JFC is themable to an insane degree, with the core kit designed to allow the user to define just about every aspect of behavior and feedback. As this work started with Netscape, there is a very good chance it predates May 1998.

I'd also have to question whether Copland is truly Apple's sole invention, and how much actually derives from their partnerships with IBM at that time.

Re:Grr. (1)

Coward, Anonymous (55185) | more than 13 years ago | (#404045)

I really wish Jobs and co. had a dose of sanity to go with the LSD-augmented genius.

Steve Jobs is on crack [segfault.org] not LSD.

IE (1)

chocolatetrumpet (73058) | more than 13 years ago | (#404048)

Oh yeah, and IE too!

Re:Prior art... (1)

AtrN (87501) | more than 13 years ago | (#404053)

Some of the patents referenced by the Apple one are interesting. Viacom's patent on images in window borders [delphion.com] looks pretty bad.

Re:Protecting against Windows XP? (1)

crovax (98121) | more than 13 years ago | (#404054)

A few shots can be found here [pcwelt.de] .

--
Spelling by m-w.com [m-w.com] .

Re:Read the claim before posting! (1)

Ogerman (136333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404068)

Whatever it really means, I don't see anything for which there is not an extensive amount of prior art. IMHO, the ppl at Apple must be getting awfully desperate if this is where they think their profits will come from. (some sort of 'really unique' look to their GUI). There's a place for art, there's a place for engineering. There's no reason to try to mesh the two.

This part's a bit weak (1)

zaius (147422) | more than 13 years ago | (#404071)

4. A computer system comprising:
  • a processor for performing control functions and processing data;
  • a display for outputting data received from said processor and for receiving input from a user of said computer system via a graphical user interface; and
  • a plurality of theme engines each capable of rendering a theme by drawing an object on said graphical user interface, wherein a selected one of said theme engines is commanded to draw said object based upon a theme selection coordinated by said processor.

Seems a little bit un-original to me...

This is ridiculous! (1)

moath (151844) | more than 13 years ago | (#404076)

This is one of the most foolish patents I've seen, up there with the RAMBUS ones. It saddens me that the patent office would pass such a broad patent as this, especially when we in the Linux community who use X-Windows and window managers like Sawfish, Enlightenment and others have been doing what is said in the patent for quite a while. Here's the worst of the patent here:

selecting a theme from among said plurality of themes;

That's just retarted.

-Aaron

hippos (1)

nycdewd (160297) | more than 13 years ago | (#404079)

and just WHY are you critical of hippopotami? isn't that hypocritical of you? didn't you take the Hippocratic oath to do no harm? it isn't Hippocratic to be hypocritical of hippopotami, they have feelings too. shame on you.

Re:Apple, Theming, Stupidity (1)

asackett (161377) | more than 13 years ago | (#404080)

My point exactly. Because of the facade, the collective "we" think they're on our side. I don't get it. So what if it's Apple? They're claiming rights to *look and feel*, a thing we have all carped about muckrosoft doing in the past.

I wonder, if the man in Redmond went after the open source fvwm95 window manager as a violation of their exclusive rights to a look and feel, would the collective we jump up in their defense?

--

Re:darn those IP laws (1)

davejhiggins (188370) | more than 13 years ago | (#404091)

Damn. My version of this joke was beaten by four minutes. But which one of us holds the patent on "jokes relating to apple sueing fruit-sellers"? :)

I claim that I had the concept first, and cite the length of my post and my typing speed as evidence :)

Dave

Re:This is ridiculous! (1)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 13 years ago | (#404096)

And considering the fact that they won't sue MS because they're keeping them alive, they'll probably go after little Linux companies.
uh oh but Apple is an innovative company with all their Xerox based GUI and BSD based code how could you say that they're copying linux X-Window themes? Show some respect :)

Re:Geez people (1)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 13 years ago | (#404099)

If there was any justice in this world, Apple would be able to sue Microsoft for competing with them
Funny guy, do you really think apple will survive without MS's Office and Internet Explorer? For one they should be grateful that MS is keeping them alive.
How is Apple innovating by using Xerox's GUI and BSD's code? Is their anything they actually can do without basing their product on someone else's?
Now take a good look at that patent, print it and since you like it so much stick it up your candy ass.

OS X, Whistler, etc. (1)

AntiTuX (202333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404101)

here's my reply to all of that.
They all look like CDE, and quite frankly, I hate CDE.
think about this people, why would you want to theme cde?

IANAL, but... (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 13 years ago | (#404102)

How much of this patent claim actually "holds any water"? I read all 16 claims, but I am not particularly proficient in legalese. It would seem to me that everything in each claim has already been done before.

Can anyone clarify exactly what they are trying to patent here in layman's terms? Because if they are trying to patent OS themability in general, then it certainly won't hold up. However, it almost seems like they are trying to patent a certain *method* of themability. If this is the case, then perhaps the patent could stand, but rather weakly, it would seem.

Could someone please clarify this a bit?

I can understand why Apple would want to protect Aqua to the fullest extent possible. That interface is their current baby and they have invested a LOT of money in it. And I can understand if the purpose of this patent is to help protect that. Hopefully, Apple won't jump on the bandwagon of patenting stupid things solely to suck money out of others (Rambus, anyone?).

just my $.02US.

Read the patent claim first! (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404106)

It specifically mentions that when a theme engine is used that the appearance *or* the behavior of the application in question changes.

I don't think I've seen very much prior art of a theme engine in which changing themes changed the behavior of a program!

An example I used in a higher level post was of a xterm window that changed shells based on themes, or changing to a finder style browser, a netscape style browser, or to an explorer style browser.


Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

I hope not (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404107)

It really depends on the question of whether GTK+ and E, and Windows Plus Pack, are covered by the patent.

If they are, then Apple is just dense and stupid, and I hope the patent gets thrown out.

If they aren't the same, then I hope Apple has something really nifty and cool in mind with this patent. ^^

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

I don't think *anyone* can contest this patent (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404108)

Here's why. In the first claim the patent mentions the changing of either appearance(skinning) or behavior(?) of an application when a theme is selected.

Theming, in this example, has *not* been done for years and years. Give me an example of an application that changed behaviors when a theme was selected? My example would be an xterm changing from csh to bash, or from a CLI interface to a Finder interface, or an Explorer interface, or even a 3d Doom style interface ^^

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

What Copland whitepapers? (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404110)

Perhaps my posts have been in error ^^;

The first claim describes a theme engine in which an application can change appearance(skinning) or behavior(?) when a theme is selected.

Is behavioral changes covered by the Copland whitepapers?

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

How about the line in the claim: (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404111)

Where they implement behavioral changes in the application due to theme selection?

I honestly don't know, other than speculating, if there is prior art.

Legalese not being my forte, I had imagined...

A CLI <-> Explorer <-> HTML browser <-> Finder

When selecting themes.

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

Only half the claim (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404112)

All these examples only cover half the claim in the patent, where appearance is selected by the theme engine.

The other part of the first claim was that behavior would change when selected by a theme engine.

I don't know that applications have changed behavior when a theme is changed. Does your DOS box change to a CSH shell when you change themes in Windowblinds? That's a speculation on my part on theme selected behavior modification.

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

I don't think so. (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404113)

The claim mentions behavior changes of an application when a theme is selected. Does the behavior of an application change under Motif or any other skinnable apps when a theme is selected?

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

Re:Umm, enlightenment? (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404114)

You might be right.

I just didn't think all the anti-patent bashing folks should be the only voice.

On the other hand, it might not be the same. The wording of the patent is vague enought that E might be in the same field, and if it is then the patent falls due to prior art.

But if E is not at all what Apple's patent means when they say 'behavioral change', then E also has nothing to fear from Apple's patent, right?

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

Prior art search (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404115)

What's gwm?

I am but a single person, and not able to find everything, as vast as the net may be.

What does gwm do?

Other than the speculation of Graphical Window Manager? Good Window Manager?

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

Yeah (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404116)

You're right, those are trivial aspects of theming.

We don't know what the intention of the patent is by the fact that the then planned OS never quite made it to market.

Everything is speculation unless we can ask Ed Voas or Arnaud Gourdol

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

Dunno, just questions. (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404117)

I dunno if widget and menu redefinition was the intent of the Apple patent.

Does the xterm change behavior if the menus attached to it change? Does it change behavior if the buttons attached to it change place and use?

I don't know if Enlightenment and Apple 'themes' are the same. I just know that the patent claims more than just appearance, and 'application behavior'

It could very well be that Apple's patent is invalid insofar as the scope in which Apple intends to apply it.

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

Dunno about profits... (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404118)

There's a place for art, there's a place for engineering. There's no reason to try to mesh the two.

What, like a Austin Martin, an F1 racer, an Acura NSX, the Golden Gate bridge, or the Arch of St. Louis?

Engineering helps push what is possible with art. Art helps to push what is feasible with engineering.

Apple likes to believe at least that the products they make are a nice blend of art and form with engineering and function.

So dose Ferrari, I think. Or Lamborghini.

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

I agree with you (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404119)

No, I don't think it would.

I don't know Apple's intentions. I do know that 'behavior' is vague enough that if you went to the extreme of it's definition that it *may* be patent worthy.

I just didn't want the thought that it might be a valid idea be drowned out by all the posts declaiming skins and patents.

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

method... (1)

djocyko (214429) | more than 13 years ago | (#404120)

Apparently Apple Computer has patented a method of theming the OS.

they have a patent on the method of theming; not on the end result. If you can prove that you can to the same end result without using the same method of getting there, then you're ok.

I would say that ripping off the theme from apple is not replicating their method. Then again, one could argue they ripped the whole gui thing from xerox, and so ripping it off from apple would be against the patent in the sense of using the same method.

This is why I will never be a lawyer ;-)

*YAWN* (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 13 years ago | (#404126)

Here's an idea,

save all these patent stories for a once a month posting?

Apple will feel the wrath of the penguin!!!!! (1)

robohead70 (235113) | more than 13 years ago | (#404128)

I think we should email the US patent offece and prove that this patent is UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Technically if we prove theming existed before (we all know it did) we can get them to give the patent to the open-source community! Heck, if this is what we need to do to keep linux going we might as well begin to file for these ridiculous patents. Anyone up for patenting the open-source movement idea?!?!

Nothing to worry about (1)

nocomment (239368) | more than 13 years ago | (#404131)

I don't think Enlightenment, kaleidoscope or any of the other theme's have anything to worry about, after all, this is an easy one to win in court, they were around before the patent.

I am wondering how the patent ever got awarded, themes have been around forever, almost as long as the gui itself!!!


Re:Protecting against Windows XP? (1)

flynt (248848) | more than 13 years ago | (#404136)

That is just one "theme" in XP. It has many different ones, including the "standard" Windows look and feel. The one you are talking about did look a little like OSX though. There are many many themes other than this, and you can of course even make your own with XP.

Non-obvious (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 13 years ago | (#404139)

Patents have to be non-obvious and innovative... this is merely a natural extension of the *truly* innovative Winamp skins...

Re:Nothing to worry about (1)

geomcbay (263540) | more than 13 years ago | (#404140)

From the outside looking in, I'd have to say it appears that the PTO doesn't really do any rudimentary checking at all when it comes to software patents.

Seems like they just grant everything and then let the courts sort them out.

Re:and why not? (1)

tykals (266589) | more than 13 years ago | (#404141)

I totally agree. If Apple doesn't fight against Microsoft like this, it will be killed by it. And then all Microsoft has left to fight is Linux and BeOS, which are like easily squishable bugs to it.

To those who don't agree with us: Do you want Microsoft to get complete monopoly or something? Why can't you think in the long term and see that these patents are the only way to stop a beast like Microsoft? Apple is trying to help us here, so don't be so ungrateful.

Re:Non-obvious (1)

IceHunter (308561) | more than 13 years ago | (#404146)

>>the *truly* innovative Winamp skins...

correction: MacAmp skins
WinAMp was a port of MacAMp which had skins first

Prior art? (1)

robert-porter (309405) | more than 13 years ago | (#404147)

Didn't SGI do this with Motif a long time ago? Or the web or any skinnable apps.

Re:Read the claim before posting! (1)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 13 years ago | (#404156)

Just because Windoze, KDE, GNOME, and Winamp themes are only skins

Hey! KDE2 themes aren't only skins! They can change the behavior, placement, and size of widgets both on windows and inside KDE applications.

[me@localhost]$ prolog
| ?- god.
! Existence error in god/0

Law suits (1)

iamroot (319400) | more than 13 years ago | (#404159)

Great, I'm going to have to recompile KDE if I want to change the theme:(

I wonder if the fact that KDE, Enlightenment, Gnome, etc... have been using themes for a long time will help them much if Apple sues them?

Oops! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#404164)

Looks like apple has violated my patent...

on SUCKING.

Re:and why not? (2)

dair (210) | more than 13 years ago | (#404165)

Ask the folks over at Kaleidoscope.net what Apple's attitude is to the theming of its OS?

Interestingly, one of the authors of the patent (Ed Voas) worked at one point with Greg Landweber, the author of Kaleidoscope, on Aaron. This was the precursor to Kaleidoscope, which restyled System 7 to look like the current Platinum appearance.

-dair

Umm, enlightenment? (2)

luge (4808) | more than 13 years ago | (#404167)

Enlightenment has always been able to change the behavior of buttons based on the theme used. You could also change (for example) the ability to windowshade on a per-theme basis. Those abilities pre-date the filing of the patent by 6 months to a year.

Re:But you have to USE your patents, right? (2)

GypC (7592) | more than 13 years ago | (#404168)

IIRC, trademarks have to be defended and used... patents don't.

The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion.

A couple of potential pieces of prior art (2)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#404172)

Back when I used windows (long, long time ago, but I can still remember when the crashes made me frown . . . ), I remember that there were "theme engines" for the pathetic amount of customization Win95 let you do (basically backgrounds and sounds).

And what about Java's Swing toolkit, which lets your application look like a Windows program, a Mac program, and so on. I dunno exactly when it was released, but I'd guess that it was in development before the patent was filed.

Re:and why not? (2)

david614 (10051) | more than 13 years ago | (#404175)

Are you serious?!!!

Ask the folks over at Kaleidoscope.net what Apple's attitude is to the theming of its OS?

I would love to look at the "prior art" search conducted by the patent examiners. This is a particularly brain-dead patent -- granted I will note -- just one month before the release of a new OS that touts its use of Open Source derived software elements.

Typical. And Hypocritical.

Potential prior art? (2)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 13 years ago | (#404180)

Hrm...would the Themes that came with MS Plus 95 count? I recall getting this CD, along with the Windows 95 upgrade, back on December 25, 1995. Spent a while after that digging up new themes from across the 'net. What can I say, I was a relative newbie to everything digital at the time.

When was the Windowblinds project started?

For that matter, how long have KDE and GNOME been around? Could GTK apps be themed before GNOME, or is that just a result of the GNOME project? How about Enlightenment, or other window managers?

The filing date on the patent is May 8, 1998, so anything before that is fair game for prior art, I think. Emphasis on the "I think;" patent law is such a quagmire to outsiders like me, I'm never quite sure what's legit and what isn'

Jobs is insane (2)

tbo (35008) | more than 13 years ago | (#404181)

As evidenced by the Flower Power iMac [akamai.net] , Steve Jobs is certifiably insane. He deserves your sympathy and pity, not criticism.

As for the patent, hell, even Apple has published prior art (i.e., more than a year before the date of filing of the patent), and they're aware of it. If you look at the patent, you'll see a list of references that include volumes of Inside Macintosh from 1988. To a large extent, I think this patent is a defensive patent. Perhaps there is some legal patent mumbo-jumbo we're not aware of, too.

The only original innovation here seems to be the idea of having widgets behave in an entirely different way in different themes. Not a big step, or one that (IMHO) should be patentable, but the blame for allowing such a patent (and thus forcing companies to apply for them to avoid losing control over their own innovations) lies on the USPTO.

Re:and why not? (2)

HerrNewton (39310) | more than 13 years ago | (#404184)

And Platinum was, in turn, based on a theme prepared for Apple's Copland OS which was being worked on even while Apple was still using Motorola 680x0 chips instead of PowerPC. Apple's been themeing for a LONG time.

----

Re:and why not? (2)

HerrNewton (39310) | more than 13 years ago | (#404185)

Yup. And I was just pointing out that Apple's actual work on themes predates the first public appearance of Copland---which was October of 1996, iirc, in MacWorld. I'd venture the conceptual work goes back as far as '92 or so, maybe farther.

Typical with Apple: they get the great idea, but they just implement it before the world is ready. ie, the Newton.

----

Windows 95 Plus Pack, Login Preferences (2)

Speare (84249) | more than 13 years ago | (#404191)

The Windows 95 user interface by itself had a series of somewhat unrelated Theme organizers.

A theme for the coloring, typefacing and sizing metrics of common controls.

A theme for the background and standard icons.

A theme for the sound events that could be invoked by apps in a standard way.

A theme (or profile) for various recurring hardware enumerations, such as 'docked' or 'undocked' for laptops.

This patent by Apple appears to discuss a generalized system that combines all of these classes of "theme engines" into an over-arching "theme engine" that controls them all at once.

Windows 95 did not have a central theme manager, but the Windows 95 Plus Pack (released almost simultaneously) did. The sounds, icons, wallpapers, colors, fonts and metrics themes could be controlled centrally by choosing themes with the Plus Pack theme manager.

Also, if you specified that different login names had their own private preferences, then Windows 95 managed all of those settings separately for each user. (Much as Unix systems do with .bashrc, .emacsrc or other shell login preference ~/.foorc files.) Switch users and all of these preferences are changed automatically (albeit shutting down all foreground tasks).

It looks like Apple has a high hill to climb when Microsoft attacks on this. Of course, Microsoft has been laying low and settling cases out of court to keep the litigation threats to a minimum these days. Then again, Microsoft's bloc of non-voting shares in Apple (circa 1996?) may still be a strong deterrent against Apple's wielding this particular patent over them.

Re:Read the claim before posting! (2)

blakestah (91866) | more than 13 years ago | (#404192)

If I were to dissect it a bit, it's more than just *skinning*, which is to redefine the appearance of the buttons and widgets. The first claim mentions the method of rendering objects and handling behavior of said objects, as related to the appearance and behavior of bojects rendered by the theme. It specifically mentions that either appearance *or* behavior is controlled differently for an object when the theme is changed.


Of course it is. And enlightenment, when a new theme is applied, has different widgets on windows, with different functions mapped to them, and also can have different pull-down menus.

Just because Windoze, KDE, GNOME, and Winamp themes are only skins doesn't imply other windowmanagers/applications are incapable of changing more than just appearance.

Mod parent up (2)

blakestah (91866) | more than 13 years ago | (#404193)

Mod parent up !! Themes were available in linux at that point. Heck, my RedHat 5.2 release has themes for fvwm2, and that was before the patent filing date. I am pretty certain enlightenment had themes at that point too. GNOME's introduction of themes occured in very close time proximity to the patent filing as well.

Re:Protecting against Windows XP? (2)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 13 years ago | (#404194)

Actually, Microsoft has no plans to allow third party developers/users to create new themes for Windows XP. Microsoft fully intends on keeping the format proprietary to Microsoft to prevent this. The only themes you'll be able to get for Windows XP will be officially created ones from Microsoft. Too many people are getting excited about the ability to 'theme' Windows XP's GUI without reading the fine print that's attached. Pretty sad, though. Yes, ugly broken themes that crash applications or your computer will be created, but that's not really different from any other software out there, is it?

Re:Apple, Theming, Stupidity (2)

n3rd (111397) | more than 13 years ago | (#404195)

Even though his wording was a little harsh, I feel asackett has a valid point.

When we hear of stupid patents from comapnies like Amazon, Cisco and Microsoft, we get upset. Usually we express ourselves with harsh words, boycotts and sometimes inappropriate actions.

Yet Apple seems to be an execption. They have made people remove Aqua and AquaX themes, created patents for themes, and done some very, very nasty stuff in the past. Yet we still view them as "good" overall.

Can someone explain why Apple is an execption to this rule?

Windows (2)

MyopicProwls (122482) | more than 13 years ago | (#404196)

I think Linux people aren't the only ones that are going to be upset about this. Anyone think Mr. Gates might have something to say about theming an OS? Clearly, this is something that makes Apple look bad in our eyes, but is not something we should worry about because theming has been done for years and years.

MyopicProwls

This is a patent on X11 window managers (2)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#404197)

Let's dissect this and see what Apple is really trying to kill:

a processor yadda yadda yadda

Athlon.

a display blah blah blah

X11 and your video card and monitor.

a plurality of theme engines

These are called Enlightenment, Sawfish, IceWM, Blackbox, Window Maker, etc. Any themable window manager can be considered a "theme engine" under this patent.


All your hallucinogen [pineight.com] are belong to us.

Not about Microsoft (2)

Metrol (147060) | more than 13 years ago | (#404203)

Let's take a look at this from a purely cash flow point of view. Apple needs MS for their browser and office suite. MS feels that Linux and open source software is it's biggest threat, yet can't act directly to attack it without the justice department all over their ass.

Now Apple goes and actually tries to enforce this patent at some point in the future. In the process, the ask for a ludicrous royalty to be paid for the right to do theming. Who really loses?

Well, Microsoft can afford the licensing without breaking a sweat. On the other hand, this patent sounds a LOT like what Mozilla does with it's themes. Damn near describes exactly the operation of Gnome and other Linux style window managers. Furthermore, who do you think is going to be able to pay for the lawyers to fight this thing? A bunch of hackers working out of their bedroom? They going to be able to pay the licensing for thinking a certain way?

Microsoft isn't going to fight this. In fact, if they weren't somehow behind it they're certainly celebrating. They've got somebody else to go out there and fight for their market leads in both the OS and Browser fronts without having to get their own hands dirty.

Think Different!

Re:and why not? (2)

Metrol (147060) | more than 13 years ago | (#404204)

If my deciphering of that is correct, you're saying that the MS OS helped Compaq clone the IBM PC.

Your deciphering is not quite correct. Compaq certainly worked alone on hacking the BIOS. Then what? They've got themselves a BIOS that's all hacked, but no product to put on the market. MS comes into play after this point, bringing the other piece of the puzzle into play. Neither company could have done this alone.

And there's always the allegation that Gates & co. didn't even write DOS, but stole it.

What allegation? Hell, MS didn't even want to do the OS for them PC's. They referred IBM to GDR to put CP/M on there. It wasn't until after GDR refused to sign a non-disclosure that MS was faced with either coming up with an OS or lose a ton of market for their programming languages.

They purchased QD-DOS (Quick and Dirty DOS) from a fella working at a computer store. They put $50,000 cash in his hands for all rights to it. More money then this guy ever saw in his life. You also have to keep in mind that neither this fella nor Microsoft saw the huge cash cow that selling an OS would become.

Nothing was stolen, nothing even underhanded. There are no allegations, other than those dreamed up by folks who thought "AntiTrust" should have been an Oscar nominee.

But you have to USE your patents, right? (2)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 13 years ago | (#404210)

Apple has been promising themes since the first glimpses of Copland hit the news media (read: Mac magazines). At the time, everyone thought it was a great idea... let the user decide how they want their interface to look. This was when the "Platinum" look that OS 8 and 9 currently have was initially released. There was a "kiddie" scheme and another "Techno" scheme, in addition to the Platinum one. Some of the fonts from those schemes did make it into OS 8.

At any rate, Copland promised this and Apple denied it to us. However, the Appareance Manager calls were there, and developers slowly implemented them (some wrote their own, which defeated the whole purpose). Then Greg Landweber and Arlo Rose wrote Kaleidoscope [kaleidoscope.net] and brought themes to the Mac, thanks to the Appearance Manager hooks (which they wrote, IIRC).

But Kaleidoscope has been a third party product, and has had its various conflicts with programs. Had it been an Apple program, there would not have been these problems, as developers would have written their program to support it.

Now, with their Carbon base, Apple will finally have full Appearance Manager support under OS X, and they have a much greater ability to force companies to write 100% Appearance Manager compliant apps (this is good). Apple wants to have a coherent user interface (whether it be Aqua or something else), and now it is finally available in the Appearance Manager.

However, while themes are something that CAN be done, they will likely not be. Again a third party developer will have to come along and write an app to allow themes. My guess is that Kaleidoscope will be updated for OS X. Maybe not... but one can only hope.

This brings up an important issue. Apple may have a patent (in fact, the patent is from the Copland era), but if they don't use it, don't they lose rights to it?

With Windows XP built for themes, and OS X using the Appearance Manager, Apple needs to include themes with their final product.

News just in (2)

davejhiggins (188370) | more than 13 years ago | (#404211)

(Washington, AP) Apple Computer, Inc announced today that it is patenting the design of the "apple shape"(tm). Other existing products that resemble the apple shape as used on the company's merchendise are being issued "cease and desist" warnings.

First to come under fire were greengrocers all over the world. Apple Computer's co-founder, Steve Jobs said today: "Apple Computer, Inc. has invested a lot of time and effort in designing the apple shape(tm) and it's simply not fair that these so-called 'fruit retailers' in every country are making a huge profit from what is essentially our design".

Once the competition from orchards is over, Apple Computer plans to move on to products in any way derived from the "apple shape", citing Del Monte as a major competitor.

Reacting to earlier comments from the Pope that "The apple was designed by God, not man" while citing the book of Genesis as proof, Jobs pointed out that "Though our legal team is looking in to these claims, two points seems obvious. Firstly, that the word apple is never mentioned in the book of Genesis, and secondly, that, whatever role he claims to have had in the design, God neglected to patent the apple shape(tm)"

Steve Jobs is mad.

Prior art... (2)

Daemosthenes (199490) | more than 13 years ago | (#404212)

According to the article, the patent was filed on May 8, 1998. There is most certainly prior art existing if Apple even tries to take out Linux theming in any way. In fact, I really don't think they have plans to go after themes in Linux. I merely think they're more concerned with Microsoft "stealing" their ideas, and coming out with new customizeable guis with different types of setups (whistler, hint hint).


47.5% Slashdot Pure(52.5% Corrupt)

I dunno if Apple is going too far. (2)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404213)

The claim in the patent is that the theme engine can change not only the appearance(skinning) but the behavior(?) of an application.

I don't know if that is 'obvious' but I can't think of prior art, either ^^

My example is a CLI going from bash to zsh, or Explorer styled browsers, or Finder styled windows, when a theme is selected.

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

I guess not (2)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404215)

The enlightenment I've played with lets me redefine buttons, skins/bmps/images, and mouse actions/events/menus.

I was definitely overzealous in my responses to the initial flurries of theme posts.

The real question is whether Enlightenment's implementation of behavioral changes based on themes is the intent of Apple's patent.

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

Re:Protecting against Windows XP? (2)

tom.allender (217176) | more than 13 years ago | (#404216)

Alternative screen shots for Open Source environments.

This [themes.org] is Microsoft Whistler.
This [themes.org] is OS X.

"LiQuid" isn't as bad as it looks, I use it myself - Am I breaking the law?
--

Windows XP and OSX Comparison here (2)

Halcyon-X (217968) | more than 13 years ago | (#404217)

Well, if you're talking about this [mac.com] comparison, I think it's absolutely rediculous. Comments?

apple slogan... (2)

gimpimp (218741) | more than 13 years ago | (#404218)

"Dont steal our ideas...Think different"

I don't blame them for their latest MS like behaviour, after all, they'll need a source of income of some kind...OSX won't bring in much.

Microsoft Patent (2)

WickedClean (230550) | more than 13 years ago | (#404219)

I wonder if Microsoft has a patent on the blue screen? You don't see it in any other operating systems that I know of.

Re:Apple, Theming, Stupidity (2)

Melantha_Bacchae (232402) | more than 13 years ago | (#404220)

Please, do! To have the install fests, you have to buy the hardware, and Apple could really use the sales right now!

Apple is a hardware company. They might like you to use their OS, but it doesn't hurt them one bit if you don't. Don't they pay people to help make the very Linux that you want to punish them with? ;)

Mothra 1961-2001: Her heart can reach!

Re:Apple, Theming, Stupidity (2)

lou2112 (265869) | more than 13 years ago | (#404223)

Apple helps push the proverbial envelope of technology; often this is done by taking what geeks like you and i would consider simple technologies and advertising them as its own, touting impressive UI design and whatever other features we already know it for. by adding it to its systems [ after patenting it, of course ], Apple takes great ideas and publicizes them. a good example is Apple's inclusion of several shareware utilities, incl. WindowShade and Extensions Manager, in its System 7.5. although they were considered essential technologies to macaddicts, most end users had never heard of them. by including them in System 7.5's default installation, Apple pushed innovative products into the mainstream.

for this service to society, along with Apple's rebel facade, we think that it's a company on our side.

and why not? (2)

Ben Schumin (312122) | more than 13 years ago | (#404224)

I understand you all have your panties in a wad over this, but do you know, for certain, that projects like enlightenment were doing theming before Apple? Perhaps apple really was the one to do it first. And if so, they should get the patent.

How do you expect a company like Apple to compete with something like Microsoft without leveraging whatever IP rights it has a right to?

This is exactly like KDE themes! (2)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 13 years ago | (#404225)

This sounds a lot like QT2's method of themeing, used in KDE. For example, certain widgets have their behaviors changed when switching from theme to theme. In the Windows-like theme, scrollbars are just like the scrollbars we all know and love, but in some other themes, the scrollbars have both buttons (up and down) at the bottom of the scrollbar. I believe it would also be possible, using QT's theme engine, to create an entirely new method of operating a scrollbar (or any other widget) by replacing the actual code in QT that draws and operates the widget, on the fly. QT's theme engine does just what this patent describes:

> providing a plurality of themes, each theme controlling an appearance and behavior of objects rendered on said graphical user interface, wherein at least one of said appearance and said behavior is controlled differently for an object when said graphical user interface is operated in accordance with one theme than when said graphical user interface is operated in accordance with another theme;
<QT2 does this.

> providing a plurality of theme engines, each theme engine associated with a different theme type, wherein at least one of said theme engines is hard-coded and at least one of said theme engines is a data-driven, parametric engine;
<This sounds exactly like KWin's theme management, and it probably applies to QT2 as well.

> selecting a theme from among said plurality of themes;
<The new Theme manager in KDE 2.1 does this.

> identifying one of said plurality of theme engines associated with said selected theme;
<KDE Theme manager again.

> loading, by said identified theme engine, theme data for operating said graphical user interface in accordance with said selected theme.
<Yeah, that's sort of necessary for themeing, now, isn't it!

This is disturbing. If Apple actually enforces this patent, KDE would be the first to go (And they're just finally starting to get some good themes on kde.themes.org)! Hopefully QT2 came out soon enough that it was before this patent took effect. I'd hate to see TrollTech sued over this dumb patent!

[me@localhost]$ prolog
| ?- god.
! Existence error in god/0

Re:Protecting against Windows XP? (3)

Quarters (18322) | more than 13 years ago | (#404227)

Beveled buttons and soft colors? This is what you are using to say that MS is copying the Aqua theme, beveled buttons and soft colors?

Yeah, *nobody* used pastels or embossing in design ideas before Apple came along!

(rolls eyes)

Data Driven Themes? (3)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 13 years ago | (#404228)

'at least one of said theme engines is hard-coded and at least one of said theme engines is a data-driven, parametric engine' and 'providing a plurality of theme engines, each theme engine associated with a different theme type, wherein at least one of said theme engines is hard-coded and at least one of said theme engines is a data-driven, parametric engine;

It looks to me like what they have here is more than just theming or a theme engine, or widgets that change behaviour, but rather they are claiming a system that support multiple theme engines. That means functionality on the order of an OS that allows plug-ins that act as theme engines.

If so, I think Apple does have something totally new here. Imagine an architecture that would allow you to plug in a theme engine, i.e. have KDE, Gnome, Win95 GUI etc all as theme engines running side by side.

The flexibility of this seems to me to be terrific. It means a theme engine for each of a different class of GUI implementations.


MOVE 'ZIG'.

Foolish Posts (3)

TheInternet (35082) | more than 13 years ago | (#404229)

It's time for Apple to drop thier foolish patents. Enlightenment, even fvwm did desktop theming first

Read the article before you comment on it, or at least read some of the other comments.

1) Apple didn't file this patent, Ed Voas and his colleague did. Ed worked on the Kaleidoscope shareware theme-switching software prior to coming to Apple. Though I don't know if the filing or the employment came first.

2) The patent was actually filed nearly three years ago -- in May 1998! It was just recently transferred to Apple, though.

3) As somebody else pointed out, the patent affects more than simple theming, it's about changing UI behavior based on theme (not just where the widgets appear)

The truth is without us hackers Apple's attempt to regain the Education market will fail.

Apple's VP of Software Engineering was one of the key architects of Mach. I think he has some right to use his own code.

They sucked enough information out of us, and Apple has not given anything back.

Ummmm... ever heard of QuickTime Streaming Server? Darwin? NetInfo? I/O Kit? Go to publicsource.apple.com [apple.com] . They've given all sorts of stuff to the community.

- Scott

--
Scott Stevenson
WildTofu [wildtofu.com]

Re:Protecting against Windows XP? (3)

A moron (37050) | more than 13 years ago | (#404230)

This patent was filed on May 8, 1998 before M$ even had time to copy the heck out of Mac OS.

Here's a bunch of screen shots from M$: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/guide/newlook.a sp [microsoft.com]

And here are some Mac OS X screens: http://www.apple.com/macosx/usingosx/desktop.html [apple.com]

Apple Patents Style. (3)

PhatKat (78180) | more than 13 years ago | (#404232)

In a groundbreaking engagement today that has left many constitution signers spinning in their graves, Apple has finally stopped beating around the bush and patented style.

The patent reads as follows:

Systems and methods for providing a user with increased flexibility and control over the appearance and behavior of objects on a user interface are described. Sets of objects(read: clothes, accessories) can be grouped into themes to provide a user with a distinct overall impression of the interface. These themes can be invoked by calling a corresponding theme engine(read: wife, girlfriend, mother). Theme engines can be hard-coded(naturally stylish) or data-driven(Cosmopolitan, GQ).

Carrot Top was among the many celebrities concerned about this patenet and was, astonishingly, available for comment. "Oh man, I just made a milkshake machine out of a remote control submarine and a spatoon! That's got style, right? Right guys? Oh man, they better not try to patent this bad boy! I've got prior art, and it tasted like crap! Man, if they sue me, I'll finally get a spot on Extra or ET again like the one I got for beating the boy out of Gary Coleman!"

JDK, Win95 Plus! Pack (3)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 13 years ago | (#404233)

At first, I thought that perhaps (ironically) Microsoft's own Windows 95 Plus Pack! [microsoft.com] would have been prior art (the patent filing date is May 8, 1998. But then I read the patent. The only thing remotely novel I see is that a theme can be hard-coded rather than data-driven. In that case, I would think that Sun's Java JDK, with its Pluggable Look And Feel (PLAF) would suffice as prior art.

Interesting magic date. (5)

victim (30647) | more than 13 years ago | (#404239)

This was applied for May 1998. This is years after Apple published the Copland whitepapers describing themeing.

I'm looking at my dusty copy of "Copland Technical Overview" by Apple Computer, copyright 1995. It seems to describe the task fairly well.

The claims seem to be a set of permutions of "data-driven" and "hard-coded" applied to the elements of implementing themes. Of course the devil and the legal bills are in the details. All in all, if you asked someone to implement the scheme described in the Copland overview the claims are the obvious ways to do it.

I suspect this is a defensive patent. One of those "we should see if the PTO will grant this, cause if they give it to anyone else we are screwed" patents.

Headline completely wrong. Here's the real info. (5)

TheInternet (35082) | more than 13 years ago | (#404240)

This patent was filed in May 1998 by Ed Voas and Arnaud Gourdol, at least one of which I believe worked on the third party Kaleidoscope [kaleidoscope.net] theme-switching apparatus for Clasiic Mac OS. However, it appears (from looking at the documents) that the patent ownership was recently transferred to Apple. I know at least Ed Voas went on to work for Apple, specifically contributing to the Appearance Manager software in Mac OS 8.

- Scott
--
Scott Stevenson
WildTofu [wildtofu.com]

Protecting against Windows XP? (5)

harvardian (140312) | more than 13 years ago | (#404241)

Maybe this is an attempt to stop Windows XP from looking so ridiculously similar to OS X. If anybody's seen a picture of Whistler you'll know what I'm talking about. They have the pleasingly soft colors, the bevelled buttons, and even the duck cursors.

Does anybody have a picture of Windows XP that they could share to illustrate the point? I can't find the copy I saw.

Re:and why not? (5)

Metrol (147060) | more than 13 years ago | (#404242)

How do you expect a company like Apple to compete with something like Microsoft without leveraging whatever IP rights it has a right to?

How about they actually produce a better product for a reasonable cost to consumers?

I just find it constantly amazing how anyone who can even entertain the notion that freedom and computing have ANY relationship to Apple Corp. Bash Microsoft all you like, but let's not forget that it was those evil folks that made it possible for the seperation of the hardware from the OS. No, some mainframe at MIT doesn't count either, nor does some kit machine. Before MS-DOS hit the streets, darn near any machine available to us consumer types had a closed architecture with a closed OS.

Because there was a Microsoft to provide an OS to them machines that Compaq managed to hack away the IP rights from IBM we all enjoy hardware advances we would have never seen otherwise. All this, at costs WAY below what would otherwise have been available.

I thank the computer gods daily that way back in the day Apple decisively lost the battle for the desktop. As is in constant evidence by their actions, they have no interest in allowing the rest of us lesser folk decide what we want in a machine or what OS will run on it. We sure as hell wouldn't have seen anything like a Linux come around.

Read the claim before posting! (5)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#404243)

What is claimed is:

1. In a graphical user interface, a method for rendering objects and handling behavior of said objects comprising the steps of:

  • providing a plurality of themes, each theme controlling an appearance and behavior of objects rendered on said graphical user interface, wherein at least one of said appearance and said behavior is controlled differently for an object when said graphical user interface is operated in accordance with one theme than when said graphical user interface is operated in accordance with another theme;
  • providing a plurality of theme engines, each theme engine associated with a different theme type, wherein at least one of said theme engines is hard-coded and at least one of said theme engines is a data-driven, parametric engine;
  • selecting a theme from among said plurality of themes;
  • identifying one of said plurality of theme engines associated with said selected theme; and
  • loading, by said identified theme engine, theme data for operating said graphical user interface in accordance with said selected theme.


If I were to dissect it a bit, it's more than just *skinning*, which is to redefine the appearance of the buttons and widgets. The first claim mentions the method of rendering objects and handling behavior of said objects, as related to the appearance and behavior of bojects rendered by the theme. It specifically mentions that either appearance *or* behavior is controlled differently for an object when the theme is changed.

So skinning falls under appearance changing when theme is changed. This would be like WinAMP skins, in which the appearance and buttons can change by selecting skins.

But then there's behavioral changes. By changing themes, the behavior of the application changes as well. So let's speculate an example: An xterm window. Change from Theme A to Theme B. To simplify, let's say the appearance doesn't change, but the behavior does. This could be as simple as shell shifting from ksh to tcsh, or DOS. Or it could mean changing from bash to a graphical terminal window, in which icons appear when you type ls, and selecting an icon is the same as copying, and double clicking a folder works the same as typing 'cd "new folder"'.

It could also be that changing from theme A to theme B changes the terminal window into a Windows styled explorer, or a Mac styled finder, or a Netscape styled web browser.

For other applications, like a CD player, that could mean a change from cli to floating button box to hybrid of the two.

This is all just speculation, but it's more than just skinning!

Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]

darn those IP laws (5)

Derwen (219179) | more than 13 years ago | (#404244)

...and in related news Apple [TM] yesterday served notice to every fruit seller in the country that the time had come to stop infringing upon its trademarked name.

Signs appeared at farmer's markets over the weekend, offering Malus domestica for sale. Apple [TM] responded swiftly that these fruit still had an "Apple-like theme."

To avoid costly litigation fruit-growers accross the temperate zones of the planet are currently grubbing up their orchards while tree nurseries are bulking up pear stocks and looking to a bumper year.

Some confused orchard owners are reported to be installing Linux PPC on their apple [TM] trees.

....cuts to shot of banner draped over a building in Cupertino, Ca., on which can be made out "All your trees are belong to us."....

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