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Reexamination Request Filed Against Another Apple Patent

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the from-the-florian-front dept.

Cellphones 85

An anonymous reader writes "After the rubber-banding, 'Steve Jobs' heuristics and pinch-to-zoom patents, another Apple patent in use against Samsung comes under pressure. An anonymous filer, most likely Samsung, has filed a reexamination request against Apple's RE41,922 patent on a 'method and apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display.' It's not among the patents a California jury evaluated this summer, but one of four patents an ITC judge preliminarily found Samsung to infringe. The reexamination request features five new pieces of prior art (three U.S. patents from the early 1990s and two Japanese patents), all of which dealt with translucent images. The patent office will decide next year whether to grant or deny the request for reexamination. Expect more such petitions targeting Apple patents."

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there is a patent on translucent images? (4, Funny)

etash (1907284) | about 2 years ago | (#42372139)

like, seriously?

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42372463)

I thought Microsoft had them in the 1990's

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (3, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 2 years ago | (#42372821)

To be fair, Apple's original patent on this was filed in 1993 [uspto.gov] . That version of the patent talked about pen computing on a tablet, which presumably referred to the Apple Newton [wikipedia.org] , which was also released in 1993. This patent covered the opaque image under the pop-up keyboard on the Newton.

I believe Microsoft introduced translucent windows with Windows 2000, although it is possible that like many other Microsoft new features that it was merely public access to a technology that already existed in previous versions of Windows.

I don't think that the concept of two programs each building an image and then a third program blending them together is really novel enough to justify a patent. The concept of blending two images together were not unknown then, so the idea that you use that existing technology just to blend two screenshots together seems technically obvious. If they really wanted to patent an opaque representation of the underlying screen under a pop-up keyboard then they should have made it a design patent.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42376085)

1993? That was under the leadership of John Sculley who saved them from going bankrupt.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372583)

Seriously, dickwad, are you that big of an ignoramus about inventions and intellectual property protection? it's a "method and apparatus", not just the mere concept of translucent images. Yeah, faster-than-light travel has already been imagined, so do you think a "method and apparatus" for faster-than-light travel couldn't be patented (if it existed)?
The awareness level of the general slashdot readership is appalling.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1, Troll)

jkrise (535370) | about 2 years ago | (#42372781)

it's a "method and apparatus", not just the mere concept of translucent images.

YOU are the dickwad and ignoramus. Atleast the parent had the courage to log in and post.

The method and apparatus for implementing translucent images, and many more advanced image processing techniques, have existed long before this patent was applied for. Read this post for reference.

http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3335227&cid=42372453 [slashdot.org]

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (5, Informative)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42373011)

The method and apparatus for implementing translucent images, and many more advanced image processing techniques

No need to read that link, let's think back to 40 years ago, in 1972, when we had 3D shaded rendered graphics. [vimeo.com]

Now, just keep that in mind alone and consider any 2D graphics tricks patented ~20 years after we already were working with 3D graphics, Z-buffers, etc... 2D image convolutions? On a Computer you say? In the fucking 1990's no less? You know, around when Realtime 3D Virtual Reality Games like Dactyl Nightmare and Exorex [youtube.com] could be played at the mall? When the Genesis and Super Nintendo were available? When I was using CorelDRAW? When Morphing [wikipedia.org] graphics were so popular (the next-gen step AFTER fade transitions) that it spawned ridiculous movies and even shows like the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers?!?! And pixel color Modulation wasn't obvious to us then regardless of "apparatus"? Sorry, no dice Apple, get bent.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 2 years ago | (#42375255)

Thanks for reminiscing to the toys of my youth but you're implying there is only one method or apparatus by which translucent images can be rendered. It's likely new methods were discovered since 1972. Apple's patent, which I did not read, could be novel enough to merit a patents. Great it's being reexamined but you can't dismiss simply on prior implementation.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

node 3 (115640) | about 2 years ago | (#42377979)

It's likely new methods were discovered since 1972. Apple's patent, which I did not read, could be novel enough to merit a patents.

I don't think it's likely at all that any method for something so basic is novel enough to deserve being granted a patent.

The only thing Apple does in these sorts of things is be the first entity to think deeply about the problem at hand. In general, the solutions to these sorts of problems are either too obvious (to anyone who thinks about the problems) or too generic, to deserve being granted a monopoly for their "discovery".

Certain types of look and feel, design patents I can see making sense. But simply being the first person to do something doesn't justify granting them an artificial right to be the *only* person allowed to do that thing.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (3, Informative)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 2 years ago | (#42372861)

It is true that a lot of people here will judge a patent by its subject matter and not the details in the patent. You are correct that this patent is not about patenting translucent images, but of using a system process or video driver to merge the graphic representations of two concurrent application's user interface.

But it is never OK to call people names just because you disagree with them. I would have modded you down to -1 just for that had I not wanted to post here myself. You took a reasonable discussion point and turned it into flamebait by being so unnecessarily rude. So here is your flame: stop doing that!

Re: there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42373043)

^^ this. This is why /. Has gone downhill. Like most forums on the web, everyone is too quick to insult, and not present any reasoned argument. I'm seriously close to blacklisting this site in 2013 for this reason. You, sir, are NOT an idiot.

Re: there is a patent on translucent images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42374567)

of course you have no idea of which you speak. that same argument has been in place since I came on-board back in 1998. It's perpetually going downhill. Deal with it.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#42375117)

So it's not a patent on skipping rope, it's a patent on skipping rope in the living room when you can't go outside. Then there's the followup patent on skipping rope in the bedroom when Mom yells at you for skipping rope in the living room and finally, the patent on skipping rope outside when it stops raining.

Meanwhile, what was the point of 'dickwad'? You might imagine it gives your post overwhelming power that silences all objection to your indisputable argument, but really, it just predisposes people to dismiss your opinion without consideration.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42377185)

A different technique is required for skipping rope in the living room vs. outside. So, yes, that could be separately patentable.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#42377327)

In other words, you're perfectly content with taking a perfectly obvious thing (such that children everywhere have independently re-discovered it through the generations since there were ropes to skip) and enshrining it in a 20 year monopoly. That doesn't sound like a very good idea to me.

Might as well patent saying OW! and pulling your hand back when touching a hoot pot on the stove.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (5, Informative)

jkrise (535370) | about 2 years ago | (#42372709)

Yes, there is a patent on translucent images; granted to Apple. Despite the fact that there's been tons of prior art from many other software implementations for layered imaging techniques.

According to one of Floriam Mueller's posts, Apple has got 100s of multi-touch patents alone, and 1000s of patents on non-touch features related to smartphones.

Until Apple came along, hardware and software companies armed themselves with patents to ward off threats from trolls, or as a defensive measure alone. Now this company which has built an empire using copied technologies; has filed and gotten patents for obvious, trivial extensions of the same. Worse, they are using these patents to try and secure billions as 'security money' instead of competing in the markets based on the superiority of their products.

About 15 years ago, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Now they have presumably the largest cash reserves of any technology company. And their ex-CEO who is now dead, proclaimed that he did not want merely monetary compensation of billions of dollars. He wanted total destruction of entire competing platforms, period. One such platform is the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS for short) platform to which Android belongs.

Linux, Android, Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL are a few examples of leading FOSS products which have completely changed the technology landscape over the past 2 decades. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. have built their empires using FOSS almost exclusively. Even Apple's earlier software offerings were based on FOSS products such as OpenBSD.

A patent regime does not sit well with the FOSS philosophy, and companies like Apple, Microsoft and Oracle have tried directly or covertly to litigate FOSS based competing products by behaving like litigious thugs. The referenced blog by Florian Mueller is tiled FOSS-Patents; however he is very much anti-FOSS; and indeed has acknowledged receipt of monies from the above companies in their anti-FOSS campaigns.

There are many such absurdities in the patent wars being waged, which have come to a head in recent years, because of enormous monies involved. Many companies like HTC have caved in and settled in the face of such absurdities, which causes higher prices for customers. It also results in lucrative business opportunities for lawyers, and so-called IP experts such as Florian Mueller. None of which serve the purpose of granting patent monopolies - which is to promote the progress of Science and useful Arts.

So you need not be surprised at the existence of patents on translucent images. There are patents on glossiness, rounded corners, shapes of icons, black colour, etc. based on which some schizophrenic companies expect billions in compensation from 'violating' companies.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42373629)

just FYI, its not just 'earlier' software offerings were based on FOSS/OSS, OSX is predominately FOSS/OSS as in more code comes from linux or a bsd than from apple..

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

kanweg (771128) | about 2 years ago | (#42374247)

"Until Apple came along, hardware and software companies armed themselves with patents to ward off threats from trolls, or as a defensive measure alone. "

It is not a defense again trolls. Your own patents don't give you any right to do what you're doing. A patent gives a right to forbid others. So, if you infringe a troll's patent, your own patent portfolio won't help. As a troll doesn't do anything productive himself, he won't be infringing so you can't check your own patent portfolio to get leverage in that area.

"Worse, they are using these patents to try and secure billions as 'security money' instead of competing in the markets based on the superiority of their products."

I don't know how that would work, and I don't think that Apple's billions originate from much else than sales of their products and operation of their stores.

"A patent regime does not sit well with the FOSS philosophy"

I'm a patent attorney and I agree with the issue that there should be no patents on software. Patents are there to avoid people from innovating because it is cheaper to copy than to invest in research and development. That doesn't hold for software area, where people are innovating anyway. Also, in contrast to a regular patent, a software patent doesn't teach the person skilled in the art (a developer) very much. Finally, once a patented product is sold the patentee no longer has any control over it. People are free to do with it what they want. Not so with software. And with software, it probably won't run on your machine, and won't interact with what you want, and you're not free to modify it.

I also agree with the lubricous amounts of money for damages in case of infringement.

Bert

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

jkrise (535370) | about 2 years ago | (#42374457)

I also agree with the lubricous amounts of money for damages in case of infringement.

Your statement is unclear. Do you agree that the damages claimed by patent holders from infringers are ludicrous, or do you assert that even though the damages levied might appear ludicrous, it is justified in your view?

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42374801)

"Worse, they are using these patents to try and secure billions as 'security money' instead of competing in the markets based on the superiority of their products."
I don't know how that would work,

You use your patent to either prevent a competing device from entering the market, or to get it removed. Faced with losing billions on R&D, manufacturing, etc. the company will be much more likely to agree to outrageous licensing fees than to try and re-design the competing unit. It also gives them time to get their own devices out to market in situations where the competition has them beat. Just about the time the word "monopoly" starts being whispered, drop the licensing requirements and allow it to be freely used by everybody.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42374897)

if you infringe a troll's patent, your own patent portfolio won't help. As

It will if you own a patent that not only invalidates his but it actually turns out that his important patents are derivatives of yours. That's why companies like Apple want to patent things like transparency and rounded corners, the broad applicability. Not just against trolls though, that was bullshit. It's against competitors first and trolls second, because as you say, there is less utility there.

Also, in contrast to a regular patent, a software patent doesn't teach the person skilled in the art (a developer) very much

Well now, that should probably be the standard for software patents if we're going to have them at all, shouldn't it? The whole point of patents is supposed to be that you can replicate them from the patent filing, so that we preserve and make available knowledge. Since technology is advancing faster, clearly patents should exist only for a shorter duration. And if a patent on software doesn't have enough information in it to describe something novel, then it should never have been a valid application.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 years ago | (#42376717)

One addendum to this. On the whole it seems to be American companies doing this, specifically aided by corrupt courts and politicians and the latest revision to patent laws not only did not prevent it but are further aiding it.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

node 3 (115640) | about 2 years ago | (#42378051)

Until Apple came along, hardware and software companies armed themselves with patents to ward off threats from trolls, or as a defensive measure alone.

That's not true at all. Cell technologies (like CDMA, GSM) are all heavily patented, and not simply for defensive measures. And patent trolls really don't have much surface area to counter-attack with patents.

The main difference is that these become FRAND patents, allowing everyone equal opportunity to use these necessary technologies, while still encouraging innovation and participation in standards processes. Although I wonder if even these types of patents are sub-optimal, at least they tend to work out for most everyone involved.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 2 years ago | (#42373023)

Oh, for fuck's sake.

Utility patents are for a method of doing something, not the general concept of the something that's being done. It's even in the language, which is in TFS here: a "method and apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display". The patent is on a particular technique for "providing translucent images".

Sometimes patents are broadly-worded enough to cover most conceivable implementations of the thing they describe, but I'm going to bet that since the patent itself cites multiple instances of prior art for other ways of drawing translucent images that this isn't the case here.

Re:there is a patent on translucent images? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42375217)

like, seriously?

Well all i can say is keep up the good work folks we will rid the world of this apple crap in the not to far future .

Apple (3, Interesting)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#42372157)

There's a patent for that...

Seems its worth while for Samsung to hire people and screen for any prior art on "Apple" patent then request reexamination with the evidence too boot.

Re:Apple (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42372269)

We have only this anonymous poster's allegation that Samsung was involved.

An anonymous filer, most likely Samsung,

There are any number of possible sources for this challenge, since the technique is used in almost all smartphones in and computer
operating systems. Windows Vista and Windows 7 relied heavily on this technique for Aero.

So many of Apple's patents are common software techniques long in use in other fields but with an appended phrase "On a Smartphone".
I expect more of them will be reexamined.

Re:Apple (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#42372479)

If I get a tablet or a flip screen laptop and attached a cell antenna/radio to it, is that considered a smartphone or does it have to be certain size? What if I invent a "Smart Media Player" with the ability to make cell phone calls.

Re:Apple (2)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42372507)

My buddy had a (second hand) Lincoln Town car with a built in car phone. Does that make it a mobile device? He crashed it one night when he was watching translucent and overlapped images. Alcohol may have been involved.

Re:Apple (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#42373687)

The size doesn't matter, as long as its corners are not round.

Re:Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42373793)

The size doesn't matter...

Your gf may keep telling you that, but trust me, it does.

Re:Apple (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#42373899)

The size of your smartphone may matter to your girlfriend, but it doesn't matter to my women at all. Maybe you should try satisfying yours with your dick, not smartphone? Oh, I see...

Re:Apple (3, Insightful)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about 2 years ago | (#42373031)

I think the rest of the world should organize crowd-sourced reexamination requests and get at them. Apple first, then others.

"A request for a reexamination can be filed by anyone at anytime during the period of enforceability of a patent. To request a reexamination, one must submit a “request for reexamination,” pay a substantial fee, and provide an explanation of the new reasons why the patent is invalid based on prior art. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reexamination [wikipedia.org]

Granted it depends on how big the substantial fee is. But that's one more Kickstarter project I'd gladly contribute to.

Re:Apple (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about 2 years ago | (#42373279)

you must admit samsung has the biggest reason for doing this, i don't see anyone else getting hardware banned in patent disputes with apple.

Re:Apple (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 2 years ago | (#42375019)

i don't see anyone else getting hardware banned in patent disputes with apple.

Other than HTC, you mean? And Motorola was another significant target of lawsuits from Apple, though I don't think Apple has managed to win any injunctions yet.

Re:Apple (1)

Art Challenor (2621733) | about 2 years ago | (#42372273)

Be nice to see Google doing the same thing for the BS patents on Android.

Re:Apple (2)

rajafarian (49150) | about 2 years ago | (#42372683)

Which ones?

Re:Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372279)

Can't, apple also has the patent on patent reexamination...

Re:Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372323)

Who cares. I saw translucent images used on my HTC Tytn years before the iPhone came out. Bullshit is what the USPTO is all about

About time (2)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 years ago | (#42372163)

It's about time all this bullshit has finally started to get sorted out. Apple's stupid patents. Samsung's abuse of patents. Now only 50 billion moar patents to go...

Re:About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372223)

50 billion is a really big number. In fact, there are less than 10 million US patents. Now quick math. By many percent were you off?

Re:About time (4, Funny)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42372287)

50 billion is a really big number. In fact, there are less than 10 million US patents. Now quick math. By many percent were you off?

In his defense, he did say " 50 billion moar patents".

Who knows what that might actually mean [kym-cdn.com] .

umm... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372181)

Porter, Thomas; Tom Duff (1984). "Compositing Digital Images". Computer Graphics 18 (3): 253–259. doi:10.1145/800031.808606. ISBN 0-89791-138-5.

Re:umm... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372319)

The patent in question describes a particular way to perform compositing in front-to-back order to save cycles. Once the alpha of a given pixel reaches 1, there's no need to render anything behind it. Porter and Duff's approach is to draw everything back to front.

Re:umm... (1)

Molt (116343) | about 2 years ago | (#42372773)

Thanks for posting this, I was interested to know what was special in this patent over-and-above normal alpha blending and your description makes sense. The patent still seems reasonably obvious but nowhere near as ridiculous as it did beforehand.

Re:umm... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372961)

Obvious once someone shows you how? ;-)

We had almost two decades between the original compositing work at Lucas and later at Pixar, and the invention of the front-to-back algorithm in the patent. Adobe didn't think of it when they added porter-duff compositing to Display Postscript, Apple didn't think of it when they first implemented Quartz 2D.

The fact remains that nobody realized how much more efficient it would be to reverse the order of evaluation until a Core Graphics engineer at Apple (a friend of mine, as it happens) had a brainstorm in the process of rewriting the compositing code to make it run as shader program on the GPU during the time when Apple was implementing Quartz Extreme. In that time, a lot of smart people had written composition functions and missed this "obvious" optimization.

Re:umm... (1)

RedDeadThumb (1826340) | about 2 years ago | (#42373297)

If I were given a task to draw some translucent images I may or may not come up with doing it this way. If I did, it would be because I thought of it (or read it in some academic paper) not that I looked through patents to find it. And if I did think of it and it seemed like an insightful way of doing things I might write it into a paper, but I would never even dream of making a patent on it. Then later is somebody going to go looking through my code to see if I happened to do something they have patented? To what purpose? What a waste of effort. What selfishness to think that because you thought of something first and wrote it in a legal document that anyone else that thinks of that after you has to pay you. I just cannot see anything good or useful coming from patenting things like this. Can you?

Re:umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42374241)

If you didn't publish it in a scientific publication it is not valid prior art. Therefor what you made before someone patented it is infringing the patent and you must get a license deal or pay single damages (luckily they can not make you pay for wilful infringement).

Re:umm... (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 2 years ago | (#42375059)

If you didn't publish it in a scientific publication it is not valid prior art.

Um, yeah, that's completely wrong. Quoting 35 USC 102,

(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or
(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States

Nothing in there about "scientific publication". If someone invented it before you did, even if they never made it public, or if it was made public more than a year before you filed for your patent, no matter when you first came up with the idea, you aren't entitled to a patent.

Re:umm... (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42374135)

This is done in ray-tracing since at least the 70s where you stop recursively tracing rays once the light contribution from the resulting spawned rays is considered not to provide any meaningful contribution to the final output. Like other people have said it could have simply been that no one considered it to be patenteable material and it was done behind the scenes in many pieces of software already. It is certainly not non-obvious.

Re:umm... (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about 2 years ago | (#42374893)

Result. say it was mostly not done because for the most part it didn't matter at the time. Rendering efficiency want a huge deal till we started rendering things in real time. If you asked pretty much any subject matter expert at the time "how do we make this more efficient, this kind of thing would be the likely result. Novelty can be a problem no one thought to solve, but it probably shouldn't include things that are fairly obvious if you ask the right question.

Re:umm... (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42373075)

Oh it's still fucking ridiculous to me because I remember the mid 70s and 80s [wikipedia.org] when 3D graphics were using Z-Buffers to avoid the needless computation of pixels. It's even better than "if alpha is 1.0" bullshit, because instead of 1.0 you had a flexible per pixel limiting value which you could use for masking, color blending (FOG), and a host of other effects.

Look, limiting the z-buffer to using it for an OS's windowing system doesn't make patenting the 1970's era technique any less bogus. That would be like saying: We'll patent putting Wheels on Wheelchair making Machine! So we can Roll it around! Uhm, the thing makes wheeled things, surely putting wheels on things is obvious. Uhm, the OSs are running programs that use this technique, putting the technique in the OS should be fucking obvious.

Re:umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42373149)

This compositing method solves an entirely different problem than the Z buffer does. It's about rendering efficiency, not about resolving the hidden-surface problem.

Re:umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372393)

Why is imitating something from "real life" in a computer patentable? How long have people layered clear or translucent materials over one another to superimpose them? Disney was doing it in the 30's as was every nickelodeon. Doing something on a computer isn't novel unless it's never been done anywhere in any form.

Re:umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372417)

linked article says the reexamination request is due to the specific claims of the patent which say it is to be done on a mobile device

moreover it's about being able to make the images controls for input

This is the usual slashdot summary omission-of-fact to draw out the page views.

Re:umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42374175)

linked article says the reexamination request is due to the specific claims of the patent which say it is to be done on a mobile device

Funny that the patent doesn't mention "mobile" anywhere.

Re:umm... (4, Funny)

citizenr (871508) | about 2 years ago | (#42372523)

Porter, Thomas; Tom Duff (1984). "Compositing Digital Images". Computer Graphics 18 (3): 253–259. doi:10.1145/800031.808606. ISBN 0-89791-138-5.

yes yes, but was it _on a mobile device_?

Re:umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42373371)

This patent specifically talks about touch/pen text input overlaid, with transparency, on top of the GUI objects that receive the text input (which do not necessarily even know that they are receiving input from that transparent overlay instead of a physical keyboard).

Reading the patent, transparency doesn't seem to have much to do with it at all. It even says the input method might be completely opaque.

The new face of patent wars ?... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372189)

I think all of these companies knew that their patents were glass houses... Except Apple who probably knew but threw stones anyway.

Now Samsung is going *after* their patents. Afterall, why fight the enemy when you can take away all of their weapons. I expect that with the resources Samsung has, they can probably invalidate most every single apple patent has. After all, Apple did seem to have a history of claiming that they invented stuff other people made first.

That's a pretty interesting tactic too, because it would expose Apple to other companies who may end up taking Apple on, but otherwise wouldn't have were their patent portfolio intact.

It makes me wonder if new patent wars may be taken on by going after a company's patents pre-emptively rather than trying to settle it in court.

Re:The new face of patent wars ?... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42372297)

Who says its Samsung?

Microsoft may be just as likely the source of this appeal, since they have used translucent images since Vista.

Re:The new face of patent wars ?... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#42372669)

Maybe it's a good samaratin vigilante like the EFF?

You don't have to be samsung or microsoft to be sick of the bullshit.

Hell, even us consumers would stand to gain.

Re:The new face of patent wars ?... (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#42372427)

Could this be good news? It could mean that patents will be challenged.

MS prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42372367)

Isn't this Windows Vista Aero?

Re:MS prior art? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 2 years ago | (#42372557)

Isn't this Windows Vista Aero?

The original application was filed in 1993, so no, Windows Vista cannot be prior art.

Re:MS prior art? (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 2 years ago | (#42373027)

Mac OS has had transparency effects since the mid 1980s. That doesn't mean there isn't any prior art, but it won't be on a common-or-garden PC.

Think Quantel Paintbox or Crosfield systems - remember those?

braindead UI elememts (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | about 2 years ago | (#42372413)

Amazing it takes but moments for an inept examiner to frak over millions of consumers and monts or years to fix the screwups. The market droids from the 90's called they want their tramslucensy gradiants and asinine slidin window frames back, they serve no useful purpose..

wow (5, Interesting)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about 2 years ago | (#42372453)

I didn't believe it until I read it myself:

Source [uspto.gov]

"A method and apparatus is described for producing a translucent image over a base image created on the display screen of a computer system by a selected first application program, and conducting image operations either on the base image created by the selected application program with reference to the translucent image produced, or conducting image operations on the translucent image with reference to the base image of the first application program. The first application program runs on a central processing unit (CPU) of a computer system to produce a base image, and another application program referred to as the overlay program is run to produce the translucent image such that portions of the base image which are overlapped by the overlay image are at least partially visible through the translucent image. There is also a mechanism for blending the first video data and the second video data to produce a blended image on the screen assembly."

"The efficient use of the available display screen space for observation of images and windows containing images, while particularly pronounced for pen computer systems, is common to all computer systems which display information or images to the user. No matter how large a particular display may be, a particular user will be tempted to attempt to display more information on the screen than can effectively be handled.

Images or information presented on a display screen are typically presented as opaque images, i.e., images "behind" a displayed image are obscured. This is the case with display windows which are layered on a particular screen, with the uppermost window image partially or completely blocking the view of the lower windows. For two windows to be capable of interaction, it is preferable that the user be able to observe both images at the same time, or at close to the same time."

And that's if you can manage getting through the ridiculous descriptions of "pen-like" devices... Does the lawyer that wrote this have any respect for himself?

Even if it is some type of "new" transparency, I feel like it would be hard to come up with a new method that hasn't already been done in OpenGL [opengl.org] .

Re:wow (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 years ago | (#42372595)

time to retire the rounded corners argument for most absurd apple patent!

Re:wow (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#42372605)

That is the point. with so many absurd patents out there that slashdot and the tech community have been calling for a while now all it took was for a Non troll(apple produces products) to start shooting their patent missiles only to realize that they are not only firing duds but ones that might explode on lift off doing more damage to yourself than the enemy.

For a while patents were defensive no one wanted to be stupid enough to use them in mass attacks.

Of course stupidity rises to the top and so all it takes is one dumb CEO and an itchy trigger finger.

It happened to be Apple. I love my mac hardware but damn the company deserves this.

Re:wow (1)

gutnor (872759) | about 2 years ago | (#42372985)

Very little has happened to reform the patent system though. It takes one company to go crazy against another big player, but the only effect is that its patent get invalidated one by one. That's bad for Apple, good for Samsung, but overall for the rest of the market it changes nothing. Shitty patents can still be used aggressively by trolls or used to pad patent portfolio in cross-licensing agreement to lock startup out of new markets.

Re:wow (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42374863)

Very little has happened to reform the patent system though

The most important thing is public interest. While your non-nerd friends might tire of it, you should point out why Apple is evil every single time they say something nice about them. They have been converted into unknowing apple salesdroids and they need your help. They are not just the symptom, but actually the disease. This all happens because of citizen apathy.

Re:wow (3, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42373101)

And that's if you can manage getting through the ridiculous descriptions of "pen-like" devices... Does the lawyer that wrote this have any respect for himself?

That's because if they'd said Accumulating Z-Buffer, or Stencil Buffer, the examiners would have easily found the 1970's era patents. The goal of a patent lawyer is to word the patent in such a way that none of the phrases they search for match any of the already existing patents.... Which also answers your question: No, they have absolutely no respect for themselves, but neither do examiners which let this shit get to this state in the first place. Lawyers and attorneys hate simple laws and rules and language -- They can't milk the society for money or have job security if that happened.

Re:wow (1)

Guignol (159087) | about 2 years ago | (#42374015)

Maybe examiners realized that the patents system is too complex and by virtue of being able to make self references, there will always be Gödel attack vectors against it, therefore making the effort to validate any patent as worthwhile ultimately vain ?
...
Nah... there must be a simpler explanation :)

Description is not Claims (2)

mbkennel (97636) | about 2 years ago | (#42373117)

Patents have a section for the description and setting. This is quoting the description. Patents do not cover everything that's in the description.

Only Claims are what have legal force, and they always are written as long conditionals from broad to narrow. Claims can be limited by the PTO to apply to situations which are a AND b AND c AND d etc.

Re: Only "Claims" Are Patented (1)

teachingaway (2800949) | about 2 years ago | (#42377381)

You are quoting from the "description" section, which is usually fluff.

The "Claims" section sets out the true patent rights.

Now, the claims in this patent may also be insanely overbroad. I don't know. I haven't read them.

I'm just saying that if you want to point out how insanely overbroad a patent is, be sure to quote from the "claims."

Starting to think patent system is working (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#42372917)

This is a really great result, these re-examinations seem to be doing a way better job than I would have expected of actually finding prior art. The loss for Apple, one of the richest companies on earth, of some of these major patents makes me have hope that even without major changes the patent system might work after all.

Furthermore Apple losing a number of key patents would put a real damper on anyone using them in lawsuits except for the most dire circumstances. That could really take a lot fear out of the overhang where in programming you use really obvious stuff that may run afoul of patents.

Re:Starting to think patent system is working (1)

ToastedRhino (2015614) | about 2 years ago | (#42373657)

Just to be clear, there has been no "result" of any kind. Nothing has been won or lost by anyone. This is a front page story about an anonymous request that an Apple patent be reexamined. The summary clearly states that the USPTO won't even make a decision regarding whether to reexamine until next year. This is the definition if a non-story.

Re:Starting to think patent system is working (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42374467)

It's not the reexaminations finding the prior art. The prior art is supplied by Apple's adversaries, and the patent office evaluates it. The adversaries have to pay fees to the Patent Office starting at $17,750 to open a reexamination. That doesn't include the fees to their own prior art searchers or lawyers, which will be substantial. It's still substantially cheaper than litigating in district court, but someone has to spend tens to hundreds of thousands dollars to let the Patent Office know about prior art that it should have found in the first place. That's after the holder of the incorrectly granted patent has already used it to squash competition and innovation or extort royalties out of others for a while too.

Why anonymous? (2)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 2 years ago | (#42373205)

The patents already invalidated were challenged anonymously too. Why challenge anonymously? I don't see any particular benefit.

Re:Why anonymous? (3, Interesting)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42373891)

The patents already invalidated were challenged anonymously too. Why challenge anonymously? I don't see any particular benefit.

Pretty simple, really. It's so that:

(a) Apple can't claim on appeal that the USPTO are in cahoots with $apple_competitor, because

(b) the USPTO can state truthfully that they don't know who filed the challenge to Apple's patent, and thus USPTO will conduct the re-examination based on the merits, and not on the players.

Finally, are we seeing a break down in patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42373521)

with that said, are we really seeing a change in the idiotic patents that companies like Apple apply for and then get!!!! Or is this just more media/press frenzy!! I hope not, several people want to see the patent system being used like it was intended to credit inventors with actual innovation, but also to build upon it, and improve it.
It is arrogant to think that way (i know), when we all know the reality of how the system works..

Well kids... (2)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#42373937)

Without Steve, Apple will die a slow and messy death. That makes me sad, but it is true.

Re:Well kids... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42374207)

It's a valid excuse for customers to re-evaluate the company. Seeing Apple act so anti-competitively is changing a lot of people's minds about their role as customers.

  I would hope that this would've happened even with Steve.. but he might have seen the light by now and changed course. Is there even anyone at Apple that can put in a course correction?

Sad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42378319)

"Sic semper tyrannis" anyone?

does apple know no shame? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42374021)

Aple's image is being very badly damaged by their recent 'insanely jealous' behaviour.

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