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Micron Lands Broad "Slide To Unlock" Patent

timothy posted about a year ago | from the is-it-malice-blindness-or-incompetence dept.

Patents 211

Zordak writes "Micron has recently landed U.S. Patent 8,352,745, which claims priority back to a February 2000 application---well before Apple's 2004 slide-to-unlock application. While claim construction is a highly technical art, the claims here are (for once) almost as broad as they sound, and may cover the bulk of touch screen smart phones on the market today. Dennis Crouch's Patently-O has a discussion."

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The USPTO is holding roundtables (5, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about a year ago | (#42752069)

The USPTO is holding roundtables with software developers to ask for suggestions. If anyone can add to what's there already, I've some suggestions on this wiki:

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Suggestions_for_the_USPTO_in_2013 [swpat.org]

(But remember, the patent office has only a small role in patent policy. Most substantial changes will have to come from Congress or the Supreme Court.)

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42752129)

Here is a simple suggestion.

MATH IS NOT FUCKING PATENTABLE YOU IDIOTS! STOP ALLOWING SOFTWARE PATENTS SINCE THEY ARE JUST MATH.

This should be pretty simple, but they would never accept that.

Slashdot admins; The caps are supposed to be yelling, that is why I used them. Sometimes yelling is needed.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (5, Informative)

logjon (1411219) | about a year ago | (#42752221)

Alternatively, since they have to follow court rulings, we could try: OBVIOUSNESS TEST FOR SOFTWARE PATENTS SHOULD BE DONE BY SOMEONE WHOSE EXPERTISE IN THE FIELD INVOLVES MORE THAN SENDING E-MAIL IN OUTLOOK. Seriously, where do they find these people? If it's software to do X, it should be examined by someone with expertise in the field of software AND the field of X.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (5, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year ago | (#42752587)

The very first test should be - ask a bunch of software guys - "If you had to do X in software, how would you do it?"

If ANY of them gets even close the patent should be thrown out.

That said, there shouldn't be any software patents. Asking how to improve the process of patenting software is like asking how to improve the process of circumcision. Just because you do it now, and lots of tribal elders say it's a great idea, doesn't mean it's true.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42752755)

Asking how to improve the process of patenting software is like asking how to improve the process of circumcision. Just because you do it now, and lots of tribal elders say it's a great idea, doesn't mean it's true.

I was going to nominate you for some sort of award, but I am puzzled as to exactly how to proceed. Non sequitur of the month? Most inappropriate Off Topic rant of the week?

Were you trying for anything in specific or was this a toss-it-against a Library of Congress to see if it was saluted?

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

fbobraga (1612783) | about a year ago | (#42752803)

The very first test should be - ask a bunch of software guys - "If you had to do X in software, how would you do it?" If ANY of them gets even close the patent should be thrown out. That said, there shouldn't be any software patents. Asking how to improve the process of patenting software is like asking how to improve the process of circumcision. Just because you do it now, and lots of tribal elders say it's a great idea, doesn't mean it's true.

What is close? Who judges it?

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42753119)

Meanwhile, if between the time it is filed and granted, anyone else either files for or implements the patent, it is presumed insufficiently non-obvious.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753523)

Asking how to improve the process of patenting software is like asking how to improve the process of circumcision. Just because you do it now, and lots of tribal elders say it's a great idea, doesn't mean it's true.

Just to nitpick, circumcision has noted health benefits. The process restricts men from being carriers of an unpleasant disease that can be dangerous to women (an STD in the literal sense, but not the commonly assumed sense). On the other hand, showers have a statistically identical non-cumulative benefit at reducing the same disease.

Similar filings should trigger obviousness failure (4, Informative)

MCRocker (461060) | about a year ago | (#42753477)

First to invent vs. file conflicts could be used to raise the bar on obviousness.

Obviousness is surprisingly difficult to determine because some of the best and most brilliant ideas are also very simple ideas that seem obvious only in retrospect. So the patent office is deliberately reluctant to interpret the obviousness constraint too rigorously.

Recently, the US has switched from awarding priority of similar patents to the first one to be filed instead of the first to be invented. Since there is often a very long delay from filing to patent award, during which filers must not publicly disclose their idea, priority becomes an issue more frequently than one might expect.

It seems obvious to me that instead of struggling with who has priority, the patent office should simply look at two similar patents being filed at about the same time as a failure of the obviousness test because, clearly, two different practitioners of the art came up with similar solutions to a problem. So both patents and any similar future filings should be rejected as obvious.

This doctrine would have disallowed a lot of patents in the past including the light bulb and telephone, which, while revolutionary were being investigated by several inventors who came up with similar solutions and even filed within hours of each other!

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (2)

gutnor (872759) | about a year ago | (#42753525)

Right after graduating, the USPTO equivalent here was trying to get people to go work there without much success.

Simply put, it is a boring job. Even worse, it is still a government job (although extremely well paid, it was like double the starting salary of the other well paid job), with all the office politic, policies and general slowness. What they would need is to hire successful professionals, people that have had to actively solve problems, that are continuously learning, ... i.e. the exact same people that everybody wants to hire. (and if the salary is huge for a new starter, the difference is inverted later in your career, as with most government job)

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#42752249)

Is physics patentable? I mean, my new catapult design is just physics.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752331)

PHYSICS IS JUST MATH!

The problem is that there is no clear line on what is hardware and software, and both can implement the same thing. Does moving a program into hardware make it patentable? Clearly not. There, electronics ICs and most chips with logic are unpatentable if you hold that software is unpatentable.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (3, Insightful)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about a year ago | (#42752589)

I think you hit the nail on the head but have the wrong idea. Yes, hardware is patentable; the way in which your hardware did something may be patented by all means. If it's something stupidly simple there will be a million ways to do it so good luck having a patent that matters. The thing you're doing being just math should be unpatentable, but the way you do it in the physical world should be.

Think about it like this, if nvidia comes up with some phenomenal new shader technique in the hardware that blows everything else away, they should be able to patent that hardware technique, chances are if it was easy to come up with ATI would have done it so this patent is worthwhile. ATI can surely do the same thing less efficiently or in software, but the patent gives advantage how it should while not stifling completition because ATI's software that does the same shader technique less efficiently wouldn't land them in court, even a less efficient hardware design (or a more efficient hardware design, which ATI should then patent!). As soon as you take the die apart and find the identical circuit implementation in both chips you have a patent violation.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

sosume (680416) | about a year ago | (#42753263)

As soon as you take the die apart and find the identical circuit implementation in both chips you have a patent violation.

But (in the case of software) you can't! DMCA forbids reverse engineering so you will never be able to investigate.

Just hold software patents to the same standards. (3, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#42752607)

Actually yes, it does. You can patent the *specific* hardware implementation of a task. Someone else could then do the exact same task with a different implementation and bypass your patent.

Honestly I'd have no problem with software patents if they just followed the same rules as hardware - you patent the implementation, not the effect. Of course the versatility of software means that would render almost all software patents trivially easy to bypass, but I don't see a problem with that. Let's take real world "slide to unlock" functionality - I can think of a half-dozen different deadbolt and related designs offhand, and I bet all of the modern implementations are/were patented, and none of them violated the patents of the others.

Would that mean you can't meaningfully patent your brilliant software idea? Almost certainly, but then ideas are *explicitly* denied patent protection to begin with.

Re:Just hold software patents to the same standard (4, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#42753043)

Actually yes, it does. You can patent the *specific* hardware implementation of a task. Someone else could then do the exact same task with a different implementation and bypass your patent.

For example, Setuid [wikipedia.org] was patented by Dennis Ritchie in 1972/1979 (applied/granted) based on the hardware implementation, as shown in the patent abstract. [espacenet.com]

Re:Just hold software patents to the same standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753319)

Actually yes, it does. You can patent the *specific* hardware implementation of a task. Someone else could then do the exact same task with a different implementation and bypass your patent.

Honestly I'd have no problem with software patents if they just followed the same rules as hardware - you patent the implementation, not the effect. Of course the versatility of software means that would render almost all software patents trivially easy to bypass, but I don't see a problem with that. Let's take real world "slide to unlock" functionality - I can think of a half-dozen different deadbolt and related designs offhand, and I bet all of the modern implementations are/were patented, and none of them violated the patents of the others.

Would that mean you can't meaningfully patent your brilliant software idea? Almost certainly, but then ideas are *explicitly* denied patent protection to begin with.

I agree with you completely but I don't think anybody can hear us, they are way too busy screaming at each other with their keyboards.

Re:Just hold software patents to the same standard (2)

Shagg (99693) | about a year ago | (#42753321)

There is already protection for the specific implementation of software... it's called copyright.

"Software patents" are purely about protecting the generic effect, which should be invalid.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (2)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#42753131)

The problem is that there is no clear line on what is hardware and software, and both can implement the same thing.

I would disagree. Hardware that executes instructions is a physical design, and should be obvious to be patentable.

Hardware CAN have firmware. For the purpose of comparison, the firmware should be classified as software.

With that settled.... software is a list of instructions. It's a process, in written form. Processes can be patented.

The question then becomes "how far do you need to deviate from a patented process or hardware design to be considered non infringing? THAT is the big problem here. "broad patents" try to define the breadth of their coverage, and frequently come down to "anything that's even remotely similar to this is ours".

For both hardware and software, the exact implementation is obviously protected. On the other end of the spectrum, you clearly don't have a patent over the result. (unless the result is another physical, separately patentable object, such as chemicals/pharmaceuticals) You can patent a car but not transportation. Therefore you can't simply claim rights because someone else has arrived at the same result as your process. And that's what they're trying to do. It'd be like inventing a calculator and then trying to patent anything that adds. You should be able to patent HOW it's done, but not WHAT it does. Look at the wording at the start of most patents of this type.... "This defines a method and process for ...." That's how they have to word it because the law doesn't explicitly protect results. But then they always go on to explain the results in the patent. ("and by doing A, B, and C, it results in X and Y") and then they try to enforce someone else arriving at the X and the Y by a different method or process.

But the current state of patent interpretation and enforcement is allowing results of processes to be enforced. And there's the problem.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

sosume (680416) | about a year ago | (#42753279)

So if you apply this reasoning to slide-to-unlock, you can patent a specific slider, but neither the sliding nor the unlocking? That would be an interesting line of reasoning for the attorney.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752353)

Nope, it's just math.

But really, h4rr4r's problem is that he's never been able to develop any software or algorithms that are patentable. He's just bitter.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42752383)

Because none of them are.

Nor would I apply for such a thing of my own volition. It is immoral.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

logjon (1411219) | about a year ago | (#42752411)

Or maybe he has, only to find out it's already been patented. I've run across more than one "how the fuck did they get a patent for that?" moment in my career. "Common business practice X on a computer" sort of shit. It gets downright absurd sometimes.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year ago | (#42753425)

Or maybe he has, only to find out it's already been patented. I've run across more than one "how the fuck did they get a patent for that?" moment in my career. "Common business practice X on a computer" sort of shit. It gets downright absurd sometimes.

I regularly come across people that make me wonder how they ever got a driver's license, that does not mean I want to permanently revoke all driver's licenses. I'd just like to send a select group of tardy drivers to get reeducated.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about a year ago | (#42752617)

Catapult designs are an application of engineering, physics shouldn't be patentable, but the productive result of applied engineering is: a technique for accomplishing something (your catapult design is one technique for flinging pianos i.e.)

These should by all means patentable, but the physics equations used to prove it does what it does? Those have no reason to be patentable.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#42753233)

Thanks, you stated what I was implying. My point apparently was lost on most people; I didn't realize there was such a large population here who honestly believed that all patents are bullshit.

Software is not "just math" in the same way that catapults are not just physics.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752305)

software isn't "just" math. that's like saying you can't patent a can opener because can openers are "just" atoms of iron and "you can't patent iron!".

yes, math is used by the computer and software is all 1s and 0s when you break it down to the lowest level, but the 1s and 0s aren't being patented. the algorithms are, in the form of higher level code.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42752341)

What part of software is not math?
What languages are you using exactly?

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (2)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#42752485)

"What part of software is not math?"

The parts you have to hire sweaty bags of meat to write.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42752759)

Those parts are all math too.

X = 1 is the same as $X =1;

Tell me where this not math software is. Lets see some examples.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#42753093)

You're simply trying to define "math" to be what you want it to be. Sorry, I won't play.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42753129)

No, I am simply point out that it is math.

Go to your local university and ask the CS dept.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753317)

Go to your local 'web design studio' and observe the mountain dew slurping fatties drag and drop, using their keyboard only to type urls. Where's the math?

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#42753433)

If it's all simply math, then there is an entire software industry you can readily replace. What's stopping you?

Oh, I always sucked at math... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752675)

That's why I only code in Cobol. You can just tell it what you want in a plain English language!

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42752875)

You know, my degree is in math and comp. sci, and while it's all expressable as math, writing software is in most ways nothing at all like math.

I've known several mathematicians who couldn't ever grasp the basics of programming, and I've known more than a few guys with Master's degrees in comp. sci who didn't know much more -- because all they learned was math for theoretical stuff.

Knowing which libraries to use, writing readable code, release management, configuration management, debugging, and dozens of other things involved in writing code takes it beyond being "just math".

You can't separate it from math, but I disagree that it all boils down to math.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (2)

cozziewozzie (344246) | about a year ago | (#42753147)

Knowing which libraries to use, writing readable code, release management, configuration management, debugging, and dozens of other things involved in writing code takes it beyond being "just math".

Yet these are not the parts which get patented.

What gets patented is math.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42753351)

What gets patented is math.

Really? What gets patented is ideas, not math (because you can't actually patent that).

Nobody patented the mathematical formula for swipe to unlock. Nobody patented the mathematics of the Zev-Limpel algorithm, they patented the idea of using it for compression of data.

Other than the fact that it's describable in math, if I patented something like file-sharing, I'm not patenting a single mathematical concept. I'm patenting an implementation, or the idea for an implementation of a NON MATHEMATICAL concept, but done on a computer.

Almost every thing we do in computers involves trying to come up with a digital analog for a real world thing. Nobody says "Hey, I have this mathematical equation, let's patent it" ... they say "hey, let's patent doing this with a computer".

Sorry, but I've been writing code for almost 25 years, and despite the fact that my output can be expressed in math, usually in my day to day life, the fact that there is a connection to mathematics is either irrelevant or secondary.

Comp. Sci is no more a strict subset of mathematics than engineering is, because there's other things that come into play that the mathematicians don't factor in.

Debugging software isn't like solving an equation -- nor is writing it, and nobody writes out a mathematical equation for a piece of enterprise software and says the rest is just an exercise for the reader (unless you're Donald Knuth).

Only mathematicians believe that even most aspects of software is math.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752311)

Bad idea. All it'll take is a bigger smartass arguing that everything in our physical universe is math, going on such theories as Stephen Hawking's idea that the universe was created by the collision of mathematical superconstructs, leading to why math is so prevalent in everything, and then the USPTO would stop taking the nerds seriously and kick us out of the discussion just to get rid of whoever brought up "a bunch of college physics bullshit".

And no, "yelling" is absolutely not needed in a text medium. This is not an aural medium. That last line just makes you look more like a fool to everyone who isn't hearing all these posts read to them by the voices in their heads. And I can assure you, the USPTO are not among those who hear the voices like you do.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42752369)

Or we could agree with that smartass and just get rid of patents all together.

Yelling is useful in a text medium, much like punctuation.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (4, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#42752387)

Here is a simple suggestion.

MATH IS NOT FUCKING PATENTABLE YOU IDIOTS! STOP ALLOWING SOFTWARE PATENTS SINCE THEY ARE JUST MATH.

Software patents that are just math are not allowed. You'll see that this one involves hardware, which is not just math*.

*unless you're saying that all hardware can be abstracted as mathematical relationships, and are therefore arguing that all machines are unpatentable too?

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753465)

Umm this is the basis of physics.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752425)

I increased the accuracy of a common sensor by using a new mathematical approach to interpreting the raw results. I don't see this as fundamentally different than increasing the accuracy by changing the sensor's physical or electrical construction. Why is my contribution as a software engineer less valuable than a contribution made by an electrical engineer?

It isn't software patents that need to go, it is human patents. We shouldn't be able to patent human interactions.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42752543)

All computing has a foundation in math, but not all patents relate to mathematical things. They relate to trying to map physical analogs to digital things.

Swipe to unlock? Pretty much no math there except the graphics libraries. It's a concept, but there's not exactly some mathematical formula for swipe to unlock.

I've never subscribed to the argument that all computing is math, because as much as it affects how efficient your algorithms are, software is not mathematics.

The problem with patents is they seem to be patenting the idea, and it takes so long for the USPTO to process the claims that by the time to they do it's an industry standard practice.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (4, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year ago | (#42752737)

Indeed.

Swipe to unlock for doors == a bolt.

Swipe to unlock for GUI == ?

Patenting GUI analogs of physical devices is an oxymoron - you're copying a user interface that already exists. The very reason you made that analog in a piece of software is because it ISN'T a new and innovative idea. It's familiar and obvious to people or there would be no point.

If you want to patent UI metaphors, you should first demonstrate that no-one understands how to use it without first reading the manual.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (2)

Grond (15515) | about a year ago | (#42752615)

MATH IS NOT FUCKING PATENTABLE YOU IDIOTS! STOP ALLOWING SOFTWARE PATENTS SINCE THEY ARE JUST MATH.

Well let's look at claim 1 of this patent. "A system comprising: a touch screen upon which a user is to enter, by drawing, a geometric pattern in a specified direction to gain access to the system; and a processing circuit coupled to the touch screen to compare the user entered geometric pattern to a predefined geometric pattern stored in a memory."

Certainly some parts of this can be reduced to mathematics. The geometric pattern, obviously, as well as whatever algorithm is used for comparing the input with the pattern. But no amount of math is going to cause a touch screen to appear out of thin air. And if I sit in front of a locked phone with a piece of paper and a pencil, I can do math all day and that phone will remain locked. That's because the patent is not a patent on math. It's a patent on an electronic device that happens to use some mathematical principles in order to function in a certain way.

It's no different from a patent on the design of an airplane wing that defines the shape of the wing in terms of a mathematical function. You can analyze that function, write proofs about it, etc all day and never create an airplane wing because the math is fundamentally separable from the invention that uses it.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | about a year ago | (#42752817)

Imagine if Internet RFCs were patents instead. *sigh*

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753151)

MATH IS NOT FUCKING PATENTABLE YOU IDIOTS!

Am I the only one who read this in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice?

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752457)

The USPTO is holding roundtables with software developers to ask for suggestions.

I sure hope their "roundtables" are not rectangles with rounded corners.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752857)

Nicely done, very subtle!

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42752887)

I sure hope their "roundtables" are not rectangles with rounded corners.

Oh, please. Every day I pray to hi Noodliness to toss this bit of rancid Parmesan Cheese in the garbage disposal and give him a big buzz.

Enough with the rounded rectangle meme already.

Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753499)

Apple shill :)

Just tells you people aren't honest (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a year ago | (#42752107)

I believe in being as honest as possible. When I see things like this where people take advantage of loop holes it makes me mad. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm still waiting for someone to try and patent the wheel.

Nobody patented the wheel (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about a year ago | (#42752175)

Someone will probably reply with a link to a story about someone patenting the wheel in Australia. But it's not true.

Or, it wasn't a "patent". It was an "innovation patent", which is something completely different and doesn't get any substantial examination by any examiner. They just check the formalities and rubber stamp it (and the examination happens if, and only if, there is litigation, which never happened with the wheel innovation patent).

But there are many silly patents in the world:

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Silly_patents [swpat.org]

Re:Nobody patented the wheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752431)

Someone will probably reply with a link to a story about someone patenting the wheel in Australia. But it's not true.

Yeah, but Slashdot says someone copyrighted fire [slashdot.org] .

Re:Nobody patented the wheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752833)

But it's not true.

Oh? This [virginia.edu] is made up?

Or, it wasn't a "patent". It was an "innovation patent", which is something completely different ...

Oh? It wasn't a patent, but wait, it WAS a type of patent?

... and doesn't get any substantial examination by any examiner.

Correct. And this means the wheel patent is practically guaranteed not to be upheld if ever examined in preparation for litigation. But it doesn't make it not silly.

Everyone is screwed... (3, Funny)

StrangeBrew (769203) | about a year ago | (#42752139)

once my twist to open patent is approved.

Re:Everyone is screwed... (1)

craznar (710808) | about a year ago | (#42752247)

They will only be screwed if they pay you use fees.

Other than that, they legally wont be allowed to be screwed.

Re:Everyone is screwed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752273)

That's pretty twisted, right there.

Re:Everyone is screwed... (1)

StrangeBrew (769203) | about a year ago | (#42752289)

I tried to patent 'pay to screw' too, but they told me Heidi Fleiss beat me to it.

Re:Everyone is screwed... (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about a year ago | (#42753225)

Man, that reference is so old i had to dust it off to read that post! Nice!

Re:Everyone is screwed... (1)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about a year ago | (#42752725)

No, they will be screwed when your twist to insert patent is approved.

Re:Everyone is screwed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753291)

You won't avoid my patent then, which is "press button to turn on"...I should get a lot for that one, once they approve it.

processing circuit (3, Interesting)

stevejf (2724307) | about a year ago | (#42752181)

The claim still requires a 'processing circuit coupled to the touchscreen.' The disclosure also talks about a 'compare circuit.' I would think that a software implementation would not be covered by at least claim 1 of this patent. They may be able to argue software implementations are covered under doctrine of equivalents, but personally, I would think that dedicated hardware does not function in 'essentially the same way.'

Re:processing circuit (1)

pv2b (231846) | about a year ago | (#42752253)

I'm not a patent expert, although I did once watch a very informative video about how patents work. This makes me eminently qualified on the subject by slashdot standards.

The phone's SoC (system on a chip) is coupled to the touch screen. The SoC implements the invention of the patent (in software... yes... so what?). The fact that the CPU also happens to do a lot of other stuff too would not seem to be relevant.

Re:processing circuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752347)

There is no difference between "software" and "hardware" patents. Both can implement the same logic - software just makes it easier to reconfigure.

Re:processing circuit (2)

Zordak (123132) | about a year ago | (#42752419)

The CPU is a "processing circuit." It doesn't matter that the specification includes a "compare circuit," because it's not part of the claim. You can't just read stuff from the specification into the claims (except when you can).

Sliding Door Lock... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#42752215)

... on a Computer. ... on a Phone.

Gee, it must be some new mystical technology to deploy a sliding door lock on a computer or phone.

Re:Sliding Door Lock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752303)

Here's a visual aid [kuvaton.com] .

Re:Sliding Door Lock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752441)

No, as the subject clearly says, this is a patent for a method to slide-to-unlock broads. Micron is patenting a design for a new zipper-based lingerie line. Maybe not the largest market they can get into, and you might not be into it, but hey, to each their own, right?

Android slide-to-unlock not covered by this patent (5, Informative)

pv2b (231846) | about a year ago | (#42752231)

I'm not a patent expert, although I did once watch a very informative video about how patents work. This makes me eminently qualified on the subject by slashdot standards.

Looking at the independent claims, it looks like at least the lock screen as implemented by Samsung (starting at the unlock button, drag a certain distance in any direction to unlock) and possibly other Android phones out there is safe from this patent.

1. A system comprising:

a touch screen upon which a user is to enter, by drawing, a geometric pattern in a specified direction to gain access to the system; and

a processing circuit coupled to the touch screen to compare the user entered geometric pattern to a predefined geometric pattern stored in a memory.

Since the system on Samsung phones works no matter which direction you drag, it looks like the "slide to unlock" implementation in Samsung phones is clear.

However, I think this patent may very well be applicable to the "pattern lock" of android phones.

Re:Android slide-to-unlock not covered by this pat (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#42752475)

Looking at the independent claims, it looks like at least the lock screen as implemented by Samsung (starting at the unlock button, drag a certain distance in any direction to unlock) and possibly other Android phones out there is safe from this patent.

Dirty little secret - Google actually intentioned things to be like that to AVOID any patents held by Apple, Microsoft, etc!

And yes, Android is better for it - like the home screen and app launcher that Android has over the springboard that iOS has, which added innovation and diversity to the phone UIs out there.

Re:Android slide-to-unlock not covered by this pat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752507)

I believe the TFA states that Samsung already had a 10yr deal with Micron re: this

And how would the slide to unlock implementation for Samsung be any different from iPhone?

Re:Android slide-to-unlock not covered by this pat (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#42752843)

I believe the TFA states that Samsung already had a 10yr deal with Micron re: this

And how would the slide to unlock implementation for Samsung be any different from iPhone?

It's different because it's Google, and this is Slashdot.

Re:Android slide-to-unlock not covered by this pat (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year ago | (#42753303)

And how would the slide to unlock implementation for Samsung be any different from iPhone?

In that way that he just said?

The claim seems to imply that it covers a mechanism whereby you drag your finger in a specific direction to unlock the screen. On iPhones, slide to unlock works by moving your finger along a set little path- which that claim would cover. On a Galaxy, you touch a designated spot and drag your finger in any random direction you like; so not what the claim would appear to cover. As a sibling post mentioned, the Android "draw a pattern on a grid of nodes" thing presumably would be covered by the claim, however.

Although frankly any patent which makes a distinction between "dragging your finger this way" and "dragging your finger that way" is a great demonstration as to how patents have become completely absurd.

Re:Android slide-to-unlock not covered by this pat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753239)

ANY is a very specific direction.

What value does this patent add? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752257)

Seriously. Shouldn't we be asking this question of every single patent?

I'm not a fan of software patents and believe we should abolish them, but while they are there we need to ask this, because not doing so is too expensive and that cost undermines the value of the patents in the first place.

Zero value (3, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#42753217)

The patent has no informative properties at all. It does not explain any process or algorithms used to ie detect that a finger is moving on the screen, which direction its moving in, what shape it draws, whether the shape is "close enough" to the shape in memory etc (though to be fair claim #1 doesn't even check the shape, only that a shape was drawn, claim #2 is to check the shape and deny access if it's wrong). If all of the above is obvious to someone of regular skill in the art, then the claims should be invalid as obvious. If it is not obvious to someone of regular skill in the art, then the patent fails to live up to the Constitutional mandate to advance the sciences and arts by not disclosing how these claims are to be achieved, and if current patent law does not make the patent invalid on this basis, then patent law should be changed to comply with the Consitution.

They need to go (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#42752333)

Software patents really need to just dissapear... it has gotten to the point where software developers are afraid that they will get sued every time they create something... this is just absurd.

Re:They need to go (3, Insightful)

jd659 (2730387) | about a year ago | (#42752899)

The problem with the software patents (or the current interpretation) is that it's not the code that gets patented, but rather the problem. In the old days, when the inventors had to submit the prototypes, there were hundreds of mouse trap patents issued. In the current "patent the problem" world we would see the wording for a mouse trap to be something close to "a device that stops a creature from free movement by using physical, mechanical, electromagnetic force in a restrain device".

Intention to unlock (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | about a year ago | (#42752339)

I have an application to patent "intent to unlock" comprising mind-reading and intentional software.
However, bugs in the dynamics of intentional flaws intended to unlock locked the unlocked locks tight. I always managed to unlock my neighbor's lock but my locks tended to become more locked. My intention is to lock the unlock code into the cloud to create a crowd-sourced intentional unlocking mechanism locked into a plurality of metaphoric intentions.

Isn't a door latch prior art? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752397)

Would think the common door or gate deadbolt is prior art. Or is this something different because it's a displayed cartoon?

Re:Isn't a door latch prior art? (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | about a year ago | (#42752559)

Would think the common door or gate deadbolt is prior art.

But this is on a computer! On a mobile device! On a phone!

Re:Isn't a door latch prior art? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#42753345)

Personally, I think people/companies should have to defend their patents or lose them. You should be able to come out out of the blue, years later and tell them that something that they've been doing for years is all of a sudden against your patent. Obviously there would have to be some leeway to determine when the patent holder should have known about the use of their invention, but in the case of slide-to-unlock which has been in existence on phones for years, there's no reason why this patent should just be coming to light now.

just wondering -- Win8 ? (2)

cellocgw (617879) | about a year ago | (#42752601)

Disclaimer: I have never come within 1.6 km of a machine running Win8. But I've seen the slick TV commercials showing people logging on by drawing shapes on the screen. If this patent in fact covers "slid[ing] in any direction" does it cover Win8 ?

An idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752647)

Someone needs to patent making patents and sue the patent office.

This is the equivalence of patenting "sliding" into a parking spot with your car to park it.

Prvious art. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752663)

Og slide boulder away from cave to unlock.
Og demand all of tech company money.

Reading the patent, it shouldn't apply to phones (1)

AC-x (735297) | about a year ago | (#42752667)

Reading the patent this shouldn't apply to phone lock screens, the patent seems to be for a multi-factor unlock system that uses several different kind of user authorisation interactions (password followed by finger print scan followed by a gesture pattern for example), where mobile unlock screens are universally just a single action.

If this patent actually covered mobile phone unlock screens then it would also cover screen-saver wake passwords etc.

Well I cant say I like patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42752689)

But I do chuckle when Apple gets out-trolled.

100s of years ago (1)

jd659 (2730387) | about a year ago | (#42752757)

Original idea. [droidforums.net]

May not read on Apple devices (1)

Grond (15515) | about a year ago | (#42752799)

All of the claims in the Micron patent refer to the user "drawing" the geometric pattern. The term "drawing" is not defined in the patent, so a court would likely give the term its ordinary and customary meaning given to the term by those of ordinary skill in the art. Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 [google.com] , 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc). But I don't think "drawing" has a particular technical meaning in this context. The Oxford American Dictionary defines it as to "produce (a picture or diagram) by making lines and marks; produce an image of (someone or something) in such a way."

The Apple unlock mechanism doesn't produce a picture or image or make a line or mark on the screen. The user causes the slider to move, but it doesn't draw a line. Technically the "slide to unlock" text fades out and it could be argued that the user is "drawing" over "slide to unlock" in black, but that's a pretty strained way to look at it. A somewhat firmer interpretation would be that "drawing" can sometimes be used in a metaphorical sense. For example, someone can be said to draw a shape in the air with their finger.

If Micron sued Apple over this patent (or assigned the patent to someone who sued Apple), it's quite possible that the case would hinge on the meaning of that word.

idiots (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42752879)

you shouldn't be able to patent common sense. Simple as that.

Sliding deadbolt obvious prior art? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42752967)

[nt]

Re:Sliding deadbolt obvious prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753207)

Sorry, sliding a deadbolt "on a mobile device" is different

Re:Sliding deadbolt obvious prior art? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42753283)

Well, a door, being capable of being opened or closed, certainly isn't *IM*mobile... so why is it different, exactly?

Perfect example of "do it on a computer" ? (1)

kvnslash (2292742) | about a year ago | (#42753159)

I don't see how this patent is special. Just because it's done on a computer shouldn't change anything. I "Slide to Unlock" my laptop cover. If they want to turn this into a design patent, fine (round edges of button, specific font, etc, etc,) , but the core idea is not new, special, or innovative.

Prior Prior Art - 1939 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42753205)

I have a wooden box with a clasp that slides sideways to unlock. The label on the box clearly states made in 1939.
I'd imagine that this technology is more than two thousand years old.
Also - obvious.

I thought briefcases have a slide to unlock (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about a year ago | (#42753375)

I thought briefcases have a slide to unlock buttons for almost a 100 years now wouldn't that be enough proof of prior art?

might be ok (1)

troll -1 (956834) | about a year ago | (#42753405)

as long as they don't put rounded corners on it.
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