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Apple: Dumb As a Patent Trolling Fox On iPhone Prior Art?

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the catching-up-with-the-80s dept.

GUI 408

theodp (442580) writes "GeekWire reports that a Microsoft researcher's 1991 video could torpedo Apple's key 'slide to unlock' patent, one of 5 patents that the iPhone maker cited in its demand for $40 per Samsung phone. Confronted with what appears to be damning video evidence of prior art that pre-dates its 'invention' by more than a decade, Apple has reportedly argued that the sliding on/off switch demoed by Catherine Plaisant is materially different than the slide to unlock switch that its 7 inventors came up with. Apple's patent has already been deemed invalid in Europe because of similar functionality present in the Swedish Neonode N1M." The toggle widgets demoed in the video (attached below) support sliding across the toggle to make it more difficult to swap state (preventing accidental toggling). The video itself is worth a watch — it's interesting to see modern UIs adopting some of the idioms that testing in the early 90s showed were awful (e.g. Gtk+ 3's state toggles).

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first eemed invalid! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690223)

first eemed

Re:first eemed invalid! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690231)

You could arguie that point.

This isn't how patents work... (1, Insightful)

ComputerPhreak (1057874) | about 8 months ago | (#46690241)

This same crap keeps coming up on slashdot, where someone takes some 'evil patent' that's 'so obvious', hunts down an example of something vaguely similar, and shouts 'look, prior art, prior art! it's invalid!'. This isn't how prior art (or patents) work. These are the same kind of idiots that seriously think apple patented a rounded rectangle, or call microsoft a patent troll, or whatever... if you don't like (software) patents, that's great, but take the time to understand them before flinging fud.

Re:This isn't how patents work... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690291)

Just enjoy your retirement Mr. Balmer, there's no point continuing to hang around here...

Re:This isn't how patents work... (1, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 8 months ago | (#46690483)

He's too old to fling chairs these days, so he has a new hobby.

Except much of the time they're right... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690317)

The only thing worse than granting ridiculously obvious, simple, overly broad, or just plain stupid patents (and the companies trying to enforce them) is the absurd state of copyright protection in the USA.

Re:Except much of the time they're right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690347)

Why do you H8 a purely capitalist legal system?

Re:Except much of the time they're right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690363)

Because it keeps the rich rich and the poor poor.

Re:Except much of the time they're right... (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 8 months ago | (#46690839)

A protectionist legal (patent) system is anti-capitalistic

Re:Except much of the time they're right... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690535)

These patents are only needed to protect US companies (who like Apple, are completely unable to come up with any meaningfully original advances in technology) from competition by the truly creative and innovative engineering coming from Asian companies like Samsung. The last desperate whimpers of a dying super power.

Re:Except much of the time they're right... (1, Troll)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#46690919)

Samsung are truly creative and innovative, really? [macrumors.com]

When all you do is try to one-up the leader, you end up following him forever because you have no idea where he's going.

"Skate to where the puck will be" is the only sane option.

Re:Except much of the time they're right... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690829)

The only thing worse than granting ridiculously obvious, simple, overly broad, or just plain stupid patents (and the companies trying to enforce them) is the absurd state of copyright protection in the USA.

Did you actually watch the video? You know, where the nice lady discusses the pros and cons of about ten different ways of doing roughly the same thing, and results of the usability studies?

If anything, this video demonstrates this line of work is not obvious or stupid. Arguing over prior art is one thing, but arguing against patenting UI elements in the context of this R&D video is just a little stupid.

Yes, yes it is. (4, Insightful)

thesupraman (179040) | about 8 months ago | (#46690441)

Actually, they are right.

A Patent is technically REQUIRED to not be obvious to a person 'skilled in the art' when given information of the prior art.
So, a phone UI developer would have to still not find the apple slide to unlock patent obvious given knowledge that a
UI idea to unlock the phone was needed, and knowledge of is video.

All of this of course should make the whole 'on a capacitive multitouch screen' approach, etc laughable - but again the
rules are being VERY selectively enforced.

Of course Apple, and several others, have managed to blatantly hijack the patent system, and basic patent law is not being
applied in their cases - could it PERHAPS have something to do with the huge number of patents they (and several notable others)
fine with them, and therefore the percentage of the patent offices total revenue they generate?

How do I know the requirements above? I have at times spent years arguing with the patent office trying to get patents accepted
which were ENORMOUSLY less obvious that what passes for acceptable from certain major cooperated. With little to no success.

The rules are simply being blatantly flouted by a certain select group.

Re:Yes, yes it is. (3, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | about 8 months ago | (#46690519)

"Apple, and several others, have managed to blatantly hijack the patent system"

Not defending their current practice (slide to unlock and pinch zoom clearly have prior art), but it comes from their past experience.

One obvious example is the keyboard/trackpad layout of all modern laptops. It was Apple on their PowerBooks who pushed the keyboard toward the screen, making room for palmrests and pointing devices below. Prior to that, everyone was putting keyboards tight against the lower edge. They didn't patent it, and the rest of the industry quickly followed.

Re:Yes, yes it is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690693)

One obvious example is the keyboard/trackpad layout of all modern laptops.

The trackball layout on the early Powerbooks was an obvious requirement of using a GUI. Don't forget, this was a time when character-based OSs like DOS were still prevalent, which is why laptops didn't need the palmrest. Windows 3.0 had just been released, and Amiga, ST etc were not seen as business machines worthy of a laptop variant.Sure, Apple got there first, but not because it was a leap of intuition or effort.

The actual layout wasn't novel either. I remember using a similar touchscreen and keyboard setup on a (Fairlight?) video computer in the mid-80s. Making it portable was again an obvious step.

Re:Yes, yes it is. (1)

msauve (701917) | about 8 months ago | (#46690891)

"The trackball layout on the early Powerbooks was an obvious requirement of using a GUI."

Nope. Look at the Mac Portable, which had the keyboard down near the edge, and a trackball to the side.

"I remember using a similar touchscreen and keyboard setup...mid-80s"

Touchscreen in the mid-80's? Even if so, how does that relate to the positioning of a keyboard and trackball/trackpad? (Fairlight? You talkin' 'bout a musical keyboard???)

Re:This isn't how patents work... (3, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 8 months ago | (#46690451)

These are the same kind of idiots that seriously think apple patented a rounded rectangle,

US D690,300 S [uspto.gov]

1. The ornamental design for a portable display device, as shown and described.

It's easier to see all of the images from this link: http://www.google.com/patents/... [google.com]

They filed a patent for a rectangular tablet with rounded corners on Sept 14, 2012, and were granted a 14 year patent term on Sept. 24, 2013. But don't let reality get in the way of the Dunning–Kruger effect. That would be silly.

Re:This isn't how patents work... (1)

russotto (537200) | about 8 months ago | (#46690553)

This same crap keeps coming up on slashdot, where someone takes some 'evil patent' that's 'so obvious', hunts down an example of something vaguely similar, and shouts 'look, prior art, prior art! it's invalid!'.

As opposed to searching through some patents bought in a bankruptcy proceeding, hunting down an example of something vaguely similar, and shouting "infringement, infringement"? That strategy seems to work pretty well.

These are the same kind of idiots that seriously think apple patented a rounded rectangle,

They did. If you check their design patent, the shape itself was in fact the only thing they claimed. Everything else was excluded.

call microsoft a patent troll

One of Microsoft's patents claims doing a 64-bit CRC of song metadata and using that as a hash key. That's pretty trollish.

Re:This isn't how patents work... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#46690721)

you're obviously new here and don't understand how patents work while thinking that they still somehow aren't fucked up.

the slide to unlock, rectangular design claim and all that are exactly like that was.

Seems pretty different, not a gesture (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46690249)

In the case of that video, the sliding was really because you were "dragging" a representation of a physical object on-screen - and it wasn't unlocking anything, it was just toggling a state in a switch.

The iOS slide to unlock is not a physical counterpart for anything, it's a gesture. There is other prior art that uses wholly virtual gestures to unlock something, which seems much more relevant than anything in this video.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about 8 months ago | (#46690263)

What's the other prior art for the unlocking gesture?

Windows Phone (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46690397)

This Windows Phone video [androidcentral.com] is a lot closer to what the iPhone does, though the issue that one has as prior art is that it seems to be on a narrow touch-pad area (like a palm pilot) and not on the touch screen.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690573)

How about the King waiving his hand at the guard to open the door?

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (3, Informative)

whois (27479) | about 8 months ago | (#46690323)

That seems like grasping at straws. The fact of the matter is we've all used sliders in real life. Air conditioner controls on old cars being a good example. Apple took a concept everyone understood and made a modern look to it, but it could still be a virtual representation of a physical slider.

What needs to be asked is if this patent brought anything to the table or is it superfluous? My question isn't if sliders are innovative since they obviously are not, but is the concept of "slide to unlock your phone" innovative?

I could say no but I'd be lying if I didn't think they might have a case there. From what I remember the iphone was the first slide-to-unlock phone, and now all the smartphones seem to have it.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#46690361)

I'd say "no" primarily because of the bolt/barrel latches that have been holding doors closed for millenia. The idea of "slide to unlock" is obvious from such devices. "On a computer" is not innovation.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (1)

runningduck (810975) | about 8 months ago | (#46690583)

I would normally agree, but if "on the Internet" is considered innovative, then I am guessing that "on a computer" is innovative as well.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-po... [arstechnica.com]

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690803)

I'd say "no" primarily because of the bolt/barrel latches that have been holding doors closed for millenia. The idea of "slide to unlock" is obvious from such devices. "On a computer" is not innovation.

If you actually take the time to watch the video, you might understand the results of UI research are not as obvious as you presume.

For those of you arguing against patents for UI elements in general, this is just HILARIOUS, because this video makes an excellent case for SOMEONE having the patent! =D

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690767)

The iphone was also the first major phone to consist exclusively of a touch screen. Prior to that, other phones had hardware buttons to lock and unlock.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690343)

That might be true in iOS7, however in iOS6 it is very clearly a a graphical image of a physical 'toggle switch', which has 'slide to unlock' written on it. Sliding the switch to the right, unlocks the phone, which is equivalent to 'switching on', (ie. locked = left side of toggle switch, unlock = right side of toggle switch )

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (5, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | about 8 months ago | (#46690367)

The iOS slide to unlock is not a physical counterpart for anything, it's a gesture.

Did you watch the video. She literally says...

The motion fits well with the finger gesture. [...] I think to use a sliding gesture makes the toggle slightly more difficult to use but greatly reduces the chances of error [...]"

And those on-off sliders work **exactly** like Apple's slide to unlock, especially as it was originally implemented ... I'm thinking back to my iphone 3GS here.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46690419)

She also said in the tests that it was one of the least preferred ways to use a switch, and that they made changes based on feedback like making it more obvious you were grabbing a physical handle on the sliding switch (the highlighting of the handle).

In Samsung's documents, the sliding to unlock came out as by far the most preferred of a number of different mechanisms, which is an indicator that the two things are different even if they appear the same on the surface.

But I'm not a patent attorney so note I'm not trying to justify Apple's claim, just saying that this doesn't seem to me as much like prior art as other things I've seen.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690719)

I'm not trying to justify Apple's claim,

Yes you are, and always do.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690385)

You're literally sliding a physical arrow button from left to right to toggle a locked and unlocked state don't see how much more relevant you'd need.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 months ago | (#46690393)

I have to disagree. The only difference between the Apple slide and the MS slide is 20 years of updated graphics. The Apple slide even has a little 3D graphic of a sliding button, just like the MS video.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690431)

Depends if you look at iOS7 or previous versions.

iOS7 it's a gesture, certainly. And this would not be prior art for it. However the Previous version that had a physical representation on the screen IS similar, but not in the way the video shows it. The video is showing physical objects representing (at least for the 80's/early 90's) what a lot of mechanical buttons looked like then. While the Apple Slide to power off still exists in iOS7 it doesn't react the same way (it fades the screen as you drag it.) In the previous iOS versions it resembled a slide-switch with low depth. And indeed iOS uses a lot of slide-switch types in iOS.

Basically the reason the video doesn't count, is because the video is not demonstrating the gesture is what unlocks or powers the device off. In iOS7 (and current Samsung Galaxy devices) is a "slide anywhere" gesture, and not in concert with a physical representation on the screen.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (1, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46690631)

I see your point, but to me it's still different even in the case of iOS 6 - yes you are dragging a physical looking element, but that doesn't correspond to anything real - what real-world thing do you drag one way and then the whole thing vanishes? The button itself is physical but not "real".

To me it's just very different than manipulating a very direct physical representation of a real switch on-screen, where the dragging isn't even a flat dragging as it is taking an object through an arc by dragging over as it swings a switch back and forth.

It is a great point that a major issue is that at no point are they showing that action unlock anything. It seems a small point to most of us to go from a switch to an unlock but of such things patents are formed. That may well be wrong, but as that's how the system is you can't argue about t being invalid based on "common sense", when the patent system is built to diverge from same...

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690497)

The girl in the video looks like a romulan.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (1)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 8 months ago | (#46690567)

...the sliding was really because you were "dragging" a representation of a physical object on-screen - and it wasn't unlocking anything, it was just toggling a state in a switch.

Besides the giant hole in your "dragging mouse" not being the same as "a gesture" thing and the even bigger "unlocking" doesn't equate to "changing state", you do realize there there is still a "pointer" in the operating system, so it knows where you're clicking/dragging/swirling? They just hid it. Every once in a while it shows up on my Android in the web browser.

There is no "pointer" in iOS (-1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46690655)

you do realize there there is still a "pointer" in the operating system

Not in iOS. When there are no touches, there are only objects that are potentially "first responder". There is no notion of a pointer because the pointer(s!!!) are gone when you lift your finger(s) up.

What would a pointer be anyway when you press down two fingers and pinch? What about when you lift up? You could argue for any number of locations, which is why there is no pointer.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#46690695)

the whole point is there isn't a pointer. pointers stay in one place when you stop moving the mouse. for iOS, there is no selector location when the screen is not being manipulated. if your phone shows a pointer sometimes then you should stop using a toy phone.

Re:Seems pretty different, not a gesture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690817)

It's sliding a finger on a screen to change a state. Like the phone being on or off, like a switch. Are you a retard or an apple shill? Maybe both.

bullshit clickbait (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690279)

Apple's patent claim is for a portable device that uses a single image. The video does not demonstrate a portable device, nor is it done using a single image. Notably, as shown in the screen capture or TFA, two different images represent ON vs. OFF.

https://www.google.com/patents/US8046721 [google.com]

Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690341)

Now lets patent using three images and doing it on an automobile touch screen. That will make it so uniqe and non-obvious that it deserves patent protection and then US and foreign car companies can sue each other over it. Serious innovation there!

Re:bullshit clickbait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690353)

Wow! That's pretty innovative! I mean, even my dog could come up with that, but if you made the USPTO's examiners immortal and chained them to typewriters, they would never write something like that.

In other words, stop hiring retarded people for functions where cognition is required!

Re:bullshit clickbait (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 8 months ago | (#46690389)

Apple's patent claim is for a portable device that uses a single image.

Android's slide to unlock works from both left to right and right to left; so its completely different too right?

And if I implement Apple's slide to unlock EXACTLY, but put it on a screen built into a fridge, they can't touch me?

Yeah. Right.

Re:bullshit clickbait (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 8 months ago | (#46690493)

Apple's patent claim is for a portable device that uses a single image. The video does not demonstrate a portable device, nor is it done using a single image. Notably, as shown in the screen capture or TFA, two different images represent ON vs. OFF.

https://www.google.com/patents/US8046721 [google.com]

To be clear...you are stating why this video may not apply to show that the Apple's patent may be non-novel, because it may be an improvement over the prior art, however, that certainly doesn't mean it's nonobvious, right?

Note: I haven't read the actual patent's claims so I have no idea if there's anything nonobvious in there (patent claims != title, unlike what most /.'ers think), but your points of "on a portable device" and "done using a single image" sure don't seem nonobvious.

Re:bullshit clickbait (1)

oogoliegoogolie (635356) | about 8 months ago | (#46690529)

Looks exactly the same to me. Take your finger, touch the slider, and move your finger to drag the slider to change the state. If you think Apple's implementation is fundamentally different, then patent trolls have taught you well, young lawyer.

In other damning news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690303)

Apple were also caught violating the Deal Leader's original MAC OSX widgets in IOS.

I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent iftp (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#46690381)

I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent in the first place.

It's an intuitive action for unlocking because it mimics the motion of using a sliding deadbolt... which i'd suggest counts as both obvious *and* prior art.

Re:I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent i (5, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46690439)

... which i'd suggest counts as both obvious *and* prior art.

Respectfully, and without necessarily disagreeing with your fundamental point, those terms don't mean what you think they do, legally.

"Prior art" is "anything in the relevant art, that's prior." The Wright Brother's plane is prior art for the Space Shuttle. The Model T is prior art for the Tesla Model S. That doesn't mean they're anticipatory prior art, which is art that teaches everything in a patent claim. So, for example, even though the Model T is prior art for the Model S, it wouldn't invalidate a patent on the battery pack, for example. Similarly, sliding deadbolts are prior art for the virtual slide-to-unlock, but they alone don't show everything in the patent.

"Obvious" is a legal conclusion, like "guilty". It's different than just the "duh" gut feeling that we typically mean when we call something obvious. And just as you show someone is guilty by showing that they committed each and every element of a crime, you show that something is obvious by showing that one or more pieces of prior art exist that, alone or in combination, teach each and every element of the patent claim. So, again, sliding deadbolts show unlocking something... but they alone don't show all the other bits of the claim, like a handheld electronic device. That means you'd have to at least combine "deadbolts" plus "mid-90s Palm smartphone" to show that element.

Using the right terms - anticipatory prior art when you mean that, or obvious when you have a combination of prior art references to invalidate a claim - will increase your credibility with people who are in power to make changes to the patent system.

Re:I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent i (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 months ago | (#46690447)

Corps throw their "IP" wads of shit against the USPTO dartboard and sees what sticks.

Some shit ALWAYS sticks.

Re:I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent i (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about 8 months ago | (#46690509)

the patent office assumes when a patent is filed for that company did the work to see if it was done before. Which Apple has a clear history of stealing others work and claiming it as their own. Its left up to the court and someone to fight it to make it invalid. Problem is if its used against people that have no $ to spent on court cases they just pay even if the patent is bogus and invalid.

Re:I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent i (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46690633)

the patent office assumes when a patent is filed for that company did the work to see if it was done before.

That's simply not true. Don't spread misinformation.

Re:I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent i (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690649)

I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent in the first place.

It's an intuitive action for unlocking because it mimics the motion of using a sliding deadbolt... which i'd suggest counts as both obvious *and* prior art.

The sliding deadbolt that Apple used to model the action had rounded corners.

Re:I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent i (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690899)

It's not a deadbolt, so the prior art you describe doesn't invalidate the patent.
All you have to do is find another way to "unlock" and use it instead of the patented method.
Really you can't think of another way? Or are you just hell-bent on copying the market leader?

Re:I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent i (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#46690951)

It slides like a deadbolt and is used to "unlock" the phone, so it is functionally similar to a deadbolt.

Such deadbolt predate the iphone by over a hundred years. Apple, it seemed, was hell-bent on copying well known ideas that people are already extremely familiar with in real life, virtualize them, and then would go and try to claim that *THEY* invented them.

The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (5, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46690383)

Here's Claim 1 of Apple's patent:

1. A method of unlocking a hand-held electronic device, the device including a touch-sensitive display, the method comprising:
detecting a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image;
continuously moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the contact while continuous contact with the touch screen is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device; and
unlocking the hand-held electronic device if the moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display results in movement of the unlock image from the first predefined location to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.

To show a patent claim is not new, you have to show that a single piece of prior art shows everything in the patent claim. This piece of prior art wouldn't do that, since it doesn't show a hand-held electronic device, doesn't really show "continuous" movement as opposed to switching between several icons, and it doesn't show unlocking a device. But that's just one of the requirements for validity - 35 USC 102. Incidentally, this type of prior art is called "anticipatory prior art," because it anticipates everything in the patent. It's what laymen usually mean when they say "there's prior art for X patent!" That statement doesn't mean anything, because there's always prior art for something - Neanderthal Ug's wheel is prior art for all-terrain run-flat tires. Just not anticipatory prior art.

Another requirement is non-obviousness - 35 USC 103. Under this requirement, you can show that a patent claim is obvious by showing that a combination of prior art references together teach each and every element in the claim and that they could be reasonably combined. So, if the Claim is A+B+C+D and one reference shows A+B and another shows C+D and they could be combined, that shows that the Claim is obvious.

So, for example, if you can find other references that show a hand-held device, continuous movement of an image, and unlocking a device, those combined with this may be enough to show that the Claim is obvious. That should be pretty easy to find.

One caveat there is that if a reference teaches away from the combination, it may not be available to use in the rejection. So, if the C+D reference says "never combine me with A+B, because bad things happen", then it may not be obvious to combine it with A+B (there may also be an unrecognized E element that makes it work with C+D). Here, the usability study at the end of the video seems to argue away from using sliders as touch-screen switches. But that may not be a strong enough disparagement of their use, nor does it necessarily argue away from its combination with an unlocking system.

Disclaimer: I am a patent attorney, but I am not your patent attorney. The above is not legal advice and is merely for (my own) amusement purposes. I have not spent any serious time looking into this patent, the specification, or any of the dependent Claims.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (0)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about 8 months ago | (#46690459)

During case about a year ago, there was a ton of Prior art given to the jury, But they decided to ignore it all cause as quoted "it would of taken to long". Apple being able to use home town jury that clearly will never rule against the home town company is a joke, then now Apple does have Obama on the take protecting from sales ban which should be in place on some apple products for stealing Samsung patents and refusing to pay for them.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (2, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46690485)

During case about a year ago, there was a ton of Prior art given to the jury, But they decided to ignore it all cause as quoted "it would of taken to long".

Respectfully, I believe you're misquoting the jury there. They said that at the beginning of their deliberations they got bogged down on the bounce-back and pinch-to-zoom patents. To speed things up, they skipped past that patent and dealt with some of the other easier ones before returning. It's like if you've got 10 tasks and one is really difficult, it's frequently more efficient to get the 9 easy ones done first. It's certainly less depressing.

Apple being able to use home town jury that clearly will never rule against the home town company is a joke, then now Apple does have Obama on the take protecting from sales ban which should be in place on some apple products for stealing Samsung patents and refusing to pay for them.

... and here you just went off into full loony.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690547)

Respectfully, I believe you're misquoting the jury there...
I am sure what the said was "it would HAVE taken too long."
"would of" is just talking like a ghetto rat. and writing like you speak is even worse.
you idiot

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690541)

That's a huge part of the problem - the legalese obfuscates the engineering. An engineer would point out that the swipe changes state. That was already shown in the "prior art." Why should it matter whether it was on a handheld device? Imagine that someone tried to patent "Boolean logic applied to opening a door, where the slide lock either holds a door shut, or open, based on the state it was moved to." That shit would never fly in the "physical" world of patents, since it's been around for a few thousand years, whether it was on a door, or a jewelry box. Why is software any different?

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46690699)

I'm going to break my usual rule and apply to an AC, simply because this is a good enough question to address. But generally, I will not reply to people who refuse to participate in a back-and-forth dialogue.

That's a huge part of the problem - the legalese obfuscates the engineering. An engineer would point out that the swipe changes state. That was already shown in the "prior art." Why should it matter whether it was on a handheld device?

That's the point - the legalese is engineering. Invaliding a patent claim is a function that requires a set of inputs, one input per claim element. The claim itself is Boolean logic, with a big ol' AND between every element. If you fail to put in an input, if you fail to find a piece of prior art showing that element, then you haven't invalidated the claim: A+B+C+__ is not the same as A+B+C+D.

So why should it matter whether it was on a handheld device? Because "handheld device" is in the claim. It's an element. That means you can't just ignore it, even if you think it's trivial, just like you can't ignore the inputs to a function. Go find that trivial element in the prior art. If it's truly trivial, then finding it should be easy, right?

And yes, "handheld device" is easy to find in the prior art. Now go do that for every element in the claim. If they're all as trivial as "handheld device", then it should be easy to invalidate the patent. The problem comes when you search and search for some element and can't find it anywhere, even if you believe in your gut that it should be easy.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 8 months ago | (#46690557)

To show a patent claim is not new, you have to show that a single piece of prior art shows everything in the patent claim. This piece of prior art wouldn't do that, since it doesn't show a hand-held electronic device,

I bet I could lift her computer. :)

doesn't really show "continuous" movement as opposed to switching between several icons, and it doesn't show unlocking a device.

Actually the slider demoed at 2:58 in the video shows a static background image On ------- Off, with the 'slider' box moving continuously back and forth along with the gesture motion.

" Here, the usability study at the end of the video seems to argue away from using sliders as touch-screen switches. But that may not be a strong enough disparagement of their use, nor does it necessarily argue away from its combination with an unlocking system."

Indeed; she even says (paraphrasing) "the a sliding gesture is more difficult, but reduces errors".

Another requirement is non-obviousness - 35 USC 103. Under this requirement, you can show that a patent claim is obvious by showing that a combination of prior art references together teach each and every element in the claim and that they could be reasonably combined. So, if the Claim is A+B+C+D and one reference shows A+B and another shows C+D and they could be combined, that shows that the Claim is obvious.

The offensive thing here is that arrival of a portable touchscreen makes a lot of things about it obvious. We already had done the prior research on touch screen controls -- right up to and including the finding that the slide gesture in particular was just awkward enough that it was good for preventing accidental activation of the touch screen control.

Then a decade or so later, we have portal touchscreen device and they are looking for a touch screen control to access it that would be suitable -- the key characteristic being that it prevents accidental activation.

It doesn't take a super genius to connect those dots. Slide-to-unlock was GOING to happen.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (0)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46690625)

doesn't really show "continuous" movement as opposed to switching between several icons, and it doesn't show unlocking a device.

Actually the slider demoed at 2:58 in the video shows a static background image On ------- Off, with the 'slider' box moving continuously back and forth along with the gesture motion.

Maybe it's me, but I saw that as discrete jumps:
On -[]------ Off
On ---[]---- Off
On -----[]-- Off
On -------[] Off
But that starts getting into the question of "what does continuous mean" since everything is quantized. My point there was simply to note that the claims require "continuous", and that reference may not show visually continuous movement. But other references surely would, no?

The offensive thing here is that arrival of a portable touchscreen makes a lot of things about it obvious. We already had done the prior research on touch screen controls -- right up to and including the finding that the slide gesture in particular was just awkward enough that it was good for preventing accidental activation of the touch screen control.

Then a decade or so later, we have portal touchscreen device and they are looking for a touch screen control to access it that would be suitable -- the key characteristic being that it prevents accidental activation.

The arrival of a portable touchscreen alone doesn't make anything obvious, except a patent claim that just says "portable touchscreen". That's what I meant by those elements A+B+C+D. The touchscreen is just one element, A. If a patent only claims "A", then yes, it's obvious over that touchscreen. But if there are other elements, you have to then find those in the prior art, too.

Now, yes, touchscreen interfaces had been investigated, and those investigations resulted in other elements B, B', C, E, F, G+H, etc... But you can't ignore the steps when you're trying to prove a legal conclusion - you have to put all of those elements together and match what's in the claim.

It doesn't take a super genius to connect those dots. Slide-to-unlock was GOING to happen.

Well, that's the question - were all of the dots in the prior art that needed to be connected, or was there a missing dot? If there was a missing dot, by definition, it's not obvious.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 8 months ago | (#46690715)

" since it doesn't show a hand-held electronic device,"

that's just a narrowing down, it's still just a type of touch screen.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46690771)

" since it doesn't show a hand-held electronic device,"

that's just a narrowing down, it's still just a type of touch screen.

Yes, but the patent claims something specific. If that specific thing is not shown in the prior art reference, then you need to find another reference that shows that element. This shouldn't be too hard: I'm sure you can find a hand-held device in the field of computers before 2004.

The point is that you can't simply ignore an element in the claim because you're lazy, just like you can't convict someone of murder without anyone being dead because they totally look like a murderer. You have to actually find prior art elements for each and every element in the claim. If it's truly obvious, then that should be easy.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 8 months ago | (#46690887)

Yes, but the patent claims something specific.

But isn't that just more of the "this function, that fumigation ON THE INTERNET" sort of thing?

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (1, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46690957)

Yes, but the patent claims something specific.

But isn't that just more of the "this function, that fumigation ON THE INTERNET" sort of thing?

Yeah, that sort of thing doesn't actually exist. Let's say you had a patent that claimed "this function, that fumigation" (we'll call that A), "ON THE INTERNET" (which we'll call B), then it claims A+B, right? Well, if you can find a reference that shows A, and you can find, say, the Internet, for B, then you can show the patent is invalid over those two references. And that should be pretty easy, yeah?

Thing is, there aren't actually any patents that have claims that say "[known function] ON THE INTERNET!" because that would be invalid as shown above. Now, people will describe the patent that way, or paraphrase it in such a manner, but that's not the actual claim, and invariably, the claim always turns out to be A+B+C+D+"on the internet" and some one or more of A-D aren't known.

Basically, "on the internet" is never the patentable key to a patent claim, even if it's in there. There's always some other bit that makes it different from what's known.

Like here, the fact that the patent claims a handheld electronic device doesn't mean that that's the patentable hook - it's just that it's one element. It's like if you claim a time machine that includes batteries, you're not saying that batteries are also new, just your flux capacitor, which happens to run on batteries.

Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (1)

prezkennedy.org (786501) | about 8 months ago | (#46690855)

Basically what you're saying is this:

We have sliding locks in real life.

When a sliding lock is used on a computer, all of a sudden it's a brilliant idea?

How about rounded rectangles in real life, like erasers and food trays?

All of a sudden when something is a rounded rectangle on a computer it's another brilliant idea deserving of a patent?

Also, online, you could be anyone. Respectfully.

Five points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690409)

(1) the slide-to-unlock patent isn't the only one in the complaint
(2) Samsung chose to infringe on the patent, whether you believe the patent is valid or not
(3) Apple can ask whatever price they want for licenses to non-FRAND patents (unlike Samsung with its FRAND patents)
(4) whether the patent is valid or not will probably shake out from this trial
(5) Being able to demonstrate its devices have everything an iPhone has was worth a lot to Samsung

Re:Five points (3, Insightful)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about 8 months ago | (#46690445)

Apple is a straight up troll, they haven't innovated a damn thing on on their devices in 4 years pretty much. Samsung has better phones and more reasonable prices with sizes people want not Apples take what we give you crap. One of said patents was for a rounded rectangle as well. Having a court case in a court house full of Apple people is complete joke.

Re:Five points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690477)

Don't be ridiculous. The "rounded rectangles" patent was for the overall design, which Samsung copied. Dismissing it as merely rounded rectangles is a Samsung-ism.
Apple has innovated with every new iPhone and iPad. The A7 is a prime example, as it trounces the competition despite having only 2 cores and operating at lower clock speeds (energy savings).
Apple's innovations are truly more difficult for Samsung to copy anymore, and I believe Apple prefers it that way.
Sucks to be Samsung!

Re:Five points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690575)

rounded rectangles have been in mspaint and photoshop and that paint program for the macintosh for like decades. but the a7 is super baller.

Re:Five points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690745)

Samscum didn't have to make a virtually indistinguishable copy of the iPad physical design; they chose to do so, where no other manufacturer (of significance anyway) did.
Just like Samscum conducted extensive research into new methods of unlocking devices and ultimately decided they were all inferior and chose to copy Apple instead.

Still with the reality distortion field? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690639)

I thought most of us had moved past this some time ago.
Or is that you again Mr. Cook?

Re:Still with the reality distortion field? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690783)

No, is that you, Dr. Kwon?
All the wannabes still talk about "rounded rectangles". I'll admit it's a catchy mantra for those who feel threatened by Apple's dominance, but it's still wrong.

Re:Five points (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#46690777)

My Palm Pilot had rounded corners, FFS. Even my calculator in University did.

Re:Five points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690571)

(1) the slide-to-unlock patent isn't the only one in the complaint
(2) Samsung chose to infringe on the patent, whether you believe the patent is valid or not
(3) Apple can ask whatever price they want for licenses to non-FRAND patents (unlike Samsung with its FRAND patents)
(4) whether the patent is valid or not will probably shake out from this trial
(5) Being able to demonstrate its devices have everything an iPhone has was worth a lot to Samsung
(6) Apple pays people like me to highlight items like this while ignoring the obvious

Re:Five points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690821)

You are confused. Apple doesn't have a marketing budget that includes such tactics. However, paid shills are de rigueur for Samsung. Just ask LeBron James (http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/03/nba-lebron-james-samsung-phone/), iPhone-toting Ellen (http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/03/03/oscars-host-ellen-degeneres-poses-for-samsung-sponsored-selfie-but-tweets-from-her-iphone), or Big Titi (http://www.thewire.com/entertainment/2014/04/the-david-ortiz-obama-selfie-was-a-samsung-stunt/360038/)

Re:Five points (2)

Solandri (704621) | about 8 months ago | (#46690909)

(3) Apple can ask whatever price they want for licenses to non-FRAND patents (unlike Samsung with its FRAND patents)

This is probably the most dangerous precedent Apple is trying to set. The only reason FRAND patents are priced lower than regular patents is that by being adopted as a standard, more products will license the patent. Hence the patent holder makes up in volume what they lose by charging less per device.

If Apple gets their way and (1) gets Samsung's FRAND patents effectively deemed worthless (already happened when Obama vetoed the ITC judgment against Apple), and (2) forces Android makers to license their non-FRAND patents for anything close to the ridiculous $40 per device figure, then that's it. Game over. You can kiss electronics standards goodbye. Nobody is going to license their patent under FRAND for pennies per device, when they can keep it proprietary and charge dollars or tens of dollars per device.

Apple will have ushered in a new age where nothing is compatible except by chance, and prices are ridiculously high as patent holders are able to charge 10x or 100x more by not submitting their patent to a standard. All the patents on LTE currently make up about 10%-20% the cost of your phone. Work out the math and your next phone (yes, even your iPhone) will cost as much as a used car if patent holders were to charge 10x or 100x more like Apple is asking.

See, the lawyers can play all the games they want in court, and make up all sorts of BS claims about how much the non-FRAND patents are worth (and how much FRAND patents aren't worth). But the market economics of this is very simple: If a patent holder can make more money by not submitting their patent to FRAND, then they're not going to submit it to FRAND. If you let the BS prevail, you can destroy FRAND and along with it a vast segment of the economy. So no, Apple cannot ask "whatever price they want". The amount they can ask for is intrinsically tied to how much a FRAND patent is worth. If they want to ask for more than this intrinsic ratio, then that is an admission that Samsung's FRAND patents were worth more than they were willing to pay.

Early comments are interesting these days. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690457)

In recent years it seems like there has been a fairly obvious effort by early posters on a story to direct the discussion in a certain way. For example, an anti-Microsoft story pops up and within minutes at least 2 or more not very subtle pro-MS posts are submitted, usually by accounts with relatively low UIDs for maximum impact. The same is true here with Apple. I have to wonder if various companies actually have bots (or interns) scraping all the popular sites for any possible negative mention of their brand and alerting the next-level of folks whose job it is to try to get in early with comments in support of the company. Very early ones tend to be quick statements criticizing the posting while later ones take a little more time to compose and are slightly better reasoned. Of course, on sites like Slashdot these often get buried pretty quick, but on some other sites they really do seem to influence the whole tone of the discussion throughout.

Re:Early comments are interesting these days. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690499)

There are also such things as fanbois, but there may be something to it. If I were trying to protect a brand, it would make perfect sense to task a few employees with helping to help "direct" online discussions of the company in a positive way. Pretty cheap, and likely fairly effective overall.

Re:Early comments are interesting these days. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690581)

The issue is with the inherent bias of either the article submitter or the editor. Just look at the choice of words in the title -- "Dumb" "Patent Trolling" -- none of these words show up in the linked article, yet the submitter chose such words to slant.

Re:Early comments are interesting these days. (1)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 8 months ago | (#46690607)

Another fantastic AC post and me without any points.

Re:Early comments are interesting these days. (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46690915)

In my case I don't work for Apple. I just read Slashdot frequently and comment on stories I have understanding of. I am an iOS developer (hardly a revelation since my profile says as much). That does mean I spend a lot of time thinking about touch interfaces, which is part of why I see a difference I think where other people consider it the same. To me there's a world of difference between the two things.

Given my Slashdot UID it would be pretty sad to be an intern anywhere for that duration of time...

I knew my original comment would be downvoted anyway, so I'm not sure how you can claim it's driving the discussion anywhere. I just wanted to make a point I thought relevant after watching the video. Note that I did later link to a Windows Phone video I though was more relevant...

Also if you read way back through past posting history (because it's not come up in a while) I am far from a fan of software patents. So it's not like I'm trying to protect Apple or anyone's patent. I just want to explain why the video may not be as useful as it seems to be at a glance, using expertise that I have to evaluate what is presented.

I honestly don't think there are company organized groups of people on any sites doing what you suggest because the return would be so low as to make it pointless. I *do* think there are organized groups of people out there working comment threads not run by companies, I've been the subject of moderation floods that were way too rapid and also indiscriminate (like every single comment posted in the last few days down voted to -5 regardless of content or subject). But even those actions hardly carry any permanence to them, so I wonder why those people bother. It's like, I lost Karma on a niche message board? Who cares!

That's the difference between companies and private groups, companies give up when it's obviously futile but people just keep going even when all hope seems lost. Or perhaps especially...

With a touch screen that isnt multitouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690511)

you have basically 2 options. touching in one spot, or touching and then sliding your finger. regardless if its prior art, its like saying making a noise for some duration to do a function is patentable. its literally the only option you have

Great (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690551)

25 years ago touch screens were more responsive than today... Jeez. But butch lesbians still have the same haircut.

I've used slide to unlock for years (4, Funny)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 8 months ago | (#46690563)

Sue me for this example but here goes ...

Even since I was 3 or 4, almost every time I had to go #1 I used an apparatus that I called a "zipper" and used its "slide to unlock" feature.

Ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690569)

Anyone else think the video doesn't even compare? Not even close to being the same thing.

No, it's just you Tim. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690805)

Don't you have interns to post these sorts of things for you though?

HCIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690613)

Go Maryland!

Need a reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690711)

Patenting something so small for a software shouldn't be allowed. This isn't 1980, that kind of "feature" can be done in a few lines of code.

Holy crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690827)

I speak french all day, I listen to english TV shows and movies all the time, and I'm having an incredibly hard time understanding what the hell she's saying.

Re:Holy crap (1)

jcfandino (2196932) | about 8 months ago | (#46690883)

That's because she's speaking English.

Live long and prosper (1)

jcfandino (2196932) | about 8 months ago | (#46690861)

Unsurprisingly Vulcan tech is ahead of our time.

"Predator" showed "slide to unlock" in 1987 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690881)

In the original Predator film with Arnie, the alien monster activates the self destruct device by sliding his talon across the face of the gadget on his wrist triggering the countdown leading to the final explosion. This fulfills most of the conditions of the patent. Not necessarily a display device (apart from the characters that form the countdown) but since the creature sees in infrared, it may well have been.

Fuck Apple. (0)

csumpi (2258986) | about 8 months ago | (#46690903)

BTW, I hear they are inventing the large touchscreen phones now, sort of like the Samsung Notes.

Fuck Samsung (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690959)

There's no patent on display size.
Samsung can't design hardware or write software--it sucks to be them, always having to copy or use Google's code to achieve any success.

1991 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46690933)

Was '91 really that long ago? The video reminds me of the DHARMA Initiative videos from Lost. All it needs is the fake film reel effects.

Why it's non-obvious over Microsoft's prior art (2)

Animats (122034) | about 8 months ago | (#46690939)

Here's the argument for non-obviousness from the patent [google.com] :

One problem associated with using touch screens on portable devices is the unintentional activation or deactivation of functions due to unintentional contact with the touch screen. Thus, portable devices, touch screens on such devices, and/or applications running on such devices may be locked upon satisfaction of predefined lock conditions, such as upon entering an active call, after a predetermined time of idleness has elapsed, or upon manual locking by a user.

Devices with touch screens and/or applications running on such devices may be unlocked by any of several well-known unlocking procedures, such as pressing a predefined set of buttons (simultaneously or sequentially) or entering a code or password. These unlock procedures, however, have drawbacks. The button combinations may be hard to perform. Creating, memorizing, and recalling passwords, codes, and the like can be quite burdensome. These drawbacks may reduce the ease of use of the unlocking process and, as a consequence, the ease of use of the device in general. Accordingly, there is a need for more efficient, user-friendly procedures for unlocking such devices, touch screens, and/or applications.

Apple was trying to come up with a way to prevent butt-dialing and other unwanted device actions. The point of using a sliding motion is that it's unlikely to happen via random touches, but is reasonably intutive.

Microsoft's video doesn't really show a slider. It shows touch buttons that look visually like sliders. But you can trip them just by touching in the active area for the desired state. This is shown in the video where the demonstrator runs their finger down a column of switches and they all switch. Apple requires an explicit "click and drag" operation to unlock.

It may seem trivial, but if nobody did it before the patent, and everybody wanted to do it after the patent, it's a valid invention. "Obvious" does not mean "obvious in hindsight".

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