Swedish company claims rights to 'slide to unlock' with new UI patent

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


A patent issued to Swedish touchscreen technology company Neonode for a 'sweep gesture' user interface could mean legal trouble for Apple, which is currently embroiled in a dispute with Motorola and Samsung over its 'slide to unlock' patent.



In a press release issued on Tuesday, Neonode says it was issued U.S. Patent which covers gesture-based interaction with a touch sensitive surface, a description that is similar to Apple's "slide to unlock" patent.



According to Neonode’s head of IP, Yossi Shain, the '879 patent was first filed for in 2002 and the company has been shopping the technology around since the IP was issued on January 10, 2012, reports TechCrunch.



Apple is supposedly the first target for Neonode, though Shain said the company is looking for "friendly licensing" deals before pursuing patent infringement lawsuits.



Neonode claims that it has successfully marketed and sold licenses of other touchscreen patents to to a number of "tier-one" OEMs and ODMs, with the technology being used in devices such as e-readers from Sony and Barnes and Noble, according to TechCrunch.



The '879 patent is meant to complement the Swedish company's other U.S. Patents, and the relating , which cover tech for small to midsize touchscreen devices. In addition, Neonode reportedly has similar patents pending in other undisclosed countries.





Patent drawings illustrating Neonode's swipe gesture UI. Source:







If Apple is indeed sued over the '879 patent, it wouldn't be the first time the company has seen Neonode in a court hearing. In August 2011, Samsung trotted out a relatively obscure device made by the Swedish company in defense of an Apple suit regarding "slide to unlock" functionality.



A European Windows CE handset, the Neonode N1m was shown as evidence that Apple's claims were not inventive as the device was manufactured before the iPhone maker filed its "slide to unlock" U.S. Patent in 2005. The Apple complaint was ultimately dismissed.



Most recently, however, Apple was successful in winning a German injunction against Motorola' use of gesture-based device unlocking after leveraging a European counterpart to its '849 patent.



Despite the European win, the Neonode IP could prove disruptive to Apple's continuing legal battle against Motorola and Samsung if the Swedish company forces the Cupertino, Calif., company to pay licensing fees or takes the matter to court.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    So in the interest of fairness, all the anti-Apple folk will post that since "you can't patent a gesture" this patent is invalid. Right?
  • hobbithobbit Posts: 532member
    Hmmm, not quite getting this.



    So it comes down to a US Patent Office Blunder?

    Issuing the same patent to two different companies?

    Does this happen often?

    And in the end who is to blame? Isn't it the Patent Office's job to avoid this?

    Can you sue the US Patent Office?
  • myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    Trains corps should just sue the whole lot of em!
  • SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 24,943member
    This patent isn't a problem for Apple. Their patent clearly states:



    Quote:

    The present invention relates to a user interface for a mobile handheld computer unit, which computer unit comprises a touch sensitive area (1), which is divided into a menu area (2) and a display area (3). The computer unit is adapted to run several applications simultaneously and to present an active application on top of any other application on the display area (3). The menu area (2) is adapted to present a representation of a first (21), a second (22) and a third predefined (23) function. The first function (21) is a general application dependent function, the second function (22) is a keyboard function, and the third function (23) is a task and file manager. Any one of these three functions can be activated when the touch sensitive area (1) detects a movement of an object with its starting point within the representation of the function on the menu area (2) and with a direction from the menu area (2) to the display area (3).



    This sounds like a "handheld computer" that has a separate menu area and a display area. This is more like an e-reader than an iPad or iPhone, and as noted in the story, they've licensed to e-reader companies. Apple will have no discussions with these people.
  • macky the mackymacky the macky Posts: 4,622member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hobBIT View Post


    Hmmm, not quite getting this.



    So it comes down to a US Patent Office Blunder?

    Issuing the same patent to two different companies?

    Does this happen often?

    And in the end who is to blame? Isn't it the Patent Office's job to avoid this?

    Can you sue the US Patent Office?



    I think all the patent office does is decide if the idea is patentable. It's up to Apple to hire a patent search to make sure they were first. It's odd that this other company applied for a patent in 2002 and only now got awarded a patent, where Apple seemed to get the patent awarded first, but may not have applied first. What's with that??
  • lighteningkidlighteningkid Posts: 361member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    I think all the patent office does is decide if the idea is patentable. It's up to Apple to hire a patent search to make sure they were first. It's odd that this other company applied for a patent in 2002 and only now got awarded a patent, where Apple seemed to get the patent awarded first, but may not have applied first. What's with that??



    Seriously, why did it take a decade to get the patent?
  • mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 6,900member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hobBIT View Post


    Hmmm, not quite getting this.



    So it comes down to a US Patent Office Blunder?

    Issuing the same patent to two different companies?

    Does this happen often?

    And in the end who is to blame? Isn't it the Patent Office's job to avoid this?

    Can you sue the US Patent Office?



    Not an office blunder and this patent won't nullify Apple's patent.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,083member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    This patent isn't a problem for Apple. Their patent clearly states:







    This sounds like a "handheld computer" that has a separate menu area and a display area. This is more like an e-reader than an iPad or iPhone, and as noted in the story, they've licensed to e-reader companies. Apple will have no discussions with these people.



    See this link, then column six towards the bottom and continuing on. It's a much better description.

    http://www.google.com/patents/US8095...page&q&f=false
  • mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 6,900member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    This patent isn't a problem for Apple. Their patent clearly states:







    This sounds like a "handheld computer" that has a separate menu area and a display area. This is more like an e-reader than an iPad or iPhone, and as noted in the story, they've licensed to e-reader companies. Apple will have no discussions with these people.



    Agreed. Once again 99.9/100 posters know nothing of the Patent System.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,083member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Agreed. Once again 99.9/100 posters know nothing of the Patent System.



    You're correct. I'm more likely to trust the patent attorneys and their court-approved experts. Now which of the posters were those again?
  • sixpencerichersixpencericher Posts: 78member
    Here's a video posted on June 29, 2007 showing the Neonode N1M device:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj-KS2kfIr0



    Looks like there may be a possibility that Neonode beat Apple to the punch. If so, I'm sure they'll work out a mutually acceptable solution.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I've read the patent info and while I'm as far from being a patent expert or lawyer Neonode looks like it has a valid claim albeit a vague claim as this does not specify the specific Slide to Unlock used in the iPhone or specify how this could possibly be implemented on the iPhone.



    Of course, if Neonode does have a valid claim it means that all touchscreen devices that register some sort of moving gesture on a touchscreen are in the same boat. In other words, that's all Android, Bada, PlayBook, BB X, WinPh, WebOS, et al. mobile OSes, not to mention laptops, desktops and other computing devices that have touchscreens.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SixPenceRicher View Post


    Here's a video posted on June 29, 2007 showing the Neonode N1M device:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj-KS2kfIr0



    Looks like there may be a possibility that Neonode beat Apple to the punch. If so, I'm sure they'll work out a mutually acceptable solution.



    There is nothing in the N1M that beat Apple to the punch if you look at the original iPhone.
  • 801801 Posts: 271member
    Cheeze, when you become the biggest company in the US, they really come out of the woodwork, don't they? Where was this dispute 5 years ago?
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 801 View Post


    Cheeze, when you become the biggest company in the US, they really come out of the woodwork, don't they? Where was this dispute 5 years ago?



    In all fairness the patent was just granted and we don't know if they did contact Apple back in 2007.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,083member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 801 View Post


    Cheeze, when you become the biggest company in the US, they really come out of the woodwork, don't they? Where was this dispute 5 years ago?



    Waiting for the patent to be issued?
  • irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,429member
    Seeing as the Apple patent is very specific to the iPhone version of slide to unlock it does not infringe on this patent. Just as the method to unlock screens on newer Android devices is different enough not to infringe on Apples patent although they clearly slide a finger to unlock. But that is not what is in Apples patent.



    It could be held up as a case of prior art but the Apple patent is sufficiently different and specific to be allowed.
  • kevinn206kevinn206 Posts: 117member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    There is nothing in the N1M that beat Apple to the punch if you look at the original iPhone.



    I think there was a version of the N1M with the gesture that preceded the iPhone. In additional, Neonode patent was filed in 2002, which is way before Apple's applied for its version of the slide-to-unlock gesture.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    Seeing as the Apple patent is very specific to the iPhone version of slide to unlock it does not infringe on this patent. Just as the method to unlock screens on newer Android devices is different enough not to infringe on Apples patent although they clearly slide a finger to unlock. But that is not what is in Apples patent.



    It could be held up as a case of prior art but the Apple patent is sufficiently different and specific to be allowed.



    Good point. Apple's claim is very specific.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KevinN206 View Post


    I think there was a version of the N1M with the gesture that preceded the iPhone. In additional, Neonode patent was filed in 2002, which is way before Apple's applied for its version of the slide-to-unlock gesture.



    There is, but that doesn't mean Neonode's patent is valid in terms of Apple's implementation.
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