Google version of 'slide-to-unlock' patent published by USPTO

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


Following a key Apple court win against Motorola in Germany over a 'slide-to-unlock' patent, Google last week saw its own unlocking patent filing from 2010 published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Google's original patent, titled "Input to Locked Computing Device," describes methods to unlock a device through a combination of touch or voice inputs, and could possibly be the answer to Apple's litigation regarding 'slide-to-unlock,' according to Patently Apple.



This iteration of lock screen input, first filed for in August 2010, varies from offerings like Apple's 'slide-to-unlock' in that it doesn't necessarily bring the user directly to the home screen, but instead executes at least one command such as making a phone call or opening an app.



From the patent abstract:

Quote:

The subject matter of this specification can be embodied in, among other things, a method that includes receiving at a computing device that is in a locked state, one or more user inputs to unlock the device and to execute at least one command that is different from a command for unlocking the device. The method further includes executing in response to the user inputs to unlock the device an unlocking operation by the device to convert the device from a locked state to an unlocked state. The method further includes executing the at least one command in response to receiving the user inputs to execute the at least one command. The at least one command executes so that results of executing the at least one command are first displayed on the device to a user automatically after the device changes from the locked state to the unlocked state.



The implementation of the patent could involve complex interaction with icons on a lock screen that would be difficult to perform accidentally.



Google gives the example below of a circular interface with three icons that can only be unlocked with multiple dragging actions, in this case the unlocking of a mail app. Alternately, touch input can be used with voice input to unlock the device as seen in the operations flowchart.





Google unlock method could sidestep Apple's prior art. | Source: Patently Apple







It remains in question whether the added layer of command execution varies enough from Apple's prior art of 'slide-to-unlock' to afford Google the rights to the new patent, however the USPTO's publication can be seen as a step in that direction.



Apple recently won a German injunction against Motorola over the company's slide-to-unlock patent, which has forced the RAZR maker to rethink its implementation of the lock screen inputs.



With Google on the verge of completing a buyout of Motorola Mobility, the internet giant will soon have a higher stake in the seemingly endless patent war currently being waged around the world.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • shrfu31shrfu31 Posts: 8member
    Why is it that patents Apple filed back in 2007 are just now being awarded, yet Google files in 2010 and it is granted in under 2 years?
  • galaxytabgalaxytab Posts: 122member
    I want to see what happens with this bad boy: http://www.google.com/patents/US20090249247



    Notification center what?
  • dickprinterdickprinter Posts: 1,060member
    What a beautiful and clever execution of a white question mark on a blue square field, which doesn't resemble Apple's "slide to unlock" method at all. That should easily side-step infringing upon Apple's patent
  • ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    In a way, this smacks of hubris more than anything I've seen on either side.



    When the slide-to-unlock feature was demonstrated, it was an novel solution to an novel problem. So some engineers looked at the solution, made a very slight variation, and then applied for (and got!) a patent. But what could possibly be more derivative than this? You might argue that the initial slide to unlock idea wasn't worth a patent. I'd disagree, but I could see someone making that argument. But this? Please. They didn't independently come up with a novel idea. They just did a very slight variation. Tiny variations are not supposed to be patentable.
  • SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 25,345member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shrfu31 View Post


    Why is it that patents Apple filed back in 2007 are just now being awarded, yet Google files in 2010 and it is granted in under 2 years?



    That's all part of the magic of the patent review process. Google likely cited Apple's patent, which would help the patent examiner's process... I guess.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,264member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shrfu31 View Post


    Why is it that patents Apple filed back in 2007 are just now being awarded, yet Google files in 2010 and it is granted in under 2 years?



    It hasn't been granted yet, it's just been published.
  • thataveragejoethataveragejoe Posts: 830member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GalaxyTab View Post


    I want to see what happens with this bad boy: http://www.google.com/patents/US20090249247



    Notification center what?



    This one is way more interesting. Filed in January of 09.
  • squiddy20squiddy20 Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GalaxyTab View Post


    I want to see what happens with this bad boy: http://www.google.com/patents/US20090249247



    Notification center what?



    Annnd look right there in the left hand side of the page you linked to and you will see "Filling date: Jan 30, 2009", a full 2.5 years BEFORE Apple's "Notification Center" was even previewed.



    If you're going to insult the competition, at least make sure you're not dead wrong.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,859member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GalaxyTab View Post


    I want to see what happens with this bad boy: http://www.google.com/patents/US20090249247



    Notification center what?



    "Open OS what?"



    That's trouble right here in River City. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for patents that Apple better hope either get invalidated or have already circumvented.



    Guh, come early 2013 we're going to see the end of all this, aren't we? They're just going to keep gathering patents on both sides until?



    I'll wake up one morning to do my usual spam sweep and see "BREAKING: APPLE VS. GOOGLE IS GO" and the forums won't rest for TWO YEARS while this crap is debated.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    To me this patent doesn't look to infringe on anyone else's efforts with touchscreen sliders and also looks to be natural to use.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by squiddy20 View Post


    Annnd look right there in the left hand side of the page you linked to and you will see "Filling date: Jan 30, 2009", a full 2.5 years BEFORE Apple's "Notification Center" was even previewed.



    If you're going to insult the competition, at least make sure you're not dead wrong.



    Unless you count Apple's use of notifications that go back much early than before Google ever existed.
  • oneof52oneof52 Posts: 98member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post




    That's trouble right here in River City. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for patents that Apple better hope either get invalidated or have already circumvented.




    Nice. Shapooppy.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,859member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by oneof52 View Post


    Nice. Shapooppy.



    ♩♫ "The injunction that's hard to ge~t…" ♩♫
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,264member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Unless you count Apple's use of notifications that go back much early than before Google ever existed.



    It doesn't matter that Apple might have had a method for some notifications does it? Google's patent app is for the way they're presented.
  • chabigchabig Posts: 600member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shrfu31 View Post


    Why is it that patents Apple filed back in 2007 are just now being awarded, yet Google files in 2010 and it is granted in under 2 years?



    Because this isn't a patent. It's a published patent application. The USPTO routinely published applications 18 months after they are filed, but it can take years to issue.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    It doesn't matter that Apple might have had a method for some notifications does it? Google's patent app is for the way they're presented.



    Yes, which is to protect it from anyone trying to use it in the future and assuming that Google's patent doesn't infringe on any previous patent. The patent office is not a court of law.



    But note the focus on squiddy20's comment was only concerned about before and after, nothing else, except perhaps sticking it to Apple.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,264member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Yes, which is to protect it from anyone trying to use it in the future and assuming that Google's patent doesn't infringe on any previous patent. The patent office is not a court of law.



    But note the focus on squiddy20's comment was only concerned about before and after, nothing else, except perhaps sticking it to Apple.



    Ah gotcha. Understood.
  • wmillikenwmilliken Posts: 2member
    A patent that extends someone else's patent is perfectly normal, and may be targeted at trying to set up a patent rights swap with the original's owner, if the variant is useful enough.



    Whether it rises to the level of novelty that the USPTO examiner wants to see is up to the examiner. I've been through enough patent filings that that's basically a toss-up. Some examiners are a lot easier than others, and the level of expertise in the subject area can vary a lot as well. Patents aren't clearly strong until they get tested in court, though sometimes you can tell by reading them how likely they are to hold up, if you know the prior art in the area.



    At first glance, it's at least plausible that this would be accepted, as long as Google includes the Apple slide-to-unlock as prior art, and as long as the claims are distinct enough. Usually the claims are whittled down a lot between the filing and the issued patent (assuming it ever issues). I don't know the prior art well enough, and haven't read either this filing or Apple's patent in detail, so my opinion is only semi-informed here...
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,264member
    There's lots of patents floating around that could potentially be problematic for Apple or others if "someone" felt it necessary to file for infringement. Apple doesn't have a corner on patents for basic features that might be found on a smartphone, tablet or use by a browser.



    Perhaps a patent like this one:

    http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-...7346660&RS=PN/
  • SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 25,345member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WMilliken View Post


    A patent that extends someone else's patent is perfectly normal, and may be targeted at trying to set up a patent rights swap with the original's owner, if the variant is useful enough.



    Whether it rises to the level of novelty that the USPTO examiner wants to see is up to the examiner. I've been through enough patent filings that that's basically a toss-up. Some examiners are a lot easier than others, and the level of expertise in the subject area can vary a lot as well. Patents aren't clearly strong until they get tested in court, though sometimes you can tell by reading them how likely they are to hold up, if you know the prior art in the area.



    At first glance, it's at least plausible that this would be accepted, as long as Google includes the Apple slide-to-unlock as prior art, and as long as the claims are distinct enough. Usually the claims are whittled down a lot between the filing and the issued patent (assuming it ever issues). I don't know the prior art well enough, and haven't read either this filing or Apple's patent in detail, so my opinion is only semi-informed here...



    I believe Apple could also file a "continuing patent application":



    Quote:

    Continuation



    A "continuation application" is a patent application filed by an applicant who wants to pursue additional claims to an invention disclosed in an earlier application of the applicant (the "parent" application) that has not yet been issued or abandoned. The continuation uses the same specification as the pending parent application, claims the priority based on the filing date of the parent, and must name at least one of the inventors named in the parent application. This type of application is useful when a patent examiner allowed some, but rejected other claims in an application, or where an applicant may not have exhausted all useful ways of claiming different embodiments of the invention.[citation needed]



    During the prosecution of a continuation application, the applicant may not add additional disclosure to the specification. If the inventor needs to supplement the disclosure of the earlier parent application, he must file a continuation-in-part application.[2]

    In the typical case, a patent examiner will examine patent claims and amendments in an original patent application for two rounds of "office actions" before ending examination. However, often two office actions are not enough to resolve all of the issues in the patent prosecution. Therefore, it is common to think of a continuation application as though the applicant is merely purchasing more examination time from the patent examiner.[citation needed]



  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    There's lots of patents floating around that could potentially be problematic for Apple or others if "someone" felt it necessary to file for infringement. Apple doesn't have a corner on patents for basic features that might be found on a smartphone, tablet or use by a browser.



    Perhaps a patent like this one:

    http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-...7346660&RS=PN/



    Basic features, no... but specific methods and systems, yes. But that doesn't mean companies won't get sued or that by being sued it's "problematic." Sometimes it's just bizarre...
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