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

post #1 of 93
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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 ]
post #2 of 93
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?
post #3 of 93
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?
post #4 of 93
Trains corps should just sue the whole lot of em!
post #5 of 93
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.

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post #6 of 93
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??
post #7 of 93
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?
post #8 of 93
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.
post #9 of 93
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
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post #10 of 93
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.
post #11 of 93
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?
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post #12 of 93
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.
post #13 of 93
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.

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post #14 of 93
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.

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post #15 of 93
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?
post #16 of 93
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.

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post #17 of 93
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?
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post #18 of 93
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.
post #19 of 93
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.
post #20 of 93
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.

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post #21 of 93
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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post #22 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

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

Which is why I'm not a lawyer. This is up to Neonode, Apple, other parties, judges, and a bunch of lawyers to make that determination.
post #23 of 93
Just buy the damn company.
post #24 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

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

Nor has Apple's patent passed any challenge for validity. A request for re-exam is almost certainly in the future. In the opinion of a patent blogger "who will not be named", most software patents are invalid as issued.
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post #25 of 93
At least it's not owned by proview as well.
post #26 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinN206 View Post

Which is why I'm not a lawyer. This is up to Neonode, Apple, and all the parties that have some form of "slide-to-unlock" to make that determination.

All we know is Neonode patented a very vague patent for a gesture on a touchscreen and that Neonode released a device that had some rudimentary capability to register a gesture. It's certainly not like the iPhone in any sense. I think it even uses IR above the display to register the gestures.

Here is Apple's very specific and detailed slide to unlock innovation: http://www.google.com/patents/US2009...page&q&f=false

If Apple could successfully sue MS for blatantly using their GUI concepts I have a feeling Neonode's patent won't hold up to well.

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post #27 of 93
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Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

Just buy the damn company.

No need. They'll be hashing out in the courts for the next 10-15 years.

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post #28 of 93
no no no AI, Apples slide to unlock features an icon that moves underneath the 'object', ie your finger. Apple specifically pointed to this glaring difference in the Netherlands. This patent does not mention the top-layer application having a UI or icon that slides underneath your finger.
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post #29 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

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?

You can patent a gesture, if the gesture and reaction are specific.

This patent seems to be on the very idea of all gestures and reactions on a touchscreen nd therefore is likely too broad. Just lik the original Apple lied to unlock was deemed too broad, so Apple changed it to include all the preset, with an image etc
post #30 of 93
Natural selection invented "wiggle this and maybe it'll come loose." Can we file a belated patent and work up some kind of class action suit against pretty much everyone, everywhere? It'd be easy enough to demonstrate that nature's invention of the technique precedes all others by quite awhile.

All discussion of unrestrained capitalism and its alternatives aside, haven't we read enough fairy tales to know that the result of greed is first farce, then death?

Of course if we all sat down and read "King Midas" one more time, we might be forced to admit that the dominant institution of our time is the inevitable expression of the 5% of the human race who - psychotic hoarders that they are - now own 95% of everything and everyone.

For the average person, stealing intellectual property is arguably one of the few sane, ethical responses possible to a world where the majority actually believe getting rich at any cost is the purpose of existence.
post #31 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Here is Apple's very specific and detailed slide to unlock innovation: http://www.google.com/patents/US2009...page&q&f=false

If Apple could successfully sue MS for blatantly using their GUI concepts I have a feeling Neonode's patent won't hold up to well.

I believe that Apple would like the courts to think their patent really isn't so specific, with several Android devices currently infringing using similar but not identical unlock methods.
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post #32 of 93
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?

Where was this dispute a year ago when Samsung used a neonate as defensive against Apple
post #33 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Where was this dispute a year ago when Samsung used a neonate as defensive against Apple

They already mentioned it, a major reason the Dutch court opined that Apple's swipe-to-unlock patent was likely invalid, so that Samsung couldn't be infringing it. "No injunction for you" in the judges best soup-nazi impersonation. Neonode didn't have the patent in-hand yet and wasn't party to the proceedings anyway.
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post #34 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

No need. They'll be hashing out in the courts for the next 10-15 years.

It's not just Neonode's potential litigation against Apple, it would also strengthen Apple's hand in their war against Android to have the patent and many more in Neonode's possession.
post #35 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbryanh View Post

Natural selection invented "wiggle this and maybe it'll come loose." Can we file a belated patent and work up some kind of class action suit against pretty much everyone, everywhere? It'd be easy enough to demonstrate that nature's invention of the technique precedes all others by quite awhile.

All discussion of unrestrained capitalism and its alternatives aside, haven't we read enough fairy tales to know that the result of greed is first farce, then death?

Of course if we all sat down and read "King Midas" one more time, we might be forced to admit that the dominant institution of our time is the inevitable expression of the 5% of the human race who - psychotic hoarders that they are - now own 95% of everything and everyone.

For the average person, stealing intellectual property is arguably one of the few sane, ethical responses possible to a world where the majority actually believe getting rich at any cost is the purpose of existence.

Cool post!
post #36 of 93
Apple already has a Patent for this. So this Swedish company needs to license it from Apple, not the other way around. Apple got this Patent first!
post #37 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by b9bot View Post

Apple already has a Patent for this. So this Swedish company needs to license it from Apple, not the other way around. Apple got this Patent first!

Patents are based on filing dates, not issue dates.

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post #38 of 93
The Noenode method is nothing like Apple's. The Neonode works like a touchpad on your laptop. If you run your finger across an edge you get a certain function.

Apple's slide-to-unlock is very specific. It requires a user-defined path (Neonode only accepted gestures along the very edge of the screen). It requires a graphic to represent the path (Neonode had no graphics of any kind). And Apple's requires another graphic to represent the sliding portion that tracks your finger.

This is why I thought the Dutch ruling was odd since the two systems are completely different. And like it was mentioned, newer Android devices use a system that's also different from Apple's as Apple's is different from Neonodes.

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post #39 of 93
Mac life just posted this story.
Apple Scores a Major Win for Multitouch Patents
Patently Apple is reporting that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published 24 patents today which have been granted to Apple Inc. The first of these “highlights three out of five important Multi-Touch patent wins,” which cover multitouch auto scanning (for “disabling components of a touch-panel device during periods of inactivity to conserve power”), multipoint touchscreens (encapsulating 21 patents dating back to 2004) and Apple’s 3D curved substrate lamination process used for the Magic Mouse. “No matter how you slice it, it's a huge day for Apple on the Multi-touch patent front,” the website proclaims. Today’s patent victories also include 8,125,455 and 8,125,464 which cover "Full scale calibration measurement for multi-touch surfaces” -- less sexy than the others, to be sure, but definitely additional ammunition in Apple’s arsenal nonetheless.
So more ammunition for Apple to fight what the Swedish company claims is theres. NOT!!!
post #40 of 93
I claim the patent of my finger getting used on apple devices. Any such finger other than mine is illegal.
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