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Apple awarded litany of vital iOS GUI patents, continuations

post #1 of 65
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Apple on Tuesday was awarded a flotilla of patents pertinent to its iOS devices, especially the iPhone, with the inventions covering everything from intuitive scrolling to email clients.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a number of Apple patents early Tuesday, at least five of which relate to iOS and more specifically the iPhone and iPad. Most are continuations of previous patents, offering tweaks and language changes that further define their respective inventions.

Email client GUI

Perhaps the most interesting of Tuesday's published patents is U.S. Patent No. 8,253,695 for an "Email client for a portable multifunction device." The invention was first filed for in 2007 and describes a graphical user interface for an email system to be used on portable devices like the iPhone.

According to the patent background, the '695 patent was meant to do away with clumsy button-controlled operation of email clients as seen on devices at the time. It is noted that conventional methods of handling electronic messages are not intuitive and sometimes require complex menu systems. Apple sought to simplify things with by adding the power of a touchscreen into the mix.

The patent calls for a touchscreen device to display both a list of emails and the messages themselves. In the system, the first portion of a list of email entries is displayed with their respective subject headings. Upon detecting a gesture on the touchscreen, a preview area is created in a second area of the screen, this time showing a portion of the message with the subject line removed. When the email preview is displayed, the list of entries is still viewable above, and both areas are browsable using finger gestures.

Email
Source: USPTO


While it seems the patent wasn't implemented in the iPhone, which has a hierarchical GUI to conserve valuable screen real estate, the solution could one day find its way to a future Apple device.

Among the patent's inventors is Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS Software.

Touchscreen GUI patents

Among the patents issued to Apple were four UI inventions: a continuation of the company's "rubber-banding" utility; a graphical representation of available storage; a property regarding missed phone calls; and an interface to intuitively edit text content.

U.S. Patent No. 8,255,798 for a "Device, method, and graphical user interface for electronic document translation on a touch-screen display," describes a solution for manipulating electronic documents, like web pages or emails, on a small-screened portable device.

A continuation of Apple's '381 "rubber-banding" patent, which the company successfully asserted against Samsung in its recent high-stakes trial, the '789 patent offers an intuitive UI for "scrolling lists of items and for translating, rotating, and scaling electronic documents that are easy to use, configure, and/or adapt." The claims are nearly identical, and propose a system in which an electronic document is "translated," or moved in the same direction as a user's finger when scrolling. Once the edge of the document is reached, and the user lifts their finger off the screen, the document will "bounce" back to fill the display. The area around the document's edges must be "visually distinct," as seen in iOS 5's grey patterned background.

Other than a few detailed changes and cleaning up of ambiguous wording, the '798 patent is nearly identical to its parent property.

Scrolling


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,255,428 for "Graphical representation of assets stored on a portable media device," looks to present a UI that allows a user to view the amount of storage used by quickly viewing a chart or other graphic.

The invention, filed for in 2011, is meant to be used in portable media players like the iPod touch, but can be extended for use in the iPhone and iPad. According to the patent summary, metadata is taken from various media types, including video and audio, and is then displayed graphically.

In some embodiments, a pie chart can be used to display information regarding a list of media assets, such as song length, song type or artist. By breaking up a user's media library into groups, the patent allows for an enhanced overview of how storage is being utilized in their device. Basically, the invention is a way to graphically compare various media metrics, from genres in a playlist all the way down to individual songs.

Storage


Next is a continuation of another Apple invention. U.S. Patent No. 8,255,003 for "Missed telephone call management for a portable multifunction device," describes the missed phone call system seen in iOS.

From the patent summary:

Missed telephone call information is displayed, including a list of items, wherein at least one of the items corresponds to a plurality of missed telephone calls from a respective caller.


Also described is the missed call list that has been present on the iPhone since it was first introduced in 2007. Users can simply touch a name or contact from the list to automatically dial that person's number.

Going further, a second object is present that will open the contact's information, where a variety of methods such as email can be selected by the user for communication.

Missed Call


Finally, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,255,830 for "Methods and graphical user interfaces for editing on a multifunction device with a touch screen display," is a continuation of a previous invention regarding how users edit text input on a touch screen.

iDevice users will be familiar with the '830 patent's main graphical asset: the magnifying glass. What is called for is a method in which a user can easily select a string of characters to edit, which is accomplished by use of magnification and unique graphical assets like text highlighting.

According to the patent's claims, a user touches editable content which is then magnified. An insertion marker is then presented, with highlighted text following the user's finger until it is lifted off the screen. Upon lift off, a second insertion marker is displayed, denoting the boundary of text to be edited and a command icon is shown offering options such as cutting or copying.

Editing


The invention is an attempt to elegantly solve the problem of selecting and editing content on a touchscreen device.
post #2 of 65

Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....

 

These are not inventions, but programming solutions.

post #3 of 65

Just listen, you can hear the FOSSer's screaming on Engadget, Ars, Life Hacker and on and on.  I just love that sound lol.gif

post #4 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....

 

These are not inventions, but programming solutions.

 

I hope Samung et al produce their own programming solutions.

post #5 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by stniuk View Post

 

I hope Samung et al produce their own programming solutions.

why? they should just innovatively copy these

post #6 of 65
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Originally Posted by stniuk View Post

I hope Samung et al produce their own programming solutions.

Precisely. Innovate, don't imitate.
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post #7 of 65
Interestingly enough, the split screen email view described in the patent was shown off in the initial iPhone presentation in 2007, but the view was removed before the phone was released.
post #8 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by kresh View Post

Just listen, you can hear the FOSSer's screaming on Engadget, Ars, Life Hacker and on and on.  I just love that sound lol.gif

It's hard to hear them because they're being drowned out by the legal sites that object to software patents in general - like Groklaw and Foss patents.
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post #9 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....

These are not inventions, but programming solutions.

An invention is a unique or novel device, method, composition or process.: (wikipedia). Why wouldn't a software solution be a process? Programming is somehow less important to you? As opposed to say, the patented glass bead that reflects car headlights, an invention using physical things. Why is a human's genius to solve a problem in a unique way any less worthy of protection just because it is in software rather than hardware? We live in times when so much is done in software that was previously done by hardware, your attitude seems Victorian to me.

I just glanced at my Nest Thermostat and have to wonder how many mechanical parts, inventions if you will, in this little miracle are replaced by 'programming solutions'?
Edited by digitalclips - 8/28/12 at 6:07am
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post #10 of 65
The cry seems to be from the Apple haters ... "It's just not fair Apple thinks of everything first and gets to patent it. We want to law changed so the crappy companies we love can copy what Apple think up!"
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post #11 of 65

Since some of these recently approved patents build on the ones Samsung has accused of being invalid, does this mean they will more likely be reaffirmed as valid at the patent office?

post #12 of 65
Quote:

Apple awarded litany of vital iOS GUI patents, continuations

Apple on Tuesday was awarded a flotilla

a "litany"? - why bring God into it?

 

a flotilla? - are these things boats?

 

Surely Roget has something more apt. Why not a "raft or a "slew" or a "herd", "horde", "shower", or even "bubble mat"? They seem to give the sense of a "multitude", or "host"

 

But "litany"? That sounds like one hand whinging.

 
 
post #13 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by publiclee View Post

a "litany"? - why bring God into it?

a flotilla? - are these things boats?

Surely Roget has something more apt. Why not a "raft or a "slew" or a "herd", "horde", "shower", or even "bubble mat"? They seem to give the sense of a "multitude", or "host"

But "litany"? That sounds like one hand whinging.
 
 

Got to say, 'Multitude' and 'Host' both make me think of those boring bible classes when I was small. lol
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post #14 of 65

We're arriving to a point where independent developers won't be able to design and implement new GUIs by adding their innovation and contribution to the previous innovation of older developments. Shocking thing that the current Apple products build their innovation on the unpatented work of others. Apple innovations are awesome, but patents forbid others to do what Apple did on the past (innovate over the work of others).

 

And no, I'm not a Samsung fan, and yes I'm an Apple user and costumer (and enjoying it), but I'm sad to see that the only way to design innovative GUIs today is to either invent everything from scratch, or forget designing GUIs and develop apps.

post #15 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....

These are not inventions, but programming solutions.


So inventions aren't solutions?

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post #16 of 65
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Originally Posted by ecs View Post

and yes I'm an Apple user and costumer (and enjoying it),

Wassat then? Do you sell/rent Apple costumes?
post #17 of 65

Normally I would think these kind of interface solutions are more a matter of combining function and sophisticated styling less than something unique to patent. But then again, an artist can write a song which is basically a combining of pre-existing melody segments and chord progressions and copyright it to receive royalties if anyone else copies it too closely for profit. Additionally, I think the majority of mobile device interfaces prior to iPhone were so lacking in function+style, Apple 'deserves' (a subjective word) recognition for introducing a new method that was both immediately distinct and immediately useful for an entire industry. Regardless of what it may be in theory, in practice that sounds like a patent to me. And Apple is doing their due diligence to itemize the individual aspects  they as the creator deem to be important for their design.

post #18 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

So inventions aren't solutions?

I'm sure there is a word to describe people who think in a fixed and limited time span, I just can't think of it. His attitude and those saying the same thing about software doesn't deserve protection brings to mind a Larson style cartoon of a cave man looking at a wooden wheel another cave man has made and saying 'You can't patent that, it's not made of stone!"
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post #19 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....

 

These are not inventions, but programming solutions.

 

 

There is no appreciable difference between inventing and programming solutions. Apple created  a GUI that solved certain problems. The bounce back and tap to zoom were creative solutions and not obvious at the time of creation. There are other ways perhaps more cumbersome ways to achieve the same results. Apple spend hundred of hours coming up with these solutions, and deserves to be protected. Certain other features like pinch to zoom might be considered obvious, and protection might be questionable. There are alternate ways to address that as well. However, patent law allows such patents to be challenged. 

 

I have more of an issue with copyright protection for software programming. 

post #20 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by c4rlob View Post

Normally I would think these kind of interface solutions are more a matter of combining function and sophisticated styling less than something unique to patent. But then again, an artist can write a song which is basically a combining of pre-existing melody segments and chord progressions and copyright it to receive royalties if anyone else copies it too closely for profit. Additionally, I think the majority of mobile device interfaces prior to iPhone were so lacking in function+style, Apple 'deserves' (a subjective word) recognition for introducing a new method that was both immediately distinct and immediately useful for an entire industry. Regardless of what it may be in theory, in practice that sounds like a patent to me. And Apple is doing their due diligence to itemize the individual aspects  they as the creator deem to be important for their design.

That is an excellent analogy. Samsung would argue while selling an identical copy of "I want to hold your hand" 'What ... the Beatles invented notes and words?"
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post #21 of 65

Funny, I know the old Windows Phone already have these functionalities since about two years ago . It was windows mobile 6.x skin created by a group of programmers. And, I don't think the poor hobbyist-tinkerer programmers ever had a thought of patenting their idea. Great job Apple...., another people's idea got patented and later to be monetized. 

 

Quote:
Missed telephone call information is displayed, including a list of items, wherein at least one of the items corresponds to a plurality of missed telephone calls from a respective caller.
post #22 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


Wassat then? Do you sell/rent Apple costumes?

 

Well, it was a typo, but not far from reality, because I kind of sell/rent Apple costumes.

post #23 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

That is an excellent analogy. Samsung would argue while selling an identical copy of "I want to hold your hand" 'What ... the Beatles invented notes and words?"

If he stated that there needs to be patent reform, I'd agree with that. If he stated that software needs to be protected in a different way with a different time frame and regulations from standard patents, then I'd agree.

An invention is a unique or novel device, method, composition or process. Is a software patent a method or process? Sure, but I think it crosses over into copyright territory a bit and clearly isn' t a physical device. For these reasons I'd made software it's own category. Not even a sub-category of patents but it's own distinct category the way copyrights and trademarks are used to protect IP but are not patens.

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post #24 of 65
I am starting to believe that there is something seriously wrong with the patent system. Patenting things like human gestures seems a bit too new world order to me.
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post #25 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcrs View Post

Funny, I know the old Windows Phone already have these functionalities since about two years ago . It was windows mobile 6.x skin created by a group of programmers. And, I don't think the poor hobbyist-tinkerer programmers ever had a thought of patenting their idea. Great job Apple...., another people's idea got patented and later to be monetized. 

Please educate yourself on how the patent system works. Apple hasn't patented an idea, nor could they do so. Furthermore, the fact that Windows Phone already did something 2 years ago is irrelevant.

What is relevant is that Apple has patented a very specific implementation of an idea. The idea is not patented, but the implementation is. So if Windows did it in the same way before Apple applied for the patent, then the patent can be challenged and invalidated. If Windows did the same thing, but used a different method, then Apple's patent would still be valid.
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

That is an excellent analogy. Samsung would argue while selling an identical copy of "I want to hold your hand" 'What ... the Beatles invented notes and words?"

Great analogy.
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post #26 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

 

 

There is no appreciable difference between inventing and programming solutions. Apple created  a GUI that solved certain problems. The bounce back and tap to zoom were creative solutions and not obvious at the time of creation. There are other ways perhaps more cumbersome ways to achieve the same results. Apple spend hundred of hours coming up with these solutions, and deserves to be protected. Certain other features like pinch to zoom might be considered obvious, and protection might be questionable. There are alternate ways to address that as well. However, patent law allows such patents to be challenged. 

 

I have more of an issue with copyright protection for software programming. 

 

Patents were to protect the inventor from making all the costs to invent, and have others steal the invention and profit from the invention, while the inventor did not profit. That's kind of hard to keep up when the "inventor" is the company with the largest market cap ever (note, not if corrected for inflation). Of course the patent law should be the same for every company, and Apple has full rights to claim patents and fight for them when they are awarded. It just makes the whole concept and the reasoning for patents a little bit awkard. Apple does not need to be protected from the copy-cats (only from KIRF, but I would say the customer needs protection from KIRF).

 

For some decades the whole software industry with all UI advances (and there have been a lot) advanced as a whole. Everyone was using the same and new UI concepts inspired and copied from others. As I've stated before, Apple contributed to this, and has used it extensively. They entered a market where all players had invested for years in GSM, Edge, ARM, batteries, screens, touchscreen etc. They took all the right components, added a lot to it, and took off.

 

B.T.W. I'm a software developer myself and looking at the above patent I could have filed for 20+ myself when I tried to implement a Pocket PC 2003 application on a 240x320 screen and had to come up with ways of allowing everything to fit and interact with it. So I'll get the reaction : If you're so good, then patent it, but alas (or should I say fortunately) software patents for these micro-inventions only exists in the US.

post #27 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

 

 

[...] The bounce back and tap to zoom were creative solutions and not obvious at the time of creation. There are other ways perhaps more cumbersome ways to achieve the same results. Apple spend hundred of hours coming up with these solutions, and deserves to be protected. [...]

 

The same can be said for platform-based videogames. However, the guy who did the first platform game didn't patent the "platform game interaction" (which by the way was a creative solution, not obvious at the time of creation).

 

Thanks to the first platform game not being patented, the platform game concept evolved, introducing more and more innovations. If it had been patented, that wouldn't be possible, and we wouldn't know the games we know today.

post #28 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

If he stated that there needs to be patent reform, I'd agree with that. If he stated that software needs to be protected in a different way with a different time frame and regulations from standard patents, then I'd agree.
An invention is a unique or novel device, method, composition or process. Is a software patent a method or process? Sure, but I think it crosses over into copyright territory a bit and clearly isn' t a physical device. For these reasons I'd made software it's own category. Not even a sub-category of patents but it's own distinct category the way copyrights and trademarks are used to protect IP but are not patens.

Are you referring to mausz?
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post #29 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

 

The same can be said for platform-based videogames. However, the guy who did the first platform game didn't patent the "platform game interaction" (which by the way was a creative solution, not obvious at the time of creation).

 

Thanks to the first platform game not being patented, the platform game concept evolved, introducing more and more innovations. If it had been patented, that wouldn't be possible, and we wouldn't know the games we know today.

 

Great example, I've programmed games in the distant past (6502 era) and everyone was using the same tricks they saw in other games. Like parallax scrolling, double buffering etc. Glad they were never patented ;)

post #30 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


Are you referring to mausz?

 

I'm not sure myself ;)

 

In his(her?) post SolipsismX makes a lot of excellent points, and it's quite hard to come up with a better alternative for the current system.

post #31 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Please educate yourself on how the patent system works. Apple hasn't patented an idea, nor could they do so. Furthermore, the fact that Windows Phone already did something 2 years ago is irrelevant.
What is relevant is that Apple has patented a very specific implementation of an idea. The idea is not patented, but the implementation is. So if Windows did it in the same way before Apple applied for the patent, then the patent can be challenged and invalidated. If Windows did the same thing, but used a different method, then Apple's patent would still be valid.
Great analogy.

you missed the best part...Windows Phone had this feature two years ago (2010) a full three years after Apple filed for the patent (2007--and it's a continuation of an earlier patent of theirs)!

post #32 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizzle View Post

you missed the best part...Windows Phone had this feature two years ago (2010) a full three years after Apple filed for the patent (2007--and it's a continuation of an earlier patent of theirs)!

 

Windows Mobile 6.x was mentioned, and the skin and other concepts were available for Pocket PC 2003 way before 2007

post #33 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

 

The same can be said for platform-based videogames. However, the guy who did the first platform game didn't patent the "platform game interaction" (which by the way was a creative solution, not obvious at the time of creation).

 

Thanks to the first platform game not being patented, the platform game concept evolved, introducing more and more innovations. If it had been patented, that wouldn't be possible, and we wouldn't know the games we know today.

I don't know if everything else you wrote here is true or not, but I need to clarify something for you and others reading this:

When something is patented it doesn't mean that others can't use it, it just means they have to pay for the rights to do so.

 

If this supposed game developer had patented anything that does not mean no one else could build upon it. In fact, it's the opposite. The patent would have exposed the method and everyone else would be able to examine it and use that baseline as the basis for their research.

 

It's a lot easier to build a better mousetrap if you've got one to work from than if you have nothing beyond a vague idea of what you think a mousetrap should be.

post #34 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Are you referring to mausz?

Yes, he made an oft repeated, canned statement that isn't feasible without offering any indication of how or why reform is needed. His statement read as if nothing in the SW should have any protections. Of like to think that he didn't mean there should be no protections but I don't think that can be discerned from his comment.

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post #35 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

 

Windows Mobile 6.x was mentioned, and the skin and other concepts were available for Pocket PC 2003 way before 2007

No, you are adding what you want to his comments but that's not what he said.

 

He stated clearly that a windows mobile 6 skin was developed two years ago and since that time it has had that functionality.

post #36 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizzle View Post

I don't know if everything else you wrote here is true or not, but I need to clarify something for you and others reading this:

When something is patented it doesn't mean that others can't use it, it just means they have to pay for the rights to do so.

 

If this supposed game developer had patented anything that does not mean no one else could build upon it. In fact, it's the opposite. The patent would have exposed the method and everyone else would be able to examine it and use that baseline as the basis for their research.

 

It's a lot easier to build a better mousetrap if you've got one to work from than if you have nothing beyond a vague idea of what you think a mousetrap should be.

 

And as each competitor has patents, why not cross-license everything with everyone. So everyone can use apple patents, and apple does not need to pay for frand or other patents. Everything levels out and no-one has to pay anything....

 

Public domain, sounds great

post #37 of 65
These will probably come in handy when dealing with Google:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/08/21/and-now-google-sues-apple/

Hopefully the worst case will be a stalemate between the two but Google is playing dirty by buying their patents for $12.5b from someone else. Apple earned theirs.
post #38 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizzle View Post

No, you are adding what you want to his comments but that's not what he said.

 

He stated clearly that a windows mobile 6 skin was developed two years ago and since that time it has had that functionality.

 

True, that's what he said, but I'm pretty sure no one was building skins, or anything for that matter, for Windows Mobile 6 in 2010 anymore... Even Microsoft had abandoned the platform by 2010.

post #39 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

 

And as each competitor has patents, why not cross-license everything with everyone. So everyone can use apple patents, and apple does not need to pay for frand or other patents. Everything levels out and no-one has to pay anything....

 

Public domain, sounds great

If you go look at the patents and read through them you'll find that's exactly what happens. Apple cross licenses with Microsoft, Palm, Nokia, and I don't who else the list is extensive those are just the ones off the top of my head...oh yeah Samsung, too. The list is too long for me to remember, go read the patents.

post #40 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mausz View Post

 

True, that's what he said, but I'm pretty sure no one was building skins, or anything for that matter, for Windows Mobile 6 in 2010 anymore... Even Microsoft had abandoned the platform by 2010.

Well, since you apparently aren't aware of the project and he may or may not be clear on the timeline I suggest you either go do some more research or drop the attempt to use it as evidence of whatever point you're trying to make.

 

Regardless, you can't simply edit his comment to match your beliefs.

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