Originally Posted by zoetmb
It's not quite the same thing. If I sit on a physical asset, it doesn't really affect anyone else. But vital patents affect entire industries and in many cases, the patent office granted patents when they should not have been granted. Too many patents are being granted for ideas, not implementations of those ideas. One example of that is that Amazon patented "one-click ordering" forcing Apple to pay a license fee to use it. IMO, that's an obvious business functionality and never should have been patentable. I've seen supposed patents over "storing user data" and the like. All obvious and never should have been patentable.
One-click may seem obvious now, but probably not when patented. Pinch to zoom seems very obvious to us now, but not before the iPhone. So the definition of obvious is determined by perspective of when you are seeing the patent or invention. Obvious would be scrolling, hyperlinks and basic operations of use, not easily functioned in another manner.
You can zoom in many ways, Apple chose to define it as a pinch, which is not obvious nor is the only function to zoom images or text. One-click is one function to purchase goods, however, it is not the only one, and it was not obvious at first.
I don't know the details of this patent or if there are other function to achieve the same goal, although it sounds as if there is not, and therefore can't speak to the obviousness of the idea.
What gets me, is that people spend much time, and most times money, to get an idea functioning and I don't think it is right to then allow the world to own it collectively. Granted, vague ideas like "A means to move an object from one location to another by means of adam relocation" should not be a patent for teleportation. If, however, the patent originator outlined the function of the idea in enough detail that a clear path to conception was made, they should be granted the patent. Now I don't know about software, but physical patents need a working model before you can file for a permanent patent. Patent pending can have more the functional outline, where you then have a year to file for the permanent patent.
But just because the patent holder has so far been unable, or unwilling, to bring the concept to market does not remove the fact they hold the conceptual or functional property. The bigger question is did Apple knowingly infringe, which should have a harsher penalty. If not, reasonable, real market value should be assessed.