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Apple awarded key "multi-touch" patent covering the iPhone

post #1 of 95
Thread Starter 
Apple last week was awarded a monstrous 358-page patent covering the touch screen, graphical user interface, and methods that combine to define the iPhone user experience.

Dating back to September of 2007 and granted last Tuesday,*U.S. Patent No. 7479949*lists many inventors; notably, Apple co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs, iPhone software director Scott Forstall, and FingerWorks co-founder Wayne Westerman.* (FingerWorks*was responsible for gadgets with an opaque surface that could respond to gesture controls before being acquired by Apple to aid its multi-touch efforts several years ago.)

The filing is essentially a summary and overview of all the technologies that come together in the iPhone.* In the patent, Apple claims coverage for the device itself, the way gestures like pinches and zooms are detected, and the software the device runs.* Also mentioned are many other different details and aspects of the multi-touch user interface, such as a finger swipe, a two-thumb twist, and a method of determining which object was intended when a touch seems to cover both.

Apple interim chief executive Tim Cook recently promised to aggressively pursue any company or person who "rips off" Apple's intellectual property, and this patent affords the Cupertino-based iPhone maker the footing it would need to mount any such defense.

In detail

In setting a tone for the filing, Apple described how portable phones received more and more pushbuttons to control new features, but the inability to adapt the input methods to match the application running is a problem.* Thus, a touchscreen device is a better choice; however, gestures can be difficult to interpret or translate into the commands the user actually wants the device to perform.



"Accordingly, there is a need for touch-screen-display electronic devices with more transparent and intuitive user interfaces," the filing reads.* These improved devices can take input and interpret it as "precise, intended commands that are easy to use, configure, and/or adapt.* Such interfaces increase the effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction with portable multifunction devices."



Future features?

There are also some interesting aspects of the filing that may hint at future plans for the iPhone and iPod, such as "a blogging application" and "a digital video camera application" -- both of which have been mentioned in previous coverage of the patent. Similarly, voice-activated dialing could someday be a feature, as the document refers to audio circuitry that "converts the electrical signal [from human sound waves] to audio data and transmits the audio data to the peripherals interface for processing."

Apple mentions a touchpad for activating or deactivating functions.* The patent describes it as a "touch-sensitive area of the device that, unlike the touch screen, does not display visual output.* The touchpad may be a touch-sensitive surface that is separate from the touch screen or an extension of the touch-sensitive surface formed by the touch screen." *

Interestingly, this is a feature Palm is already touting about its upcoming Pre handset.* According to Palm's press release: "[The Pre has a] gesture area, which enables simple, intuitive gestures for navigation."* The gesture area is separate from the touch screen.

Final Observations

Along with covering the iPhone, the patent filing is notable for referencing 40 other existing patents, and for naming Jobs first among its inventors.
post #2 of 95
Good news indeed for AAPL share holders
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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post #3 of 95
Palm Pre, get ready for the onslaught. Apple is gonna get you.
post #4 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Palm Pre, get ready for the onslaught. Apple is gonna get you.

Exactly - Apple's legal team is going to be very busy - I guess they found another way to up their profit margin.
post #5 of 95
Actung: 'Granted' is not the same as 'Valid'.

You have to assume there is a mountain of prior art associated with touch interfaces and the patent is almost certainly invalid. Of course they don't know that word in East Texas.
post #6 of 95
Whether Apple can sue or not depends on if Apple is allowed to patent finger gestures in general and irrespective of the technology used. Or if Apple can only patent finger gestures and how they are achieved with the iPhone's particular capacitance technology.
post #7 of 95
Great way to innovate, Apple. Patent the obvious, and sue anyone who tries to improve.
Fragmentation is not just something we have to acknowledge and accept. Fragmentation is something that we deal with every day, and we must accept it as a fact of the iPhone platform experience.

Ste...
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Fragmentation is not just something we have to acknowledge and accept. Fragmentation is something that we deal with every day, and we must accept it as a fact of the iPhone platform experience.

Ste...
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post #8 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Actung: 'Granted' is not the same as 'Valid'.

You have to assume there is a mountain of prior art associated with touch interfaces and the patent is almost certainly invalid. Of course they don't know that word in East Texas.

Apple did not patent multi-touch, they patented a way those gestures are detected.

Quote:
In the patent, Apple claims coverage for the device itself, the way gestures like pinches and zooms are detected, and the software the device runs.
post #9 of 95
Apple also has a patent that displays words that appear like the word you are attempting to type. You are able to choose the word you are attempting to type among words that look like the word you are attempting to type. It seems like this works better than the current predictive text method.




Apple's current predictive text on the left, the alternate predictive text on the right.
post #10 of 95
Sorry. How's this obvious?

They patented a whole language of gestures, shipped, and conquered!

Along the way, Apple bought/hired the leading multi-touch researcher and all his intellectual property. He continues his work at Apple and gets Apple's muscle behind his baby. (Note that he was not ripped off or mugged in any way.)

And finally, for $64,000, imagine Apple never did multitouch.

What year would multitouch reach the market penetration it enjoys today?

a - 2012
b - 2015
c - 2018
d - never

Thanks for your time. Enjoy the obvious.
post #11 of 95
Great, more junk patents. Somebody stop the madness please.
post #12 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by pk22901 View Post

Sorry. How's this obvious?
[...]

Thanks for your time. Enjoy the obvious.

http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html
post #13 of 95
I wonder what Palm's defense would be if Apple were to peruse litigation. Both companies have clearly stated that they will go to great lengths to protect their intellectual property, but Apple seems to have the upper hand here. Not only has Apple (seemingly) patented a variety of the multi-touch gestures found on the Pre, but Apple has also patented the gesture area found on Palm's new product. A part of me believes that the Pre will not ship in its current form. Another part of me, however, believes that Palm is not ignorant enough to produce a product that violates a plethora of patents (or a few very large patents).

This will certainly provide some litigious excitement after Apple wins the Psystar suit.
post #14 of 95
I do not think it was to obvious. People forget part of this patent is based on the works of Fingerworks, which was in operations for years before the iPhone came out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

Great way to innovate, Apple. Patent the obvious, and sue anyone who tries to improve.
post #15 of 95


What does this mean for Microsoft, Windows 7, and Surface? Will Microsoft have to pay Apple or what?
post #16 of 95
Im so happy iPhone has all its rights now. I was wondering why Apple was so quiet when all those copycats made rip-offs. Now people have to ask permission or INVENT something new. This is a great start for competition. Too bad Apple clones all the great minds. =)

September 2006, means iPhone was first fully touch-screen phone. Sorry LG.
Apple had me at scrolling
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Apple had me at scrolling
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post #17 of 95
Apple acquired Fingerworks and continued to advance their research of multi-touch guestures and touch for mobile devices. They really shook things up when they introduced the iPhone so they deserve to be the one product that leverages that innovation for sometime. That's fair I think. It was their interface design that really worked well and was fun and easy to use. It makes their product desireable. So why should everyone else get to copy that right away?
post #18 of 95
It is quite typical, especially for larger organizations, to write an overbroad patent covering everything from the alphabet to a special way of breathing to enhance product useage. The patents are then challenged by other interested parties. Because a large company may have lawyers "unto the third generation", it is extremely expensive for smaller companies to contest the entire patent. Different groups will attack the patent piecemeal. Over the years, one company may finally get a judgment that the original filer only has right to the cross-bar of the letter "e". Another will secure a finding that the original company only has rights to hiccups.
In the same way that increasingly complex financial products eventually bankrupted much of our financial system. The defense of overbroad patents will bankrupt us all and stifle competition.

Would I care if touch-screen technology was delayed twenty years? No. It's "neat", "cool", "rad", "sick" but not essential.
post #19 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Palm Pre, get ready for the onslaught. Apple is gonna get you.

Ugh. Palm's Pre isn't even for sale yet. It's no threat.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #20 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by macosxp View Post



What does this mean for Microsoft, Windows 7, and Surface? Will Microsoft have to pay Apple or what?

Highly unlikely unless Microsoft were to infringe in part or in whole on this patent. Patents are a tricky art, and few are really masters. Even the examiners are constantly confounded by the arcane details in patent applications.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #21 of 95
Quote:
There are also some interesting aspects of the filing that may hint at future plans for the iPhone and iPod, such as "a blogging application" and "a digital video camera application" -- both of which have been mentioned in previous coverage of the patent. Similarly, voice-activated dialing could someday be a feature, as the document refers to audio circuitry that "converts the electrical signal [from human sound waves] to audio data and transmits the audio data to the peripherals interface for processing."

Frankly, this part of the story sounds like voice-to-text translation. I've always wanted on the fly dictation that could be instantly sent as either a voicemail or text e-mail.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #22 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Apple did not patent multi-touch, they patented a way those gestures are detected.

Exactly. If you read it, that's all the patent is about... particular ways of determining the user's intentions.

Overall, fairly unlikely for other companies' code to be impacted by this.
post #23 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

Great way to innovate, Apple. Patent the obvious, and sue anyone who tries to improve.

Apple's protecting their innovation, can't fault them for that. They've had enough of their ip copied over the years. Time to make amends.
post #24 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Apple also has a patent that displays words that appear like the word you are attempting to type. You are able to choose the word you are attempting to type among words that look like the word you are attempting to type. It seems like this works better than the current predictive text method.




Apple's current predictive text on the left, the alternate predictive text on the right.

Windows Mobile has had that since the PocketPC days in 2000. Sure the keaboard was a stylus keaboard or handwriting input but it would guess the words and you change options to turn it on or off or how many words you wish to be displayed as guesses. Thats the problem with trying to go and try to sue Palm or Microsoft is they have tons of prior art and possibly patents of their own.

HOWEVER, they are not getting these patents to sue Palm or Microsoft. They are getting these patents to protect themselves from patent trolls. I'm 100% in that.

Nokia Lumia 920, iPhone, Surface RT, Intel i3 Desktop with Windows 7 & Hackintosh, Power Cube G4

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Nokia Lumia 920, iPhone, Surface RT, Intel i3 Desktop with Windows 7 & Hackintosh, Power Cube G4

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post #25 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Exactly. If you read it, that's all the patent is about... particular ways of determining the user's intentions.

Overall, fairly unlikely for other companies' code to be impacted by this.

Actually, I believe they also own the multi-touch capacitive layer patent as well, via their purchase of FingerWorks.
post #26 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Apple did not patent multi-touch, they patented a way those gestures are detected.

Yes, that's what a touch screen does, it detects the user touching the screen. Interpreting those touches is what a you do if you have a touch screen. What else is there?

The people on this forum (and other places) seem to abandon all notions of critical thinking, or thinking at all, they just lap up anything Apple says. It's incredible really.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Apple begins to look more like a patent troll, produce a broad (albeit detailed) patent, then sue anyone that tries to complete. Apple has a long and glorious history of doing things well, but having original ideas is not their strong suit. They haven't invented much of anything, I don't think this is any different.
post #27 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

Great way to innovate, Apple. Patent the obvious, and sue anyone who tries to improve.

Apparently you're new to the patent world.
post #28 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Meanwhile, in the real world, Apple begins to look more like a patent troll, produce a broad (albeit detailed) patent, then sue anyone that tries to complete. Apple has a long and glorious history of doing things well, but having original ideas is not their strong suit. They haven't invented much of anything, I don't think this is any different.

Please give reference to any litigation Apple is engaged in regarding these patents at this very moment, or [ed: snipped profanity attack] kindly.

[edited: profanity isn't to be used against another member]
post #29 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Meanwhile, in the real world, Apple begins to look more like a patent troll, produce a broad (albeit detailed) patent, then sue anyone that tries to complete. Apple has a long and glorious history of doing things well, but having original ideas is not their strong suit. They haven't invented much of anything, I don't think this is any different.

But the problem is, Apple actually produces hardware and software that utilizes the IP in question, whereas patent trolls generally do not.
post #30 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Actung: 'Granted' is not the same as 'Valid'.

You have to assume there is a mountain of prior art associated with touch interfaces and the patent is almost certainly invalid. Of course they don't know that word in East Texas.

Actually, you don't.

People keep making the same mistakes about patents. It's the way something is done that is patentable, not necessarily the thing that is being done.

A particular gesture, may be around for awhile, but if it hasn't been patented, it can be used as PART of another filing. In addition, the way software and hardware does this "behind the scenes" is what's also patentable.

Also, the patent process allows one or more patents to be used in another patent by someone else, if the subsequent result is "unique, and couldn't be assumed from any of the older separate patents.

A patent is not about ideas. No idea is patentable. It's about "process", the way things are done.
post #31 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

Actually, I believe they also own the multi-touch capacitive layer patent as well, via their purchase of FingerWorks.

If you're saying that Apple ownes the patents to the capacitive touch screen, they don't. I've debunked this quite a while ago.

Just type "capacitive touch screen" in Google, and a raft of companies that make them will come up.

The "idea" of a capacitive touch screen can't be patented, just the methodologies to make them.

As far as the multitouch concept goes, Apple doesn't own that either, just their particular version.
post #32 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Yes, that's what a touch screen does, it detects the user touching the screen. Interpreting those touches is what a you do if you have a touch screen. What else is there?

The people on this forum (and other places) seem to abandon all notions of critical thinking, or thinking at all, they just lap up anything Apple says. It's incredible really.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Apple begins to look more like a patent troll, produce a broad (albeit detailed) patent, then sue anyone that tries to complete. Apple has a long and glorious history of doing things well, but having original ideas is not their strong suit. They haven't invented much of anything, I don't think this is any different.

Learn something about patents, then come back.
post #33 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Apple also has a patent that displays words that appear like the word you are attempting to type. You are able to choose the word you are attempting to type among words that look like the word you are attempting to type. It seems like this works better than the current predictive text method. .

Apple have a patent on predictive text?

Are you sure?

This very same system has been around for a long time on all manner of phones.
post #34 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by iBill View Post

Apple's protecting their innovation, can't fault them for that. They've had enough of their ip copied over the years. Time to make amends.

Get a grip. Whenever a story is published about somebody else enforcing a patent all we get on here are 50+ posts on why the patent system needs overhauling and the lawyers are greedy bastards etc...

When Apple do the same it is fantastic, protecting their IP etc.. etc...

Pathetic.[/quote]
post #35 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphster View Post

Get a grip. Whenever a story is published about somebody else enforcing a patent all we get on here are 50+ posts on why the patent system needs overhauling and the lawyers are greedy bastards etc...

When Apple do the same it is fantastic, protecting their IP etc.. etc...

Pathetic.


That's not really true. It depends on who has the patent. Why they have it, and what they are doing with it.

There are companies that ARE patent trolls. Even Congress is thinking about doing something about that.

When a company develops a patent and is using the IP, then there's nothing wrong with them defending it.

When companies go looking to buy patents on the cheap, in large numbers, and then just sit on them, waiting for them to get used, then pounce, it's different.

Most of those patents are obscure, and aren't even easily found when looking. Those are patent trolls. they don't sue when they first see the patent being used, they wait until a large, valuable, business is built up, then they sue. This shouldn't be allowed.

Other companies may not think they are even violating a patent with their work, even though they have the patent in front of them. They are convinced that their work is unique, when it isn't.

Sometimes a patent is issued in error. That can happen for a lot of reasons. Most big companies don't often make that mistake, but it happens.

It's possible that everything about Palm's gestures are unique IP to them, and possibly it's not.

This is not a simple issue.
post #36 of 95
Amazing, that iPhone still doesn't have Copy & Paste, Notes Syncing, Spotlight. That's what holding me back from migrating from Treo 700p (3rd or 4th Replacement Unit). Luckily Verizon had them at the store.

Copy & Paste, Notes Syncing, Spotlight.
Copy & Paste, Notes Syncing, Spotlight.
Copy & Paste, Notes Syncing, Spotlight.

Flash????????????

Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease! How come Palm Pre was shown to have it, and iPhone doesn't? Hm... As a proud Apple User, I am not happy to see that omission on iPhone!

As to Patents, whomever has better lawyers wins, provided the Judge or whatever is not biased!

Rebinstein saw things, and brought them to Palm -- some NDA, ha!?! Whatever happened to the IBM Papermaster and his NDA case?!

The Patent Case with Palm could probably pay for itself in PR?! Apple has more $$$ then Palm to hurt them, unless Palm wins?! Oy, what would happen to AAPL then?

Can't wait for Jobs to come back and do his One More Thing Stuff!

Go  Apple!!!

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Go  Apple!!!

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post #37 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by macologist View Post

Amazing, that iPhone still doesn't have Copy & Paste, Notes Syncing, Spotlight. That's what holding me back from migrating from Treo 700p (3rd or 4th Replacement Unit). Luckily Verizon had them at the store.

Copy & Paste, Notes Syncing, Spotlight.
Copy & Paste, Notes Syncing, Spotlight.
Copy & Paste, Notes Syncing, Spotlight.

Flash????????????

Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease! How come Palm Pre was shown to have it, and iPhone doesn't? Hm... As a proud Apple User, I am not happy to see that omission on iPhone!

As to Patents, whomever has better lawyers wins, provided the Judge or whatever is not biased!

Rebinstein saw things, and brought them to Palm -- some NDA, ha!?! Whatever happened to the IBM Papermaster and his NDA case?!

The Patent Case with Palm could probably pay for itself in PR?! Apple has more $$$ then Palm to hurt them, unless Palm wins?! Oy, what would happen to AAPL then?

Can't wait for Jobs to come back and do his One More Thing Stuff!

I had a Samsung i300 and later i330 Palmphones, then I also bought the Treo 700p when it first came out. More recently, I replaced that with the iPhone 3G.

While C/P would be nice, the rest doesn't interest me, though some other features would be liked.

However, this phone when compared to my Treo, is like night and day!

I would never go back.

And I REALLY liked my Palmphones. But not anymore.

The Pre certainly looks interesting, but we need to see some reviews after it comes out to see if it really works as well as it looks.

At any rate, Palm has a lot of mindshare to make up. Can they quickly get sufficient programs ported over? That will be an issue. This phone will be, at first, only available on Sprint.

Which is a greater problem for the manufacturer, the iPhone first appearing for a growing, first place AT&T, or the Pre first appearing for a third place, quickly shrinking Sprint (where I came from)?

I don't want to see Palm destroyed, so I hope they have their own IP here.
post #38 of 95
Let Apple absorb Palm...

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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post #39 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

Great, more junk patents. Somebody stop the madness please.

Learn to read and comprehend. This patent is tied to hardware design and how it interacts with their UI. How they've brought it together with their custom algorithms has earned them the patent.
post #40 of 95
I think PALM is very scared right now. When the launch of pre?

p.s. look at THIS! is million dollar home page applied to iPhone apps! coool
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