Apple wins portable device UI 'scroll bar' patent

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for the implementation of the transparent disappearing vertical and horizontal scroll bars seen in lists on mobile operating systems like the company's iOS.

In a surprisingly fast turnaround for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple won U.S. Patent No. 8,223,134 for "Portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents " a little over four months after the property was initially filed for in March.

The '134 patent covers both vertical and horizontal scroll bars seen when moving through a digitally represented list like a music playlist or message thread. Also covered is any type of "digital document" or image that cannot be fully displayed on a portable device's small screen.

In its filing summary, Apple notes that the patent was created in response to the limited screen real estate users have to work with on today's mobile devices. To save precious pixels the patent's inventors, including iOS chief Scott Forstall, envisioned a disappearing contextual scroll bar on the right and bottom edges of a display that allows mobile users to keep track of where they are in a given list or image.

From the background:
As portable electronic devices become more compact, and the number of functions performed by a given device increase, it has become a significant challenge to design a user interface that allows users to easily interact with a multifunction device. This challenge is particular significant for handheld portable devices, which have much smaller screens than desktop or laptop computers.
Scroll Bar Patent
Apple's disappearing scroll bar patent illustration. | Source: USPTO


According to the patent the scroll bars will appear when an object like a finger comes in contact with a multitouch screen, when a list is first displayed as well as other instances where navigation is needed. The bars slowly fade when they are no longer needed based on time set by the mobile OS leaving the screen free of distracting UI elements.

Adding to the functionality is dynamic contextual resizing based on how long a list or how large an image is being displayed. For example, if a list contained only three items, the vertical scroll bar would likely fill the entire right edge of the display while a list with 100 items would prompt the bar to shrink.

Scroll Bar Size
Illustration of dynamic UI asset resizing. Note the smaller vertical scroll bar.


Apple has recently adopted the iOS-style scroll bar in its most recent desktop applications with mixed results, though the real issue could be the Android mobile OS which uses an identical UI element. Just as the iPhone maker has successfully leveraged previous graphics patents against Google's OS it may do the same with Tuesday's granted property.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 73
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 28,790member


    This could really put the hammer down on Android (not to mention Windows Phone and Surface).

  • Reply 2 of 73


    Umm I'm an Apple fan and all but really???


     


    You mean there's absolutely no prior art to this?  I had J2ME apps that I built that did this.

  • Reply 3 of 73
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 28,790member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Bain Kennedy View Post


    Umm I'm an Apple fan and all but really???


     


    You mean there's absolutely no prior art to this?  I had J2ME apps that I built that did this.



     


    Patents never lie.

  • Reply 4 of 73
    gabe1kgabe1k Posts: 8member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Bain Kennedy View Post


    Umm I'm an Apple fan and all but really???


     


    You mean there's absolutely no prior art to this?  I had J2ME apps that I built that did this.



    These were my thoughts initially. But then I remembered that it really doesn't matter if they hold the patent, it's if they go after anyone over it. And if Apple didn't get it, someone else would have.


    I guess we just have to wait and see what they do with it.

  • Reply 5 of 73


    I believe the patent rule is now first to file, not first to use. Perhaps an ip expert can clarify.

  • Reply 6 of 73
    shidellshidell Posts: 187member


    You know, I think this just might be the patent to break the US Software Patent System's back. This is absurd.

  • Reply 7 of 73

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Shidell View Post


    You know, I think this just might be the patent to break the US Software Patent System's back. This is absurd.



     


    Please illuminate us as to why this is absurd.  It is a unique idea, even if it isn't their unique idea someone deserves to patent it.

  • Reply 8 of 73
    shidellshidell Posts: 187member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


     


    Please illuminate us as to why this is absurd.  It is a unique idea, even if it isn't their unique idea someone deserves to patent it.



     


    I just patented breathing. Hold it.

  • Reply 9 of 73

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by currentinterest View Post


    I believe the patent rule is now first to file, not first to use. Perhaps an ip expert can clarify.



     


    You shouldn't be able to patent software ideas to begin with. You can copyright code but to patent software ideas is similar to patenting the idea of a window to let air in.

  • Reply 10 of 73


    You should do a little light reading regarding patents then you will understand.

  • Reply 11 of 73
    freshmakerfreshmaker Posts: 506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


     


    Please illuminate us as to why this is absurd.  It is a unique idea, even if it isn't their unique idea someone deserves to patent it.



    In other news, Apple also filed a patent for the color black.

  • Reply 12 of 73
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 28,790member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


     


    Please illuminate us as to why this is absurd.  It is a unique idea, even if it isn't their unique idea someone deserves to patent it.



     


    I'm advising you now to block that person instead of replying. You can thank me later.

  • Reply 13 of 73
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 28,790member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Freshmaker View Post


    In other news, Apple also filed a patent for the color black.



     


    Strange there are so many anti-Apple trolls on a site called "AppleInsider". Guess the Android users are feeling heat.

  • Reply 14 of 73

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


     


    Please illuminate us as to why this is absurd.  It is a unique idea, even if it isn't their unique idea someone deserves to patent it.



     


    Because it's software development and software development ideas doesn't deserve the right to be patented. When you're building a house and the basic fundamental tools are patented so only "XYZ" company has the rights to use it that creates a monopoly. Last I knew promoting monopolies are illegal. Software development is similar to building a house. You shouldn't be able to patent check boxes and scroll bars because they are fundamental to software development. If you design an engine to create video games or create a application to perform a task that I can see patenting. You should not be able to patent basic fundamental tools required to develop software such as the slide to unlock or checkboxes. Patents were never designed to stifle innovation and promote monopolies.

  • Reply 15 of 73

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


     


    Strange there are so many anti-Apple trolls on a site called "AppleInsider". Guess the Android users are feeling heat.



    the droid dorks may feel the heat instantly, and they will be quite surprised at how quickly it affects them since they are used to so much lag in feedback when touching things - like their lame phones

  • Reply 16 of 73
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gabe1k View Post


    These were my thoughts initially. But then I remembered that it really doesn't matter if they hold the patent, it's if they go after anyone over it. And if Apple didn't get it, someone else would have.


    I guess we just have to wait and see what they do with it.



     


    I don't think you understand the patent system.  You don't get a patent unless it's a unique and/or new implementation or process.  The patent office doesn't just hand them out to anyone who applies.  

  • Reply 17 of 73


    Sometimes, the level of ignorance of some people astonish me.


     


    I wonder if people know what "software" is.


     


    A pharmaceutical company spends billions of dollars in research every year. They have drugs patented to them so they can make back what they spent to develop it and then some more for profit.


     


    A skin care company spends billions research a new moisturizer, patent it and then sell it.


     


    A portable devices company spends billions with programmers, engineers, artists and creative ideas to put that on a device. On this case everybody should be able to copy that and it is ok?


     


    The iPhone is not a revolutionary "hardware". It is a revolutionary "device". A device is composed by both software AND hardware. Other manufacturers made several portable hardware that were much better than the iPhone, however, the software sucked and they didn't "stick" as the iPhone did.


     


    Last but not least, lets say there is a problem in your company and you come up with a great idea to fix that. Everybody is impressed, but your boss actually says the idea was his and steals that nice fat "bonus" for the "effort" or "creativity". Would you like that? If you think software patents shouldn't exist, you should be happy if that happened to you.

  • Reply 18 of 73
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


     


    I don't think you understand the patent system.  You don't get a patent unless it's a unique and/or new implementation or process.  The patent office doesn't just hand them out to anyone who applies.  



     


    Actually, the patent system tends to hand out patents now and worry about their validity later. That's why all of these patent cases that go to court are so time-consuming and costly.

  • Reply 19 of 73
    chabigchabig Posts: 614member


    Not true. The USPTO is legally bound to only issue patents that it believes meet the constitutional criteria. That entities would later challenge their decisions in court is not surprising.

  • Reply 20 of 73

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pragmatous View Post


     


    Because it's software development and software development ideas doesn't deserve the right to be patented. When you're building a house and the basic fundamental tools are patented so only "XYZ" company has the rights to use it that creates a monopoly. Last I knew promoting monopolies are illegal. Software development is similar to building a house. You shouldn't be able to patent check boxes and scroll bars because they are fundamental to software development. If you design an engine to create video games or create a application to perform a task that I can see patenting. You should not be able to patent basic fundamental tools required to develop software such as the slide to unlock or checkboxes. Patents were never designed to stifle innovation and promote monopolies.



    As long as there are alternate ways to do things, there is no monopoly. If there is no other way, then we have FRAND.


     


    Apple is busy innovating an easy and uncluttered UI. Other companies are not focused on the user experience. Because Apple develops these and they are part of the user experience, they are patentable. 


     


    Rather than pissing and moaning and spouting lies, develop your own fresh ideas and put it out to bid to Apple and the rest.

Sign In or Register to comment.