Apple's interface held to the fire in dubious suit

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  • Reply 61 of 80
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    If you think that the analogy doesn't fit, please state your case. The only difference I see is added interactivity, but the basic concept is the same, store lots of information in a smaller area.



    That ?basic concept? ("store lots of information in a smaller area") is immensely broad and would apply to all kinds of things, like file compression, thumbnails of photos. I'm not trying to be pedantic here, but patent law is pedantic. Broad similarities don't matter because patents are to be narrowly tailored. The patent is for the application of an idea ot a particular medium and interface. You can put tabs on paper folders all day long, but that does not mean that the extension to an electronic user interface is intuititive or covered by prior art. Really, a good patent lawyer would gut that objection in less time than it takes him/her to blink.



    Superficial similarity is not enough to invalidate a patent, and all the analogy to paper folders has is superficial similarity. Using tabs on a folder in a filing cabinet to locate a particular folder is much more like having names for folders sitting on your desktop. While having tabs on panes of information contained within a single display unit may be conceived as metaphorically like having tabs on folders, the metaphorical extension of an idea like that does not invalidate a patent. Again, it is obvious in retrospect, but legally there is no basis to invalidate a patent for something to do with panes in a window on a computer screen because people put tabs on folders. It may seem obvious to readers, but legally, there is no basis to invalidate on those grounds.



    And again, if it were so obvious, why didn't everyone do it automatically? It is obvious and similar only in hindsight...



    -Fenevad
  • Reply 62 of 80
    shaminoshamino Posts: 510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Apple took an idea that's 20 years old and probably never been used, and innovated on it.



    "never been used"? Only if you consider Microsoft to be the totality of "everything". IBM's OS/2 had tabs all over the place, starting in version 2.0. This was released in March, 1992.



    OS/2 was, I think the first mainstream commercial product to use tabs.



    If we want to go to a more generic concept of an on-screen control (like radio buttons) determining the content of a windows, that can be found in Sun's OpenLook window manager back in the late 80's. (Look at the desktop preferences dialog for an example - a drop-down menu selects each category of options, which are displayed in the remainder of the window.)



    For that matter, the Mac OS control panel from System 6 (1988) probably counts. It was a single window with a vertical column of icons down the left side. Clicking an icon caused the right side of the window to be replaced with configuration controls.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EagerDragon View Post


    Clicking a section of the screen and having some other content painted over the content currently being shown is very basic and obvious. Not that much difference between a button and a tab.



    It's obvious today. It wasn't nearly so obvious in 1987.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Macvault View Post


    Tabs? What "tabs"??? Would somebody enlighten me how Mac OS X Tiger makes use of tabs?



    System Preferences -> Network. Two different kinds of the "tab" concept. You have the "Show" drop-down list for selecting multiple pages of content (Network Status, Network Port Configuration, and a page per port.) Each port-based page contains multiple tabbed-panels (TCP/IP, PPPoE, AppleTalk, Proxies, Ethernet).



    There are many other examples.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by philipm View Post


    A classic example of why software patents are idiotic even when they do protect a valid innovation. In this case, the patents have protected the idea from being used. Nice one, Xerox. Not only have you not been able to make anything of this (as usual) but you've sold it to a lawsuit factory.



    Unfortunately, Xerox has a terrible history of inventing incredible stuff and then doing nothing with it.



    They invented the GUI, and ignored it (leaving it to Apple, Microsoft and others to make mainstream products.) Ditto for Ethernet (made popular by Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com), PostScript (Adobe), object oriented programming, the SmallTalk language, etc., etc. About the only thing from PARC that they didn't ignore was the laser printer, because that fit within their business model of selling copiers.
  • Reply 63 of 80
    horvatichorvatic Posts: 144member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    An Illinois-based company and its Nevada partner have filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc., alleging that Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" treads on an interface patent that affects the operating system's nearly universal use of tabs.



    Little-known intellectual property agency IP Innovation LLC and its parent Technology Licensing Corporation this week became the latest to claim that Apple had abused a patent they hold.



    Filed April 18th in a US district court in Marshall, Texas -- a town frequently recognized as the preferred home for lawsuits by companies that hoard property claims -- the four-page formal complaint purports that Apple has engaged in "willful and deliberate" infringement of a computer control patent by selling its current Tiger operating system.



    IP Innovation is demanding a jury trial and asks for reparations for perceived damages which "exceed $20 million," according to the suit. It also seeks an injunction that would prevent the California-based defendant from infringing on the patent, essentially blocking Apple from continuing to sell its current edition of Mac OS X and any future editions that might draw on the supposed infringements.



    The reported violation is an exceptionally specific one. It refers to a single US Patent Office filing originally made by Xerox researchers for a "User Interface with Multiple Workspaces for Sharing Display System Objects" -- and, in turn, a lone claim within that patent.



    The disputed section refers to the technique of creating a window on a computer's screen with controls that switch between views of multiple associated display objects within the window, erasing one view as the user selects another while still giving a spatial frame of reference and the same general interface during the switch.



    While IP Innovation doesn't refer to any one feature of the Mac OS as copying the interface technique, the central claim may potentially apply to any of several approaches to navigating software used by Apple in Finder and its companion program. Category dividers triggered by Spotlight searches, as well as page tabs in the Safari web browser, bear the closest similarity to the now 20-year-old description.



    Apple's Spaces virtual desktop feature set to arrive in Mac OS X Leopard would not be affected by the conditions of the immediate lawsuit.



    Numerous questions remain unanswered in the legal motion and the associated patent, including subjects of prior art, ownership, and timing. Originally filed in 1987, the patent was last updated in December of 1991 with Xerox as the lone corporate owner -- nearly 14 years before the allegedly infringing software was released. The plaintiff in the new case has also chosen to make its case almost exactly two years after Tiger's April 2005 introduction and just months before the projected October release of Leopard, which should phase Tiger out of the market.



    Regardless of the individual merits of the case, Apple has so far chosen to remain silent on the matter after having received notice of the impending court case earlier this week.





    It seems that our patent system is not working anymore. Now it seems that anyone can get a patent for anything even though they don't use the technology or even create the technology and then use it for profit via the courts system. I think the patent system should only give a patent to the actual inventor/creator for a technology that will actually be used in a product. If not then it should not be given out and no legal profits can be made from it.
  • Reply 64 of 80
    fenevadfenevad Posts: 15member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    If you think that the analogy doesn't fit, please state your case. The only difference I see is added interactivity, but the basic concept is the same, store lots of information in a smaller area.



    To be a little more precise in my response, the problem is that tabs on folders are useful for locating physically discrete items that are physically arranged in some sequence, such as a stack or a drawer. Accessing the contents, however, requires that the folder then be pulled, opened, and items physically removed (or viewed inside the folder). Each folder can contain multiple documents. The precise analogy here is to the notion of named directories containing files in a filing system, not to tabbed UI panes, which deal with the display of information, but to the organization of information. The two are related, but not directly connected, i.e., data structures and data displays do not necessarily entail each other.



    The comparison between UI tabs and tabbed folders would work if you touched the tab of the folder in some sort of system and the physical folder was brought to the front and its contents displayed to you without the need to physically displace anything. Simply having a named index marker on the exterior of a physical folder tells you nothing about how the contents of that folder are to be displayed or what is to be done with it. Tabbed UIs, on the other hand, rely on a very specific sequence of events if the pane contents are to be displayed, and those events have basically no connection to anything analogous to a physical system.



    The closest thing I can think of as an analog to tabbed panes are those display systems that rotate sheets with ads in and out of a fixed display space, but even that is a rather poor analogy (albeit much closer in a display aspect than tabbed folders). The point is that we can see an apparent connection in hindsight, but if tabbed panes didn't exist already it is not a trivial leap to go from tabbed folders to tabbed panes.
  • Reply 65 of 80
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shamino View Post


    "never been used"? Only if you consider Microsoft to be the totality of "everything". IBM's OS/2 had tabs all over the place, starting in version 2.0. This was released in March, 1992.



    OS/2 was, I think the first mainstream commercial product to use tabs.



    If we want to go to a more generic concept of an on-screen control (like radio buttons) determining the content of a windows, that can be found in Sun's OpenLook window manager back in the late 80's. (Look at the desktop preferences dialog for an example - a drop-down menu selects each category of options, which are displayed in the remainder of the window.)



    For that matter, the Mac OS control panel from System 6 (1988) probably counts. It was a single window with a vertical column of icons down the left side. Clicking an icon caused the right side of the window to be replaced with configuration controls.

    It's obvious today. It wasn't nearly so obvious in 1987.

    [...]



    There are many other examples.

    Unfortunately, Xerox has a terrible history of inventing incredible stuff and then doing nothing with it.



    [...]



    According to wikipedia, Sun used tabs in their NeWS window manager... don't have first hand knowledge there, but SGI licensed NeWS and I have a fairly clear recollection of a tabbed application selector on a Personal Iris. This was in 1988.



    The Xerox patent was filed in March of 1987, the IBM publication mentioned earlier was published in December of 1987 in conjunction with the release of OS/2. So fairly clearly IBM and Xerox, and Sun were all working on tabs as part of their interfaces in roughly the same time frame.



    Hypercard was earlier than 1987, but I believe the "tabs" there were full width, so not as space efficient.



    The patent doen't look like it is a trivial one.. as mentioned the main point is a way to manage multiple workspaces. One of the inventors, Stuart Card, is one of the big names in UI design and human factors research, which also inclines me to give them the benefit of the doubt, even though I haven't read through the entire patent.



    I may be wrong, but I doubt that the original inventors intended to patent tabs in an interface generically... they were trying to protect the specific application though.
  • Reply 66 of 80
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I thought it was twenty one years from filing, or twenty from approval. Details like that seem to change from time to time, I've forgotten important details, if I haven't, my information is probably old. If it's 20 from filing, then it's already expired.



    It's currently 20 years... it was 17 years at the time of filing (changed in 1995). The 1991 date has to be the operative one then... so the thing will expire in a year.
  • Reply 67 of 80
    jarlandjarland Posts: 15member
    Filed in Marshall, TX? Good, I can literally ride my bicycle (save gas) over there & slap them.
  • Reply 68 of 80
    suhailsuhail Posts: 192member
    I smell a microsoft rat!
  • Reply 69 of 80
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    I really don't know if this is directly applicable, but apparently the Apple Lisa had used something like what we know as tabs, and even used the manila folder tab shape:



    http://www.folklore.org/projects/Mac...laroids.14.jpg
  • Reply 70 of 80
    lfe2211lfe2211 Posts: 507member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I really don't know if this is directly applicable, but apparently the Apple Lisa had used something like what we know as tabs, and even used the manila folder tab shape:



    http://www.folklore.org/projects/Mac...laroids.14.jpg



    Jeff,



    Good archeologic find! Lisa with a tabbed display! You realise that Lisa is older than a lot of board members here.
  • Reply 71 of 80
    While it doesn't use "tabs" the Control Panel in System 4.0 used a list of icons to switch between a series of options grouped by type. These options kept their state when the user switched back and forth between them. I'd say this would most certainly qualify for prior art.



    http://www.guidebookgallery.org/screenshots/macos42



    The screenshots are from version 4.2, which was released in October of 87. However, the GUIdebook says 4.0 was released in, you guessed it, March of 87.



    However, I've also found documentation that says March date was the hardware release. The 4.0 system software was released on 1/87. The URL is here...



    http://homepage.mac.com/chinesemac/earlymacs/



    The question becomes when was 4.0 really released and did it have the same Control Panel interface as 4.2?



    If this Control Panel UI was released in 1/87, it appears that Apple has this covered.
  • Reply 72 of 80
    hirohiro Posts: 2,663member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lightandshadow View Post


    While it doesn't use "tabs" the Control Panel in System 4.0 used a list of icons to switch between a series of options grouped by type. These options kept their state when the user switched back and forth between them. I'd say this would most certainly qualify for prior art.



    http://www.guidebookgallery.org/screenshots/macos42



    The screenshots are from version 4.2, which was released in October of 87. However, the GUIdebook says 4.0 was released in, you guessed it, March of 87.



    However, I've also found documentation that says March date was the hardware release. The 4.0 system software was released on 1/87. The URL is here...



    http://homepage.mac.com/chinesemac/earlymacs/



    The question becomes when was 4.0 really released and did it have the same Control Panel interface as 4.2?



    If this Control Panel UI was released in 1/87, it appears that Apple has this covered.



    The date of software release isn't the magic date. The date the applicable files were first coded is and that is necessarily before the release date. That will show when the that particular art was no longer "non-obvious" and into the realm of the obvious.
  • Reply 73 of 80
    shaminoshamino Posts: 510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lightandshadow View Post


    While it doesn't use "tabs" the Control Panel in System 4.0 used a list of icons to switch between a series of options grouped by type. These options kept their state when the user switched back and forth between them. I'd say this would most certainly qualify for prior art.



    http://www.guidebookgallery.org/screenshots/macos42



    The screenshots are from version 4.2, which was released in October of 87. However, the GUIdebook says 4.0 was released in, you guessed it, March of 87.



    Thanks for this info. I knew System 6 used this style control panel, because I used to use System 6 on a regular basis, but I never worked with older versions of the system.



    The original mac OS control panel (see screen-shot on Wikipedia) was a single panel. I don't know precisely when the system switched from that to the System 6-like control panel (which, as you point out, was in 4.2).



    I remember an old Apple developer CD that contained floppy images for all of the legacy (pre-6) system software images. None of them will boot on a modern Mac (most wouldn't boot on an SE, which is what I had when I saw that CD, years ago), but if anybody here has that CD, it should be possible to browse around those old system folders with ResEdit to see when the control panel changed.
  • Reply 74 of 80
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shamino View Post


    None of them will boot on a modern Mac (most wouldn't boot on an SE, which is what I had when I saw that CD, years ago), but if anybody here has that CD, it should be possible to browse around those old system folders with ResEdit to see when the control panel changed.



    However, It's likely that you could boot them inside an emulator.
  • Reply 75 of 80
    shaminoshamino Posts: 510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lightandshadow View Post


    However, It's likely that you could boot them inside an emulator.



    Depends on what's being emulated. I haven't seen anything that emulates a Mac older than the Plus.



    The earliest systems will only boot on a 128K Mac.
  • Reply 76 of 80
    hirohiro Posts: 2,663member
    You don't think there are plenty of those siting around still? All it takes is one operable Fat Mac and all can be answered. But even better will be Apples source archives and internal documentation.
  • Reply 77 of 80
    shaminoshamino Posts: 510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hiro View Post


    You don't think there are plenty of those siting around still? All it takes is one operable Fat Mac and all can be answered. But even better will be Apples source archives and internal documentation.



    128's? Most of them were landfilled a long time ago.



    But you don't need source code to prove this. You just need a copy of ResEdit (still a free download from Apple) to open the resource forks of the various System Folder files and look for the GUI elements that comprise the control panel.
  • Reply 78 of 80
    hirohiro Posts: 2,663member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shamino View Post


    128's? Most of them were landfilled a long time ago.



    But you don't need source code to prove this. You just need a copy of ResEdit (still a free download from Apple) to open the resource forks of the various System Folder files and look for the GUI elements that comprise the control panel.



    There's an operable Fat Mac (512) right downstairs from me (not mine). Sits on the shelf except for oohh ahhh time but it works. I'm sure Apple has a couple and there are several other places I'm sure a lawyer can get use of one. Maybe not touch it himself, but get a docent to run it.
  • Reply 79 of 80
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by craigd6861 View Post


    A patent is good for 20 years from date of filing. The patent in question was filed March 25, 1987.



    Technicality -- some patents (e.g. this one) are good for 17 years from the issue date:



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Term_of..._United_States



    This would bring it out to 2008. However, the concept of "laches" enters the

    fray if there is no attempt to enforce a patent for six years.
  • Reply 80 of 80
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,166member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DCQ View Post


    It's is brought by a new breed of American parasite: the intellectual property patent holding company. We should ban software patents. Now.



    I agree about the ban on "software" patents, but to stop there would be foolish. "Intellectual property companies" are what need to be banned along side "software patents."



    You want an example of a non-software company that is nothing more than a patent holding company, now suing virtually everyone in the automative products aftermarket? Omega Research/Ken Flick (caralarm.com). These nuts put up a website that advertises products that aren't selling to give the appearance they are a legitimate company, but they are actually nothing more than a patent holding company. They have numerous patents on "databus" applications, some of which that, if you read through the patent, would even come to haunt car makers for continuing to use database technology to roll up car windows! Nutty Flick even patented car alarm "light flash" years after it had been on the market and sold by big companies such as Directed Electronics (makers of Hornet, Viper, Python, AutoMate, etc.). Most other countries will not grant you a patent for something has been openly sold in the market for years prior to your filing! Anyway, I don't work for Omega or Directed, but I do work in their industry and know of the legal battles between Omega and its rivals like Directed. And yes, big companies like Directed are building up their patent portfolio as their business takes a turn for the worse, in hopes of making money off the patents in the future (even after their primary business has failed). It's pathetic.



    These cases I am presented here are not an illustration of "American, the land of the free." They are case examples showing America to be the land of legalized extortion.
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