Apple awarded patent on the Dock

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
It took nearly nine years, but Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and Co. were awarded this week with a patent for their implementation of a software-based computer dock that has since become a trademark of the Mac OS X operating system.



On Tuesday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the Mac maker patent number 7,434,177 titled "User interface for providing consolidation and access." The 20-page filing outlining the principles behind the Dock and its magnification component is credited to Jobs, in addition to well-known Apple interface designers Bas Ording and Donald Lindsay.



Apple now retains the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or otherwise employing replicas of the technology in their own products. Under United States patent law, that right typically extends 20 years assuming the company keeps up with routine maintenance fees due 3½, 7½ and 11½ years following the grant date.



Since the release of Mac OS X 10.0 in 2001, the Dock has been one of the most prominent features of operating system's user interface, serving as a centralized and resizable launch pad for applications and document files.



Over the years, the Dock has evolved in both appearance and function, gaining a 3D look and most recently assuming the role as a container for Stacks, another organizational feature introduced alongside Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.



Although CDE -- a similar interface element for flavors of the Unix operating system -- preceded Apple's implementation by approximately 8 years, the origins of the Mac OS X dock date back even further. It was actually conceived in the late 80's and release in 1989 as part of Nextstep, an operating system developed by NeXT Computer, a company Jobs founded after being ousted from Apple a year earlier.







When Apple purchased NeXT for $429 million in December of 1996, it absorbed the company's assets and intellectual property, which include the Nextstep operating system.



It should be noted, however, that the patent awarded to Apple this week doesn't grant the company broad ownership to the principles behind software-based application trays. It instead pertains to aspects of a dock specific to the company's implementation, primarily its magnification component and ability to display application names as a user cycles through its icons.



For more on the history of Dock, please see AppleInsider's three page report: Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Dock 1.6
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Before someone lambaste the article's author for not including Acorn in the history of the dock, note that the last line of the article does link to another article that does mention a more thorough history of OSes with icon docks.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,590member
    Seems pretty weird to patent the dock at this stage in the game unless Windows 11 will feature it.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aplnub View Post


    Seems pretty weird to patent the dock at this stage in the game unless Windows 11 will feature it.



    It was filed on December 20, 1999.



  • Reply 4 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post






    When Apple purchased NeXT for $429 million in December of 2006, it absorbed the company's assets and intellectual property, which include the Nextstep operating system.



    I think that quoted year is about a decade too late. 1996 right?
  • Reply 5 of 24
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stukdog View Post


    I think that quoted year is about a decade too late. 1996 right?



    Yep -- thanks!



    K
  • Reply 6 of 24
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    It took nearly nine years, but Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and Co. were awarded this week with a patent for their implementation of a software-based computer dock that has since become a trademark of the Mac OS X operating system.



    I'd have said, "... that has since become a hallmark of the Mac OS X operating system."
  • Reply 7 of 24
    ytvytv Posts: 109member
    I don't quite understand what other companies are not allowed to do.



    The dock is just a group of shortcuts along the bottom of the screen.



    Windows 98 and XP have quicklaunch shortcuts in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen that does the same thing. Heck Windows 95 might have it too, but I can't really remember.



    EDIT: upon further consulting with my friend google, Windows 95 did indeed have the quick launch icons in the taskbar.
  • Reply 8 of 24
    Well, now that Apple officially has the patient, I hope this will deter Windows 7 from using a dock. If you look at an interview with Walt Mossburg where they check out the multi-touch features of Win 7, you can see this little line up of icons on the bottom...hmmm...

    I hope Apple has the balls to stop MS from copying yet again.
  • Reply 9 of 24
    I to am a bit confused what this actually gives them. Is it really as specific as the magnification effect with the name of the program appearing above? Like already mentioned Windows has had a quick launch bar that essentially does the same thing although admittedly it doesn't look as cool. Im quite sure there's a few other OS's around with similar things as well.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nubread View Post


    Well, now that Apple officially has the patient, I hope this will deter Windows 7 from using a dock. If you look at an interview with Walt Mossburg where they check out the multi-touch features of Win 7, you can see this little line up of icons on the bottom...hmmm...

    I hope Apple has the balls to stop MS from copying yet again.



    No no, that's the "Deck". Very different.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    I to am a bit confused what this actually gives them. Is it really as specific as the magnification effect with the name of the program appearing above? Like already mentioned Windows has had a quick launch bar that essentially does the same thing although admittedly it doesn't look as cool. Im quite sure there's a few other OS's around with similar things as well.



    There are several Dock replicas for Windows, AquaDock and ObjectDock to name a couple. I use them. It means that I had better save a copy because their respective programmers won't be able to sell them any longer.



    -Clive
  • Reply 11 of 24
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    There are several Dock replicas for Windows, AquaDock and ObjectDock to name a couple. I use them. It means that I had better save a copy because their respective programmers won't be able to sell them any longer.



    -Clive



    Just don't update your version of Windows, or the apps probably won't work anymore.
  • Reply 12 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,190member
    What about visually similar implementations, such as one in Flash used by YouTube? Guess I'd have to delve into the details of the patent, but I'm too groggy at this point.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    irelandireland Posts: 17,616member
    I love the dock, always have since I first saw it.



    I love this app!
  • Reply 14 of 24
    Does this mean RocketDock is in deep trouble?



    www.rocketdock.com
  • Reply 15 of 24
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iLawCDN View Post


    Does this mean RocketDock is in deep trouble?



    www.rocketdock.com



    Based on the patent, yes; but Apple would have to find this app to be a threat, which I don't think the will. Now, if MS implements it as a standard OS option then Apple would have cause for alarm.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    irelandireland Posts: 17,616member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iLawCDN View Post


    Does this mean RocketDock is in deep trouble?



    www.rocketdock.com



    Yes. If you want Rocketdock in the future you'll have to buy a Mac
  • Reply 17 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Yes. If you want Rocketdock in the future you'll have to buy a Mac



    WRONG WRONG WRONG and MSFT will fight Apple if they have to. But google Y'Z' Dock and Kubulator..... He was the inventor. Haven't you guys ever watch Silicon Valley?



    I bet half the people here also think Apple invented SPOTLIGHT.



    MSFT invented it before VISTA, it was released by MAC OS X, it was journaling, MSFT didn't get it out in time, Apple did, yet I don't see MSFT taking on Apple saying sorry, you have to get rid of spotlight, it uses journaling, something we invented, maybe they will someday and maybe Mr. Koubulator will take on Apple.



    Get a grip, get the facts first.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nubread View Post


    Well, now that Apple officially has the patient, I hope this will deter Windows 7 from using a dock. If you look at an interview with Walt Mossburg where they check out the multi-touch features of Win 7, you can see this little line up of icons on the bottom...hmmm...

    I hope Apple has the balls to stop MS from copying yet again.



    Code Blue. Call the Doctor. Our Patient is down.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hiimamac View Post


    WRONG WRONG WRONG and MSFT will fight Apple if they have to. But google Y'Z' Dock and Kubulator..... He was the inventor. Haven't you guys ever watch Silicon Valley?



    I bet half the people here also think Apple invented SPOTLIGHT.



    MSFT invented it before VISTA, it was released by MAC OS X, it was journaling, MSFT didn't get it out in time, Apple did, yet I don't see MSFT taking on Apple saying sorry, you have to get rid of spotlight, it uses journaling, something we invented, maybe they will someday and maybe Mr. Koubulator will take on Apple.



    Get a grip, get the facts first.



    1) Movies, even if they are documentaries which Pirates of Silicon Valley isn't, don't make for proof.



    2) We are talking about a patented functions within a dock, not journaling.



    3) You have provided any info as to when any of these journaling concepts were patented or any info on prior art.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    Apple, how about making a real hardware-based Dock?



    It sucks having to plug in all my cables manually when I get to work. And I ain't using any stinking ugly third-party docks.
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