Apple touch screen patent could mean trouble for competition

A patent covering multi touch technology was awarded to Apple by the USPTO yesterday. The patent, originally filed for in 2007, was just given the stamp of approval and could spell doom for other smartphone and tablet manufacturers. Specifically stated in the original patent filing:

A computer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display, comprises displaying a portion of page content, including a frame displaying a portion of frame content and also including other content of the page, on the touch screen display

Reading further, the patent is specifically aimed at Apple's iOS user interface and its multi touch gesture based navigation. What's interesting is that the wording is so broad, it may give Apple the ability to sue rival manufacturers for their own user interfaces if they can prove that there exists a decent enough likeness. In recent lawsuits, Apple claims that Samsung copied the iOS interface for its own smartphones, so this idea is not out of the realm of possibility. Patent number 7,966,578 may give Apple the fuel it needs bring lawsuits against manufacturers like HTC, LG, and others for the same reason. The effects of this, in addition to other patents, could have far reaching effects on other manufacturers. This patent could be used by Apple to bully its competitors or make them pay royalties on multi touch interfaces. We've already seen that they seem intent on protecting their intellectual property at all costs. The patent covers its iPad and iPod Touch devices as well, so smartphones will not be the only target. Whether or not Apple takes a swing at rivals with this patent remains to be seen, but Jobs & Co. have almost certainly gotten their attention.

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How many of you were around when all the great events of personal computers, and modern mobile devices for that matter, took place? How many have read, researched, and studied the history of such devices? Or seen movies depicting events, such as; "Pirates of Silicon Valley", "Antitrust", "Hackers", "The Net", "The Social Network", etc.? "CONCEPTS" of many modern inventions, and yes, even "patents" have been around for ages, and should not be the basis of a companies merits and/or lurals. Every idea barrows from the one before it; that's the idea of progression, and "Technology" for that matter. Microsoft has barrowed ideas from Xerox, Apple, and others; and Apple, Xerox, and others have barrowed ideas from Microsoft and among one another, as well. Same could be said for hardware as well. What I am trying to get at is this... Imagine if people went around saying: "Ford was first, they had that technology in their 'Model-T', or "Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Saturn, Honda, GMC, KIA, Lexus, Mercedes, Jaguar, Lamberguini, Ferrari, etc. 'STOLE' their idea from Ford!" Or worse: "Ford stole their idea of 'transportation' from horse and buggy/coach or from chariots!" Of course this is, and sounds, ridiculous! Apple, in a sense, is no different than any of the formentioned car companies; building on the ideas of others, and possibly leading the way in some areas. For that individual that said: "The world would be better off without Apple."; ask yourself would the world be better off without other car companies than Ford, or without cars at all for that matter, relying on horse and chariots!? Would the world be better off without progression, and technology; left in the dark ages? Should our houses still be made from animal hide because we "stole" the idea of "shelter" from generations past? Apple has brought some useful things to fruitation as reflected by their success, and popular use. Microsoft and other companies arn't the end all of be all, nor is Apple. Concepts, Ideas, Inovation, Inventions build on those from before and need to come from all corners of exsistace; including those from past and present. I've found it a fad or "main stream" not to be a fad or "main stream". Hipsters seem cool until they become "hip". IBM was hated on when they were the big conglamerate, Microsoft was hated on when they made it big, Facebook was hated on once widespread popularity took root, Apple it seems will be felt be the same sentiments. People hate success unless they are a part of it; but in a way we always are, we contribute to the success of others. That is how success is recognized, acknowledged, measured, achieved, and acquired. If you feel compelled to follow down histories path and give into you instincts and gut feelings of distasting and hating what is popular, what is "main stream", what is successful; then let me let you in on a little secret... "Ignorance is rampped, stupidity is running amuck, and idiots are all around us." Fight the fad and go educate yourself, i.e. "Learn"!

Nashy said,
How will this help MS. Isn't this a hardware patent?

Well, Microsoft is somewhat immune from Apple, just as Apple is from Microsoft due to their 1990s agreement. (This is why it is funny to people in the industry when Apple says things like, "Redmond get your copiers ready." - As Apple copies as much from Microsoft if not more than Microsoft does from Apple, as Microsoft has a lot more R&D investment and high end engineers in software and even hardware than Apple. And if they ever really got into a ****ing match, Microsoft has the patents to virtually close down Apple.)

It should also protection for companies using Microsoft software on their hardware to a certain degree if Microsoft backs the product with patent protection with their software.

However, Apple has been stretching the terms of their agreement in the last year, and trying to find ways around it as they feel like they are being victimized by the industry 'copying them'. Which is a bit insane, as most of what Apple makes and sells and 'innovates' is a copy of products that came before their version. (ie. iPod, etc.)

So this will help Microsoft, as Apple will proably hit all the non-Microsoft protected hardware and software companies will get hit by patent suits from Apple.

The unknown though is Apple may 'snap', like they did in the 1980s when Microsoft and Apple had a similar agreement for GUIs, and do directly after Microsoft or a company 'protected' by Microsoft because it is using Microsoft Software that uses these features. If this happens, it would be complete war, as Microsoft will protect themselves and their partners, and they truly do have the patents to get Apple virtually shut down, as they could be forced to stop selling virtually every product they make. (For example, even the GPUs in the iPhone and desktop Macs are both based on CPU designs by Microsoft engineers that Microsoft holds patents on, that they don't enforce.)

You can already do this on the iphone, I think, from what you are describing…Go to any page with a DIV that has scrollable content, and the content of the page itself requires scrolling. You use two fingers to scroll the DIV, and you use one to scroll the page.

You can already do this on the iphone, I think, from what you are describing…Go to any page with a DIV that has scrollable content, and the content of the page itself requires scrolling. You use two fingers to scroll the DIV, and you use one to scroll the page. Is that what the patent is describing?

Yup, that's why this was filed in 2007. Patent's take years to get granted, but the date that really matters is when it was filed. As long as there was nothing else that could do this exact thing before 2007, then the patent is fine

someone has to patent it, it doesnt mean they are going to sue everyone in sight. But really the US has to fix it's software patent issues.

It is quite apparent that some people don't understand the function of patents. I wonder if these same people are willing to invest their time and resources in the development of a product or service without pay.

DClark said,
It is quite apparent that some people don't understand the function of patents. I wonder if these same people are willing to invest their time and resources in the development of a product or service without pay.

it is funny, since Apple was not who invented the touch screen interface.

I don't buy Apple anymore. I like many of their products but I'm done contributing to their business model of suing the world.

LOL at all of the jackasses here who read the headlines, and maybe a few lines of an article, and think they know exactly what this patent covers.

roadwarrior said,
LOL at all of the jackasses here who read the headlines, and maybe a few lines of an article, and think they know exactly what this patent covers.

yes, because you are knowledgeable about everything

roadwarrior said,
LOL at all of the jackasses here who read the headlines, and maybe a few lines of an article, and think they know exactly what this patent covers.

From what's in the article, they're patenting a multi-touch implementation, which would be valid. From the quoted text from the patent, though, it seems too vague as it could cover too many unspecified variables. That will likely result in the patent being invalidated at a later point.

"Including other..." language that doesn't specify what the "other" is doesn't usually stand up to scrutiny.

roadwarrior said,
LOL at all of the jackasses here who read the headlines, and maybe a few lines of an article, and think they know exactly what this patent covers.

Strangely I have read only the first line of your comment and I knew you were throlling

boumboqc said,

Strangely I have read only the first line of your comment and I knew you were throlling

except for one thing, he's totally correct

techbeck said,

yes, because you are knowledgeable about everything

While he may or may not have understood the patent, he wasn't jumping to conclusions as others here have been.

evo_spook said,

except for one thing, he's totally correct

Yup, and like him you resort to third grade tactics to get your point a crossed while others are mature about it and actually help out those who dont understand and are all knowing like you two.

Seriously, if you have to resort to name calling to get your point out...then you have a problem.

techbeck said,

Yup, and like him you resort to third grade tactics to get your point a crossed while others are mature about it and actually help out those who dont understand and are all knowing like you two.

Seriously, if you have to resort to name calling to get your point out...then you have a problem.

Seriously Techbeck, look in the mirror, you havn't got a leg to stand on with the amount of name calling and trolling you do in apple threads

Secondly, erm, what name calling in the above sentance?? strange person.........

As I said in the thread, this will be a big deal for a few hours until someone who knows patents actually dissects this patent and explains what it means.

All of you are looking at a picture and reading a snippet of the patent. It makes for great news, but in reality neither of those have a particularly important legal relevance. If Apple got this patent, they either did invent the contents, or are about to have a patent invalidated by other companies who feel they had this feature first.

As it so happens, I am a patent attorney!

Had a look through it and there's nothing to worry about, this patent isn't a particularly big deal.

It's about a webpage with a frame inside (in the image above the webpage is 4208 and the frame is 4206).

When you use a single finger to scroll, the entire webpage moves (along with the frame).

When you use two fingers to scroll, only the contents of the frame are scrolled

So it's a way of controlling iframes (or things of similar functionality). One finger scrolls the entire page. Two fingers scrolls only the contents of the iframe.

Blackima said,
As it so happens, I am a patent attorney!

Had a look through it and there's nothing to worry about, this patent isn't a particularly big deal.

It's about a webpage with a frame inside (in the image above the webpage is 4208 and the frame is 4206).

When you use a single finger to scroll, the entire webpage moves (along with the frame).

When you use two fingers to scroll, only the contents of the frame are scrolled

So it's a way of controlling iframes (or things of similar functionality). One finger scrolls the entire page. Two fingers scrolls only the contents of the iframe.

You're my favourite person on the Internet right now.

Blackima said,
As it so happens, I am a patent attorney!

Had a look through it and there's nothing to worry about, this patent isn't a particularly big deal.

It's about a webpage with a frame inside (in the image above the webpage is 4208 and the frame is 4206).

When you use a single finger to scroll, the entire webpage moves (along with the frame).

When you use two fingers to scroll, only the contents of the frame are scrolled

So it's a way of controlling iframes (or things of similar functionality). One finger scrolls the entire page. Two fingers scrolls only the contents of the iframe.

Nice, thanks for the info.

evo_spook said,
LOL thanks for making most people on this thread look like right idiots, maybe you should have waited a while longer to make the haters make even bigger jackasses of themselves

Yup, thankfully there are people who can actually reply and provide information without name calling. But then again, you know everything so you are one of the cool ones who doesnt have to get anything explained to them. Must be nice to be all knowing.

But seriously, if you cannot have a decent convo without resorting to name calling and 3rd grade tactics, then you are what you are calling others.

Blackima said,
As it so happens, I am a patent attorney!

Had a look through it and there's nothing to worry about, this patent isn't a particularly big deal.

It's about a webpage with a frame inside (in the image above the webpage is 4208 and the frame is 4206).

When you use a single finger to scroll, the entire webpage moves (along with the frame).

When you use two fingers to scroll, only the contents of the frame are scrolled

So it's a way of controlling iframes (or things of similar functionality). One finger scrolls the entire page. Two fingers scrolls only the contents of the iframe.

Thanks for actually doing the homework.

Whilst I appreciate that lately Neowin has been trying to add it's own commentary to reported facts, even a simple read of that snippet extract of the patent makes it plainly obvious that this is not a patent for a generic multi-touch user interface.

I would advise the authors to do a bit more reading before posting sensationalistic commentary just to start discussions.

thealexweb said,
So basically someones let them patent the smartphone -.- A market which existed long before they came along.

someone had a patent for a keyboard on a phone .. they already got 600 million from RIM i believe.. and will probably hit HP and others later.

Who give a ****... this USPTO shenanigan is a scam... it's really just valid in the U.S. anyways. It's obvious this was going to be credited to Apple since it's a U.S. business

wait a moment, there has been several touch browsers by then. opera mobile, skyfire and ie. so this comes out yet again apple patented stolen technology.

I think you may be misinterpreting the patent. It looks like apple is just patenting having a zoom window on top of an original page ie how iOS text select works. Nothing in Android really mimics this. I can't speak for WP7 or webOS because I don't know them, but really... Not a big deal.

copjon said,
I think you may be misinterpreting the patent. It looks like apple is just patenting having a zoom window on top of an original page ie how iOS text select works. Nothing in Android really mimics this. I can't speak for WP7 or webOS because I don't know them, but really... Not a big deal.

Are you sure? I'm pretty sure text selecting wasn't in the original iPhone (although they could have developed it in 2007).

DomZ said,

Are you sure? I'm pretty sure text selecting wasn't in the original iPhone (although they could have developed it in 2007).

Sorry, i didn't mean specifically for text select. I meant that as an example of a frame over web content. Kinda like a "magnifying glass" that will capture a snapshot of the website as an overlay and allow you to continue to browse both the background (original page) and whats in the overlay (the "magnifying glass").

It could be something they filed and never used or later used when they made their copy/paste stuff.

copjon said,
I think you may be misinterpreting the patent. It looks like apple is just patenting having a zoom window on top of an original page ie how iOS text select works. Nothing in Android really mimics this. I can't speak for WP7 or webOS because I don't know them, but really... Not a big deal.

I've seen Motoblur mimic that on my friend's Citrus O_o Not sure what version of Motoblur it was.

copjon said,
I think you may be misinterpreting the patent. It looks like apple is just patenting having a zoom window on top of an original page ie how iOS text select works. Nothing in Android really mimics this. I can't speak for WP7 or webOS because I don't know them, but really... Not a big deal.

i totally agree. the only thing i could see that is similar is in windows 7 when you zoom and there are 2 windows open,. maybe a problem if windows 7 is using a touch screen

Next thing you know Apple are going to patent open source programs and operating systems and as they haven't been patented before they'll start suing Google and Linux.

drazgoosh said,
Next thing you know Apple are going to patent open source programs and operating systems and as they haven't been patented before they'll start suing Google and Linux.

Funny! I hope not, Apple need to be stop.

It would be hilarious if Apple was the only one allowed to sell "touch screen" phones in the US, because if that happens maybe they will finally realize they need to scrap the current patent system.

Lexcyn said,
It would be hilarious if Apple was the only one allowed to sell "touch screen" phones in the US, because if that happens maybe they will finally realize they need to scrap the current patent system.
Thats a very unlikely scenario. What will likely happen is Apple will get licensing fees from those who use this technology, which is perfectly fine with me. Companies pay licensing fees all the time, nothing new.

Lexcyn said,
It would be hilarious if Apple was the only one allowed to sell "touch screen" phones in the US, because if that happens maybe they will finally realize they need to scrap the current patent system.

well the touch screen is only a component of the phone.. its like if someone sued over a patent for rubber tires.. cars would just need a different technology or they would need to licence the product.

This is actually going to help WP7 and Win8 tablets.

Microsoft and Apple have cross licensing agreements signed when MS bailed out Apple, so MS can use these patents in their software all they want. MS covers patent infringement with their code, so Samsung, Dell, HTC, etc. can use WP7 in their devices. But Google does not cover Android against patents, so Samsung, Dell, HTC, etc. will pay more and more for their licensing of patents, first to MS, now also to Apple. Eventually the pprice of Android could become a burden, where Android costs more than WP7, and device makers could start changing their focus to compete against Apple.

nohone said,
This is actually going to help WP7 and Win8 tablets.

Microsoft and Apple have cross licensing agreements signed when MS bailed out Apple, so MS can use these patents in their software all they want. MS covers patent infringement with their code, so Samsung, Dell, HTC, etc. can use WP7 in their devices. But Google does not cover Android against patents, so Samsung, Dell, HTC, etc. will pay more and more for their licensing of patents, first to MS, now also to Apple. Eventually the pprice of Android could become a burden, where Android costs more than WP7, and device makers could start changing their focus to compete against Apple.

Yep, was thinking the same thing! We have a duoply perhaps?

simrat said,
Thats Insane, but not surprised. Apple is a patent Bi***

All tech companies are.

You should read the series on microsoft patents over on another site .... wmpoweruser.

Tim Dawg said,
And yet they don't go around suing every and anybody that uses those keys in their keyboards.

Are you sure they don't get paid for every keyboard made just like they get paid for every HTC android ?

Tim Dawg said,
And yet they don't go around suing every and anybody that uses those keys in their keyboards.

Or Amazon's Double Click?

bj55555 said,
Stop. This. Insanity. Now.

I really wanted that to turn into an acronym but there's nothing funny about STIN.

Udedenkz said,
The world would be better without Apple.

Love or hate Apple, we would not have Android or WebOS without them. We would probably still be on resistive touch screens with BREW on them (see: LG Voyager).

Trueblue711 said,

Love or hate Apple, we would not have Android or WebOS without them. We would probably still be on resistive touch screens with BREW on them (see: LG Voyager).

Because Apple invented :
Capacitive screen.
Multi touch screen.
Internet
Color blue and white.
And Xmas.

Magallanes said,

Because Apple invented :
Capacitive screen.
Multi touch screen.
Internet
Color blue and white.
And Xmas.

And rounded corners! Don't forget rounded corners!

Udedenkz said,
The world would be better without Apple.

Yea, sure would be...

I mean, who really cares for computers with a GUI anyway?

As we all know WiFi is a crappy technology that only made our lives worse...

Who really wanted digital music players with decent storage capacity and controls designed to be used by humans and that at sane price?

What's the point of laptops anyway? Just some stupid niche Apple has been pushing, no one is really interested in it.

And then there are the smartphones and more recently tablets with capacitive multi-touch displays and a UI that was designed for touch, pure idiocy, resistive touch screens and a UI like windows mobile was superior, why did Apple have to destroy that?

And if that isn't enough now they are trying to make ultra-portable laptops, kinda like netbooks but with some kinds of performace and with resolutions fitting 13-15" computers, insanity!

Leonick said,

Yea, sure would be...

I mean, who really cares for computers with a GUI anyway?

As we all know WiFi is a crappy technology that only made our lives worse...

Who really wanted digital music players with decent storage capacity and controls designed to be used by humans and that at sane price?

What's the point of laptops anyway? Just some stupid niche Apple has been pushing, no one is really interested in it.

And then there are the smartphones and more recently tablets with capacitive multi-touch displays and a UI that was designed for touch, pure idiocy, resistive touch screens and a UI like windows mobile was superior, why did Apple have to destroy that?

And if that isn't enough now they are trying to make ultra-portable laptops, kinda like netbooks but with some kinds of performace and with resolutions fitting 13-15" computers, insanity!

yeah... but no.
Sorry but Apple wasn't the first.
Xerox invented the windows-guii interface
Sony bring digitial music player years before Apple.
And about Laptop, Tandy & Bill Gates was pioneer.
And about Smartphone, Microsoft coined the term Smartphone.
...


Magallanes said,

yeah... but no.
Sorry but Apple wasn't the first.
Xerox invented the windows-guii interface
Sony bring digitial music player years before Apple.
And about Laptop, Tandy & Bill Gates was pioneer.
And about Smartphone, Microsoft coined the term Smartphone.
...


lolololllooll

Magallanes said,

yeah... but no.
Sorry but Apple wasn't the first.
Xerox invented the windows-guii interface
Sony bring digitial music player years before Apple.
And about Laptop, Tandy & Bill Gates was pioneer.
And about Smartphone, Microsoft coined the term Smartphone.
...



You won

Magallanes said,

yeah... but no.
Sorry but Apple wasn't the first.
Xerox invented the windows-guii interface
Sony bring digitial music player years before Apple.
And about Laptop, Tandy & Bill Gates was pioneer.
And about Smartphone, Microsoft coined the term Smartphone.
...


hahah burned! Incineration!

Trueblue711 said,

Love or hate Apple, we would not have Android or WebOS without them. We would probably still be on resistive touch screens with BREW on them (see: LG Voyager).

Um, you do realize there were other companies using Windows Mobile and Windows TabletPC that implemented the features that iPhone incorporated, long before the iPhone existed.

There would not have been the 'buzz' or market saturation in this movement, and Android is very much a response to Apple. However, outside of that, the technology and the concepts already existed and would have come to fruition much like they already have.

Apple was more about 'timing' than adding anything new. As the iPhone and even the iPad both hit at the exact times that capacitive screen technology pricing had started a massive drop.

(TabletPCs with good touch and stylus screen technology were expensive because of the screen and debuted at around $2000, and today you can buy the same 'level' of devices in the current generation of technology around $700. With the massive cost difference being the screen costs, with lower quality touch/stylus screen technology.)

Apple's release of the iPhone were well timed, and Apple took advantage of this, even though they were still expensive phones. The iPad was timed to hit when the larger touch screens were hitting a reasonable price point as well.

If Microsoft was only out to make money and not impact the industry, they could have keep the TabletPC on the shelf for another 5 years, and release it when it was at a better consumer price point. They also could have done this with Windows Mobile as well. Instead they released both technologies, knowing that specific business and higher end consumers would be the only market able to purchase them for several years.

Leonick said,

Yea, sure would be...

I mean, who really cares for computers with a GUI anyway?

As we all know WiFi is a crappy technology that only made our lives worse...

Who really wanted digital music players with decent storage capacity and controls designed to be used by humans and that at sane price?

What's the point of laptops anyway? Just some stupid niche Apple has been pushing, no one is really interested in it.

And then there are the smartphones and more recently tablets with capacitive multi-touch displays and a UI that was designed for touch, pure idiocy, resistive touch screens and a UI like windows mobile was superior, why did Apple have to destroy that?

And if that isn't enough now they are trying to make ultra-portable laptops, kinda like netbooks but with some kinds of performace and with resolutions fitting 13-15" computers, insanity!

Wow, Apple had nothing to do with any of these technologies or even bringing them to consumers.

Don't live your life willfully ignorant, go look up everything you mention and follow where it came from and even when it made an impact on society, long before Apple had anything to do with any of them.

Magallanes said,

yeah... but no.
Sorry but Apple wasn't the first.
Xerox invented the windows-guii interface
Sony bring digitial music player years before Apple.
And about Laptop, Tandy & Bill Gates was pioneer.
And about Smartphone, Microsoft coined the term Smartphone.
...



Nice!!

Leonick said,

Who really wanted digital music players with decent storage capacity and controls designed to be used by humans and that at sane price?

http://www.archos.com/ I had a 40GB MP3 player with a 2.5" screen that could play movies years before any iPod was patented...

Oh boy, get ready for the firestorm of lawsuits to get this one tossed/invalidated. Can't we put a bullet into the USPTO already!?

ir0nw0lf said,
Oh boy, get ready for the firestorm of lawsuits to get this one tossed/invalidated. Can't we put a bullet into the USPTO already!?
I hope someone manages to do just that but I doubt it. Who's going to pay for a very expensive lawsuit like that? Plus there are patents out there that are even more broadly worded giving plenty of other patent trolls ammo to go around suing anybody that's making a buck. I don't know of any patent trolls having their legally approved means of corporate theft negated (although I wish I did).

ir0nw0lf said,
Oh boy, get ready for the firestorm of lawsuits to get this one tossed/invalidated. Can't we put a bullet into the USPTO already!?

We're doooooooomed! Dooooooomed I tell you! Dooooomed!