SP Technologies Sues Apple Over iPhone Keyboard

An outfit called SP Technologies has sued Apple over the touch-screen keyboard at the heart of the iPhone, claiming Apple is infringing on a patent held by SP Technologies for a similar keyboard. AppleInsider dug up the SP patent filing from 2000, which claims the company developed a "method of providing a user interface for receiving information from a user using a user immutable graphical keyboard linked to an input area."

Patent suits, of course, are a dime a dozen, and Apple's not exactly the first company to ever use a touch-screen style input method. But this one will probably require more effort to defend than the iPhone battery suit filed a few weeks ago. The suit was filed Thursday in Tyler, Texas, which has become the destination of choice for patent suits these days.

An Apple representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but it's unlikely Apple would have much to say at this stage.

News source: c|net

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46 Comments

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Jesus f***ing crist... I have the feeling that every morning I check the tech news sites tehre's at least one article about some unkown company that god know how they're still in business trying to push some rediculous patent on some huge company... this country's patent system is absolutely rediculous IMO... they give you patents for nearly anything... I wonder if tomorrow I will be able to watch TV w/o paying somebody royalties because I'm using the remote control which is a device that controls another device using infrared signals... :nuts:

Wow seriously, how did nobody realize that this patent claim is legit and the patent does not apply to all on screen keyboards??

"ohhh noezz! how did dey getz a patent on da on screen keyboard? i must patentz farts and da alphabet!!"

faraaz said,
how did nobody realize that this patent claim is legit

Thank you for informing us ignorant masses Mr Patent Lawyer.

So the iPhone's onscreen keyboard can not be minimized or removed? It just sits in the exact same spot constantly?

Not allowing the user to minimise / move / alter something can be set up as a parameter for the object rendering, like not having a minimise button on a dialog box. Therefore any onscreen keyboard could have this (lack of) "functionality" and would infringe this pathetic patent.

I'd end with an insult but I can't be bothered with people this ignorant...

This patent looks stupid for me. You can't lay out the keyboard in different way than in that patent on touchscreen. Even Nokia 770, N800 have same keyboard as iPhone on their thouchscreen monitor. Other devices do as well. So the only answer would be that company wants some money from iPhone sales like others, that's all. Done.

What sort of crapple is this? I remember using a touchscreen back in 1997. My colleague was developing some application for a medical company.
I can't believe someone claimed to have invented a stationary touchscreen keyboard in 2000.

again, RTFA

"Currently, on-screen keyboards allow a user to maximize, minimize, or simply remove the keyboard on the display. Further, the shape and size of the keyboard may be altered. Often, such alterations or terminations are accidental and returning a keyboard to a useable size and shape wastes valuable time... it is therefore desirable to provide an on-screen keyboard which is incapable of alteration or termination by a user."

faraaz said,
again, RTFA

"Currently, on-screen keyboards allow a user to maximize, minimize, or simply remove the keyboard on the display. Further, the shape and size of the keyboard may be altered. Often, such alterations or terminations are accidental and returning a keyboard to a useable size and shape wastes valuable time... it is therefore desirable to provide an on-screen keyboard which is incapable of alteration or termination by a user."

Why you are posting this crap? Express said that he is I remembering using a touchscreen back in 1997. What is the point with keyboard resizing? Do you think that program code for Keyboard resizing automatically appears through some miracle and there is special effort needed for programmer to remove it? These are just simple inevitable options. You can't patent obvious inevitable things. Its like that stupid argument on "Which country invented dumplings?" and answer that it takes an idiot to believe that you need a genius to come with idea of wrapping meat into pastry. This patent looks like an fraud to steal money and I think these people must be punished. Its good that Nature can't sue or we all would be f***ed.

i remember times when it was hard to get patents... from tv... you know... in those movies that are public-domain now, they tell the story of a country long long agooo........

Glassed Silver:mac

Prior art, anyone? Oh gnoez they own a patent on an onscreen keyboard ... WTF. That's all it is, really. The keyboard is onscreen and instead of having a mouse as an input device, you touch it. Same thing. I can't stand the get-rich-quick-by-suing-big-company mentality. It's just sick. The lawyers like it, though...

My theory is that it's run entirely by pot heads. I swear I'm closer and closer to seeing if I can actually get the process of a fart patented to see if they'd grant it to me.

If they did, I could sue anyone I hear tooting :P

Man 1: *rips one* Whew!!!!!

Me: You owe me a dollar

Man 1: Huh?

Me: I have succeeded in patenting the fart *shows proof*

Man 1: *Hands over my dollar*

The Kingdom of NightmarE D has begun

NightmarE D said,
My theory is that it's run entirely by pot heads. I swear I'm closer and closer to seeing if I can actually get the process of a fart patented to see if they'd grant it to me.

If they did, I could sue anyone I hear tooting :P

Man 1: *rips one* Whew!!!!!

Me: You owe me a dollar

Man 1: Huh?

Me: I have succeeded in patenting the fart *shows proof*

Man 1: *Hands over my dollar*

The Kingdom of NightmarE D has begun


im gonna patent money transactions... HAHA... ALL MONEY BELONG TO ME!!!

Glassed Silver:mac

Glassed Silver said,

im gonna patent money transactions... HAHA... ALL MONEY BELONG TO ME!!!

Glassed Silver:mac

My kingdom has fallen

:P

method of providing a user interface for receiving information from a user using a user immutable graphical keyboard linked to an input area

That's hilarious. Pure "geek talk" for typing on a screen :P

Has Apple ever claimed to have invented any of these things people say they do? Sure "fanboys" might claim that, but thats not the same as the company doing so. I've never heard Apple say they invented Coverflow for example, as Powervortex says above. The only way Apple ever says they've invented something is by patenting it.

Apple bought coverflow, Apple generally invented many conventions of the modern GUI, they got the idea from Xerox but things like all menu items having shortcut keys and windows looking the way they do today are because of some work by Apple, otherwise they wouldn't have had so much legal wrangling with Microsoft.

It mentions pen-based computers too, so wouldn't PocketPCs be infringing on this patent?

Doesn't seem like a very solid case to me.

WindowsCE (the core of the PocketPC and WindowsMobile systems) was in use before 2000, as was the (sic) Apple Newton...
... so, by those facts alone, the patent should be nullified.

"Currently, on-screen keyboards allow a user to maximize, minimize, or simply remove the keyboard on the display. Further, the shape and size of the keyboard may be altered. Often, such alterations or terminations are accidental and returning a keyboard to a useable size and shape wastes valuable time... it is therefore desirable to provide an on-screen keyboard which is incapable of alteration or termination by a user."

tao muon said,
WindowsCE (the core of the PocketPC and WindowsMobile systems) was in use before 2000, as was the (sic) Apple Newton...
... so, by those facts alone, the patent should be nullified.

I thought the courts ruled recently that "prior art" is no longer a useable means to invalidate a patent?

ir0nw0lf said,
I thought the courts ruled recently that "prior art" is no longer a useable means to invalidate a patent?

If that is true, then everybody should hold the courts in contempt and refuse any and all summons for anything remotely to do with patent infringement as that ruling is so unbelievably stupid. A few high profile non-appearances from Microsoft, Apple, Google et al. along with refusals to accept rulings and fines against them in absentia would bring the whole patent system into sharp relief.

I am not surprised anymore. There are so many technologies that Apple now claims to have invented while they had actually bought, borrowed, or stolen from others. Apple claims that things like Coverflow are so "theirs" but the truth is that they bought it from another company. This is the same with many aspects of the iPod as we have seen in the Creative v. Apple case.

I never understood how Creative won that. Must've been a lucky patent. The iPod menu system was clearly based on Mac OS X's column view.

Neomac v6 said,
I never understood how Creative won that. Must've been a lucky patent. The iPod menu system was clearly based on Mac OS X's column view.

agreed! i've been saying this forever, it's nice to know someone else out there has some common sense.

roadwarrior said,
Which itself was developed by NeXT, not Apple.

Yeah, but since Apple bought NeXT, I think they're within their rights to use it!

Neomac v6 said,

Yeah, but since Apple bought NeXT, I think they're within their rights to use it!

But then again, Creative had already patented that UI technology before Apple implemented it.

I hope that patent gets thrown out because of this. You could go so far as to say that the Xbox 360 infringes upon this as it has a "user immutable graphical keyboard" which is linked to "an input area" which would be the controller.

Actually I think the "input area" would be the controller. "User immutable graphical keyboard" would be the keyboard that's on the screen.

It's another weird patent that can be used to explain any kind of typing. An actual keyboard, a game controller or a touch screen would fit that patent. Just another person who created the patent then waited for the perfect moment to sue someone over infringment of it. It'll never end.

NightmarE D said,
Actually I think the "input area" would be the controller. "User immutable graphical keyboard" would be the keyboard that's on the screen.

It's another weird patent that can be used to explain any kind of typing. An actual keyboard, a game controller or a touch screen would fit that patent. Just another person who created the patent then waited for the perfect moment to sue someone over infringment of it. It'll never end.


That's what I said

RTFA

This only applies to touch screen, so not the 360

"...invoking a graphical keyboard area incapable of user termination independent of termination of the input area, the graphical keyboard area having a plurality of keys on the display; selecting keys on the keyboard to provide the desired input; and automatically terminating the graphical keyboard area after the desired input is received in the input area"

"The present invention relates generally to a method and medium for inputting data, and more particularly, to a keyboard of constant size and shape present on the screen of a touch-screen style computer whenever user input may be desired"

"Currently, on-screen keyboards allow a user to maximize, minimize, or simply remove the keyboard on the display. Further, the shape and size of the keyboard may be altered. Often, such alterations or terminations are accidental and returning a keyboard to a useable size and shape wastes valuable time... it is therefore desirable to provide an on-screen keyboard which is incapable of alteration or termination by a user."