Apple awarded iPhone patent
All the elements brought together
Apple has been granted a patent for touchscreens and related technologies, many of which have been combined to make up the iPhone.
It sure looks like an iPhone
Patent number 7,479,949 is very abstract and wordy, yet covers a “touchscreen device, method and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics”.
The patent never refers to the iPhone specifically, but mentions many features and functions found on the phone. For example, on-screen finger swipes, a touchscreen with GUI, and “telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing [and] instant messaging” functions.
Interesting snippets also suggest that Apple may have more features planned for the iPhone - and we’re not talking about a Nano model. For example, the patent mentions “digital videoing” and a “blogging application”.
Poorly Steve Jobs is named as an inventor on the patent, which was applied for in April 2008 but only granted seven days ago.
What Apple will do now it has the patent remains to be seen. But it’s worth remembering that Apple’s acting CEO, Tim Cook, said only last week that it won’t stand to have its intellectual property ripped off. He promised to use whatever weapons the company has at its disposal to fight those that do.
So will Apple use this patent as a means of protecting itself against the likes of Palm’s upcoming Pré? Only time will tell. ®
Hmm... the proximity sensor next to the optical sensor. There was me thinking they can be the same thing. Isn't proximity detecting lack of light?
Then again, not sure how that would function in the dark...
@the spectacularly refined chap
In the US (and only the US) you can apply for a patent up to 1 year after the product is publicly released. So the dates are possible.
However, application in April 2008, granted already?! That's amazingly fast. I have patents applied for in the US 5 years ago that aren't granted yet! I have patents applied for 1 year ago whose file hasn't even been opened yet by the USPTO. Either it's wrong, or Apple is getting some kind of special treatment with the USPTO?
I just don't find a lot that has not been done years before iPhone
For example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_7710
It's true that not all functions on 7710 were not usable with thumb (like writing), but basics like taking photo/video were.
phone featured basic phone functions, camera for pictures & video and complete PIM suite including:
- office applications (word processor, spreadsheet and PowerPoint viewer),
- E-mail client (SMTP, POP3, IMAP4)
- video and audio player
And yes it was released back in 2004 and I don't know what they're trying to accomplish with saying nokia 5800 xpressmusic is the first touch screen phone from nokia ;)
Re: Familiar 'gestures'...
Not sure about a Palm 1000 Graffiti cheat card, but from a quick google, that looks like a specific way of writing characters. Claim one of the Apple Patent (copied below) basically says a touch screen device which recognises the difference between a horizontal scroll, a screen translation, and a next gesture.
Infringement is easy (ok well not easy but not that hard), does whatever the potentially infringing thing is have all the features of the claim.
Validity is the reverse (almost), does the previous thing have all the features of the claim and if it doesn't are the thing that are not there obvious.
So, is this claim going to stand up? Don't have a clue but I'm not sure it is as flimsy as suggested.
1. A computing device, comprising: a touch screen display; one or more processors; memory; and one or more programs, wherein the one or more programs are stored in the memory and configured to be executed by the one or more processors, the one or more programs including: instructions for detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display; instructions for applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device; and instructions for processing the command; wherein the one or more heuristics comprise: a vertical screen scrolling heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command rather than a two-dimensional screen translation command based on an angle of initial movement of a finger contact with respect to the touch screen display; a two-dimensional screen translation heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to the two-dimensional screen translation command rather than the one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command based on the angle of initial movement of the finger contact with respect to the touch screen display; and a next item heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.
Re: Dates seem confused
The iPhone itself is not, or at least unlikely to be, "prior art" assuming that the preceding applications, upon which this granted Patent is based, filed on 6 Sep 2006, 7 Jan 2007, 8 Jan 2007. Interesting that there where three other preceding applications filed on 29 Jun 2007 (x2) and 5 Sep 2007. The 29 Jun 2007 ones are probably pretty important as what day was the iPhone launched it the US? Yep, 29 Jun 2007.
So, the iPhone is prior art for any subject matter introduced by the application filed on 5 Sep 2007 only - you can have a look at the USPTO website's online file inspection if you can be bothered to find out what that application contained - http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair
I do seriously doubt whether Steve Jobs contributed enough to be an inventor though. If he's not, that's pretty serious in the US, as only inventors have the right to apply for a Patent application (something to do with the American constitution I think).