'Death to browsers!' cries Apple mobile-app patent
The camel's nose under Google's tent
A trio of Apple filings seek to patent mobile-application "systems and methods" for travel and online shopping — and to move us three steps closer to a Google-free world.
Taken together, the three filings point not only to the browserless future that Apple is seeking for its iOS devices, but also — if granted by the much-maligned US Patent and Trademark Office — to an application ecosystem in which software patents are sweepingly broad and the protection of "prior art" is enfeebled.
The filings were each filed late last year and published on Thursday — a relatively short gestation period in patentland. Hotel and travel services are covered by a pair, and the third seeks patent protection for "providing enhanced access to high fashion".
Of course, such services are offered today on a wide variety of websites from Travelocity to Neiman Marcus, but a website is a website, and an app is a discrete chunk of code that can be patented — unless you're in New Zealand.
And if you just dropped in on the civilized world after a decade-long hermitage in the wilds of that country's Raukumara Wilderness Area, here's a bit of news: Apple would rather deliver content — and advertising — through its "curated" App Store than in the unregulated wilderness area of the wild and woolly web. That web, of course, is currently the playground of two of Steve Jobs bêtes noires: porn and Google.
Thursday's three patents contain what you might guess: catch-all conglomerations of travel and shopping possibilities. Should you care to dig deeply into them, they can be accessed at the links above, but here's a trio of summaries, illustrated with snippets of their voluminous illustrations — we'll abbreviate "systems and methods" for the sake of space:
S&M for providing enhanced access to high fashion
This filing describes an app that leads an iOS device owner through all phases of the "high-fashion" shopping experience, from pre-shopping inducements such as new-product notifications and event invitations to post-shopping interaction such as the ability to "rate and review stores, fashion providers, fashion items, or any combination of the above."
Surprisingly, knowing Apple's penchant for adding location awareness to most every service-based patent application, the filing makes only cursory mention of location-based services such as suggesting nearby stores that might have available an item selected by or offered to a user.
$100 off any outerware item! Who could resist?
Playful Picks, Elegant Indulgences, and a Facebook page to locate the perfect wristlet
Experiment with colors before you invest $450
Next page: S&M for accessing hotel services
I want to scream
Yet, I like Apple.
This is an attempt to take something that has been done for years on the web, put an extra-thin layer of originality on it, and patent it as an app. Why not go ahead and patent "everything that has been done on the web, but not yet on a cell phone app" while they're at it?
Considering so many apps are a simple copy of a website, I really hope the patent office decides that processes that exist on the web cannot be patented as an app. But anyway, Apple will be able to scare off developers for years with the words "patent pending", even if the patent are ultimately rejected. And who knows, they might even be granted...
Insert long list of swear words.
This absurd "patenting" has to stop...
Proper protection of ideas and intellectual property is essential in our economic world but this is becoming absurd. I've thought of something - oooh let me patent it.
This isn't one but I've had many ideas that I've later seen exploited by well endowed enterprises - as have most of us. I had neither the interests or, far more importantly, the wealth and knowledge to raise a patent or copyright on the idea.
Many companies, including Apple, have the initial wealth and financial and marketing muscle to eliminate all but their bastard siblings from the ideas market.
We elect Governments to protect us from exploitation. When will they address this nonsense!
Here's the danger...
If the USPTO is dumb enough to grant these patents, then the burden of defense is on the company that Apple sues.
Meaning that the patent, while it may not win, acts as a barrier to entry. That is, the sole purpose of patenting the 'app' is to limit competition and increase the barriers and cost to start ups.
This has nothing or very little to do with protecting IP. And yes, there is not only prior art, but also the fact that the patent is neither new, nor novel
I guess if this were Google patenting these 'apps', they would be granted because the white house has been infected by the goo in google. Just ask Obama's CTO...