updated 03:20 pm EST, Thu December 27, 2007
Yahoo drag-and-drop patent
A Yahoo patent application, currently making its way through the US Patent and Trademark Office, is facing serious scrutiny as part of a new public review process. Peer to Patent is co-sponsored by the USPTO and the New York Law School, and as a pilot project is using over 1,000 public participants to review roughly 250 technology patents. The aim is specifically to test them against standards such as "prior art," or whether they are merely "obvious" extrapolations of current technology.
The Yahoo patent revolves around the concept of "smart" drag-and-drop commands, which show users good places to move an object. The problem, according to Peer to Patent reviewers, is that there are several instances of prior art, among them Apple's Mail and Finder applications, along with Microsoft's Excel and Visio. In the case of the latter two, points are generated on a diagram as users drag out lines; this may or may not be enough to challenge Yahoo, as the patent mentions close proximity to the drag source.
A more relevant instance of prior art may come from a "drag-and-pop" concept devised in 2003, which displays drop points near an object as it is moved. Even if it is useful however, no Peer to Patent judgment is final, since its information is merely passed on to the USPTO for consideration. [via Ars Technica]