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Swedish firm claims rights to US swiping gesture patent

updated 03:55 pm EST, Tue February 28, 2012

Could undermine Apple legal position

A Swedish touchscreen technology firm, Neonode, says it has won a US patent covering a swiping gesture on touchscreen devices. The company notes that it first filed for the patent in 2002, and in fact got rights to it on January 10th, but is only now pursuing "friendly licensing" deals with various companies. The first target is Apple, which uses a similar gesture in several aspects of iOS, such as the slide-to-unlock command.

The patent could potentially have significance in Apple's ongoing lawsuits against Motorola and Samsung, since both of the latter companies are accused of violating an Apple slide-to-unlock concept. If Apple is forced to pay for a license from Neonode, it may undermine the company's position that it has a right to demand money from others.

The newest Neonode patent is listed as 8,095,879 with the US Patent and Trademark Office. It is said to be connected with two other patents, 7,880,732 and 8,068,101, encompassing small- and midsized touchscreen devices. Neonode's head of IP, Yossi Shain, says that the firm counts a variety of companies among licensees of its other patents. Two examples are Sony and Barnes & Noble, who use them in e-readers.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. bjojade

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    0

    How out of hand can it get?

    Seriously, swiping your finger on a screen is something that can get a patent? I could see getting a patent on how the software determines it's an actual swipe, or accidental touch, or something detailed as such, but sliding your finger on a screen?

    Yeah, even Apple has patents that are so blatantly basic they shouldn't exist as patents. Everyone does it these days.

  1. ginjg

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2010

    +2

    it's the code, not the action

    Since Apple's swipe patent was granted last year, and Neonode's this year, it is reasonable to assume that they are distinct processes that don't infringe upon one another.
    A patent applies to the specific underlying process that swiping triggers. Even if the beginning motion and the end result are the same, as long as the underlying codes to are different, there is no patent violation. Otherwise, turning a k*** or pushing a button would be far too expensive a method of activating, or adjusting anything.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. imNat-imadouche

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2011

    -10

    Apple

    Start your photocopiers :)

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +2

    Re: it's the code, not the action

    Since Apple's swipe patent was granted last year, and Neonode's this year, it is reasonable to assume that they are distinct processes that don't infringe upon one another.

    No, it isn't reasonable to assume that. That would make the assumption that the USPTO doesn't have its head up its a**. And we know that's not true.

    A patent applies to the specific underlying process that swiping triggers.

    It depends on what actions the patent covers. Being that the article has no actual information, it is hard to say what might or might not be infringing.

    Even if the beginning motion and the end result are the same, as long as the underlying codes to are different, there is no patent violation.

    Nope, it has nothing to do with the underneath code, it's all about the 'process/action'. Apple isn't suing Samsung and motorola over slide to unlock because they used Apple's code. Apple is suing them because the action (begin: swipe.... end: unlock) is the same.

    Otherwise, turning a k*** or pushing a button would be far too expensive a method of activating, or adjusting anything.

    Now you're just not making sense. Software and hardware patents are completely different. Hardware patents have an actual purpose, shows what it does, how it differs from anything else out there, and you can see what it is and what it does.

    Software patents cover two different things: algorithms and concepts. The algorithms allows you to patent, say, an encryption concept. An action lets you patent the idea of how something looks. So, for example, Amazon patents "one-click buying" and apple pays them money to use the idea, even though Apple probably doesn't use a single line of Amazon code. Or Creative Labs patents an interface idea for navigating music on a hand held device, and then gets apple to pay them money because it worked like the iPod interface.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +2

    duh...

    The company notes that it first filed for the patent in 2002, and in fact got rights to it on January 10th, but is only now pursuing "friendly licensing" deals with various companies.

    That's because if they tried to approach anyone before, they would have been laughed at, since they didn't have a patent to license.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    -5

    @ ginjg

    >>> re: it's the code, not the action.

    >>> A patent applies to the specific underlying process that swiping triggers. Even if the beginning motion and the end result are the same, as long as the underlying codes to are different, there is no patent violation.

    So what you're saying is, the process (slide to lock or tablet functionality) can look the same (Galaxy Tab & iPad) and work the same, but as long as the code for the two differ (iOS vs Android), there is no patent violation??

    Tell Apple that.

  1. b9bot

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2008

    -1

    Apple already has a Patent

    Apple already has a Patent for slide to unlock, so this Swedish firm needs to license it from Apple, not the other way around since Apple got there Patent first.

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