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Apple wins broad user interface patent

updated 07:52 pm EDT, Wed July 18, 2012

Patent covers variety of touchscreen interactions

Apple has been granted a patent on much of the user interface model underlying much of its iOS operating system. The patent covers a "portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents" and could represent a major weapon for the iPhone maker in its ongoing legal struggles with a variety of Android handset manufacturers.

Apple's patent centers around the innovations necessary to make a touchscreen -- instead of physical buttons -- the primary means of interacting with information presented on the screen. The patent presents UI modules for blogging, email, video player, calendar, browser, search, and many other features. It also covers the multi-touch actions featured on the iPhone, the device's virtual keyboard, and many other features.

The iPhone's debut in the smartphone market five years ago brought about a massive shift in the way phones were designed and marketed. Indeed, before the device was revealed, major smartphone manufacturers thought its design impossible. In the years since, though, the design of the iPhone has remained the standard for most manufacturers.

Today's patent news will likely spell trouble for those phone makers inspired by the Cupertino company. When the iPhone was revealed back in 2007, the late Steve Jobs made certain to note that the company had heavily patented the technology powering the device. Since the arrival of Google's Android operating system, Apple has engaged in fierce and protracted legal battles with companies manufacturing handsets running the system. The new patent, no doubt, will provide Apple with another, even sharper angle of attack in the months to come. [via Patently Apple]



By Electronista Staff
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  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    Yes, what we need are more broad patents to "defend" "our IP". This is because we don't want anyone to develop anything similar even though this interface and touchscreen's had already existed years before we "Invented it".

    If we could have patented "the wheel", we would have!

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 01-21-10

    Ballmer must be chimp-screaming in joy. Because maybe, just maybe, Nokia can survive. Even with phones running WP8. Maybe Surface will actually sell into the former Android market. And maybe all that work making Metro as different from iOS as possible will actually pay off. Heck, Microsoft might even become relevant again.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    This I think will be shown to be what Steve was referring to when he said Android is stolen.

    Because ... it is.

    11 patents found to be infringed, Java code plagiarized ... Android. Is. Stolen.

  1. pastusza

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-01-99

    Android is far from stolen. The exact interface described in the patent first showed up on the Creative Nomad, the Palmpilot and even Windows Mobile. The patent office should be ashamed of itself for issuing this.

    Now if Apple had patented this when they released the Newton, this would be a different story.

    Software patents suck and need to be abolished.

  1. fractaledge

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-07-10

    Originally Posted by pastuszaView Post

    Android is far from stolen. The exact interface described in the patent first showed up on the Creative Nomad, the Palmpilot and even Windows Mobile. The patent office should be ashamed of itself for issuing this.
    Now if Apple had patented this when they released the Newton, this would be a different story.
    Software patents suck and need to be abolished.



    Uhm, have you actually read the patent or just base your knee-jerk opinion on the pretty pictures in the article?

    Which elements described in this patent appeared in Nomad, USRobotics Pilot or WinMobile? I still own the Creative Nomad (upgraded with a 20G drive), and developed for both Pilot and Win Mobile. And I have NOT seen any elements described in the patent in any of those devices / platforms.

    Care to enlighten me?

  1. aviamquepasa

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-22-11

    This is like someone patented dance moves. We would have to tell our children not to dance, ja, ja... incredibly stupid. Or that a writer patented a sentence. Wait, then before writing something we would have to look in a list of prohibited sentences, ja, ja.
    Some software patents are just natural improvements in user interface, they do not come from years and years of research spending. Software patents should disappear, but it seems a lot of people is interested in having them, to maintain their status and avoid small companies to compete.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by aviamquepasaView Post

    This is like someone patented dance moves. We would have to tell our children not to dance, ja, ja... incredibly stupid. Or that a writer patented a sentence. Wait, then before writing something we would have to look in a list of prohibited sentences, ja, ja.
    [...]
    Some software patents are just natural improvements in user interface, they do not come from years and years of research spending.



    You know what's so weird?

    SO MUCH of what Apple does seems exactly this way—completely organic, totally natural development. Like it just needed to be discovered.

    Why doesn't anybody else implement it then? Even when there's a working concept demo, nobody ever actually builds a functional, salable product. Until Apple does.

    Why, if it's so natural?

    Why is it that EVERY SINGLE NON-APPLE TRACKPAD SUCKS COMPLETE ASS, and Apple's feel like it's totally obvious that this is how they should be done?

    It's because Apple have invested millions of dollars and years of research, development and honing into hundreds of prototypes, throwing away 95% of the work, and making the ONE product you actually see seem like it's completely natural and obvious.

    BTW, since you don't seem to have a clue: dance moves, and music, work the same way.

    This guy spent decades working his ass off before this seemed natural:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXO-jKksQkM

  1. pastusza

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-01-99

    Well, if you look at Figure 14a, the whole sliding list thing was one by the Nomad. I'd have to read through the whole patent to nitpick the rest. Yes, Apple has done a lot of refinement to UIs and the iPhone is really quite polished. But I don't feel like there's something there that has never been done before.

    I am really quite sick of people calling the iPhone revolutionary. It's a great device, but it's evolutionary. The Newton was revolutionary. When it came out, nothing like it existed ever before. It paved the way for everything from the Palmpilot all the way to the iPhone/iPad. Heck, they made Newton phones.

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