Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 12:04 UTC
Legal Remember when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, and held it up in the air, proudly proclaiming "Boy, have we patented it", followed by a massive applause of the adoring audience? It may seem like this wasn't just an empty claim, either. During the earnings conference call yesterday, the company hinted at possible legal action against Palm were the Pre to infringe on iPhone patents.
Thread beginning with comment 344941
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Seems like a reasonable patent
by PlatformAgnostic on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 13:40 UTC
PlatformAgnostic
Member since:
2006-01-02

Whether you like patents or not, the things that make the iPhone great are pretty solidly patentable. They obviously can't patent multitouch, or touchscreens, or many innovations of the device as technologies in and of themselves. But Apple can patent, for instance, the application of multitouch to a cellphone, and maybe even some aspects of their software that gives natural feedback to users.

Apple has worked hard over a year and a half to make the iPhone device and, although in retrospect a lot of things about it seem straightforward or obvious, they had obviously created a new thing that is strongly differentiated from the rest of the market. They deserve to get the benefit of their creativity for some time before being attacked by lower-priced cloners who did not staff the research and development organizations necessary to put together a new idea.

Reply Score: -2

BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

But Apple can patent, for instance, the application of multitouch to a cellphone, and maybe even some aspects of their software that gives natural feedback to users.


So perhaps Palm holds a patent for "copy-paste functionality on a handheld device"? That would explain a lot.

Reply Parent Score: 5

tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

Don't know why you are getting modded down.


But Apple can patent, for instance, the application of multi-touch to a cellphone

That's an obvious application of existing technology, especially considering the release of the first completely touch phone in 1992 and considering that Nintendo was granted a patent for a hand-held multi-touch device in February of 2006 (almost one year before the Iphone).

Apple (or any other company) should not be able to patent something so obvious, regardless of the work they put into it.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Bernhard Member since:
2008-11-12

That's an obvious application of existing technology, especially considering the release of the first completely touch phone in 1992 and considering that Nintendo was granted a patent for a hand-held multi-touch device in February of 2006 (almost one year before the Iphone).

Apple (or any other company) should not be able to patent something so obvious, regardless of the work they put into it.


Most patent offices are hopelessly overburdened with lots and lots of applications. That's why so many 'inventions' are granted with a patent in spite of prior art. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 1

Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

Here's a relevant quote from that seminal book on Interaction Design, Alan Cooper's The Inmates are Running the Asylum:

"If, as a designer, you do something really, fundamentally, blockbuster correct, everybody looks at it and says, 'Of course! What other way would there be?' This is true even if the client has been staring, empty-handed and idea-free, at the problem for months or even years without a clue about solving it.... Most really breakthrough conceptual advances are opaque in foresight and transparent in hindsight. It is incredibly hard to see breakthroughs in design. You can be trained and prepared, spend hours studying the problem, and still not see the answer. Then someone else comes along and points out a key insight, and the vision clicks into place with the natural obviousness of the wheel. If you shout the solution from the rooftops, others will say, 'Of course the wheel is round! What other shape could it possibly be?' This makes it frustratingly hard to show off good design work."

Few know this better than Cooper, a pioneer in the field of interaction design with an immense portfolio of clients. So whether or not you agree that Apple's innovations should be patentable (as a matter of fact I feel it's worse for "the greater good" as it tends to balkanize interaction paradigms across vendors and thus make end-users' lives harder), the fact is that you cannot objectively assess their level of obviousness.

Reply Parent Score: 2