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.
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RE[6]: This just goes to show
by spiderman on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 15:22 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: This just goes to show"
spiderman
Member since:
2008-10-23

It is not only prio art that invalidates a patent. Obviousness does also invalidate a patent.
Let say I get an effective way to track eye movements with a webcam. I could patent the idea to use this eye tracker as a pointing device, but this would quickly be invalidated. Not because of prior art (I'm the first to track eye, so I'm the first who can use that as a pointing device), but because it is obvious.

Reply Parent Score: 3

lurch_mojoff Member since:
2007-05-12

How is "pinching", or even a camera tracking your eye movements, obvious? Especially "pinching" - give me one example of an object that you can you can increase in size or scale through the pinching motion.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[8]: This just goes to show
by Adurbe on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 15:55 in reply to "RE[7]: This just goes to show"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

blue-tack! :-)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[8]: This just goes to show
by spiderman on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 15:58 in reply to "RE[7]: This just goes to show"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

It is obvious to me. I'm talking about the idea, not the implementation. It is hard to code this idea in software and I'm certainly not capable of it. But their code is their copyright. The idea is a patent. Eye tracking software is obvious, many people have been trying to do it since 20 or 30 years. It is hard to translate in computer code, but the idea is widely documented in the net and is obvious to several people who work in the accessibility area. When you see someone who has sclerosis and who can't move any part of his body but the eye, and you are working in the software industry, your first idea is: "we should track the eye and translate it into mouse movement". To me and to several people this is obvious. Pinching is equaly obvious to me and to several people.

The hard part is the actual implementation. And maybe that would be patentable, but not a patent like 'using artificial neural network and haar-like features, we could track eye movements', this is the obvious way to do it, but it is hard. An inovative way would maybe be patentable, but seriously, 'pinching', you've got to be kidding! This is far from Einstein discoveries.

Edited 2009-01-22 16:04 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[7]: This just goes to show
by Adurbe on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 15:52 in reply to "RE[6]: This just goes to show"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

your statment is correct that in the US a patent must be "non-obvious"

your example however was a poor one as it is not 'obvious' to track your eyes to move a pointer

a better example would be along the lines of a patent 'for using a pencil to write'

Reply Parent Score: 1

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I could patent the idea to use this eye tracker as a pointing device


No you couldn't. Ideas are not patentable, implementations are.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[8]: This just goes to show
by spiderman on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 16:15 in reply to "RE[7]: This just goes to show"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

I could patent the implementation of a pointing device using an eye tracker, even though many peope are working on it.

Edited 2009-01-22 16:16 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[8]: This just goes to show
by Adurbe on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 16:47 in reply to "RE[7]: This just goes to show"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

I have to disagree,

you need to be able to explain to others how to make and use the invention so that they could replicate the invention after simply reading your description of the invention in a patent application. You do not need to have a prototype

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[8]: This just goes to show
by Bounty on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 17:28 in reply to "RE[7]: This just goes to show"
Bounty Member since:
2006-09-18

"I could patent the idea to use this eye tracker as a pointing device
No you couldn't. Ideas are not patentable, implementations are. "

Not really, I think all you need is a drawing. It may actually be impossible to make though. You can show a picture or drawing of some ultrathin (hair width) fishing pole so that fish can't see you trying to cast, but it may not actually be feasable to make. Something that only exists on paper is an idea in my opinion.

"eye tracker as pointing device" isn't the idea, I think he is just sumarizing... The idea is more like (and I know his idea cuz it's obvious)

Take a picture of face/eyes while staring at dot in center. Take a picture of face/eyes staring at dot in upper left. Compare pictures, calibrate. From now on when picture looks like second picture move arrow to upper left. blah blah blah I can pretend this is a working implementation, but the reality is that it's harder to actually make work in real life. For real life you don't have enough resolution to do regular computer work, you would need a special menu or smart cursor that jumped to hotspots like clickable buttons, pre-specified icons etc.

At least now that I've said it in public any eye tracking software based on taking pictures of your face isn't patentable right.... well no, cuz the patent office dude will not be trawling OSNEWS for prior art. From the looks of what I've seen, they don't search for anything, just stamp OK and let the courts and defendants do the work.

http://www.google.com/patents?id=cn85AAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoo...

man, that's a spooky place to trawl google.com/patents

(p.s. I believe the degree of obviousness reguarding patents is not necessarily v.s. the general public, but to another professional in a similar field.)

-Bounty (as always IANAL)

Reply Parent Score: 1