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: Seems like a reasonable patent
by tupp on Thu 22nd Jan 2009 22:42 UTC in reply to "Seems like a reasonable patent"
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

tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

Most really breakthrough conceptual advances are opaque in foresight and transparent in hindsight... Few know this better than Cooper, a pioneer in the field of interaction design with an immense portfolio of clients.

This rudimentary idea is obvious in itself and is a revelation only to those who have no experience with creative endeavors. It is a notion that usually is comprehended early on in the career of anyone involved in any creative discipline (music, writing, photography, filmmaking, product design, choreography, architecture, etc. -- not just software interface design).

Also, if anyone qualifies to be described as "a pioneer in the field of interaction design," it would be Donald Norman, not Alan Cooper. Norman's expertise is much broader -- he has a lot more experience with the interaction between humans and all objects (not just software). With "The Psychology Of Everyday Things," Norman literally "wrote the book" on product usability.


So whether or not you agree that Apple's innovations should be patentable..., the fact is that you cannot objectively assess their level of obviousness.

Of course, you can.

There are many generic ideas for devices which cannot be achieved because of some limitation. We all want flying cars, teleportation and replicators, but right now they are impossible or impractical. However, just because these items have not been commercially produced, these ideas are still obvious.

In addition, there are many ideas which are easily achieved, but which have uncertain value/appeal. Manufacturers have given us the refrigerator computer, the inside-the-egg-shell scrambler, and the "Bark Stop Professional": http://www.seenontv.com/prod-pages/lentek_bark_free.html

The multi-touch cellphone is a combination of these two types of ideas. The concept was out there and obvious. However, the production of a multi-touch phone was delayed, because, until recently, touchscreen phones have not been powerful enough to handle the software, and due to the dismal appeal of past touch-screen phones, manufacturers were reluctant to sink funds into the development and tooling of a multi-touch version.

Furthermore, the verdict is still out on the advantages/drawbacks of multi-touch phones and of touch-phones in general.

Edited 2009-01-23 17:52 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3