back to article Apple threatens Palm chomp

Palm has demonstrated it can still create truly compelling devices, but Apple wields a significant patent portfolio in the area and has made it clear that it isn't afraid to use it. So will Palm's success simply fill the Cupertino coffers? The Palm Pre is everything Palm fans were hoping for, lacking only backwards …


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  1. David Webb
    Jobs Horns


    I have a palm that uses gestures, its not with the fingers it with a stylus, but you move the stylus down and to the left for a <br /> etc. Heck, if you used a touch screen and played Black and White, couldn't you really be using finger based gestures to hurl balls of lightning at infidels?

  2. Reg Varney

    Another stupid patent

    re: "20080094370 covers the idea of having multiple gestures triggering the same action - so a swipe to the right might show the next album cover, but tapping on the perspective-viewed cover would also work, as would tapping on a "next" button"

    HTF did the patent office grant this? What is the difference between clicking a Next button and using a keyboard shortcut, or a menu item? Just because it is on a touch device, this is not a novel invention!

  3. Mr Spoon
    Jobs Halo

    Palm patents

    Seems likely to me that Palm would have a fairly hefty war-chest of basic patents regarding mobile devices stashed away. This might not be a fight Apple really wants.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Software patents

    are such BS

  5. GreyCells

    So sad...

    ...that businesses have to rely on such patents to compete. It would be like Man. Utd. patenting a particular kicking technique or set piece positioning - once the patent is granted then they are free to win the league for twenty years un-fettered.

    I have no problem with Apple patenting the physical (not software) implementation - i.e. the manufacturing process etc, just not the patenting of intuitive actions.

    C'mom Apple: compete on the merits. Greed is not good.

    Me, looking for my eight-year-old mobile phone in the pocket.

  6. Pierre

    Who cares about US patents?

    The US patent system is a joke anyway. Go on Palm, make your device whatever you want it to be. Then release it in the whole world but the US (it's not like USians have any money left to spend anyway. You'll do 100 times the cash in China alone). Methink the US patent system needs that kind of scenario to become a tad less insane. Seriously. Who in their right mind would allow to "protect" a bloody _function_ regardless of the method used to implement it.

    The US patent system is probably the numero uno barrier to innovation in the US, and it's significantly hindering innovation in some other countries too. Seriously, grow up and get rid of that pile of crap already. Replace it with a protection on technical implementations, like sensible countries do.

  7. ratfox

    Enter the lawyers

    I remember reading that co-op buildings tend to not accept lawyers.

    They don't want trouble with that species.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Apple Stink!!

    As a Mac user (but not for much longer) I am really starting to hate Apple and their patent squatting. What a crap company they are turning in to.

  9. Gary
    Thumb Down

    It boggles the mind... so many completely vague patent applications get accepted. Someone could practically come up with a patent as "Device that separates two objects of different sizes while still allowing objects to flow between", which would cover the lowly toilet seat...

  10. OrsonX
    IT Angle

    You mean it's a feature?!!

    On my iPhone when moving around a web page I can only move up & down or left & right unless I first start off scrolling diagonally - I thought this was an annoying bug, according to this article it's a feature!


  11. Gary Bickford

    More troll patents

    Several of the Apple patents/applications noted here are almost certainly subject to prior art, unless the mere fact of using a finger instead of a mouse makes it a new tech.

    We were using mouse acceleration, motion slope and other characteristics to determine what to do clear back in the mid-1980's. Every device I own has examples of multiple devices and actions having the same effects. How is spreading one's fingers apart different from using the mouse to move alternate corners of a box - like any art program, such as GIMP? In some cases something like 'alt-drag' moves the box from a single static corner, or all sides from a center point, preserving aspect ratio or not.

    It seems to me that these are examples of 'throw it at the wall and see if it sticks' patent applications. I hope the Pre succeeds, and Palm defeats any attempts to extract excessive licensing fees, especially from such trivial patents.

    There is an elemental unfairness about software patents having been brought into play after 1986, when so many truly major innovations had already been down the pike - B-trees, linked lists, virtual memory, time-sharing, client-server, almost everything having to do with network protocols such as TCP/IP, dynamic linking, GUI, windowing, bitmap displays, bit-blit, morphing, LISP, ASCII, relocatable code, several hundred useful graphic algorithms, ... the list goes on.

    The people who created the computer industry did their work without the potential for revenue from patents, and that is one reason why the art progressed so quickly. I was only a minor (teensy) player, and could have acquired a hundred or so patents, were it possible at the time. Now we have companies bullying each other over patents regarding which direction to move one's finger. They should all put 1% of their revenues into a fund to repay all those geniuses that made their business possible.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love Apple.

    I would love to give Apple the middle finger for their frivolous use of industry retarding patents. After reading this article however I am not sure if this gesture has also been patented by Apple (along with the wave, the handshake..etc) However, knowing that their legal department far outnumbers the engineering department, I dare not take the risk.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I hope Apple sues Palm out of existance

    ...or buys the company and fires every single engineer.

    Bitter from getting constantly screwed by Palm? No, not me!!!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A whole bunch of patent applications...

    ...that boil down to "doing something that has been done since the dawn of time - but now on a computer".

    So how are this lot going to survive the "in re Bilski" decision?

  15. Martin Owens

    apple/finger search

    I love giving Apple the finger. They want to make products, that's fine, but do it without ripping off the commons.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    I'm making a finger gesture at Apple right now...

    ... Can you guess which one it is?

  17. Glenn Gilbert

    Have Apple innovated?

    One of the real questions about patents is have they genuinely innovated. It is clear that the iPhone is an amazing device that has single-handedly dragged the whole industry forwards it in its wake. Prior to 18 months ago, the best we had was the likes of Symbian, Microsoft, et al with their horrid little stylus and rather rubbish interfaces.

    Why should Apple be the ones investing in innovation simply for the rest of the industry to copy them.

    How can the industry begrudge Apple some form of recompense for their hard work? And the rest of us should be grateful that they've finally breathed some life into a moribund marketplace.

  18. Graham Lockley

    To be fair

    As the article states these are only patent applications and there is no suggestion that Apple would try to (or even could) enforce them if they were granted.

    @Gary Bickford

    I stand and applaud your comments, real innovation has been stifled in recent years because of patent greed. Invented something radical ? Sorry but our company patented a vague description of it last year (well actually we bought the company that did actually have a vague idea)


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple ??

    Funny, thing is this.. Apple never invents the underlying technology e.g. touch screen it just patents software interpretation of soemone elses invention, jobs seems to wake up with whatever that was stuck up his A% and decides to patent it... in this case 2 fingers.... Seriously the US patent system needs to change,

  20. Rolf Howarth

    Defensive patents

    I don't think there's any particular evidence of Apple patent squatting. They're not going round buying up patent portfolios and making money by scaring infringers into licensing but are simply patenting things they've developed and sell. You only have to look at all the iPod clones or things like the P168 to see they have some justification for trying to protect themselves against direct copying.

    The other reason big companies like to have a large patent portfolio is to protect themselves against excessive claims by other parties, so if someone like Nokia or Palm were suddenly to make a claim for infringement against Apple they could most likely settle it by some sort of cross licensing deal.

    Unlike trademarks, I don't believe you need to go round enforcing your patent rights or you'll lose them, so I wouldn't worry too much about Apple using patents to stifle competition and innovation just yet.

  21. IDK
    Thumb Down

    Re: Patent 20070146337

    So, the fact that I've been able to do that for years and my apps on my T|X (at the moment), the C505 before it and the C3 (I think) prior to that mean that this is new innovation from Apple... I wonder if Palm have an old patent floating around (or one of the app developers) that happily pre-date this by around 10 years.

    WRT #20080094370, I guess different gestures used in the media players I have installed have to be removed now as well?

    Here's hoping that, between Palm and all their app developers, they go after Apple for patent infringement or get some of theirs thrown out for prior art...

    Bloody patent trolls!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Sorry guys....

    I just patented a "system for reproduction of objects by formation of a new detachable body, subject to all Newtonian, Gallilean, Hawkian and M-theory physics"

    I call it the 'Apple' so suck on that, Steve Jobs. Gimme all yer cash!

    In a less insane mode - "scrolling simulating Newtonian physics" - well, um that would be just like a SCROLL WHEEL or SLIDER then, eh? Sort of prior art. Also, smart-arses, Newtonian physics is only an approximation; Palm could just say they are using non-newtonian physics, and give Apple the finger. Oh, yeah, they can't do that though.

    I'm just waiting for Apple to patent "a system for organic respiration using 'lungs' to infuse 'blood' with 'oxygen'" and then sue all of us.

  23. John

    What a load of rubbish

    Patents mean nothing unless they're defended in court and only then will you know if they're worth anything.

    As for the "mind reading" patent to determine an action based on context or using Newtonian physics. I've worked in video games and this kind of thing is used all the time. Apple hasn't invented anything. At best they've taken well known ideas and applied them to a specific task however I can't see how this constitutes as anything patentable.

    The truth is that software patents never stand up, unless it's a very specific algorithm like the marching cubes algorithm or something but not simple "ideas". Capcom tried to defend Street Fighter 2 once from all the clones and even though it was definately the first game of it's like that did it properly it wasn't defendable and they lost. After that the games industry pretty much gave up on that idea and have been stealing from each other ever since.

  24. John

    It does show that Apple is worried

    I love my iPhone however they have every reason to be. This phone could be a game changer (again), one of the things I can't stand is the inability to multi-task (unless you're Apple) and it appears this does it well. I understand Apple's reasons however it's typical Apple, if they can't get a feature to work right or it becomes too geeky they remove it. It's their strength and weakness, unfortunately App developers are realizing it's a big weakness.

  25. J
    Jobs Horns

    Apple and finger search?

    Did you by any chance find anything about Apple sticking their fingers in their... pockets and keeping them far from stupid patent squatting?

  26. Anonymous Coward

    You guys

    NEED TO GET OUT MORE. Or at least stop reacting like a herd of Daily Mail/Express readers, and try to actually read the document, instead of taking a journalist word for it. Microsoft didn't write DOS, but that didn't stop them patenting it...

  27. Richard
    Paris Hilton

    Chopping Board

    Never mind this Apple (TM) (R) (C) tot, where is a link to the super safe apple chopping board?

  28. Lionel Baden
    Jobs Horns

    im really getting fed up with titles

    Really starting to get annoyed at the money grabbing bastards !!!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Minority Report

    Surely you have to demonstrate that the idea is original and unique, has the US patent office never seen Minority Report? All of these gestures were used in that movie well before the Jesus phone.

    I really hope that illness is serious.

  30. Gavin Burnett

    Palm should say..

    Apple to palm : see you in court.

    palm to apple: Talk to the hand!

  31. Dave
    Dead Vulture

    Hold on...

    Please calm down a bit guys - so a reporter has suggested that a number of un-approved patent applications may conflict with someone else's work, that doesn't mean that Apple is going to be granted any of these, or that they will then sue Palm,or anyone else.

    These days, large corporations are forced into having a 'defensive patent' team, purely to prevent any trolls from attacking them. Even the FOSS boys are doing it. And of course this means that you have to go after every possible angle, no matter how ridiculous, because if YOU are able to patent it, then that means that some troll would have been able to do it as well.

    I am sure that the author was well aware of all this, but could have managed to slip in a couple of extra lines to make this clear to all and sundry.

  32. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Palm should say..

    I think 'in core[t]' might be a step too far.

  33. Rob

    patent stupidity

    i propose that any entity holding more than 10 patents be destroyed.

    10 brand new, unique and innovative ideas ought to be enough for any individual to retire on, or any corporation to make a lot of money from.

    it might seem a bit radical but i really think it would improve the quality of patents no end and benefit the world in general. once that's done we can go and turn all the advertisers and marketing goons into soylent green, solving several problems in one fell swoop.

  34. David Edwards

    Can I patent

    CTRL alt DEL

    Or CTRL C

    Or pressing enter

    or a round thing you put on an axle....

  35. Steve Anderson

    I've got a US patent pending

    Application #2009006711499

    "Method and mechanism for doing fucking anything" it's titled. Bet it gets approved.

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