back to article 'Death to browsers!' cries Apple mobile-app patent

A trio of Apple filings seek to patent mobile-application "systems and methods" for travel and online shopping — and to move us three steps closer to a Google-free world. Taken together, the three filings point not only to the browserless future that Apple is seeking for its iOS devices, but also — if granted by the much- …


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  1. ratfox

    I want to scream

    Yet, I like Apple.

    This is an attempt to take something that has been done for years on the web, put an extra-thin layer of originality on it, and patent it as an app. Why not go ahead and patent "everything that has been done on the web, but not yet on a cell phone app" while they're at it?

    Considering so many apps are a simple copy of a website, I really hope the patent office decides that processes that exist on the web cannot be patented as an app. But anyway, Apple will be able to scare off developers for years with the words "patent pending", even if the patent are ultimately rejected. And who knows, they might even be granted...

    Insert long list of swear words.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Scream away

      I think iTunes will provide sufficient prior art to blow this patent away. Sure, delivery may be different but the concept is the same or at least trivial in extension. iTunes is little more than a dedicated web interface to a media/app store, how is anything mentioned in the patent really different? Surely novelty doesn't come about by saying "I put shit on a very tiny mobile computer with an integrated phone and network connection", does it?

      Oh please let me have a double helping of irony with my morning coffee.

      1. Blain Hamon

        Prior art? What about version 3.0 of shipping products?

        Compare the image labeled 602 to the first screenshot of

        Okay, I'm an Apple fanboy, but even I can see this being a copy-paste. They didn't even change the layout or icons save the handshake! Can anyone properly translate patent-ese into English? What are they patenting, exactly, when one of the patents includes a screenshot of someone else's product?

  2. Eddy Ito

    Lets go shopping

    with Veronica and Archie!

    Ooo, not feeling well, must yawn... technicolor...

  3. uninventiveheart


    While I see the 'attachment' of "apps" to the iPhone as a good business idea, there's so much on the "iPhone Web" that can be accessed by a traditional web browser (iPhone web sites all work on Android, Firefox, or any other browser: the "iPhone formatting" disappears and it looks like a tiny HTML page.) It's just a matter of time before someone is clever enough to find the "app URL" and share it.

    Anything that takes up really well on iPhone finds ways to honor the Apple patents, but makes the leap to be cross-platform for mobile devices anyway. (Layar, Epicurious, etc.)

    (Reg folks: ... as an aside, when exactly are the Steve Jobs and Mark Shuttleworth Angel/Devil icons going to appear in the comment icons for us?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reply to post: Meh...

      We already have a brace of Jobs icons. Check the iFan and iHate icons; they're the last ones in the list. Shuttleworth probably needs a pair though. I'd vote for a Beastie icon too. And raising the restriction on requiring text in both the title and the post.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      RE: Meh...

      "There's so much on the "iPhone Web" that can be accessed by a traditional web browser"

      ...and so much that can't.

      Usually the iPhone will serve up the same data in a different (sometimes better way).

      I think you're getting confused between "web pages which work on the iPhone" which means all pages that don't have Flash and "iPhone apps", some of which have a web-page equivalent, some of which do not.

  4. Joe 3


    So this isn't even algorithm patenting but application patenting?

    Also, since when is it easier to use an app to change the air on the plane rather than to just reach up to the damn thing and twist?!

    1. Anonymous Coward


      If I want to change the movie I'm watching, or pause it, or rewind a bit then I either pick up the control in the arm rest, or I can use the touch screen... why on earth would I want to get my phone out to do that?

      Oh I forgot - in the Jobsian future everything is Apple.

      Its going to be like "Demolition Man" isn't it :

      "Taco Bell was the only restaurant to survive the Franchise Wars. Now all restaurants are Taco Bell."

  5. Alastair 7

    They can have them

    ..while the rest of the world carries on using web browsers. Sometimes I think Apple is desperate to get back into that niche market they used to occupy.

    1. Lou Gosselin

      Re: They can have them

      Um, no they can't.

      A browser is still an app, albeit one that is highly configurable at run time by specifying a URI.

      I don't want apple or anybody else to have a monopoly on creating apps that run outside the browser.

      As trendy as centralized HTML applications are these days, I don't believe the pendulum has completed swinging yet. Locally running apps are still king for performance (high performance cpu&rendering, no need for postback on every page). When the industry inevitably looks for the "next big thing", it will be local applications which can install and maintain themselves - perhaps just as easily as visiting a web site.

      1. ml100

        Local vs Cloud based apps

        Have nothing to do with whether they run inside the browser or not.

        Lets not confuse the multitude of programs that run in browsers currently [or the ones google would like to run on chromium OS systems], with those that explicitly run in the cloud.

        You can harness all the power of your local system with a web based application regardless of where its hosted also as long as its written with that in mind.

        The next big thing you allude to is what Google are trying to achieve

  6. Daemon ZOGG

    "A trio of Apple filings seek to patent mobile-application.."

    Thank god for PRIOR ART! I hate Apple and I still hate Jobs. Wozniak still rules, though.

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      Woz is funny!

      I like Woz he's funny! Shame he isn't still at Apple keeping Jobs in check. Bet if he was though, those fart apps would come pre-installed knowing his jokiness!

      Oh and what happens if I was to us the Apple patented high-fashion shopping gizmo to buy polo-necks?

      Polo-necks - in your size: Yes

      Polo-necks - will it match your jeans: Yes

      Polo-necks - available colours: Black only!

      Darn! I wanted a red one though! :o( Bloody Steve Jobs telling us what to do again!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'Polo-necks - available colours: Black only!'

        The white version is supposed to be shipping in a few months.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby

      Here's the danger...

      If the USPTO is dumb enough to grant these patents, then the burden of defense is on the company that Apple sues.

      Meaning that the patent, while it may not win, acts as a barrier to entry. That is, the sole purpose of patenting the 'app' is to limit competition and increase the barriers and cost to start ups.

      This has nothing or very little to do with protecting IP. And yes, there is not only prior art, but also the fact that the patent is neither new, nor novel

      I guess if this were Google patenting these 'apps', they would be granted because the white house has been infected by the goo in google. Just ask Obama's CTO...

      1. James Butler
        Thumb Down

        @Ian Michael Gumby

        Hey there, Tea Party ... having fun during this Administration? It was almost like you had a point, for a second. Mind numb, yet? Oh, and FYI, the executive branch has nothing to do with the ridiculous antics of the USPTO.

        Have a happy mid-term!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This absurd "patenting" has to stop...

    Proper protection of ideas and intellectual property is essential in our economic world but this is becoming absurd. I've thought of something - oooh let me patent it.

    This isn't one but I've had many ideas that I've later seen exploited by well endowed enterprises - as have most of us. I had neither the interests or, far more importantly, the wealth and knowledge to raise a patent or copyright on the idea.

    Many companies, including Apple, have the initial wealth and financial and marketing muscle to eliminate all but their bastard siblings from the ideas market.

    We elect Governments to protect us from exploitation. When will they address this nonsense!

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      We do?

      Based on the last few decades I think it's fairer to say that we elect governments in order to relieve ourselves of the burden of making decisions about anything more dangerous than what clothes to wear. Apple and the State are well suited to each other since they both have the same basic drive; control.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      "Proper protection of ideas and intellectual property is essential in our economic world"

      In truth, no-one has ever shown that this is actually the case.

      Well, at least lawyers and civil servants are winning their bed, breakfast and Porsche Cayenne with that idea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Proper protection of ideas and intellectual property is essential in our economic world"

        I believe there are a number of economics papers showing that economic and technical development is faster in the absence of patents.

        Perhaps some people support patents because they want to slow down development, in order to protect traditions and the environment perhaps?

      2. asdf

        windows vs linux proves the case

        Especially in the software realm I agree totally patents do a lot more to hurt than help innovation. Look at the free and open software ecosystem growth rate vs the gorilla in non open software M$. GNU/Linux etc has come a long way in the last five years where windows not as much even with billions invested (granted with Google and others both have had basically billions invested). Also granted M$ business model has also been based more on copyright than patents until recently. Still once you allow lawyers to write the laws (how many in Congress have law degrees?) of course the general public becomes of secondary concern and generating busy work and cash for lawyers becomes paramount. Guess it pays to join the good ole boy white ahole fraternity network (had to let Obama and few other token non whites in as well because was getting too obvious).

  8. Muckminded
    Thumb Up

    Up with skirts!

    I have no interest in the putty maiden of figure 402. Ads should be sexy, and choose a certain polarization, per sexuality, etc, bleh. If I am to purchase a gadget, doodad, or market anomaly, please remove from my consideration whether I should be ambisextrous.

    Once again, I have completely missed the point, but feel great. Happiness, yo. Luddites, chill. Um, *.yay!

  9. Player_16
    Thumb Up

    Flight Attendants - too long.

    Air Hostess - Ahh, that's short enough.

    1. J 3


      They would probably go for something more "original", like... iHost?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        does the iHost support...

        iDock activities?

        OK I'll get my (dirty) coat too.

  10. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Out of control

    Surely all this proves is that Apple have lost control of whoever manages their patent portfolio. Presumably it costs each time they file something, and trying to patent the internet in 2010 is, shall we say, a tad optimistic, even under US rules.

    So Apple are simply throwing money away each time they do this, and anyone with half a clue could tell them so. So who's making the decisions over there? And do the shareholders care?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reply to post: Out of control

      IANAL, but IIRC it doesn't cost very much to submit a patent request. It costs a whole lot more to fight a patent in court though. Enough so that very few patents get challenged in court. I understand the weak patents tend to only command minimal licensing fees, just enough to make some money for the patent holder, but not enough to convince anyone to take it to court. The result is that too few patents get challenged, so an attempt to patent everything actually works out rather well. For the company that gets the patents that is. =P

    2. Anonymous Coward

      RE: Out of control

      "trying to patent the internet in 2010 is, shall we say, a tad optimistic"

      ...also a tad incorrect, as you would know if you'd read the article...

  11. northern monkey

    Is this a piss-take?

    << $425, I think not!

    Not only is it a sickening patent application but also they've spelt 'Sudoku' as 'Soduku' (Fig. 702), and the iPhone says 'The Great Equalizer' on Fig. 800. Either that or the people in the Apple's patent-firing-out department are so sick of writing patents they know are bullshit are just starting to take the mick.

    Anyway, I'm off to TK Maxx to see if I can get a nice brown anklet. I hear they're reasonably priced there.

  12. Chris Eaton

    I for an I

    This reminds me of a mobile technology caleld I-Mode (could be a coincidence I suppose) that was licenced in the UK for O2 by Japanese network DoCoMo.

    I suppose it works in a different way but idea of using closed envoronments to spend your money bombed big time for O2 - personally, I think the reason as that people just dont like spending money to browse through things that have a vague interest to them ..... again iphone creating a need where there just isnt one

  13. Simon Harris

    Wrong in so many ways...

    "a website is a website, and an app is a discrete chunk of code"

    But isn't it the case that so many websites these days are so heavy in Javascript, Java or Flash that once they are cached (specially considering the download times of some Flash apps) they can be considered to be discrete chunks of code running on the end-user's computer?

    Under Apple's paradigm, let's say I'm planning a holiday in Monaco and want something snazzy for hitting the casinos, but I don't know exactly what will suit me. So I download the Ralph Lauren app, the Yves St. Laurent app, the Hugo Boss app, the Alexander McQueen app and the Tesco's own-brand collection app and keep flicking between them until I find something I like.... then I realise, oooh lummy, I spent so long twatting around looking for clothes I didn't book my hotel or plane yet... so I download the expedia app, the travelocity app, the app... and go from one to the other looking for the best deal - by now I have filled up my iPhone with clothes and travel apps? Seems like Apple's idea is to want me to have a quarter of the internet inside my phone (of course, the other 3/4 is porn, so I'm not allowed that on my phone!)

    Anyway, I get to the hotel, a bit too early, and my room's not ready - no worries, I got a special VIP deal, so I'll chill out in the lounge with a nice long drink 'til it is - bugger! spent so long twatting around downloading apps, the battery's died on me!

    As for the suggestion of the local amenities app, should one take its suggestions with a double pinch of salt as to be included the amenities would have to pass both the censorship (and probably financial requirements) of the app writer and the censorship of Apple?

    One more point on prior art - with the part of the hotel app for controlling the TV and airconditioning - I used to have an app on my Handspring Visor that could do that years ago!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: Wrong in so many ways...

      Whereas you are just wrong in one fundamental way...

      "Under Apple's paradigm, let's say I'm planning a holiday in Monaco and want something snazzy for hitting the casinos, but I don't know exactly what will suit me. So I download the Ralph Lauren app, the Yves St. Laurent app, the Hugo Boss app, the Alexander McQueen app and the Tesco's own-brand collection app and keep flicking between them until I find something I like.... "

      The apps are intended to be used by people who frequently use the supplier (Ralph Lauren or whoever) and who want updates etc as well as the ability to browse.

      In your example, any sensible person (who only had access the internet using a phone) would just use a comparison website to find the cheapest flights, then a fashion comparison website to find the best clothing....

      ...and if they found that the best clothing came frequently from, say Ralph Lauren, then they would download that application!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        The semantic web


        "Under Apple's paradigm, let's say I'm planning a holiday in Monaco and want something snazzy for hitting the casinos, but I don't know exactly what will suit me. So I download the Ralph Lauren app, the Yves St. Laurent app, the Hugo Boss app, the Alexander McQueen app and the Tesco's own-brand collection app and keep flicking between them until I find something I like.... "

        The apps are intended to be used by people who frequently use the supplier (Ralph Lauren or whoever) and who want updates etc as well as the ability to browse.


        The real work and possibly exciting end product are apps that consume sources like these in to one app. A bit like like Google Shopping.

        The real work and possibly exciting end product are agents that you send out to do your bidding: go and find me a car that suits my life, my wallet and goes like stink.

        Web2.0 is soooooo today.

  14. biznuge

    There's an app for that...

    And that app is available on pretty much every device we now use...

    and it's called a web browser...

    and all you need to do is write a little bit of js/css/html and there you go, you're away.

    "Apps" are starting to do my ****ing tits in now, especially when you think about trying to write something that's cross platform (ie BB, ayePhone, Android) with fallbacks provided for users on non catered for platform (ie in a standard or lower mobile browser).

    I agree there are certain things that are useful in an app. take that spirit level doobrie, or shazam (although to be fair I already have a spirit level) but providing things like NEXT's shopping app, can only waste time and effort that could otherwise be ploughed into creating a great site.

    Which could be viewed by a user on their device (whatever that happens to be).

    Or am I missing the point......?

  15. Dave Murray
    Jobs Horns

    Slight hitch in Steverino's plans

    It's going to be difficult to use your iPhone to adjust your seat , lighting, air temperature, etc on a plane once they ask you to turn off all mobile phones.

  16. Chemist

    What !

    Isn't this just a specific set of examples of using a client-server architecture ?

  17. madferret

    Please adjust your seat rest to the upright position

    ...oh hang on, you can't because we've just told you to turn off all electronic devices...

  18. dageshi

    I think this is actually something completely different

    I think this is apple setting out to prove and set a precedent that apps CANNOT be patented. Think about it, if it gets granted presumably they would be able to prevent someone from developing a travel or "High Fashion" related app for android?! They already have the power to prevent such an app from being used by a third party on the iPhone, they own the platform already!

    At least I really hope so, with apple who knows.

    Jesus can we have microsoft back, even at their worst microsoft only tried to destroy you by giving their stuff away for free, they never banned you from their platform.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Oh pleaaase

    Google and their GMail app? Countless weather apps? Various 'appstore-type' apps?

  20. D. Suse
    Jobs Horns


    Patent the entire web experience and force the rest of the world off the Internet unless they pay patent royalties! What a lovely vision Apple (and their psychopathic leader Jobs) has of the future!

    It is so reassuring that they obviously are a trustworthy company that knows how to play nice with other businesses. People should feel great about supporting Apple's efforts to oppress everyone. Remember, every Ipod, Iphone, Itunes (or other Apple product) purchase goes toward supporting the "cause"!

  21. heyrick Silver badge


    And which one of you was it who said Apple innovate and the rest follow...?

  22. Spoonguard
    Jobs Horns


    Only Apple would try to patent Sadism and Masochism!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think i will patent using a capacitor AND a resistor in the same circuit, then apple will have to pay me!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK, now I'm mad

    How do we protest to the US patent office about this stupidity?

  25. Richard Wharram

    Time to embrace the Chinese philosophy

    It seems they have the right attitude towards patents after all. However, before the world gets some sense and dumps this crap I'm going to try patenting pop-up and pop-out menus on computers.

    And batteries in phones.

    And masturbation.

    1. HighlightAll

      Time for a new community

      A website (or app off a website) where people present crap ideas. The community vote on them. Anyone willing can buy a share that pays for the effort to patent the idea. Those share holders get part of the licence fees.

      Even if ideas don't get to the patent stage the content might be proof of prior art. Like Open Source software development the community would move faster than Apple etc could.

      I bagsy:

      anything to do with 3d user interfaces

      anything to do with gestures using the front facing camera on a phone preventing fingerprints on the glass

      e.g. using 5 fingers/digits pulling or pushing to zoom

    2. Graham Lockley

      title goes here

      Sorry but I can claim prior art on the masturbation thing

  26. TeeCee Gold badge

    I say let 'em do it.

    It's got both barrels and own foot writ large thereupon.

    Put it this way. Suppose that in order to use the TV and set the airco in a hotel you had to have an iOS device with a dock connector on it. Do you think that the other handset / mobile OS makers would give up and admit defeat or club together and sue Apple into bankruptcy for restraint of trade?

  27. Rex Alfie Lee

    Apple - patently system destroyers

    I wonder if the silliness of Apple's patent claims alludes to the demolition of the the software patent system. This is getting so ridiculous that the patent system is becoming untenable. I hope so anyway. I'm not an Apple fan by any means & have bagged them out many times but I wonder if they are taking advantage of a lucrative but idiotic system & intend to take it down. They have been a company that called themselves a hardware company & yes I know they have a lot of GUI software & are attempting to litigate against others but I wonder if it is a ploy to articulate the idiocy of the software patent system.

    I hope so. I always felt Apple to be a better company than Microsoft but at present they are looking worse.

  28. Gulfie

    So let me get this straight...

    Apple want to patent the concept of giving people a rich user experience outside of a browser but delivered across a network. Kind of like Adobe Air for a mobile platform, then?

    Or pretty much a direct competitor to Adobe Air, seeing as the aims are identical and the technology differing only in that it is two different ways of achieving the same thing. This is pretty much the very thing they have been blocking from appearing on their mobile devices so their security and performance will have to be up to scratch or they will get roasted. So, are these things just very big iAds then?

    This is going to be so much fun to watch. I must find me a biiiiig bucket of popcorn. Oh, BTW, anyone got any doubts still about Apple's intentions in the area of, I was going to say Internet domination, but many people won't think of it as the internet because they won't interact with a browser in this model. They'll do what Apple let them do.

    We can only hope that this clearly closed and tightly controlled approach to marketing (for that is all that it is) is an utter fail.

  29. tom 24

    Wailing and gnashing of teeth

    Allow me to add my voice to the resounding chorus: "Why oh why is this patentable?"

    Not very helpful, I know, but what else is there to be but moan and wail?

  30. Gil Grissum
    Jobs Horns

    Use your iPhone to control what on a plane?

    You think after 911, the government is going to allow anyone to control anything on commercial airline with an iPhone? Not to be a tad pessimistic, but don't you think iPhone carrying terrorists could have a field day with this sort of thing? It's never going to happen. Apple must be getting desperate. It's bad enough that their iPhone in America is limited to one hobbled carrier (AT&T) thereby guarantying that Android use outgrows it (all other carriers in the US sell Android). It's another thing entirely to attempt to patent functions that have prior art in use within a web browser. Someone at the patent office must be awake, hopefully?

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