I'm afraid I just don't see it.....
Apple has apparently lifted the look-and-feel of an iPhone app from German developer FutureTap and used it in a software patent application, putting that developer in a sticky situation. "I can't really judge whether the inclusion of a 1:1 copy of our start screen in someone else's patent is legal," wrote FutureTap founder …
Quoting from the App Store developer agreement posted by the EFF earlier this year : "Apple will be free to use and disclose any Licensee Disclosures on an unrestricted basis without notifying or compensating You. You release Apple from all liability and obligations that may arise from the receipt, review, use, or disclosure of any portion of any Licensee Disclosures."
That actually does sound like one deals away any and all chances to stop Apple doing whatever they want with stuff you submit to the App Store, including screenshots.
Makes the prior art argument pretty literal in this case.
On the one hand, it looks like Apple are trying to patent something that someone else has clearly already done. If I were the original author of the work I would be worried that Apple were planning to come after me in court.
OTOH, the patent clearly has no ground on the prior art grounds....
The patent application is surely a massive clue to the developer that his app is soon to be dumped out of the App Store when Apple launch their own version and the existing app is suddenly in breach of App Store rules on the grounds of "competing with an Apple product".
He really should start working on an Android version. NOW.
Better yet, re-develop it in Qt and have it ready for Symbian^3 and MeeGo. :)
Its not enough to take the p*ss out of their gullible fanbois, now they do it to their developers. The only consolation is how much browntrousering is going on in Cupertino since they lost the sales race to Android, because they know they'll never catch up again now.
Is what Apple will tie this small developer up in. It doesn't matter who is right or who is wrong, this developer will not be able to afford to keep up with Apple's defence lawyers who will quickly turn the tables. Not unless they get some support from the likes of Google.
On their own, FutureTap don't stand a chance against Apple - HOWEVER, there is a chance that Apply may be looking to purchase FutureTap - by owning this patent, they give themselves a chance of dictating what the price for FutureTap will be. Apple may be the bad guys here, but they are certainly not stupid, and copying someone else's design so accurately will have been done as part of a larger less sinister plan - such as purchasing FutureTap.
If Apple don't now go on to purchase FutureTap the patent application will make no sense and they run the risk of Google jumping on this and using it to make an awful lot of anti Apple noise - i.e. if Google now bought Future tap it'd be a cheap way to buy in to what could turn out to be a major bit of bad ballsache for Apple.
Apple know that as well - and surely, by now they know there best bet of securing their cornering of the mobile apps market is by getting a stranglehold over the most innovative developers before they release their wares on Android - and FutureTap are one such developer.
Who shat in your handbag?
"read the many, many posts from people with a clue."
Sorry Doris, but doing that would require me also to read the many, many, many, MANY posts from petty-minded, irritating little know-it-all asshats like you.
In short, FO back to /. if you love it so much.
I was afraid the closed nature of the app store was going to turn out this way. It is way too easy for Apple to mine apps looking for easy targets to steal IP. I call this developer lucky, how many others may have been refused by iTunes only to have their intellectual property stolen and now have no easy way to prove it.
I use to wonder if Apple are still upset about the whole GUI dust bin dust up with MS so many years ago, now I know.
As Eponymous Howard suggested, if you read the patent itself (or at least comments from people who actually read it), you'll notice that the patent application's claims are completely orthogonal to the "Where To?" app.
In other words, Apple is not trying to steal anybody's app, and the functionality described in the patent is vastly different than what the app offers.
In one of the *many* illustrations that it offers as examples of various ways in which the interface can relate to the invention, it includes *one* that resembles the "Where To?" app--but it is just presented as an example among many others, and the patent does not claim ownership of this interface, but of the functionality it defines.
The patent does not even attempt to describe a particular interface--that is, the interface itself is not part of the invention being claimed.
Of course, this is not as exciting as attacking Apple for being evil, right?
being rational and sensible and basing your views on points of fact rather than knee jerk reactions, hearsay and hyperbole. You really need to get a caffeine addiction, so that you can rant and vent properly about hoe nasty Steve Jobs is. How very dare you, DZ-Jay, how very dare you...
"and the patent does not claim ownership of this interface, but of the functionality it defines."
Just a word play, not relevant.
Interface without functionality is just a pretty picture without any code behind it and in this case it had functionality, which Apple stole and patented.
on the one hand, you clearly have a point there. On the other hand, I would say that Apple really should have spoke to the creators of the app before using it's UI as an example.
Not only is that simply the polite thing to do, it also heads off public relations own goals like the one they've just scored.
What _is_ up with jobs lately. I can't help thinking that a few years ago he would have been wise to this and would have thought twice before telling people to just 'hold their phones differently' to get around a hardware bug. Apple are slipping.
Good for you. Sadly I did like apple, as I did like MS, long time ago, before the dark times, before the Empire....
Now somehow MS seems to me just some big company, not particularly good or bad while Apple is really starting to look all an out nasty.
Evolution of my perception of Apple:
At the beginning I thought “Wow that company really thinks different and doesn’t compromise”.
When Jobs was out it was more like “Yea, those expensive and irrelevant machines”.
When Jobs returned was like “Still expensive but got a lot of cool air”.
Just a couple of years ago it was more like "Yea that company that specializes in trendy stuff for rich snubs or wannabes, but cant deny is cool stuff”.
Now I think “Those greedy pompous bastards”.
Clearly Apple's patent applies to stuff that will be in a framework that 3rd part apps can use, like GameKit or UIKit.
Where To is used as an example of that. The fact that the diagram uses the app's name is a pretty good clue that Apple isn't trying to steal the UI, but rather is depicting the third-party app in use. (Presumably a future version of Where To that takes advantage of the API that implements the tech being patented.)
A GameKit-related patent might show a screen shot of Pong. That doesn't mean Apple is patenting Pong.
The iPod for bicycles patent is another case: there's a drawing of a bicycle, which probably strongly resembles some particular model of a bicycle that exists. That doesn't mean Apple is trying to patent that bicycle design, or bicycles in general.
Well, do you think Slashdot was original journalism? Or a content aggregation service with an advanced comments system?
What about the Associated Press? Where literally hundreds of stories are posted, bought and re-used by other journalists? That of course never happens!
Only the register are guilty of being clueless hacks and plagiarism.
Get a clue fool. Slashtards are just people like you and me. Clearly more geeky yes, but us all the same. And why have you taken issue with El Reg's stance? Let me guess, you're typing that from you iPhone 4 whilst masturbating to a picture of Steve Jobs filling out the bank slip for you Apple Street Team cheque.
"Let me guess, you're typing that from you iPhone 4 whilst masturbating to a picture of Steve Jobs filling out the bank slip for you Apple Street Team cheque." Who are your fantasy poster boys then, Larry, Sergey and Eric involved in some boardroom troilism? Or does Stevie B get you all sweaty when he's getting, erm, all sweaty 'throwing chairs'? In truth, both of you need to calm down, but your bit was utterly pathetic! Grow up now please.
"Apple know that as well - and surely, by now they know there best bet of securing their cornering of the mobile apps market is by getting a stranglehold over the most innovative developers before they release their wares on Android - and FutureTap are one such developer."
This is amongst the best the Apple market has to offer ? If this is innovation in the mobile market then I think I will go back to WAP for my info needs.
Apple simply co-opted Xerox ground breaking UI work and they have continued to do so, as well as plain stealing others names, such as the Fujitsu iPad. MS is little better.
Those pathetic little screens Apple is seeking a patent for have already been employed, several years ago, in travel res terminals. The terminals were also touch, although a very early version.
The concept was liking checking boxes only with the customers finger, rather than having a keyboard vulnerable to vandalism and permitting them to type their requirements. The screen labels changed discretely as selections were touched.
Apples copies appear to be static, which a step to the rear. Like external antennae.
Before you go any further you need to clear up which Apple you refer to - is it the one which brought us the wonderful music from the Beatles in the 60's, or the one which, err, took their name a decade later and now because of that can't bring us the very same music?
Nice rewrite of history.
The use of the iPad name was authorised.
Xerox demonstrated their UI to Apple. Many of the people who worked on the Xerox GUI went to work at Apple.
Apple were just first to market. Everyone else then ripped off Apple. Atari, Commodore, Acorn, Microsoft and so on.
It's funny how the iPad, iPhone and iPod have spawned so many clones or killer alternatives (which never end up being as popular).
I don't see many people cloning Kin phones or Zunes.
HOW MANY TIMES do people have to have this pointed out, Apple LICENSED parts of it's GUI technology from Xerox, they didn't steal it. Putting it together in a consumer oriented device was their idea as Xerox, quite frankly, hadn't got a clue as to what to do with the technology.
Trying to find a meaningful name for a product being rolled out internationally is a minefield. Pretty much any name you can think of is being used by someone. Fujitsu were using the name for an EPOS system, and Apple bought the rights to the trade name from them fair and square. You think there's any source of confusion or existing brand recognition over an EPOS terminal?
As for the patent in question, if Apple are patenting an API upon which apps like Where To? can be built then they are NOT patenting the application and the authors of Where To? would not have to pay them royalties to use the API.
There is plenty of force behind the argument that software shouldn't be patentable, but while it is this isn't anything sinister or underhand on Apple's behalf.
When are you going to learn, eh? Xerox didn't invent the notion of a UI. PERIOD. They innovated on the UI with the WIMP paradigm. So if you want to accuse Apple of stealing anything, it was *that*. User interfaces as a concept *existed* before PARC did. As for Apple actually copying UI elements from this guy, I'll say the same thing to you as I said to him, actually *read* the patent yer fuckwit.
"Apple were just first to market. Everyone else then ripped off Apple. Atari, Commodore, Acorn, Microsoft and so on."
Bullshit, exept maybe in MS' case. The others ripped of Xerox like Apple and got quite different solutions from same ideas. At the same time as Apple had theirs. MS is and was really a late-comer in this game.
Nice try of history rewrite, though. Somebody might even believe.
Actually Apple *were* the first to successfully sell the WIMP based UI, with the Macintosh in 1984. Xerox did half-heartedly release the Star in late '81, but at $75k for the base system and $16k for additional node (don't forget, 1981 prices), surprisingly, it flopped, as did the Lisa (1983) at $10k.So, who was first? question. Trivially? Xerox. Commercially? Apple. As to "ripping-off"; Apple did borrow heavily from Xerox (in fact Jobs quoted Picasso "good artists copy; great artists steal"), but they were basically given the keys to PARC for a couple of days and told that they could pretty much have what they wanted in return for $1M pre-IPO stock options. I don't know that you could call that stealing and even ripping-off is a stretch. It's worth pointing out (in an over-simplified way) that the PARC research was based on work (or ripped-off from, depending on your point of view) by Engelbart and Sutherland, who in turn were influenced by Bush. The others got their ideas from both PARC (not, and for the love of all things, Xerox) and Apple, with Micros~1 ripping-off pretty much everyone else!
The poster who tried to claim that Apple didn't steal the name for the iPad (but mooooom finding original names is haaaard) conveniently forgot to mention that Apple bought the rights to it only AFTER Fujitsu said "uh, we own that".
Just because Apple is really bad at stealing things and usually gets caught, doesn't mean they don't try.
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I think you're living in a bizarro world where Microsoft are the Stazi and any developers writing good programs are herded into a barn and shot and their papers stolen and given to MS agents. In case you haven't noticed, there are literally millions of successful Windows app developers out there that haven't been disappeared by MS or bought out. MS don't necessarily want to compete with every single application developer, that's insane.
This is weird, but since when has Apple become ugly and play hardball with the little man like this before? There is precedent with Apple liking a particular piece of UI design developed by an independent, and they bought the software from them: that was CoverFlow (check out the wikipedia page for a history of CoverFlow).
The other side of the fence is ugly - regulators are there to protect this sort of bully boy tactics, and in the EU this behaviour is particularly frowned upon.
Come on Steve - if you like the UI this much, just buy the little man and use it, just like you did with CoverFlow
1) A company that is honest about being dishonest.
2) A company that is dishonest about being honest
3) A company that is dishonest about being dishonest?
Now pair each exclusively with option 1, 2 or 3.
1 = a
2 = b
3 = c
1 = a
2 = c
3 = b
There are bigger evils in this world than Microsoft!
""We're faced with a situation where we've to fear that our primary business partner is trying to 'steal' our idea and design," he alleged."
Apple is clearly doing the same thing than MS has done for tens of years: Take a "business partner", steal their ideas and patents, drop partnership and publish/patent those ideas as yours.
Standard procedure in MS and now, quite obviously, in Apple, too.
Is the masses of still loyal followers of this company.
If I were reliant on a company which was essentially stealing my ideas, refuses to communicate about it or (as previously) releases comments which appears to have been written by my 3y/o to other developers via email then I certainly would be changing who I deal with.
The unabated following of Apple astonishes me. If Jobbie (appropriate name) came along and cut off their testicles (or female parts - just to be PC) and offered them on a plate, they would probably just ask for ketchup, say thank you and still pay the bill.
And on a different note, is it me or does the IPad sound like a female product? Maybe its a synonym - use once and throw away?
Is the masses of still loyal followers of this company. blah blah If I were reliant on a company which was essentially stealing my ideas, blah blah blaz zzzzzzzz...
Or, in the alternative, they went to the source material rather than relying on El Reg's 5th rate, 3rd hand hackery.
In 2006-2007, for my dissertation I did a study in to the effectiveness of the right-context menu for both beginners and "experts". In it, two test were run to perform so DTP tasks on a document; cut text here, paste there, insert caption on picture and set headings, etc.
The alternative menu I used was very much like the interface element described above. The results showed it more friendly to new computer users (a right click menu with +15 options is NOT friendly) and the "experts" would either use a shortcut or just one option somewhere down the list. So, for the "experts" and everyone the extra space not being used as a list helped teach the users shortcut keys and provided a short description.
I was under the impression, this element of user interfaces is to do with psychology and the way we use computers...not a patent. At what point will such behavior stop being useful for the furthering of humanity (not just computers)? I think many reading this comment would say, a loooooooong time ago.
It pisses me off that, if someone were to create an application or OS that is logically better for different users, we now have to pay a company like Apple more $$$ than it would probably make in the first 5 years. Can we not just burn the patent book and start again, it's at the point of being crazy stupid.
As a consumer even, most people (I use a flavour of Linux and LOVE the UI) will have to shell out their hard earned money for such idea's of progress when it should be free for all. Surely, the first wheel wasn't round, more octagonal and when someone made it round, everyone loved it, not just the Ferrari's of the day. Not that I'm putting Apple on the same level as Ferrari.
A quick note to the people saying, xxx copies from xxxx; maybe with products but when it comes to HOW we use the products, noone should be able to lay claim to your mind. I like to have chopped banana in my cereal rather than a banana on the side *patents* GIVE me money if you do too...*sigh*
I suspect we will get a Jobs apprearance, heralding how much they will do for (fill in any totally unrelated topic) - a bit like the iPhone 4 antennae problem which they are desperate to ignore because it otherwise requires a recall of unprecedented size and a serious dent in their image (maybe that's what the bite out of the apple logo represents?).
Fact is, he's got them by the balls for copyright infringement. Given that the the guy is now already in a position where Apple is trying to steal his lunch I'd go for it, but via the German courts. They appear to be slightly more honest and less sensitive to "sponsorship" than the US equivalent.
That is, except when it comes to crimes supporting tax officials, of course, then theft is not only OK but is actively sponsored by the state. But I digress. Go for the jugular - you know you want it...
Wow, Eponymous Howard's clearly off his meds....
I deal with patents from time to time and two things about this bother me, and before EH delivers his well reasoned flaming they are...
1) They have used near as dammit a direct UI image copy. It doesn't matter a damn if it is merely an idea or merely one of a set of possible looks. It's in the Patent doc, and Apple WILL use it to beat people with later. If you don't believe me, then you're either naive or EH, or possibly both.
2) They have listed as a function of their patent something that parallels an App that someone has already developed, yet that poor sod is in no position to argue. He rolls over then he loses, he fights, he loses. How is this ethical business? I'm sorry but Apple's ethos of "all about the customer" is a load of balls. This is just big business theiving hypocrisy. Whilst that is the Capitalist world we live in, I just wish for once Apple would be f***ing honest about it, and Apple Fanbois actually bloody acknowledged that some innocent App develop is getting bent over so they can benefit from his shafting. Grow up an accept a little responsibility, you are responsible for creating this monster.
Over to Eponymous Howard for my ritual BBQ-ing. Hit it dude!!!
PS EH - it's a bit iffy to go for El Reg's Journalistic skills when you're clearly a foaming at the the mouth grade lunatic
Just read the fucking patent will you?
Both. Of. Your. Posits. Are. False. (There, typed slowly so you can follow it)
I just wish for once Apple would be f***ing honest about it, and Apple Fanbois blah blah blah blah grow up blah blah blah monster
I'm sorry, you were whining about flaming?
It would appear that Apple has learned as Microsoft has learned.
Ignore the law when you have plenty of lawyers on tap.
Microsoft has ignored antitrust trust law and they were rewarded by the idiots at the US DOJ and EU Commission. Apple can see that clearly.
So screw the little guys. Screw the law. Just take what you want and pay no mind to the legalities.
The fanboys are idiots. They can not even hold their expensive phone. Some jerkhead designed it so that it would not work correctly.
Buy from Apple, you have been warned. Develop for Apple and you are going to be screwed.
Fools and idiots never learn. They just bend over.
I read the patent application and if you think that apple are trying to patent the WhereTo? UI then they are also trying to patent 'Sodoku [sic]' apps as well.
The application is for an API:
“A method comprising:
- determining a user is scheduled to travel to a destination on a current date;
- determining a portable electronic device in possession by the user is powered off;
- determining the user arrived at the destination by detecting that the portable electronic device has been powered back on; and
- transmitting an arrival notification of the arrival of the user to at least one third party recipient”
WhereTo? does not do this. The UI has been, perhaps unwisely, used as an example of an app that could potentially use the API/methods described in the application.
I would be pissed that I hadn't been contacted before the illustration was used, but I believe that Apple can do that as per their agreement with app developers.
If someone can find where in the application the UI or functionality of the WhereTo? app is being patented, then I'll change my opinion, but really, it does not seem to be there.
I have a hankering for bile today.
Actually there's enough here that I might as well get a ladle. Thanks all for quite an amusing read.
One small point to those slagging el Reg but did you notice it did not say that Apple were trying to patent the app:
"Apple has apparently lifted the look-and-feel of an iPhone app from German developer FutureTap and used it in a software patent application, putting that developer in a sticky situation."
Clearly that is accurate. The UI has be blatently lifted and used within the patent application. The story accurately reports that a developer of an iphone app is currently concerned with the use of his UI image.
Anything further is a mix of researched and jumped to conclusions by the commenters with roughly the same mix of sanity, stupidity and bile as the comments on slashdot from what I can see.
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