i have a Motorola A925 that does this ... which definitely pre-dates fruity phones
The US Patent and Trademark Office has handed Apple's legal team what may turn out to be a powerful weapon in their ongoing battles against anyone with the temerity to launch products competitive with the iPhone and iPad: a patent on soft keyboards that modify their keys with the tap of an on-screen button. Granted on Tuesday …
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Never mind a phone, bloody XBMC has had this for sodding ages. Probably other applications designed for only mouse/controller/IR input too.
Just because this "modifiable on-screen keyboard thingy" is now implemented on a phone rather than a desktop/TV is not a good enough reason to make it patentable.
And on top of that, having a button to switch "layouts" to keep the screen organised is w-a-y too bloody obvious and is used time-and-again in a whole host of areas for managing features/options.
Seriously, the USPTO need a kick in the knackers.
@AC - What's the point? because it stifles innovation, prevents new products coming to market and can stop a whole industry moving forward. That's why. The whole Internet was found on technology that was patent-free. Do you think it would have gone as far as it did if was riddled with patent caner?
Patents have a place, so long as the are good patents about something truly new/non-obvious. The patents the USPTO a granting willy-nilly for tech ideas are just such cobblers. Thankgoodness (for now) the the EU doesn't allow software patents.
...when you use a feature you either patent it to protect yourself, even if it's possible it won't stand, or you wait for someone else to patent it and have to defend yourself. Not filing a patent is prima facie evidence you didn't feel you had any rights in the matter.
"or you wait for someone else to patent it and have to defend yourself"
That's not really how, even the broken, patents system works.
If you invent something like this just publish the fact, get a notorised copy put in the safe or send a copy to your lawyers.
You are then immune from being sued for the same thing (and if you're feeling generous stopping anyone else from being sued). There is clear recorded prior art and you've just cost someone money having to go through the process of filing a worthless patent.
You only need to patent it if you wish to stop the competition using it or you wish to build up your patent portfolio as part of the patent arms race.
Lawyers - bookmark this thread, I suspect it will grow into a useful resource.
Here's the Sony Ericsson P800 from 2001: http://www.flickr.com/photos/takenbyhim/5154996194/ and the Ericsson R380 it was the sucessor to: http://www.gsmarena.com/ericsson_r380-195.php, both of which did exactly this OBVIOUS function for a soft keyboard.
Windows has had an on screen keyboard for a while now. It has button that when you click on them change the layout of the keyboard. For example, when I press the 'shift' key, all of my letters turn upper case. Isn’t a parent supposed to be something that 'someone skilled in the art' wouldn’t think of easily? I don’t make smartphones or computer operating systems, but I could have come up with this idea.
... because... well, you know... CNET... so I have no comment to make on how overblown and/or misanalyzed that article may be, but *this* article in fact understates the situation - see other post for details.
(It is, however, misanalyzed, I must admit, unclear as it is on the relative roles played by claims and embodiments in a patent application.)
Because 1) it didn't have a soft keyboard 2) when you pressed one of the "multitude of shift keys" it did not display a number of objects corresponding to alternative layouts from which you could choose which alternative layout you wanted.
(This post applies to many of the claims of prior art in this thread but I won't be posting it in reply to every individual one of them! *Read* the actual patent, folks, it's linked from the article.)
Is taking a real keyboard and reproducing it's functionality in software and then changing the icons on the keys when you press another key.
And no I haven't read the Patent because fore every one I read I treble the potential damages some stupid patent troll can demand from me
No, that's not the real innovative step. There is no innovative step, and if you'd read the patent you'd know that and be able to defend yourself against false accusations, which seems to me a better plan than voluntary self-lobotomy.
(How the hell would they ever know you'd read a patent if you weren't daft enough to tell them you had, anyway?)
Except for the rather inconvenient fact that the Newton was released 4 years prior to the Palm Pilot (the Newton was released in 1993, the Palm Pilot in 1997). The Pilot 1000 didn't have the features mentioned by this patent (released 1996).But hey, it's out thereinks so it must be true now. You win the internets. Medal is in the post.
On top of the obvious drug feeding they probably have targets to meet based on the number of applications deemed successful. They should all be re-educated in order to better understand that a successful application is not celebrating success of the US Patent Office, it is the successful demonstration of a patent's innovation.
It must be tough trawling through all the sh(te they have to read, imagine studying a patent for days on end and then having to constantly use the 'reject' stamp with it's worn, stubby, dry and cracking rubber whilst the fresh, moist, green and supple 'approved' stamp stands perky on the other side of the desk.
Was RISC OS ever used to power a "A portable electronic device" (1st sentence, 1st paragraph of the 'claims' part of the patent. So no, it doesn't constitute prior art. It would help if most of you self appointed 'legal experts' actually RTFP before spewing your, ahem, wisdom onto the Internet.
First used on a PalmPilot.
Then, I have an RSI thing now, but I can use a stylus. Actually, stylus plus clicker works pretty well. I use an optical Bluetooth mouse with the optical censor taped over, currently.
So it sounds as though Apple will want to buy Fitaly and its patents and prior art. And destroy them. Drat.
Apple are being F'ing cheeky patenting this, they must know about the numerous prior art for this e.g.
the excellent "Thumb Keyboard" App I bought on the Google Market, does this adaptive keyboard stuff already!
Mouse keyboards and most touch interfaces also change the keys/buttons displayed based on control keys, including years old Retail POS and Windows programs; so Apple are sooooo taking the piss!
Software Patents MUST end, they are routinely abused and too often based on Prior Art of some sort!
...are Apple going to Trademark their name so that you can't even use the name of a pre-existing fruit of Biblical Notoriety?
The USPTO needs more than a kick in the nom des plumes, it needs to be abolished immediately. It's stifling creativity, innovation, and technical advancement. re[lace it with a USIPPO if you must (United States Intellectual Property Protection Office (I coined it first, kindly pay me the royalties!), with a MUCH tighter definition of what is and is not patentable and eligible for IP Protection. You could always model it on the British model, which, while far from perfect, is at least sensible enough (or has been in the past) to tell what should and should not be patentable.
Ignore the embodiment, that is just a distraction. While the embodiment may help block other patents (been there, they tried that) it won't help with getting any parti coloured (or green, in Yankville) revenue directly.
It is all about the claims and nothing but the claims.
Make them big and general (but not so general that they are vulnerable to easily being stricken), with lots of dependent claims to cover the dangley bits. Only a few need to remain standing to to get the investment back.
This is not a new idea, and the fact that the USPTO is issuing a patent for this concept is just plain disgusting! I can point out "soft" keyboard mappings from the early 1980's. I used to do this for clients who had disabilities - missing fingers, hands, etc. so they could interact with the computer effectively. Press one "hot key" and get one mapping, press it (or another) again, and get a different one. That way, they could do things like the "three finger salute" to reboot the computer with a single key.
Bogus patents, where someone claims to have invented something that they know perfectly well they haven't, are lies, and since they are lies told for the explicit purpose of obtaining a financial benefit from others, they are criminal fraud and should be prosecuted and such. Obtaining money by deception is a serious crime that usually results in jail time, and there's no reason that white-collar workers should be exempt from the law just because they commit their crimes at a keyboard and with full paperwork done in triplicate.
Why doesn't someone go for a patent on the idea of an office which grants some sort of license (or patent) on design ideas, then we can force the current one to 'cease and desist' while it drags through court. I feel sure that a number of companies would back this idea if only to free the shackles
This isn't a 'press shift and it changes the layout changes'. It is 'press a button and half a dozen different keyboard layouts are displayed on screen, allowing you to choose which one you want, then tap on it, and use it'.
People saying the XMBC has had this, or their Motorola blah, you are wrong.
Oh that's alright then glad you explained it.
A new patent on an existing idea is supposed to be a non-obvious extension, what exactly about this is not obvious?
I had a piece of software that did exactly this years ago but for physical keyboards but cannot remember what it was called. I used it to map different layouts for games and once set up you would "'press a button and half a dozen different keyboard layouts are displayed on screen, allowing you to choose which one you want, then tap on it, and use it'."
Why is it that fruity fans seem to be devoid of anything approaching common sense when it comes to their beloved company. Can you really not see what they are doing is wrong?
No, you've missed the point.
In commenting on articles like this, the point is not to make an effort to understand the reality behind the article, but to bellow, preferably in CAPS, about the title of the patent.
This understanding business is wa-a-a-ay over-rated.
Even if there was not already prior art for this, it would be obvious to anyone ordinarily skilled in the art, and therefore not meet the requirements for patentability in the UK. (Side question: presumably the UK authorities will offer no assistance to foreign authorities in question with something which supposedly infringes on a patent which is inapplicable in the UK?)
But there is prior art: An applet which displays a map of the layout of a computer's (physical, because that was what they had then) keyboard in various states of shift / ctrl / alt and allows you to copy characters to the clipboard by clicking on the virtual keys. Anyone but a drooling imbecile can see how obvious the extension of this principle to a touchscreen keyboard would be. Oh, and this prior art was more than long enough ago that if it was patented then, it would have expired by now.
So, for 10 points, can you guess which computer this was first seen on?
I think I can see a pattern there. Adjectival nouns derived from -ious words that came into English via Old French take the -iety ending, because in French they had a "té" ending. For words that came into English directly from Latin, such as obvious and noxious, the nounal forms were constructed by English speakers, using the English -ness ending rather than the French -té ending. (Which are the translated equivalents of each other.)
And if you don't like it you can get stove!
There is something of the revolutionary in open source which appeals to the Che Guevara - whilst maybe not in all of us - in a very many of us.
Whilst Android might come from what is effectively a huge advertising agency, it still brings with it that kinda revolutionary feel.
The more the fruit-machine tries to stifle, the more the feeling builds.
Apple will eventually piss off enough people that they'll eventually hoist themselves with their own petard.
Maybe that sounds fanciful, but then Microsoft also looked completely unbeatable at one time, as did big blue before that.
The Patent Office is a complete load of arse and the whole software patents area needs a serious shake-up, but the more ridiculous it gets then the more chance there is of that shake-up happening.
If it all comes at the expense of those companies that (ab)use it to simply stop others developing usable devices, then I'm all for that.
Yet another example of the abuse of IP law. It is now so out of control the only solution is to totally abandon patent and copyright. Musicians will have to work for more the a few hours in a studio to make millions, Big Patent holders will no longer hold innovation to ransom.
OK there may be problems with movies, but I would guess product placement will solve that!
And most blue sky work is taxpayer funded anyway.
I'll just reformat the patent slightly:
>"What is claimed is:
1. A portable electronic device, comprising: a display; one or more processors; memory; and a program, wherein the program is stored in the memory and configured to be executed by the one or more processors, the program including instructions for:
- displaying a single soft keyboard in a first area and a window in a second area on a display of the portable electronic device, wherein the window is configured to display characters selected using a plurality of soft keyboards, wherein the plurality of soft keyboards includes a keyboard that is primarily letters;
- in response to an input by a user, displaying simultaneously a plurality of objects that correspond to the plurality of soft keyboards; and, in response to selection of one of the plurality of objects by the user, displaying in the first area the soft keyboard that corresponds to the selected object and making operational, of the plurality of soft keyboards, only the soft keyboard corresponding to the selected object. "
So, the first part is just preamble that says this is a computer, running a program, which does the following things.
The second part says that it has a soft keyboard, that the soft keyboard is used to input into a text area, that there is more than one soft keyboard (i.e., that it has alternate layouts or shift sets), and at least one of them is mostly letters.
The third part says that there's a way, any means at all from all the input devices available to the machine, to instruct it to display a bunch of "objects" that "correspond to" the keyboards and allow the user to select one to make the soft keyboard adopt that layout.
Now, remembering that each claim stands by itself, this specifies nothing about what kind of "input" the user must make to initiate the selection process, nor what kinds of "objects" are used to represent the keyboard layouts available. By that definition, clicking on a menu would count as an input, and a submenu or dialog box with a drop-down listing of alternative layouts would count as displaying objects representing the alternative layouts. Note that it doesn't specify that the alternative layouts have to be shift sets in particular; so even the Windows XP On-Screen Keyboard, which has a "Keyboard" menu item that drops down on response to an input (clicking), displaying a bunch of objects (menu items) each of which represents a different soft keyboard (standard/extended/101/102/106 keys, etc.) would be caught by this.
So, yeah, this is every bit as much of a dishonest claim to have invented something that has been around for years as we are used to seeing from Apple.
From claim 1:
"in response to an input by a user, displaying simultaneously a plurality of objects that correspond to the plurality of soft keyboards; and, in response to selection of one of the plurality of objects by the user, displaying in the first area the soft keyboard that corresponds to the selected object"
The other independent claims have similar limitations. You need to do something before you get a choice of keyboards to select from. I'm not saying it's patentable, but it doesn't cover an Android keyboard with a permanently visible keyboard-toggle button.
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