Apple and FutureTap Resolve Questions Over Travel Patent Application

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Last week, we reported on a controversy sparked by Apple's inclusion of a screenshot of a third-party developer's app interface in a patent application published late last month. While we noted at the time that the screenshot was used by Apple as interface example for taking advantage of Apple's suggested travel information service and that the company was not trying to patent anything specific to the pre-existing application, questions still remained about Apple's behavior in the matter.




Where To? screenshot (left) and drawing from Apple patent application (right)
The third-party developer in question, FutureTap, has posted an update revealing that it has received an explanation from Apple regarding the screenshot usage. Following on discussions between Apple and FutureTap, Apple's patent attorney writes:
As discussed, Apple is contemplating steps to attribute the screenshot in the patent application to FutureTap. The patent application in question does not claim as inventive the pictured user interface nor the general concept of an integrated travel services application. We appreciate your taking time out to discuss the matter and will keep you updated.
FutureTap's Ortwin Gentz notes that the explanation is clearly satisfactory, and while acknowledging that ignorance of patent law was the source of much of the confusion on the part of himself and others, sees the positive aspect of Apple's inclusion of FutureTap's screenshot in its application.
We feel honored over this mention and appreciate that Apple is looking into a proper attribution of the screenshot. In retrospective, I can say we wouldn't ever have considered the story alarming had the screenshot included a short attribution notice.
In his defense, Gentz rhetorically asks with a sense of humor whether users would "prefer developers who love reading patents over the ones who love to design user interfaces". (In the interest of full disclosure, Where To? was initially designed by developers John Casasanta and Sophia Teutschler at tap tap tap.)

Article Link: Apple and FutureTap Resolve Questions Over Travel Patent Application
 

Orange™

macrumors 6502
Apr 24, 2010
267
0
*Queue Java the Hutt theme*
They are guilty! Hang them from the highest tree! I got the rope right here!!!
 

logandzwon

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2007
571
0
Ok, one more time.... they didn't USE anything. It would be like if I was patenting the automobile and for what it looked like I attached a picture of a horse and buggy with the horse cut out of the picture. That doesn't mean I'm trying to patent the carriage maker's carriage!!!!
 

gudin

macrumors newbie
Dec 9, 2009
21
2
Meh.

Never made any sense for this to be the evil Apple conspiracy it was painted to be. Seems silly, bad form and basically dumb that Apple wouldn't have referenced the app and developer that the drawing was based on, but it's not like Apple had a chance in hell of ever patenting the UI then going back on the developer and demanding royalties. Apple would have been laughed out of court if they tried, to say nothing of the PR catastrophe such an attempt would have been.
 

djellison

macrumors 68020
Feb 2, 2007
2,229
4
Pasadena CA
It would be like if I was patenting the automobile and for what it looked like I attached a picture of a horse and buggy with the horse cut out of the picture.
You would still need to seek permission from the copyright holder of the horse and buggy picture to use it.
 

writingdevil

macrumors 6502
Feb 11, 2010
254
32
Using in the first place, without ask.

the corporate morality police mentality drives me craaaahhhazy.
maybe bone up on patent submissions, maybe read through a few hundred. maybe notice imagery. and maybe, just maybe, notice that the image enclosed with the patent specs is not at all considered in granting the patent, nor is it assumed that the image will, in any way, be part of the product.
if you're REALLY interested in patents, which i don't think for a minute you are, maybe stop wagging your finger and find out how it works, not just assume you're opinion has any bearing on reality....honestly...mac rumors has a lot of good technical topics, smart developers and engineers and users who contribute to learning more. the kinds of comments that drag it into a perez hilton expose sort of site, don't contribute to the quality of thought out comments. sorry to ramble, but i have coworkers who just love to judge and pounce, then disappear then it turns out they had no idea what they were talking about....gggrrr...and no, you wouldn not need permission to use their pic in a patent submission. i really would like to see the source of your charges.
 

jzuena

macrumors 65816
Feb 21, 2007
1,047
72
You would still need to seek permission from the copyright holder of the horse and buggy picture to use it.
Not if you made your own drawing that looked like the buggy from the horse and buggy picture rather than use the picture itself, which is exactly what Apple did.
 

GoodWatch

macrumors 6502a
Sep 22, 2007
954
37
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Ok, one more time.... they didn't USE anything. It would be like if I was patenting the automobile and for what it looked like I attached a picture of a horse and buggy with the horse cut out of the picture. That doesn't mean I'm trying to patent the carriage maker's carriage!!!!
So if I was making a tablet and used a drawing of the iPad OS in the patent application Apple wouldn't object? Because I'm NOT using anything? Or would their lawyers come down on me like a ton of bricks? What do you think?
 

cybaster

macrumors member
Jun 11, 2008
61
0
So if I was making a tablet and used a drawing of the iPad OS in the patent application Apple wouldn't object? Because I'm NOT using anything? Or would their lawyers come down on me like a ton of bricks? What do you think?
I think what you are suggesting is "trademark infringement" IF Apple trademarked their OS layout (i know they patent their logos)

From Wiki:
Infringement may occur when one party, the "infringer", uses a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers.
but even then, i don't know if it applies to a patent application. (it would only make sense if it does though)
 

mdude85

macrumors member
Jun 26, 2010
67
0
Typically speaking, patent applications do not generally attribute copyrighted material that appears in drawings because if ever challenged in court, the drawings in the application would most likely be construed as a non-infringing fair use (the drawings are considered for "educational" or "teaching" use and it would be clear that the inventor in the patent application was not seeking a monopoly or a profit on the use of the copyrighted work unless it was specifically recited in the patent claims).

The drawings in this patent application, like almost every Apple application, were most likely prepared by an outside company specializing in drafting patent drawings ... so perhaps they made the blunder and Apple's internal patent group did not know or make the effort to verify that copyrighted designs were not used in the final application submission.

Patent law is pretty complicated, so I can't really blame people for bringing this to the attention of the blogosphere, but on the other hand, it received a lot more news attention than it should have due to the general populace's ignorance of patent-related topics.

Not intended as legal advice.
 

Tyre

macrumors regular
May 23, 2010
143
0
Baltimore, MD
You would still need to seek permission from the copyright holder of the horse and buggy picture to use it.
Well that, as we have seen in this instance, is simply false. To all those (Stella where are you?) that cried to the heavens for Apple to be crucified, you seem rather quiet now…
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
I think what you are suggesting is "trademark infringement" IF Apple trademarked their OS layout (i know they patent their logos)
You mean copyrighted.

In this case, the screen in question was copyrighted the moment it was created. As others have mentioned, it's probably not illegal to use it in the patent application. However...

So if I was making a tablet and used a drawing of the iPad OS in the patent application Apple wouldn't object? Because I'm NOT using anything? Or would their lawyers come down on me like a ton of bricks? What do you think?
Exactly. People have had their iPhone apps rejected just because the app help file included a picture of an iPhone... with Apple citing copyright law as a reason for rejecting.

So what's good for the goose should be good for the gander. Apple is infamous for protecting its intellectual property even to ridiculous degrees such as above, and therefore should give the same courtesy to others. At the least, an attribution would've been nice.
 

mdude85

macrumors member
Jun 26, 2010
67
0
People have had their iPhone apps rejected just because the app help file included a picture of an iPhone... with Apple citing copyright law as a reason for rejecting.
Do you have any kind of documentation for this?
 

Tyre

macrumors regular
May 23, 2010
143
0
Baltimore, MD
Exactly. People have had their iPhone apps rejected just because the app help file included a picture of an iPhone... with Apple citing copyright law as a reason for rejecting.

So what's good for the goose should be good for the gander. Apple is infamous for protecting its intellectual property even to ridiculous degrees such as above, and therefore should give the same courtesy to others. At the least, an attribution would've been nice.
Courtesy was the only thing lacking. You example about apps being rejected because the dev pictures an iPhone seems odd, since apple provides pictures of the iPhone specifically for that purpose.
 

Vulpinemac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2007
677
0
You would still need to seek permission from the copyright holder of the horse and buggy picture to use it.
Ever hear of Clip Art? It's not a new or even computer-only concept. It's been around almost since the printing press was invented.
 

Veri

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2007
611
0
The real question is: how much money was exchanged after tap tap tap signed the NDA?
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 603
Mar 4, 2003
5,393
3,732
This is insane. In addition to every other knowledgable source, even the company itself is saying this was a misunderstanding because they didn't understand patent law, and yet the trolls persist?

To quote FutureTap:
Only the Apple haters who chimed in with their „Apple is evil“ attitude have been proven wrong now.
Go home people, there's nothing to see here...
 
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