Apple makes a mistake with a very imporant patent.


rvernout

macrumors member
Jun 23, 2003
57
0
Amsterdam
Almost all of the facts presented in this article are incorrect. The Microsoft application is not for an iPod like device (so Apple doesn't probably need a license) but is merely cited as prior art for proving lack of novelty of Apples current (broad) patent claim, Microsoft did not yet get a patent on their (probably also broad) patent application, the rejection by the USPTO of Apple's patent application is not yet final (Apple has sufficient opportunity to amend/narrow their claims to get a patent), Apple may prove that they made the invention before Microsoft etc. etc. etc.

This is really a lot to do about nothing.
 

winmacguy

macrumors 68020
Nov 8, 2003
2,237
0
New Zealand
rvernout said:
Almost all of the facts presented in this article are incorrect. The Microsoft application is not for an iPod like device (so Apple doesn't probably need a license) but is merely cited as prior art for proving lack of novelty of Apples current (broad) patent claim, Microsoft did not yet get a patent on their (probably also broad) patent application, the rejection by the USPTO of Apple's patent application is not yet final (Apple has sufficient opportunity to amend/narrow their claims to get a patent), Apple may prove that they made the invention before Microsoft etc. etc. etc.

This is really a lot to do about nothing.
I read something similar to that on Macworld UK a few days ago.
 

otter-boy

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2003
160
0
Fort Worth, TX
Does prior art play in this matter?

I thought only the original inventor could claim a patent, especially when a product had already been produced with the patented product/technique. Otherwise, wouldn't the iPod be prior art and Apple not choosing to patent the technique just leave it open to rampant copying with no legal recourse on Apple's part (for failing to patent the idea)? Maybe that just applies to people trying to patent previously patented products?

Otherwise, couldn't someone just patent prducts that existed prior to the patent system and start charging royalties as the first patent holder?

At least it's easy to prove that the Microsoftie didn't come up with the idea, seeing as there was already a product on the market that did what he was just then claiming to have discovered or created.
 

SPUY767

macrumors 68020
Jun 22, 2003
2,018
112
GA
Microsoft said:
"We have a long-standing practice of licensing things to Apple and licensing Apple's patents to use in our products," Kaefer said. "Our approach is to recognize that, frankly, we're both mutually dependent on the good ideas of one another."
WTF?

I have been at a loss to understand this either. This would be like me roughly attempting to get a patent on a mode of transportation utilizing an internal combustion engine, connected via a reduction gear to two or, utilizing a torsen differential, four wheels.
 

hob

macrumors 68020
Oct 4, 2003
2,023
0
London, UK
I don't quite understand this Patent game. How is it that devices like LCD monitors or Speakers or.... The common keyboard weren't all patented by an individual company years ago? How can you patent as ambiguous as "rotating an input devices that allows you to scroll through menus"? What does it mean if said patent is given? That there can never be another circular input device unless manufactured by the patent-holder? :confused:
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,643
0
jkaz said:
was the 'microsoft patent' filed by an employee on behalf of microsoft, or by a microsoft employee on behalf of himself
Employment contracts generally cover that. If you invent something while on their payroll (even on your own time) it belongs to them.
 

Bob Knob

macrumors 6502
Mar 20, 2003
271
0
iMeowbot said:
Employment contracts generally cover that. If you invent something while on their payroll (even on your own time) it belongs to them.
The "on your own time" part gets knocked down all the time. I have been on the "I made it on my time" end of the argument three times, I won every battle. The key is that none of my work (or even any notes) were ever done on a company computer.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Yet more evidence of the trouble with the current patent process, when they use the date of patent application to negate the date it was "invented." :rolleyes:

Certainly something on the market was invented before something "invented" and filed for afterwards. :(
 

the_mole1314

macrumors 6502a
Sep 16, 2003
774
0
Akron, OH
hob said:
I don't quite understand this Patent game. How is it that devices like LCD monitors or Speakers or.... The common keyboard weren't all patented by an individual company years ago? How can you patent as ambiguous as "rotating an input devices that allows you to scroll through menus"? What does it mean if said patent is given? That there can never be another circular input device unless manufactured by the patent-holder? :confused:
Because back then it was all for the common good, software was free, everyone taught eachother. Now it's all for profit, people backstab, people sue, and people make sure they get money over the wellfare of the majority.
 

shamino

macrumors 68040
Jan 7, 2004
3,386
130
Purcellville, VA
iMeowbot said:
Employment contracts generally cover that. If you invent something while on their payroll (even on your own time) it belongs to them.
Which is why you should read those contracts and don't be afraid to speak up if you don't like it. Most of the time, employers won't refuse to hire you if you refuse to sign. Or they will offer you a modified contract.

FWIW, every company I've worked for has written their "brain clause" in such a way as to only apply to code that is similar to the company's normal business. If I write a routing stack on my own time, they have the right to take posession (I work for a router manufacturer). If I write a shoot-em-up video game on my own time (and on my own computer, of course), they have absolutely no right to it.

My father's experience matches mine. His company had one of those "everything you develop belongs to us" clauses. He refused to sign. They hired him anyway. HR pestered him about it for a few years, but he continued to refuse. Eventually they stopped. He worked there for 30 years, through to retirement, and never signed that piece of paper.
 

simX

macrumors 6502a
May 28, 2002
755
0
Bay Area, CA
otter-boy said:
I thought only the original inventor could claim a patent, especially when a product had already been produced with the patented product/technique. Otherwise, wouldn't the iPod be prior art and Apple not choosing to patent the technique just leave it open to rampant copying with no legal recourse on Apple's part (for failing to patent the idea)? Maybe that just applies to people trying to patent previously patented products?

Otherwise, couldn't someone just patent prducts that existed prior to the patent system and start charging royalties as the first patent holder?

At least it's easy to prove that the Microsoftie didn't come up with the idea, seeing as there was already a product on the market that did what he was just then claiming to have discovered or created.
Exactly. That was my exact first thought. Despite the fact that Apple could have protected its invention if it had filed the patent at the right time, this really is much ado about nothing. Apple can point to the iPod as prior art for Microsoft's patent, get it invalidated, and would therefore not have to pay royalties for Microsoft over the iPod.

So basically -- big whoop. Sure, Apple could have patented the idea at the right time but whatever. Personally, I feel that if other manufacturers can benefit from Apple's intuitive interface design for MP3 players, then they should go for it! It will only make the marketplace better, and force Apple to keep improving the iPod as well.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,194
6
Adelaide, Australia
So the Longhorn screen-shots have all been misleading and Vista will actually incorporate the iPod GUI.

Cool, we can use a giant click wheel to crash Windows now. :)
 

jc27

macrumors newbie
Aug 10, 2005
19
0
Boston
mad jew said:
So the Longhorn screen-shots have all been misleading and Vista will actually incorporate the iPod GUI.

Cool, we can use a giant click wheel to crash Windows now. :)
Sorry, the click wheel is patented by apple. We'll have to make do with that scroll strip from Creative Technologies. :D
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
simX said:
Exactly. That was my exact first thought. Despite the fact that Apple could have protected its invention if it had filed the patent at the right time, this really is much ado about nothing. Apple can point to the iPod as prior art for Microsoft's patent, get it invalidated, and would therefore not have to pay royalties for Microsoft over the iPod.
Well... it depends. Microsoft filed after the iPod came out. If their documents prove they thought of it before Apple did (since Apple and MS probably both thought of the ideas involved before the iPod started selling), then by virtue of the patent, they may still have control... because the patent has a filing date, but my understanding is that once it is approved, the backwards reach of the ingenuity goes not just to the filing date but to the creation date, if substantiation is available.

Anyone in law confirm/reject? :eek:
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,643
0
First, this isn't a very important patent. in this application, Apple were trying to patent the idea of menu trees, of all things :rolleyes:

The rejection from USPTO isn't even saying that the idea was original in the Platt patent (which isn't even really about menus anyway). Rather, they used it as an example of the lack of original ideas in the Apple application.
 

shamino

macrumors 68040
Jan 7, 2004
3,386
130
Purcellville, VA
iMeowbot said:
First, this isn't a very important patent. in this application, Apple were trying to patent the idea of menu trees, of all things :rolleyes:
Hierarchical menus go all the way back to the first release of Mac OS, and possibly all the way back to Xerox PARC's research work. They're old enough that any possible patent should have long since expired by now.

Displaying them on an iPod vs. a computer screen is not in any way new or innovative and doesn't deserve patent protection.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,378
110
Location Location Location
Exactly. Nobody should be able to patent a hierarchial organizing system.

Programmers even use nested statements......sue them all.

Late 1990's mobile phone menus......lets sue them too! Or maybe they should sue MS and Apple for copying their idea, because I had a mobile phone with a similar menu system to my iPod.

Then we can start talking about computers that go way back.
 

EGT

macrumors 68000
Sep 4, 2003
1,606
1
hob said:
I don't quite understand this Patent game. How is it that devices like LCD monitors or Speakers or.... The common keyboard weren't all patented by an individual company years ago? How can you patent as ambiguous as "rotating an input devices that allows you to scroll through menus"? What does it mean if said patent is given? That there can never be another circular input device unless manufactured by the patent-holder? :confused:
I know, I'm confused by it also. Everyone is out to get bragging rights for such vague things.