Apple have done it again!

They’ve managed to get one of their broad reaching, non-specific patents upheld in court. But this time, if the trial goes in their favour it could mean more than just the inconvenience of a minor change to unlock screens. The patent I’m specifically referring to is the touchscreen heuristics that Apple have a very broad reaching, non specific patent on.

Essentially the patent covers any on-screen gesture that is NOT a straight line. Because the patent is so broadly worded, this could be read as up/down & left/right are ok, but diagonally across the screen (still in a straight line) is infringing on their patent.

Motorola have been battling Apple in court over this for a number of months already, stating that the patent is specific to tolerance levels of 27 degrees. Judge Richard Posner has ruled in Apples favour:

“I reject Motorola’s argument (this is the third time they’ve made it and the third time I reject it) that the structure must be limited to the 27-degree angle uses as an example by the specification.”

What does this mean for Android?
Long term, this could be disastrous. If upheld, Google and Motorola could be forced to either change the way that users interact with Android. Forcing it to be a less intuitive and a much less forgiving user interface. Worse still, it could result in fees being payable to Apple for use of their patent which would increase the cost of every Android device, making the Android option less appealing to many. Whichever way you look at it, the competitive edge that Android seems to have currently will be severely dulled if the user can’t even swipe across the screen with their finger.

Source(s): Macworld, and IT World
  • http://www.facebook.com/danmurphy82 Dan Murphy

    This is just further evidence why I will never buy Apple. They are too full of themselves and too full of self-importance. Weren’t they the ones that bitched and whinged in the 90s that Microsoft was creating a monopoly? Isn’t this behaviour rather hypocritical? Seriously, they are getting out of control.

    They need to wake up and smell reality that their customers will walk away because they are nothing more than whiny cheerleaders. Looks pretty and flashy but really, nothing special once you take it apart.

    • Chris Boxsell

       Apple is evil, what does apply give back to this planet. Nothing. What does Apple do with 100Billion, buys back stocks, pays diviends and hires more lawyers to fight non specific patents that should never have been allowed.

      • Carbs

         I don’t think Apple has even payed a dividend in over 10 years… so all their money goes into the war chest.

      • Frank Benign

        What?  They only invented the personal computer, GUI, the smartphone, touchscreens, multi-touch.  The list goes on!  Apple innovates, everyone copies.  Steve Jobs was a genius!

        • Phil Tann

          No one is disputing Jobs being a genius, but why the war on Google?

          They’ve not filed against Windows phone which uses similar gestures to accomplish similar tasks!

          This isn’t business, it’s personal!

        • Jaymz Day

          Apple did not invent the smart phone they were out long before apple even entered the market they just made them cool with the iphone(now they are boring and are well behind what android is offering), touchscreens WTF they have been around since the 70’s when IBM started working with them and multitouch apple entered the market with multitouch in 2007 with the iphone which is 6 years after Mitsubishi relaease the DiamondTouch which was mulit touch
          Get ya facts right before commenting Frank

          • Frank Benign

            I kid.
            Compared with MS and (especially) the Big Blue, Apple’s contribution to the state of the Art is almost zero. But, as they say, the Devil is attractive. 
            http://www.theonion.com/articles/steve-jobs,26373/

          • Tia Porter

            Xerox invented the GUI, Steve Jobs basically stole it.

    • Trilbyt

       I used to like Apple. They were the hacker computer. Now they are the walled garden. Bloody sad.

    • http://www.asgarddesigns.com.au Ben Neill

      It’d be nice to think they would walk away – history tends to prove otherwise. 

      Go have a look at the reaction to android gaining access to instagram – there’s little in the way of logic and/or reason there. 

      Everything else is inferior.

      You aren’t hip if you don’t have Apple gear, that makes you poor.

      everything else is white noise….

    • Frank Benign

      No, MS has always been a saint in comparison to Apple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brianhislop Brian Hislop

    Is this really disastrous? I can’t actually think of any “swipes” I use in core Android that aren’t straight lines … diagonal maybe (as you mentioned), on the pattern unlock screen, but that’s all I can think of. 3rd party apps … well I guess that’s another issue, but is Motorola (and other manufacturers) responsible for making the API available? I have no idea.

    Am I overlooking some common core Android gestures?

    • http://twitter.com/jon_dor Jon Dor

      I think the article may not have given a clear picture of what the patent is about…

      It’s about taking a not-perfectly-straight gesture, and if it’s within a specified angle from straight, treating it as if it were straight.

      e.g. in the browser, assuming your zoomed in, if you scroll *almost* perfectly vertically, you don’t want the screen also panning left and right since your finger motion wasn’t vertical.  So it locks the movement to vertical.

      I think Samsung has already been trying to circumvent this patent (i.e. simply not use it), coz I’ve noticed that with the latest firmwares, when I try to scroll up or down in the browser, it also tends to move a little to the sides.  Meanwhile, the Chrome beta moves perfectly vertically (and probably violates the patent).

      • http://www.facebook.com/brianhislop Brian Hislop

        Ahh right, that makes more sense. So the 27 degree thing is basically, if the line veers by less than 27 degrees, they assume it is really a straight line? Thanks for that info :)

      • usman yousaf

        Thanks for clarifying it. But does that mean now no one can use this patent in their devices or products? Its completely buls..t.
        Also, I wonder how this patent is registered?

    • Jake Oliver

      Not really android in general, but swype maybe?

  • NOZ

    F apple

    • JZ

      Ef Apple.

      • Jason

        What is Ef? Epic F***?

  • http://profiles.google.com/matthew.palsson Matthew Palsson

    This is rather silly because I’m sure the method used in this patent to determine an off axis vertical swipe at say 30 degrees and knowing to interpret that as a vertical swipe is a simple dot product between the vector of the swipe and then a vector along the vertical axis and then a second dot product between a vector along the horizontal axis.  Compare the two dot products and your done.  There must be some sort of prior art to this….

  • Mmm

    Thats messed up!

  • Luke Badger

    Seriously if the only way CRapple can get clients ‘back’ is buy forcing the competition out of the market, they have faced a 24% market share in Q4 to Androids 54% and it is because they are not coming up with new gear, the iPhone 4s just had an ‘s’ added to the 4, the iPad 3 did the same thing and its selling advantage of 4G wasnt even correct or true (in australia), I think where the biggest impact for this will be on the low end devices, the sub $500 mark, prepaid, and so on,

    The typical AOS user doesnt use their device to its full potential, so it really would phase most people, yet the concisous user that wants more functionality and not have apple govern everything should/ will always look for the better option,

    I was an iPhone adopter with the 3G, from there have been android since the SGS1, ROM’d HD2 and now the HTC xl….. Apple cant/ wont do the things Android can, they are just scared of losing the war, as they may win this battle.

  • Andrew Fraser

    Yet the apple dogs have no problem blatantly stealing the drop down notification bar!

  • Gareth

    I said a while back that Apple’s arrogance will one day be its undoing. I can’t wait for that day.

    • forgot69

      I have bets with friend when this date will be…. you’re right… it will come.

  • Greviousmcg

    This is just stupid….
    Apple deserves a big kick up the back side for these petty patents. I for one will gladly volunteer to do this.

    • Grahamnp

      These companies are all suing each other.  Initially it was Apple trying to take everyone else out but now Motorola and Samsung are fighting back with the same methods.  They are starting lawsuits pre-emptively to protect themselves so in some jurisdictions they are the ones are are starting it first. These companies are ALL  “petty”.  People are just upset because Apple is winning.  Do I agree with Apple’s methods?  No, but I’m not going to pretend Motorola and Samsung are the good guys getting squashed by the big bad guy.

  • Jake Oliver

    Pssssst,
    Apple, Palm had gestures way before you.

  • vodka4boris

    Judge probably goes home every night and plays with his iPad and iPhone and trolls Android users on Engadget

  • borkbork

    I have a gesture for apple and their lawyers, only one finger required and in the vertical direction, so I should be safe…

  • Bart Simpson

    Who grants these stupid Patents in the first place ? Wonder if there is a patent for Double-Click, if not then i am submitting an application tomorrow.
     

  • Milty C

    Its good to read an article like this every now and then. It helps me maintain my self imposed ban on all Apple products. I refuse to buy Apple mainly for philosophical and political reasons.

    Apple reminds me of China.  An economic powerhouse, where on the surface everything runs so efficiently and smoothly, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find dictatorship and slavery. 

    The fact that Steve Jobs was willing to spend ALL of Apples billions to destroy Android, is a perfect example of how power hungry and anti-competitive they are.

    • Miniman200999

      Exactly, seeing that Apple’s purpose is to be the sole manufacturer and leader of smart-phones on this planet, makes me feel down-right disgusted of them and their thinking. 

      Apple are simply playing a game of chess with Google here, with cheap tactics. Attacking Samsung and Motorola from different fronts and leaving Google on the defensive. 

      Seeing that the Android ecosystem consists of such big giants – Google, Samsung, Sony etc. They should group together and devise a proper solution to defend against these attacks from Apple while at the same time counter-attack with their own tactics; since the survival of Android equates to the survival of these companies on the mobile-front. Because once Android collapses, it would be near impossible for the companies to get back up and tackle the already well established Cupertino company. 

      As such, something needs to be done quickly here by these companies, as Apple is tactically aiming for the jugular; and even though it is using cheap tactics, for Apple, the destination here becomes more important than the journey. 

  • Realmccoy58

    l wish the patents wars would stop and if apple was the only phone on the market l would not buy one l would go back to the land line and more l hear about apple,it turns me off them even more, l think apple is doing more damage to them self if anything