Apple granted multi-touch patent, more lawsuits inevitable

Apple granted multi-touch patent, more lawsuits inevitableIt’s been a week since we mentioned patents, but fear not! The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple yet another – that’s in addition to the patent we all shrugged at recently concerning in-call app switching.

This new patent is all about multi-touch, one of 200+ “new inventions” Apple cited when it unveiled the first iPhone in 2007.

Multi-touch is something we’re now very used to on our fancy smartphones. It’s invaluable when zooming in and out of webpages and pictures, for example. As such, we expect many a lawsuit to follow. Sigh.

The patent description includes: “sensing a plurality of events occurring simultaneously or nearly simultaneously on an event-sensing panel”.

When Apple first unveiled the iPhone, Steve Jobs said: "We've been pushing the state of the art in every facet of this design. We've got the multi-touch screen, miniaturization, OS X in a mobile device, precision enclosures, three advanced sensors, desktop class applications, and the widescreen video iPod.

“We filed over 200 patents for all the inventions in Phone and intend to protect them."

At times Apple has come across like a big fat bully, with its relentless attacks on Samsung, for example. But Samsung and Motorola hold critical 3G patents that could signal trouble for the Californians. Hearings are scheduled in Australia and the US next year.

via: Patently Apple

Read more about: Apple iPhoneAndroidiOSWindows Phone

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54 comments

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 16:10

Again granted = meaningless... obvious patent and i expect if apple try to push this one forward they may find google arguing it...

Multi-touch technology began in 1982, when the University of Toronto's Input Research Group developed the first human-input multi-touch system. The system used a frosted-glass panel with a camera placed behind the glass. When a finger or several fingers pressed on the glass, the camera would detect the action as one or more black spots on an otherwise white background, allowing it to be registered as an input.

from wikipedia...

CTPAHHIK  Dec. 29, 2011 at 16:16

It's amazing what you can patent in America. Speaks a lot about intelligence of people granting those patents.

I think my next phone will be quad core MX. Yes, the one that looks exactly like cheap iPhone. I hope they will make it out of black glass. When it gets banned in UK, I will simply import it from HK using eBay or Alibaba :p

corgi74  Dec. 29, 2011 at 16:43

The patent isn't for the act of multi touch but multi touch using an oscillator signal which is a hardware solution and patentable.

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 16:54

ahh yes. but remember that again can be meaningless if theirs a historical precedent and their is... it was designed in 1998 by the company they bought.. and it was unpatented then which allows for a questionable view of how legit the patent is.

corgi74  Dec. 29, 2011 at 17:13

ahh yes. but remember that again can be meaningless if theirs a historical precedent and their is... it was designed in 1998 by the company they bought.. and it was unpatented then which allows for a questionable view of how legit the patent is.

They bought the company in 2005 and filed for a patent in 2005, 2 years before the first mobile device with capacitive multi touch using this method. I don't think there is any question over the legitimacy of the patent.
If you cannot patent stuff you have bought from companies that was unpatented at the time you purchased them then Google would have a big problem with anything Motorola has not yet patented but is still in R&D.

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 17:17

Ahh yes. but the technology they had was a working device which was a known about technology. i do think apple may find it difficult to implement this patent towards other companies as the technology has a history of use. they may be forced to make the technology available to all like samsungs 3g technology and license it. in order to prevent anti-trust litigation. theirs along way before this patent becomes problematic..

corgi74  Dec. 29, 2011 at 17:22

The problem is the previous working devices weren't mobile phones but the patent is for a mobile device. So for monitors, trackpads etc then they will probably have to do a fair use license as the technology existed but the working device the patent covers didn't exist until 2 years after the patent had been filed. There was no history of use in mobile devices until the iPhone came out.

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 17:26

Ahh but this patent covers all multi-touch devices. thats computers tvs you name it.

and whilst the iphone may have been the first phone with multi-touch its irrelevant. the first multi-touch device pre-dates the patent.

In 1984, Bell Labs engineered a touch screen that could change images with more than one hand. In 1985, the University of Toronto group including Bill Buxton developed a multi-touch tablet that used capacitance rather than bulky camera-based optical sensing systems.

corgi74  Dec. 29, 2011 at 17:40

Ahh but this patent covers all multi-touch devices. thats computers tvs you name it.

and whilst the iphone may have been the first phone with multi-touch its irrelevant. the first multi-touch device pre-dates the patent.

In 1984, Bell Labs engineered a touch screen that could change images with more than one hand. In 1985, the University of Toronto group including Bill Buxton developed a multi-touch tablet that used capacitance rather than bulky camera-based optical sensing systems.


But the first multi touch tablet that used capacitance didn't use an oscillator signal. That is what the patent is for. Not for multi touch or a capacitive screen but a multi touch, capacitive screen using oscillators to generate a signal. Previous ones used logic circuitry. The key is the use of oscillators.

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 17:46

which is why i reckon they will be made to license the technology if its wildly used...

corgi74  Dec. 29, 2011 at 17:54

But nobody used it until they did. It's only widely used now because they proved it worked well and other companies copied the method.
They may well have to do a fair usage license but it's not really fair regardless of your opinion of Apple.
If I invent a car that runs on lemonade and people copy my design while I'm waiting for my patent should I just give my design away to anyone who wants it for a token royalty?
Screw that. Gangsta wants paying bitches!!

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 17:57

Depends. but i doubt we will be seeing this affecting anything. apple have issues relating to 3G patents which could mean they end up being unable to actually utilise the frequency... so i wouldnt be shocked to hear apple having to work with others.. they need to. after all they are in a very weak position...

corgi74  Dec. 29, 2011 at 18:07

Depends. but i doubt we will be seeing this affecting anything. apple have issues relating to 3G patents which could mean they end up being unable to actually utilise the frequency... so i wouldnt be shocked to hear apple having to work with others.. they need to. after all they are in a very weak position...

Yes they are doing terrible at the moment. I think they are down to their last $75 billion and they only sold about 5 million iPads this Xmas. Lol!

jmarcelino  Dec. 29, 2011 at 18:08

LOL always love the discussion around patents.

But I always feel for other companies, all this attention on Apple must make them sad.
Microsoft for example was granted 2485 patents just this year, versus only 807 for Apple. They deserve some love too.

So, let's see one Microsoft got granted two days ago:

"Translation of text into numbers"

"A text string representing a number in a specific language is converted to a text string by tokenizing the string, distributing the tokens across a multi-level data structure to find possible distributions, and analyzing the combinations to find a valid distribution. The valid distribution may be interpreted to yield a numerical value based on the data structure. The data structure may be readily developed for any language."

http://i39.tinypic.com/10z4x0y.png

Pure innovation ummm? Take care when writing software that interprets twelve as 12, especially if you're also handling things like douze = 12 and 十二 = 12

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 18:11

Depends. but i doubt we will be seeing this affecting anything. apple have issues relating to 3G patents which could mean they end up being unable to actually utilise the frequency... so i wouldnt be shocked to hear apple having to work with others.. they need to. after all they are in a very weak position...

Yes they are doing terrible at the moment. I think they are down to their last $75 billion and they only sold about 5 million iPads this Xmas. Lol!


umm. not quite what i meant. just imagine they crossed a line and they annoy companies which supply them with hardware (e.g. samsung etc) they could find themselves struggling to produce and if samsung for example wins their patent case and they prevent them from utilising the 3g signal and paying them backpayments it could become expensive.

jmarcelino  Dec. 29, 2011 at 18:20

umm. not quite what i meant. just imagine they crossed a line and they annoy companies which supply them with hardware (e.g. samsung etc) they could find themselves struggling to produce and if samsung for example wins their patent case and they prevent them from utilising the 3g signal and paying them backpayments it could become expensive.

The problem is Samsung can't afford to lose Apple as a customer either, their whole competitive edge and low price strategy depends on Apple's billions bankrolling many of the mass production facilities they have.

corgi74  Dec. 29, 2011 at 18:31

umm. not quite what i meant. just imagine they crossed a line and they annoy companies which supply them with hardware (e.g. samsung etc) they could find themselves struggling to produce and if samsung for example wins their patent case and they prevent them from utilising the 3g signal and paying them backpayments it could become expensive.

The problem is Samsung can't afford to lose Apple as a customer either, their whole competitive edge and low price strategy depends on Apple's billions bankrolling many of the mass production facilities they have.


Exactly. It's all very incestuous. And I should know as I'm from Norfolk

WinTard  Dec. 29, 2011 at 18:43

Anybody can patent anything and pay the nominal administration fee. But holding a patent # here is dubious at best there.

One cannot patent prior art. It has to be truly new.

Most USPTO patents are worthless, until challenged through litigation in a court of competent jurisdiction to assert the validity / enforceability of said claimed patent.

Let's face it, ideas, pure sciences and mathematics are public domain. Processes (ways of accomplishing a goal) are patentable if unique enough. The Europeans do not allow software or algorithmic patents. Somewhat smarter than those in America who kiss ass to the highest bidder in the land of ambulance chasers?

Patenting an idea is like saying "You are stealing my air by breathing." The real and only thief is the one individual narcissistic and crazy enough to think they selfishly own all rights, just because of course nobody else could think of or already has thought of that idea.

Please Google: Inventions then cannot in nature be a subject of property
Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.

Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
~ Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States of America (1801-1809).


Much more fundamental patents which are required for the greater good of mankind have been "acknowledged" legally, but in turn the DOJ forced the patent holder to license it to others.

You see, a monopoly isn't illegal. Anti-competitive behavior is.

Substantiation: Google DOJ forces IBM to license patent

Apple intends to prevent competition through litigation via their worthless artsy-fruity patents. They are coming down! All the way down. And not soon enough.

It is a free world after all.

~~~~~~~~~~
We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.
~ Steve Jobs

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
~ Spock in Star Trek II The Wrath of the Khan (1982)

None of us is a smart as all of us.
{Japanese Proverb}

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.
~ Confucius

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 29, 2011 at 21:57

Interesting comments.
Jmarcelino. good point re. microsoft's mass of bull patents.

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 22:25

OHO. Sorry this is where i can officially say... APPLE = BONKERS.

if this gets approved the USA needs to crash and burn..

http://st.gsmarena.com/pics/11/12/apple-face-patent/gsmarena_001.jpg

Thats right they are claiming a patent for ... FACE UNLOCK... google please sue...

Face Unlock Patent.

WinTard  Dec. 29, 2011 at 23:01

@jmarcelino
umm. not quite what i meant. just imagine they crossed a line and they annoy companies which supply them with hardware (e.g. samsung etc) they could find themselves struggling to produce and if samsung for example wins their patent case and they prevent them from utilising the 3g signal and paying them backpayments it could become expensive.

The problem is Samsung can't afford to lose Apple as a customer either, their whole competitive edge and low price strategy depends on Apple's billions bankrolling many of the mass production facilities they have.


I'd like to bring your attention to the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) of Apple's Steve Jobs (may he RIP).

Apple claims "Android Slavishly Copied" when reality is Apple stole great ideas (the mouse, the GUI, and even stole from the Open Source people, without putting anything back such as FreeBSD which is the basis of OS X and iOS. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Back to topic: You claim Apple bankrolls Samsung? What a load of misconceptions!

Apple bought a mere 4% of Samsung's yearly revenues in 2011. Samsung truly couldn't care less about Apple as a customer. They are just too snobbish and snotty. Just not worth it.

Substantiation: Please Google Samsung 38.3 and witness how Samsung invested USD $38.3 billion dollars in 2011 alone. Much more significant expenditure than the puny USD $5 billion or so that Apple spent on Samsung for essential and critical parts such as their Samsung fabricated Apple A4, A5 and A6 CPUs. Roughly 25% of all components in iWhatever are Samsung's. In 2010 Samsung invested 18% less, still in the double digits billions. And they've been doing this for over 20 years, year after year. With or without Apple's assistance.

Samsung is the one foreign company which invested over USD$ 9 billion in Austin TX to make a 1.8 million sq ft state-of-the-art facility. Samsung is the one who invested USD$ 3.4 billion in NY for yet another state-of-the-art semiconductor fabricating facility. In 2011.

What is wrong with this picture? A Korean company heavily invests into the USA bringing thousands of high-paying permanent jobs to Americans, while Apple exploits foreigners committing suicide and working in hazardous environments for pennies a day? There were documented explosions at both Foxconn and Pegatron due to highly volatile Al (Aluminum) dust causing many injuries to many human beings...

Substantiation: Google: Apple factory explosion

All in the name of almighty greed and profits.

Please don't tell me these were not preventable through due diligence and precautions. Oh but it affects the bottom line, and humans are cheap according to Apple as evidenced by their behavior to date.

Bottom line is, to paraphrase Steve Jobs' willingness to go thermonuclear on Android. It is pretty sad to die with hatred...

Well for Samsung to go thermonuclear towards Apple, would be as simple as to stop shipment of any parts they manufacture for Apple, and let them starve to death. It would be pretty difficult to meet investors expectations, when one can't sell finished, working products?

You see, ARM Holdings is an IP company. They license the CPU architecture, yet do not manufacture them. Same goes for Apple. They only sub-contract everything elsewhere. Now the fly in the ointment is these state-of-the-art manufacturing processes have been patented by Samsung, a true manufacturer, down to the molecule level. And moving foundries would be much tougher than the RDF would suggest. It would take at least 18 months to move foundry. And until that vulnerability is addressed, Apple's jugular vein is exposed in plain sight for everybody to see.

So Apple better not upset Samsung too much, for they have already shot themselves in the foot! If Apple wants to continue their stupidity tantrum, they might as well as shoot through the first hole, it might hurt less.

The point being: Who is truly vulnerable here? Samsung doesn't even need the mobile business to remain viable, since they are so well diversified. Whereas Apple's stock market value is composed of more than 60% of the iPhone and iPad mobile devices...

Apple fell for their own bluff, and believed in Steve's RDF. Except that, a distortion field has its limits.

~~~~~~~~~~
The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.
~ Ambrose Bierce, 1842-1914, American Author/Editor/Journalist

Profits, like sausages... are esteemed most by those who know least about what goes into them.
~ Alvin Toffler

Reality is that which does not go away when you stop believing.
- Philip K. Dick

matt101101 / MOD  Dec. 29, 2011 at 23:23

I'm so glad this BS rarely (if ever?), affects us here in the UK. At least our patent laws seem to has been written with a modicum of sense...though I can't imagine any of the judges I've ever met upholding these vague, obvious method patents even if they did squeeze through the application process.

Treab  Dec. 29, 2011 at 23:41

Well if janny was a decent mod you would see the latest patent apple are applying for... its a patent for 'face unlock' sound familiar?

matt101101 / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 00:01

A patent for a technology that's already been implemented by Apple's closest rival, Samsung. I bet you my right arm they're granted it as well...

jmarcelino  Dec. 30, 2011 at 00:03

Treab, if you were a good researcher you'd see Apple had already applied for a 3D face recognition patent in 2009 and it was granted this year :-)

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/11/apple-wins-secret-patent-for-high-end-3d-object-recognition.html

And don't worry, Android's face recognition method is also patented by Google:

http://www.google.com/patents/US7697735 (granted last year)

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