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back to article Google swings new mobile unlock patent punch at Apple

Here's a potential way out for Google after Apple's recent win on its slide-to-unlock patent in Germany. A patent application for unlocking mobile devices that Google filed in August 2010 was published earlier this month – which means it will now form full prior art for other patent applications worldwide. The paperwork details …

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Patents...

Time for the rule that patents cannot be granted for designs that are obvious be actually enforced. How is either the Google patent or the Apple "slide to unlock" anything other than obvious?

This nonsense has gone on long enough. Stop feeding the lawyers, and start encouraging competition by getting rid of these ridiculous patents.

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Re: Patents...

It's obvious now, just like anything you have gotten used to is obvious.The mouse seems obvious, touch screens and multitouch seems obvious.

I suggest you go back to 2006 and look at touch screen user interfaces prior to the iPhone. I would also look at the original Android prototypes, they're nothing like how Android phones were when released. This suggests Google looked to see how popular the iPhone would be before being "inspired" by their UI.

An example of early Android:

http://gizmodo.com/334909/google-android-prototype-in-the-wild

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Re: Re: Patents...

There was a phone released in early 2005 which had an on-screen "slide to unlock" feature. Apple filed the patent in December 2005. Can't remember the manufacturer, some Scandinavian company (not the obvious two).

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FAIL

Re: Re: Patents...

touch screen interfaces prior to 2006? what, like palm OS 5 which dates back to 2002 and consists of a grid of icons, very much like iOS?

oh, how revolutionary, how magical, how new.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Patents...

Hmmm. Would that be the PDA interface that Palm squarely ripped off from Apple's Newton? Computers, PDAs and other electronic devices existed before 2002 bucko. You'd do well to remember that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Patents...

You may be thinking of the Neonode N2 which had slide to unlock, in fact it had a number of gesture driven UI features - I believe the even older N1 had slide to unlock as well

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tgm
FAIL

Re: Re: Patents...

Hmm, anyone every unlocked a gate or garage door with a bolt? It's like you slide it sideways, and...it unlocks.

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Stop

Re: Re: Patents...

That looks exactly like a regular home screen with a launcher and no buttons or widgets on the screen. Remove the Senses and Touchwizs and replace them with a pared down launcher, clear the screen of widgets and icons and that is exactly what Android still looks like...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Patents...

So it's official? You can patent a metaphor now. Not unlike them to extend that to litotes...

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, lets spend all our R&D budget on making sure that no phone will ever be able to have a full feature set that customers would want.

This is just a lose-lose situation. And its everyone's fault.

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Coffee/keyboard

its like patenting ways to remove a cap from a bottle

a so-called invention should not receive a patent if its completely obvious...

Airplane Toilet doors had slide to unlock first?

Or was it suitcases?

If you just emulate existing real world features in software, you should receive a warm handshake for being able to recognize the obvious, and then be sent home by your friendly patent officer who'se eyes didn't actually glaze over while he was looking at your patent application.

Patent officers granting software patents should be required to have a minimum of 2 years programming experience, so they can at least recognize humorous applications for what they are: a corporate patent lawyer on a fishing trip...

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Stop

Slide to unlock prior art?

It's called a bolt.

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Anonymous Coward

Prior-ish art

My HTC Sensation XE does this, pretty sure the original Sensation does too

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Thumb Up

Re: Prior-ish art

My Desire HD does it too, all of which are Android devices. it would be a shocking move to say the least if Google decided to start suing the people who make phones using its operating system for using the features of its operating system.

Anyway, from using this on the Desire HD, I have to say it is a very useful system which I now wouldn't be without

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WTF?

It's already there...

HTC's Sense 3.0 interface already uses the "Drag an icon into a portion of the screen to unlock". You can drag the ring upwards for a full unlock, or you can drag an app icon into the ring to activate that icon immediately.

Not sure if Google are collaborating with HTC on this but HTC clearly "had it first".

I agree with earlier posters that wasting money on patenting Human Computer Interaction is ridiculous. The same problems will generate the same solutions when there are a limited number of ways to interact.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's already there...

Did you have HTC Sense 3.0 and this functionality on or before August 6, 2010, cause that's when Google filed for it.

Ignoring my pedantic post I think Google and HTC will play nicely together regardless of who owns the patent on this feature.

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Re: It's already there...

This is defensive strategy on Google's part. They are trying to reduce the number of things that Apple can go after HTC with, who of course, produce a significant portion of Android devices.

Unfortunately this seems to be the only thing companies can do these days to protect their creations.

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I should have chosen a career as a patent lawyer, I'd be a bloody millionaire by now.

This is really getting out of hand and is patently stupid.

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Joke

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2000-05-30/

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Rule 34.6 - there's a Dilbert for it.

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Unhappy

Patent lawyers

I know a couple of patent lawyers, and they are absolutely minted.

They're boring c*nts, but they're minted boring c*nts.

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Anonymous Coward

Stroke of luck for Google?

Your hacks really do favour Apple, even when Apple won't give El Reg the time of day!

Tisk!

Brown nose!

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Anonymous Coward

R U SERIUS?

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Serious?

Considering Android now has 3 ways of unlocking a phone without sliding an icon along a predefined path (the Apple patent), I'd say it's relevant to ask why El Reg considers this patent a "stroke of luck" for Google.

Unlock methods:

1) Face recognition

2) The one in this patent

3) Earlier android phones used something which was unlike Apple's method but was covered by their broad patent. The solution was that, instead of an icon sliding, the whole screen was made to slide - in any direction. Slide it far enough and the phone would unlock, sending Apple's lawyers scurrying back under their rock.

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Anonymous Coward

@Craigness

The whole purpose of a lock screen is to LOCK the fucking screen.

If I can just unlock it by sliding anywhere on the screen it would completely and utterly ruin that main purpose, just reaching into my pocket (or handbag for those who use it) would unlock it.

PLEASE don't give up your day job - as a Google cheerleader - and leave UX design to those who know how to do it properly, ummm,?

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Anonymous Coward

Is this affected by the new first to file rules?

Isn't the slide-to-unlock patent just a subset of this Google patent where the desired action is show-the-home-screen?

I've never understood why the patent office accepts patenting of a virtual version of something from the real world such as a slide bolt.

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jai
Silver badge

how does the first to file thing work?

Apple's patent was filed in 2006...

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Jai - no it bloody wasn't. Application D/282,837: July 30th 2007

Exactly one month after the iPhone 1 was released.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jai - no it bloody wasn't. Application D/282,837: July 30th 2007

Never put facts in front of a fanboi - it just upsets them.

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Mushroom

Any possibilities the final clash between Google and Apple ends with their mutual annihilation?

<--- One can only hope...

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Anonymous Coward

No. It's all actually a well rehearsed dance. The fanboi battles keep the media busy and put Google and Apple's name in the papers almost EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's like there's not even computing outside of Google and Apple.

Now guess who doesn't get their name in the papers... Yes the once mighty Redmond company.

No mind share = no market share.

No one is actually annihilating anybody. If you look closely you'll see they never actually step on each other's feet.

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Anonymous Coward

@A. Coatsworth - Surely not!

That would leave us with Microsoft as the only solution. (Shudder!) I'd rather have them both fighting than suffer at the hands of Microsoft.

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Re: @A. Coatsworth - Surely not!

Compared to Apple MS are positively saints, and that takes a lot! Apple have turned into the Darth Vader of IT, just with more Lawyers than Storm Troopers.

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Re: Re: @A. Coatsworth - Surely not!

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

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Unhappy

@ Peter 48

That's exactly what I say... Right now MS is by far the least terrible option (which, in itself is a VERY surreal situation) Apple and Google are in my opinion equally disgusting, although for very different reasons...

I had such high hopes in WebOS when HP bought it... just to have them crushed a year later

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Microsoft

may be saints for now but they'll be shedding their halos to join the evil Apple empire with the release of Windows 8 - which has all the invasive remote control and walled garden of iOS. In the coming years, if you want your computer to actually be yours, and not subject to remote control by megalomaniac corporations, your only choice will be Linux - if there's anything left of it after Microsoft black-ban any motherboard manufacturer that puts unlockable UEFI on their boards.

The future of IT looks very bleak, and it all started with Apple and that fucking megalomaniac despot Jobs, may his soul rot in hell for all eternity.

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Devil

Nokia

Weren't Nokia first with the beta of Bubbles which, alas, never made it to be a finished product?

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Anonymous Coward

The only unlocking I'll be doing with Google is quitting Gmail and moving to Zoho.

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Anonymous Coward

next related patents from google

PATENT 67271932 "POST DEVICE UNLOCKS TO WEB SERVICE"

A method of increasing participation in boring and deserted social networks

PATENT 67271942 "WATCH TARGETED ADVERTISEMENT TO UNLOCK"

Method to increase our advertising rates in an interesting and fun way. The latter claim confirmed on guinea pigs.

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Re: next related patents from google

I liked this post anyway (and upvoted it) as it made me smile. The Guinea Pigs bit. And then noticed I'd voted for a backwards Barry Shitpeas.

Had to explain to the current Mrs whitespacephil who Barry Shitpeas was after laughing about the last person who needed to self-flagellate after liking/agreeing with the real Mr Barry Shitpeas.

Enjoy Friday...

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Prior Art

The phone people are referring to, as prior art in reference to Apple's patent, is the Neonode N1m.

Watch this video, and see what the person does at at around 4:05.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj-KS2kfIr0

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Stop

Software patents

Software patents should be eliminated entirely. A patent on "slide to unlock" is absurd. We've been "sliding to unlock" things for centuries. That is is done with software now is in no way new and unique. All these patent wars do is raise the prices for consumers.

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IT Angle

Re: Software patents

Agreed - we've been using sliding bolts to lock/unlock for centuries. The distinction as to whether it is software controlled to do the same thing should not give rise to a new patent. And as for Voice control - anyone remember Ali Baba opening his cave door?

All prior art imho.

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Mushroom

I'm happy with that

"Using Voice Control to Unlock" is obvious and should have no protection whatsoever.

A specific method of listening to and parsing the voice command is a different matter.

Equally, a specific method of determining how a finger has touched the device (capacitive screen) could be a new thing.

Saying "The user touches the screen and slides along" is so obvious that not only was it being done before Apple filed, almost every touchscreen phone since the Neonode N1m has done it - iPhone, all HTC WinMobiles, etc.

If the US Patent Office doesn't switch from "approve everything, let the courts decide" to "examine everything like we're supposed to" soon, then there really is going to be an implosion.

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Am I the only one

who hates lock screens then?

NoLock was the first app installed on both my Androids (and after major OS updates).

Keylocks I can understand, easy to bump the 'send' key but not capacitive screens

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Re: Am I the only one

It's easy to poke a touchscreen while getting it out of your pocket.

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WTF?

Human Progress

And to think we laugh at our ancestors arguing over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

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Mushroom

Verb to unlock

To me the answer is more than obvious and requires only a verb change. 'Slide' is generally recognised as a horizontal action, therefore Google should have simply created a vertical GUI element and called it 'scroll to unlock'.

In general though, whilst manipulating pixels that form a GUI on a touch screen can be regarded as mechanical and worthy of a patent for the hardware itself, I still can't grasp how a judge can view such obvious GUI elements as patentable in themselves. It's comparable to someone claiming copyright not on a picture, but on how you hang the picture on the wall and along with the configuration of your other wall hangings.

What's next? Slide to move a homescreen icon? Slide to move a bird back from a nested position to a preparatory, variable slinging position? Hang on a sec, I might just patent that myself; watch out Rovio, prior art isn't something that German courts bother themselves with!

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Coat

Only if I can paten stupidity

I'd solve most of the world's problem.

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