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back to article Apple sued for every touchscreen device by Flatworld prof

A Pennsylvania professor is gunning for a slice of all of Apple's touch-based product revenues, after claiming they infringe a patent for a museum screen technology he developed 15 years ago. Slavoljub Milekic, a professor in cognitive sciences and digital design at the Univeristy of Arts in Pennsylvania, said he developed a …

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Anonymous Coward

Apple bitten.

In the arse and about time too.

This guy, on the face of it, actually seems to have a claim!

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Coat

Re: Apple bitten.

If the law is an ass, make sausage!

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Re: Apple bitten.

but why wait until now? I'm using an 8 year old Draenetz power analyser with a touch screen. Did he sue them 8 years ago? or the Estate Agents who 15 years ago had touch sensitive overlays on shop windows with a 'puter screen indoors to let you browse the houses available?

If I was to award him damages I would want him to show he has taken every step to protect his patent ever since it was granted, not wait for a fine crop of cherries to pick.

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Re: Apple bitten.

Robert, read the article.

He didn't have the patent 8 years ago and it's not for the sort of thing which touch screens on estate agent windows do. He alerted Apple in 2007 about his work and can sue whenever he likes.

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Re: Apple bitten.

But they aren't because there's prior art - at least for the click/drag part of the claim. Back in the late 80's I joined a company called Comshare. By the beginning of the 90's one of the applications created and sold to top 1000 companies around the world was an executive information system (EIS) based on a touch screen. In it the mouse was replaced by a finger. Now you may be going to say Windows didn't exist back then. No, but OS/2 did. Nor was Comshare without competition and at least some of the people working at now Apple then worked for Comshare or a competitor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple bitten.

Windows didn't exist in the late 80s?

Really?

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Anonymous Coward

Re:Windows didn't exist in the late 80s?

we wish...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple bitten.

No he doesn't have a strong claim. The most important part of a patent, that defines the "umbrella" of functionality covered, is the first independent claim. Claims have to be extremely particular in terms of the meaning of the language they use. Here the loss of the image from the screen is coupled to exceeding a threshold value. I can't think of any part of the iOS interface where this is clearly the case. Even when e.g. you are scrolling a table in iOS, and you flick it so the table motion has momentum and images in the table move off screen, though there are "flick" velocity values which would ensure such effect is achieved, the actual velocity needed to achieve the effect will vary due to many tangential factors (such as how close to the edgeof the scrren the image is) and there is no particular predefined threshold value determine the outcome should be achieved. The fact that it is only by some calculation a threshold value is exceeded will be judged to be "external" to the mechanic described by the claims (because there may be many such different calculations which can be seen as applying and none of which are definitively the calculation in all cases). All clauses in the claim should contribute something coherent and internal to the invention.

So unfortunately for the prof, in my opinion, this claim is too specific (and I do have experience with this). Each clause of each sentence of an independent claim is like a logical "and" and on this single point of "exceeding a threshold value" Apple doesn't infringe, when that is judged necessarily internal to any such claimed invention. Yes, claims language is that specific and the standards of how claims are judged are that precise and pedantic!

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FAIL

The USPTO

Do these guys actually check whether they issue almost identical patents multiple times? If, and it appears to be the case, not, then they are just useless lawyerfeeders.

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Re: The USPTO

AFAICS, they totally don't, and they don't seem to think it's their job to do so. They're more like , 'I dunno, LOL'

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Re: The USPTO

AFAIK they actually have been instructed by Congress not to question patents, just issue them.

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Re: The USPTO

Q: Do these guys actually check whether they issue almost identical patents multiple times?

A: Apparently not. The USPTO has issued patents for using laser pointers as cat toys at least 5 times:

5443036 Method of exercising a cat

6505576 Pet Toy

6557495 Laser Pet Toy

6651591 Automatic laser pet toy and exerciser

6701872 Method and apparatus for automatically exercising a curious animal

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Re: The USPTO

Isn't that up to pattent attornies?

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Paris Hilton

@ zen1

Are you serious about this? I mean, I have no idea of how the american patent system works, but if they're just filing it: what's the point then?

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Facepalm

Can I...

Have a one way ticket off this crazy go round?

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Devil

Re: Can I...

No.

If he was issued this 15 years ago on the basis of a working system he deserves a patent. It is what the system is for - to protect an inventor building stuff. He actually built it - hallelujah.

The more interesting question is "Why nobody managed to find this when looking to invalidate the patents owned by Apple".

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Re: Can I...

@Voland's right hand

Except that the fact that he waited 15 years to enforce the patent shows that this is purely a money grab. If he had a genuine claim then he should have made that claim back when someone else produced a touchscreen device. Apple is just the big money target.

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Re: Can I...

But he didnt wait. He notified apple when the iphone was released. He has since been building his case, nothing wrong with that. It didnt say how long he notified and waited for a response from apple.

This guy invented, built, patented and used. This is the sort of thing the patents are there for.

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@Oliver Mayes Re: Can I...

"that the fact that he waited 15 years to enforce the patent"

Did you bother to read the article, or did you just do the fanboi jump to Apple's defence after reading the headline?

The patent is for touchscreen gestures, a concept this guy came up with and built - not just 'a touchscreen device'. After the release of the first iPhone (in 2007), he notified Apple, who failed to respond. He has every right to build a good case and take as long as he needs to pursue them. He didn't wait 15 years to enforce.

You have managed to make two inaccurate claims in a 4 line paragraph. Both of which could have been avoided, had you READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE. <sigh>

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Re: @Oliver Mayes Can I...

I can't imagine it's going to be hard to prior art for people moving a finger over a surface to cause something to happen...

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WTF?

Patent Trolls??

Agree 100% with Voland's right hand.

Why is the last sentence in the article making a left-field reference to patent trolls? Is it a subtle way for the article's author to say they believe this guy is a troll?? Seriously?? Not only is the patent applied for in 1997 (when for the vast majority of people, touchscreens were complete science fiction) and granted in 2005 (2 years before the iPhone), but the guy also actually implemented his invention in the museum display, AND he notified Apple of infringement in 2007.

This guy is almost the exact opposite of a patent troll

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He didn't wait 15 years to enforce.

No. He waited 2 years. The patent wasn't granted until 2005 - the same year that Apple aquired FingerWorks - whose products had already been on sale for several years. Fingerworks patents were granted in 2006.

It doesn't say in the article when the professor built two systems so he may not have built them until after he saw Fingerworks products.

The article says that he developed his idea in 1997. Fingerworks was founded as a company in 1998 so the work was most likely in progress before that.

With the exception of the 'throwing a file off the screen' bit, (though I have games that allow you to throw items around on the screen using inertia dated from 1992), nearly all the prof's other claims are traditional mouse actions - except that he is using a finger.

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Black Helicopters

Re: @Oliver Mayes Can I...

There's a lot of women might disagree :)

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@Voland's RH

I know, he actually built something and patented it... Imagine that, actually doing something with the patent you own instead of using it as a blocker.

Why did nobody else find this when trying to invalidate Apple patents? Well just look at the huge volume of patents involved. The US patent office seem to do very little indeed, just cash the cheque and say "Yup". IIRC the process in the UK involves an initial search, during which point invalid applications should be rejected.

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Re: Can I...

He notified them how? by sending them an email or writing a letter?

How many letters like that do you think a big company gets? it's one of thousands from all sorts of crackpots.

If you want something to happen you sue.

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Re: Can I...

"If you want something to happen you sue."

Errm, isn't this what he's doing?

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Paris Hilton

Re: @Oliver Mayes Can I...

I can't imagine it's going to be hard to prior art for people moving a finger over a surface to cause something to happen...

Amazing how you can change the context just by using a different icon

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Happy

Irony

May be a bit like steely, but those that live by the sword.....

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Looks pretty legit, it'd be nice to see him take them all to the cleaners, Apple especially though.

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JDX
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Where do these companies find the spare cash to make these dumb claims?

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Where do they find the cash?

They don't. They find a "bottom dwelling scum sucker" prepared to take it on a "contingency basis" for around 30% of any future payout.

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Headmaster

Re: Where do they find the cash?

Pedant alert:

Scum floats.

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Headmaster

RE: pedant alert

The fact that scum floats does not preclude the scum sucker being a bottom dweller. It can rise to the surface to feed and then sink back to its dwelling on the bottom.

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Happy

Re: RE: pedant alert

I live in the Fens & often stroll past scum covered water; I've yet to see a dwelling on the bottom.

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Re: Where do they find the cash?

"They don't. They find a "bottom dwelling scum sucker" prepared to take it on a "contingency basis" for around 30% of any future payout."

How could they? Apple have all them types as their evil minions/patent trolls. Ah wait.... Apple will counter-sue; as bullying companies as a troll is their game :p

I don't beleive in Karma but Ha fucking ha!

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Mushroom

Re: Where do they find the cash?

> Apple will counter-sue;

That is why trolls make nothing. There is nothing to sue for.

A pox on both their houses, but I hope the little guy wins.

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Joke

Re: Where do they find the cash?

A catfish?

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Re: RE: pedant alert

Since the aforementioned bottom-dweller is a scum sucker a suitably long scum-tube would enable them to maintain their benthic lifestyle whilst feeding.

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a modest suggestion

Since business processes are patentable (like almost everything else in the good ol' USA) how about patenting patent trolling?

'The accused in this case has blatantly ripped off my client's technique for extracting money from people who have actually done the marketing and development ...'

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Re: a modest suggestion

"Since business processes are patentable"

really ? Cause the SCOTUS said no.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a modest suggestion

> how about patenting patent trolling

You would owe money to IBM when you filed it.

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Re: a modest suggestion

Follow the link in the article to Drew Curtis' TED talk. 6 minutes well spent, in my opinion. He's got prior art on you :)

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Thumb Down

Meanwhile...

...the Flying Spaghetti Monster is suing Apple, HTC, Google, HP, ASUS, this professor, the inventor of the push-button and those hand-graphic arrow signs for infringing on the FSMs patent for a "jointed pointing device, powered by the users own body, and located as an array at the end of directional appendages".

Seriously - patents are getting used way too much by way too many people and this is simply diluting whatever validity justifiable patents may have.

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In mouse based computing world

Arent finger drags on a touchscreen obvious (and thus unpatentable?)

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Re: In mouse based computing world

In Apple's "bounceback" patent (when you scroll to the top of a list and keep scrolling, the list initially moves with your finger but bounces back) they came within a gnat's tadger of saying that it was obvious something like this was needed to show the user they were at the top of a list, and that bounceback was the most obvious way of doing it. They still got a patent on it though.

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Trollface

Not strictly speaking a patent troll

Generally, a patent troll is a non-practising entity, suing people over patents it has bought, and not actually using them. Here the original inventor has a company practising the patented technology.

End users gesturing on a touch-screen are also liable for infringement, of course, so it's not just the manufacturers who are in the firing line here.

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Facepalm

Re: Not strictly speaking a patent troll

...until the university he was working for claims that as his employee they own it - and then the museum that he did the installation for will claim that as they paid him to create the kiosk, they own it.- and then much fighting will ensue and lots of lawyers will be able to afford fancy new cars.

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Re: Not strictly speaking a patent troll

^as his employer

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Re: Not strictly speaking a patent troll

Doesn't it make more sense to describe someone as a patent troll if their only use of their patent is in extracting rents from other inventors? If he was using it then it's reasonable to grant him a temporary monopoly for the work he's done, but if he's not using it and someone else invents something similar with no reference to his designs then it would be reasonable for them to be allowed to continue with their own product.

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@Craigness Re: Not strictly speaking a patent troll

There are many things wrong with your statement. Too many for me to list at this time in the morning, anyway.

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