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back to article New Apple keyboard patent may spell trouble for Android

The US Patent and Trademark Office has handed Apple's legal team what may turn out to be a powerful weapon in their ongoing battles against anyone with the temerity to launch products competitive with the iPhone and iPad: a patent on soft keyboards that modify their keys with the tap of an on-screen button. Granted on Tuesday, …

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Anonymous Coward

prior art!

i have a Motorola A925 that does this ... which definitely pre-dates fruity phones

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Re: prior art!

Never mind a phone, bloody XBMC has had this for sodding ages. Probably other applications designed for only mouse/controller/IR input too.

Just because this "modifiable on-screen keyboard thingy" is now implemented on a phone rather than a desktop/TV is not a good enough reason to make it patentable.

And on top of that, having a button to switch "layouts" to keep the screen organised is w-a-y too bloody obvious and is used time-and-again in a whole host of areas for managing features/options.

Seriously, the USPTO need a kick in the knackers.

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Happy

Re: prior art!

Great.. So it's out of patent then.

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Anonymous Coward

whats

the point in getting uptight bout it?

Chill.

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Re: whats

@AC - What's the point? because it stifles innovation, prevents new products coming to market and can stop a whole industry moving forward. That's why. The whole Internet was found on technology that was patent-free. Do you think it would have gone as far as it did if was riddled with patent caner?

Patents have a place, so long as the are good patents about something truly new/non-obvious. The patents the USPTO a granting willy-nilly for tech ideas are just such cobblers. Thankgoodness (for now) the the EU doesn't allow software patents.

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Anonymous Coward

But, since the system IS in place...

...when you use a feature you either patent it to protect yourself, even if it's possible it won't stand, or you wait for someone else to patent it and have to defend yourself. Not filing a patent is prima facie evidence you didn't feel you had any rights in the matter.

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Re: But, since the system IS in place...

A broken system is worse than no system at all.

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Facepalm

Re: But, since the system IS in place...

>> Not filing a patent is prima facie evidence you didn't feel you had any rights in the matter.

There is not enough facepalm in the multiverse to describe the brainrot evidenced here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But, since the system IS in place...

... and that's gonna cost me about a grand for every line of code I write. No ta!

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Happy

Re: prior art!

Lawyers - bookmark this thread, I suspect it will grow into a useful resource.

Here's the Sony Ericsson P800 from 2001: http://www.flickr.com/photos/takenbyhim/5154996194/ and the Ericsson R380 it was the sucessor to: http://www.gsmarena.com/ericsson_r380-195.php, both of which did exactly this OBVIOUS function for a soft keyboard.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But, since the system IS in place...

"or you wait for someone else to patent it and have to defend yourself"

That's not really how, even the broken, patents system works.

If you invent something like this just publish the fact, get a notorised copy put in the safe or send a copy to your lawyers.

You are then immune from being sued for the same thing (and if you're feeling generous stopping anyone else from being sued). There is clear recorded prior art and you've just cost someone money having to go through the process of filing a worthless patent.

You only need to patent it if you wish to stop the competition using it or you wish to build up your patent portfolio as part of the patent arms race.

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Trollface

Re: prior art!

PLEASE DON'T VOTE DOWN MY HUSBAND. HE MISSES THAT NEWTON, IT WAS LIKE A BROTHER / FATHER TO HIM. I THINK THAT'S WHY HE SHOUTS!

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Re: But, since the system IS in place...

No you contact the valid patent holder and obtain a license to use the technology. Failing that you can be sued.

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Anonymous Coward

>"LIKE A BROTHER/FATHER TO HIM"

Say, are you guys from the Ozarks?

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Paris Hilton

Re: >"LIKE A BROTHER/FATHER TO HIM"

IF WE WERE BOTHER AND SISTER THEN OBVIOUSLY WE WOULD BE BRITISH CITIZENS

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Re: >"LIKE A BROTHER/FATHER TO HIM"

ITEM 4 ON MY LIST OF THINGS THAT BDG HAS ASKED ME TO DO

MEND THE SPELLCHUCKER ON THE COMPYTER

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Anonymous Coward

Troll fail.

Sorry, but "NO U" is always lose. I declare spnak and victory!

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But it isn't Apple prior art, it should be mentioned that Apple can and will buy the absolute rights, no matter who did it first, because only Apple exist in the world of IP.

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Yay for the f@#$ed up US Patent system..

..way to go United States of F$%^ed UP... you are screwing up your own industries by crushing innovation. good one guys..

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FAIL

Re: Yay for the f@#$ed up US Patent system..

Funny how that happens when most of the law makers are/were lawyers. Its all about billable hours baby. Who gives a shit about the public.

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What do you call 1000 patent lawyers at the bottom of the Atlantic?

A good start.

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Thumb Up

Re: What do you call 1000 patent lawyers at the bottom of the Atlantic?

Upvoted for... well, obvious really.

What do you call it when ALL the F$%^$£%G patent lawyers are at the bottom of the Atlantic?

JOB! WELL! DONE!

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Anonymous Coward

Why won't sharks bite patent lawyers?

Professional courtesy.

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Anonymous Coward

Did you hear scientists are replacing lab rats with patent lawyers?

Two reasons, really.

Number one, they used to get quite attached to the rats.

And number two, there are some things a rat just won't do.

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Re: Did you hear scientists are replacing lab rats with patent lawyers?

You forgot (3) only a finite number of rats in world :-)

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So basically...

the radical thought is to get something to happen by touching a touch screen.

It's time to consign the US Patent Office to the dustbin of history.

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Windows has had an on screen keyboard for a while now. It has button that when you click on them change the layout of the keyboard. For example, when I press the 'shift' key, all of my letters turn upper case. Isn’t a parent supposed to be something that 'someone skilled in the art' wouldn’t think of easily? I don’t make smartphones or computer operating systems, but I could have come up with this idea.

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Anonymous Coward

skilled in the art...

Supposedly, as you say the invention is non obvious and requires an inventive step by those skilled in the art. Perhaps those rules are different in the us.

Eitherway i cannot understand how such patents for non-inventions can be awarded.

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Re: skilled in the art...

True, also didnt windows 95 have floating keyboards that altered configuration for the virtual keybaord? Ive seen these things in the windows of bus stations etc. I cannot see how they will enforce it

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Anonymous Coward

In other overblown and misanalysed patent news

Google patent may spell end for sunglasses:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57434403-76/google-patents-project-glass-wearable-display/

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Anonymous Coward

I didn't bother reading the cnet article you linked...

... because... well, you know... CNET... so I have no comment to make on how overblown and/or misanalyzed that article may be, but *this* article in fact understates the situation - see other post for details.

(It is, however, misanalyzed, I must admit, unclear as it is on the relative roles played by claims and embodiments in a patent application.)

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ZX Spectrum

I'm pretty sure my ZX Spectrum did something smiler depending on which of the multitude of shift keys you pressed.

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Anonymous Coward

No, it didn't.

Because 1) it didn't have a soft keyboard 2) when you pressed one of the "multitude of shift keys" it did not display a number of objects corresponding to alternative layouts from which you could choose which alternative layout you wanted.

(This post applies to many of the claims of prior art in this thread but I won't be posting it in reply to every individual one of them! *Read* the actual patent, folks, it's linked from the article.)

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So the real inovatave step then

Is taking a real keyboard and reproducing it's functionality in software and then changing the icons on the keys when you press another key.

And no I haven't read the Patent because fore every one I read I treble the potential damages some stupid patent troll can demand from me

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So the real inovatave step then

No, that's not the real innovative step. There is no innovative step, and if you'd read the patent you'd know that and be able to defend yourself against false accusations, which seems to me a better plan than voluntary self-lobotomy.

(How the hell would they ever know you'd read a patent if you weren't daft enough to tell them you had, anyway?)

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Anonymous Coward

The Palm Tungsten 3/ T|X and friends did this back in 2003-5

Prior art, surely?

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"The Palm Tungsten 3/ T|X and friends did this back in 2003-5"

The original Palm Pilot did that, predating even the first of the Newton made by Apple, let alone any 'i' products...

Prior art definitely...

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FAIL

Except for the rather inconvenient fact that the Newton was released 4 years prior to the Palm Pilot (the Newton was released in 1993, the Palm Pilot in 1997). The Pilot 1000 didn't have the features mentioned by this patent (released 1996).But hey, it's out thereinks so it must be true now. You win the internets. Medal is in the post.

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Anonymous Coward

And four years before that....

GRiDPad. Interesting things, heavy as hell, especially the ones the US Army used for mortars.

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FAIL

The US Patent Office

must be giving their staff some powerful drugs in order for them to keep coming up with these monumentally stupid decisions time after time. Either that or they only recruit cretins.

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FAIL

Re: The US Patent Office

They do it on purpose. The patent office is one of the revenue streams for the government and there is a lot of pressure put on to accept the patents and let the courts decide the issue. That way lawyers get paid and lots of bureaucrats can justify their crap jobs.

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Re: The US Patent Office

On top of the obvious drug feeding they probably have targets to meet based on the number of applications deemed successful. They should all be re-educated in order to better understand that a successful application is not celebrating success of the US Patent Office, it is the successful demonstration of a patent's innovation.

It must be tough trawling through all the sh(te they have to read, imagine studying a patent for days on end and then having to constantly use the 'reject' stamp with it's worn, stubby, dry and cracking rubber whilst the fresh, moist, green and supple 'approved' stamp stands perky on the other side of the desk.

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FAIL

RISC OS had this in the 90's

See title.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RISC OS had this in the 90's

Was RISC OS ever used to power a "A portable electronic device" (1st sentence, 1st paragraph of the 'claims' part of the patent. So no, it doesn't constitute prior art. It would help if most of you self appointed 'legal experts' actually RTFP before spewing your, ahem, wisdom onto the Internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, RISC OS was used to power "a portable electronic device".

The Acorn A4 laptop

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I'm "typing" this on...

http://www.fitaly.com/tabletfitaly/fitalymanual.htm

First used on a PalmPilot.

Then, I have an RSI thing now, but I can use a stylus. Actually, stylus plus clicker works pretty well. I use an optical Bluetooth mouse with the optical censor taped over, currently.

So it sounds as though Apple will want to buy Fitaly and its patents and prior art. And destroy them. Drat.

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FAIL

Massive Prior Art, so serious FUBAR by US Patent drones if accepted!

Apple are being F'ing cheeky patenting this, they must know about the numerous prior art for this e.g.

the excellent "Thumb Keyboard" App I bought on the Google Market, does this adaptive keyboard stuff already!

Mouse keyboards and most touch interfaces also change the keys/buttons displayed based on control keys, including years old Retail POS and Windows programs; so Apple are sooooo taking the piss!

Software Patents MUST end, they are routinely abused and too often based on Prior Art of some sort!

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Facepalm

owwowwOwwOwwOWWOWWOWW...!

Please make it stop. My head hurts.

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Trollface

Deadlock

Surely now is the time to sieze the opportunity to register a 'design' patent on the graphical display of such a keyboard and force Apple's hand?!

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