back to article Apple fanbois' accidental bonking ruled too obvious by watchdog

A US trade watchdog says Apple iPhones do not infringe a patent that described the detection of fanbois accidentally touching the screen. The ITC agreed with a judge who ruled that the technology, patented by Google-owned Motorola Mobility, was too obvious. Specifically, the patent covered the accidental pressing of one's head …

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Call me paranoid

Though aren't some of Apples patents much more obvious and if this was a Apple patent would it be considered too obvious too?

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Trollface

Re: Call me paranoid

No - how dare you question the empire or the infallible legal system for patents

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Facepalm

Re: Call me paranoid

And there was me thinking this was too obvious clickbait to generate much from the fan_whatevers.

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Re: Call me paranoid

Not only are some of Apple's patents much more obvious but have been ruled so and are now similarly invalid. E.g. last month the US Patent & Trademark Office invalidated Apple's rubber banding patents — there was a preliminary ruling last October that I can find an El Reg reporting of at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/23/uspto_apple_patent/ and a final one that many other sites reported at the beginning of this month (though that's final only in the sense of 'we've finalised our initial ruling on the problem, bring on the appeals').

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Re: Call me paranoid

The ITC agreed with a judge who ruled that the technology, patented by Google-owned Motorola Mobility, was too obvious.

The part of all this that niggles me is that if they were too obvious, why were they granted? A nice way of sorting the USPTO out might be to allow companies that have patents passed that are deemed ovious to claim costs back off of the USPTO.

Perhaps then they would do their job!

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Re: Call me paranoid

I can only assume the US patent office charges less for rejecting a patent than accepting one.

So it's better business to just approve everything, and let the lawyers (who are probably from the same lodge) sort it out.

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You can't win against Apple at the ITC.

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January's ITC ruling in favour of Motorola and against Apple re: '430, '828 and '607 would suggest otherwise.

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Patents: A GIANT BUBBLE?

Couldn't resist after seeing the Bitcoin headline

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In the words of a very wise geranium ...

"Oh no. Not again."

Colin

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Headmaster

Re: In the words of a very wise geranium ...

...who was plagiarising a bowl of petunias...

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Devil

Re: ...who was plagiarising a bowl of petunias...

Now there's a whale of a tail.

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Coat

'Obvious' is an interesting term

Without reading the fine detail just what is obvious?

That there is a problem to be solved?... obviously!

That there's a way of solving it?... well there are several ways of solving any problem and Motorola clearly came up with a way that was approved as a patent originally but shouldn't have if that solution was... obvious!

So either the system screwed up when the patent was granted or it screwed up now!

I can't help but stating that a screen device such as a tablet being carried around a lot might be best with rounded corners... or is that not obvious enough?

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Re: 'Obvious' is an interesting term

Books--an admittedly much, much older technology than tablets or smart-phones--might also benefit (and might also have benefitted) from such radial thinking, but I haven't seen any books sporting such rounded corners. Why didn't someone think of rounding those corners--oh, I don't know--centuries ago? Shirley Ann Obviosity?

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Trollface

Re: 'Obvious' is an interesting term

It's all about how you define obvious ...

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Re: 'Obvious' is an interesting term

Actually I have seen such books - children's books made of cardboard rather than thin paper just about always have rounded corners. The theory there is that small children are more likely to damage themselves being careless with books, so the hard corners are rounded to prevent them putting out their eyes or similar.

@Julian - the US Patent Office tends to work by granting any patent that is applied for, then having it's validity tested in court. So it was screwed up then, and still is screwed up now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'Obvious' is an interesting term

I don't mind the approval in the beginning, I jus twish court cases would take the correct route each time.

"We're suing for them infringing patents X,Y,Z"

"Okay, lets ahve a look, X and Y are freakin' obvious and disallowed, Z however yo ucan sue for"

"... Groovy"

Rather than the current

"We're suing for them infringing patents X,Y,Z"

"Okay lets spend the next 6 months in court deciding awards bitches!"

"Nice,"

guy being sued: "But these patents are bullshit!"

"Who cares? You have to pay the plaintiff $1,000,000,000,000,000,000, now lets take a look here"

2 months later

"Wow, X and Y really were bullshit, eh too late now!"

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Silver badge

Re: I don't mind the approval in the beginning

I do.

What is supposed to happen is somebody looks at it, decides whether a reasonable man would think it is obvious. If it is obvious, patent denied. Then you proceed to do a basic search on existing patents to make sure it hasn't already been covered. Then you issue the award.

What seems to be happening is they skip the first part, probably because rich clients have sued over the 'reasonable man' standard, and moved directly to the basic search. And when they don't find a 150 year old patent on a box with rounded corners, they approve the patent.

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Re: 'Obvious' is an interesting term

'but I haven't seen any books sporting such rounded corners. Why didn't someone think of rounding those corners--oh, I don't know--centuries ago?'

Rounding the corner of a book creates waste. Squaring the corner is simpler, cheaper and faster.

That said, I have books with rounded corners. Not just on the cover, but the pages, too. One is an illustrated bible that's around 100 yrs old, others are reference books (and not so old).

So yes, someone had thought of it.

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Re: 'Obvious' is an interesting term

Then the question becomes, how round is "round". No book ever had a perfectly sharp 90* corner, though any roundness it had wasn't deliberate. No phone ever had perfectly sharp 90* corners either, but what's the point where someone looks at it and sees/feels the corners as rounded versus squared?

I think the whole rounded corners thing is stupid, but the patent office considers details like that because the degree of rounding, how deliberate it was, why it was done, how it was done manufacturing-wise and design-wise all enter into patents. That's why they're so complex, and so frustrating for us lay people.

The idea of having the touchscreen deactivate when you hold the phone to your face is obvious after the fact just like bounce back scrolling. But until you build a phone and people get annoyed because their high cheekbones keep hitting the mute button, it probably isn't as obvious as people want to believe.

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Facepalm

Are Google just storing up their own patents and not using them?

If Google has a patent on this, why does my 'droid phone routinely allow its buttons to be pressed by my ear when I am taking a call? And conversely, once my ear has unexpectedly and embarrassingly switched that personal phone call onto speaker, why does it not allow me to switch it back using my finger?

It is a bit annoying to be pestering other companies over a patent you own but can't be bothered to implement in your own competing product.

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Re: Are Google just storing up their own patents and not using them?

Motorola has the patent, which isn't quite the same as Google having it. By the way, I don't understand exactly what the patented thing does; it's something to do with an infra-red emitter and sensor that specifically detects an obstruction in front of the phone, but I don't exactly get how. Practical and obviously different alternatives are a camera that recognises an ear coming towards the phone (or vice versa) and disables the touch facility, and a switch on the side of the phone that you apply to lock it. I think my old Samsung Q1 tablet computer had a switch to disable the touchscreen.

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Coat

Since when to human heads uspport NFC?

:Looks at El Reg—English dictionary in confusion:

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Method for automatically revoking a granted patent when the patent holder frivolously applies for a another patent on an idea that is obvious-to-person-ordinarily-skilled-in-the-art.

--- Pat. Pend.

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