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back to article DEAD STEVE JOBS kills Apple bounce patent from BEYOND THE GRAVE

The late Apple baron Steve Jobs has critically wounded one of his company's key "bounce to update" related patents in Europe. A German court has nixed a photo-gallery app design, filed by Apple in June 2007, after a video of Jobs demonstrating the software with the rubber-band bounce effect five months earlier was deemed prior …

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Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

I'm struggling to understand this judgement. If I have a good idea, it can be cited as prior art to stop me patenting it. Didn't the judges just destroy the patent system?

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

"Didn't the judges just destroy the patent system?" That wouldn't be a bad thing.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

That's covered in the link at the end - in the US you get 12 months grace period from when you first start shouting about your new invention to get your patent in. In the EU there's no such grace period and you need to get it patented before showing the world.

Both systems make sense in my mind - the US system protects the innovator a bit more, but the EU system means copiers don't have to wait to see if a patent is filed before starting to make copies.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

I don't support software patents in any form, but I agree, it's a bit strange that an inventor demonstrating their invention can actually be cited for prior art against their own invention.

It's almost as if an actual physical working product doesn't even factor into the equation. Why, someone could just come up with an idea and as long as they had a stamped and dated bit of paperwork - then all the rewards of hard work that goes into actually inventing something physical and tangible - belongs to them.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

No, all it means is that you keep schtum about it until you have filed your patent application.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

In the US patents could be applied for within 12-months of disclosure. In the rest of the world the patent must be applied for before disclosure. Once you've told the world about your great idea it cannot be patented. As I understand it, the US patent system now works this way as well for new patents.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

If you have an idea and want to patent it, you keep quiet about it until you file for the patent and THEN start bragging about how amazing it is, not the other way round.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

Nope. They should have filed before showing it in public - it's their own stupid fault.

Someone shows off an idea before patenting it, especially something as trivially-copyable as this, people then incorporate it into their own products. The "innovation" wasn't protected at the time they gave everyone else the idea - sounds like they didn't really care about keeping the idea to themselves much.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

>Didn't the judges just destroy the patent system?

Of course not. As the article already noted, this happened because of the differences between the US and European patent systems. In Europe, you must file for the patent first, and only then you can publish your idea to the world (of course you can talk about it within your company). In the US, you can shout it from the rooftops and still have a year to get it to the patent office.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

I think (for europe anyway) that if you have an idea you patent it before you release a high profile product that uses the idea.

Once you have released a product using the idea without patenting it then anyone is free to use that idea but will be unable to patent it as their own

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

I'm struggling to understand this judgement. If I have a good idea, it can be cited as prior art to stop me patenting it. Didn't the judges just destroy the patent system?

No, the patent system should be well understand and corporate patent depts regularily drum it into engineers.

Basically, anything that is patented must not be disclosed to anyone (other than under NDA etc) before it is filed. If you tell someone about it (without NDA in place) then it becomes public and can no longer be patented. So before you do a (public) demo of your new idea you need to get the patent filed (i.e. you need to lodge the info about the invention at the patent office .... they will then decide if it is actually patentable before granting it). The exception is the USA where you are allowed to file within 1 year of first disclosure - hence in this case Apple may have a US patent but not able to get patent anywhere else.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

No; you just have to keep quiet about it until you've filed the patent application. If you can't STFU and start waving it around in public before then that's what makes it prior art.

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Unhappy

Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

Frankee old lad

You're making the elementary error of expecting logic and common sense from:-

a) The Patent system

and

b) The Judiciary.

Expect neither from either!

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

I think it just means that if you have a good idea, make sure you've got the patent application well and truly lodged *before* you show it off to world + dog; presumably if you don't you're considered to have made it public domain. Just guessing, though.

No idea how you managed to get downvoted just for asking the question, btw.

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Megaphone

Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

In Europe, you have to patent before you publish.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

The key is that you have to patent it _before_ you demonstrate it - the patent application has to be the first publication of the idea, otherwise it's considered to be "out there" without being patented, and thus freely copyable. Therefore you've created your own prior art and can't patent the idea later. Quite sensible really, otherwise you could let people come up with products using an idea - a patent search would show up no matches, then patent it and demand royalties.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

it means that once a idea has been published without a patent application being made, it is not patentable any more.

So no, you can still patent your invention, just don't publish it before you write the patent application.

I suppose this is one way to ensure that people are not showing off some good idea first and than try to cash in from others, that started to implement it before the patent was even written.

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FAIL

Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

I think the idea here in Europe is that you file the patent before you tell everyone how great it is. hardly difficult for a trivial patent such as this, surely?

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

Nope. If you have a good idea, you have to very careful about who you tell and under what circumstances until you have applied for a patent. Any publication of what you wish to patent, by you or anyone else, before you start the application process can be cited as prior art.

IIRC, this includes patent applications. A patent application is publishing the idea. If you have made an error in your application and you try to re-apply, technically it would be invalid due to the prior art of your initial application.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

The point is that in Europe you have to patent something BEFORE making it public, in the USA I believe this is not so much the case. Thus Steve Jobs demoing it to all and sundry made it public and as the idea was not yet protected by a patent, in Europe, it meant that anyone could copy it, in Europe.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

This link explains it very clearly.

http://web.mit.edu/tlo/www/community/preserving_patent_rights.html

The crucial thing is that if you have a good idea and tell everyone about it publicly then in most countries other than the US, you have torpedoed yourself. In the US you have a year long grace period to patent it after that point.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

er...no.

The original idea behind the patent system was a deal - the state gives you a time limited monopoly on your invention and in return you tell everyone how it's works. If how it's works is in the public domain then what's the point of giving you a monopoly?

There's a lot to criticise about how it works now (and I expect some choice examples in this thread) but the underlying idea is sound. Before patents new inventions would be kept as trade secrets the extreme case being forceps in child birth which one family kept under wraps for 150 years.

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Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

Maybe because as a great money spinner you could create something, demonstrate it to the world without a patent. Wait for everyone to also use it (you've published it to the world of course) and then when there is significant uptake patent it and sue.

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Boffin

Re: Regardless of the merits of the Apple patent

According to a Patent Attorney acquaintance, it gets better than this. He could have demo'd the phone, making no reference whatsoever to the bouncy-bounce-back action, not even showing it, and it would still count as prior art if it could be proved that it was in the software load of the phone he demo'd.

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Bit confused ...

The prior art is the company making the patent...:S

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Re: Bit confused ...

Exposing the innovation PRIOR to patenting the innovation put the details into the public domain. Prior art was established.

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Is it last week again...

... or am I having a deja vu?

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Prior Art

If properly applied, the concept of "prior art" would destroy many large companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google because they simply commercialize ideas that other people have invented but didn't see the need to patent.

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Re: Prior Art

Not destroy the company. actually make little difference except more innovation and competition. Especially from startups.

The current "to easy for rich people to enforce a trivial patent" situation harms innovation and only helps the big company bottom line a little. Actually some companies spend so much on patenting that if only genuine patents granted they might save more than they would lose in competition.

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Re: Prior Art

> If properly applied, the concept of "prior art" would destroy many large companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google because they simply commercialize ideas that other people

Improving an invention does not require hijacking that invention and effectively stealing it from those that actually invented it.

In 2013, one simply doesn't need a 20 year monopoly in order to make money off of a better mousetrap. The entire market moves much too fast. Progress happens far too quickly and an invention may become obsolete before anyone successfully clones it.

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Re: Prior Art

" In 2013, one simply doesn't need a 20 year monopoly in order to make money off of a better mousetrap. "

mmm...depends on the industry. When Dyson prosecuted Hoover for infringement in 2000 it was over a patent dating back to 1980. Dyson itself wasn't founded until 1993.

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Re: depends on the industry.

Couldn't agree more. A 20 year patent on clicking a button is retarded and puts people and companies off even trying to create new ideas - the patent system doesn't protect inventions anymore, it prevents them.

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He who lives by the court...

... dies by the court.

Since now everyone sues everyone with a poor aim at blocking markets from one another, all we punters get is stifled innovation.

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Unhappy

Sigh

Now that Groklaw is gone, there is now only FOSS… They used to balance each other pretty well…

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The rule is that you must file for a patent before you tell anyone else about the idea. Apple didn't do this, he told the whole world about the idea then waited five months before filing his application.

The logic behind the rule is to prevent someone sharing an idea, perhaps even encouraging them to implement it, then snaring them in a litigation trap by filing for the patent once they are about to bring a product to market.

If you tell people without first having applied for a patent, the law assumes that you are happy for others to copy the idea - you've had a good idea and want everyone to benefit from it without seeking to make a profit from it.

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Anonymous Coward

No bullshit there !

Ah, those fond good old days when Apple did not patent any old bullshit.

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ludicrous claims

Just watched vid up to where Steve Jobs claims Apple invented the mouse. Bulls#it alarm sounded and I lost interest. Anyone got a link to where Apple claim to have invented oxygen?

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Re: ludicrous claims

I can't face watching the whole 45 minutes - at what point is this and where's the bounce demo?

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Re: ludicrous claims

16:10.

The section starts at 15:00, where he said he had a special board so he could get digital video out of the iPhone (you know, when more than a handful of Nokias had TV Out).

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Typical problem caused by people assuming the rules where they are apply worldwide.

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"Some readers have expressed concern at Florian's impartiality"

That's being overly generous to Mr Mueller. He's a spin-doctor for hire. That's all there is to it.

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Trollface

Maps?

Anyone else notice that the video cuts out just before Steve demonstrates Google Maps running on an iPhone? ;-)

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Rol
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Been there, done it, didn't keep the T shirt though. Bugger!

I remember my computer A level course work on a Commodore PET, it was a stock control program, written partly in BASIC and partly machine code, to speed some things up and make other bits more accessible for future development.

The parts screen was a twenty line affair with headers and footers taking up the other 4 lines and scrolled like a dream, until that is, it got to the end of the list, where it appeared to bounce, much to my annoyance.

I eventually fixed this "flaw", handed it in, got the grades and moved on. Boy do I now regret binning my work, as I beat Apple to the bounce by some thirty years.

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1996 NT 4.0 Solitare Bouncing cards?

Such a feature should never be allowed a patent anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

"Some readers have expressed concern at Florian's impartiality"

Dear me, Bill. That was a coffee-spittingly impressive piece of understatement...

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Paris Hilton

Re: "Some readers have expressed concern at Florian's impartiality"

"...and one might disagree with his conclusions..."

Just the one? Which reader would that be, eh?

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Squeezebox has had bounce at the end of the menu since..... err.... 2005 ish perhaps earlier. There's prior art anyway IMHO.

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wtf

Much as i dislike Apple for it's patent shenanigans, what sort of moron court decides that showing a new idea counts as prior art against yourself?

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Re: wtf

Who displays it is irrelevant, all that is important is that it was displayed in public, before being protected,

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