back to article Apple turns the flamethrower on Android

The details of Apple's patent offensive are now public, and it's clear that while HTC is the target, it's Google's Android that has got Cupertino so annoyed. The patents on which Apple is claiming infringement include obvious things such as the use of a gesture to unlock and rotate the screen based on device orientation, but …


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  1. Richard Wharram

    Smooth animations between user screens

    How in the name of Cheepus are things like this patentable ?

    1. Big-nosed Pengie

      One word:


  2. NB


    Apple are a bunch of cry baby dicks that want to stifle competition because even they know just how shit the jesus phone really is.

    Personally I'm waiting for MeeGo to start being used on devices before I buy a smart phone, then we can finally have a truly open mobile platform with good backing from nokia and intel.

  3. Dorian Farrimond
    Jobs Horns

    The cheek

    "A system in which a software module called an event consumer can indicate an interest in receiving notifications about a specific set of events, and it provides an architecture for efficiently providing notifications to the [event] consumer"

    That would be the observer pattern then?

  4. Piro

    Bunch of absolute lowlifes

    I'd throw them out of court and laugh at them.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      No, that will be a long and illustrious lineup of syscalls

      There is a very long and illustrious line up of prior art here.

      epoll(), kqueue, /dev/poll all provide this functionality on the relevant Unix clones and most of them predate this patent by a very long time.

      If Apple pushes this one too much it may end up finding itself in the target area of IBM, SnOracle, etc who all hold prior art on the matter and all of them have much bigger patent war chests.

    2. Munchausen's proxy

      "event consumer"?

      I guess I'm too old, and not up on what you kids are doing these days - it sounds like an interrupt handler to me.

      And I would think IBM would have something to say about prior art on a patent for an object-oriented GUI on a procedural OS (OS2's workplace shell).

    3. Ross Ryles

      Observer Pattern

      That patent made me instantly think "Observer Pattern" too.

      The GoF book references for known implementations of this are dated 1988.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting ...

    It seems Apple are betting the Farm they have so much money they can come out of this "not" looking like SCO .. somehow I rather doubt Google can afford to let HTC lose so I don't think they're going to be 'all' that soft a target, not to mention an attack on Android is an attack on Linux and the whole Open Source community.

    Cash pile aside, Apple have done some pretty stupid things over the years, but and this has to be way up there!

  6. Greg D
    Thumb Down

    software patents - why they are utter bullshit

    ooh they made a thing, that does stuff.

    thats surprisingly like our thing that does stuff.

    fuck lets sue.

    such a moronic thing software patents - stifle the market good n proper. thank god we dont have them here in the good ol' EU.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    So to me it sounds like ....

    if you live in America you will pretty much have the choice of either a Nokia 3310 or an iPhone ... I know which one I would rather.


    1. Anonymous Coward

      Quite agree but 6310i...

      I still use a Nokia 6310i as my business phone and proud of it!

  8. breakfast

    While software is patentable this will keep happening

    Just doesn't make sense that Software patents behave the same as all other patents. The field is just too quick for that- if it is to be patentable the patents need at the very least to time out in a fraction of the time to avoid these constant stultifying and pernicious lawsuits.

  9. Jimmy Floyd

    Looking on the bright side...

    If Apple are this frightened of Android it means they're shit-scared of their shiny ice-hockey puck being called out for what it is: technically average, restrictive, over-priced but oh-so purdee.

    The strangest sentence I note in this article is the bit about a gesture to unlock the phone, as opposed to a PIN. I was under the impression (and await correction) that this is standard on Android but that someone has had to create an app for it on the iPhone?

    There was an article a while back between us Reg commentards about the multi-touch bit that Android has on some (but not all) of the standard applications. I was slightly surprised not to see that mentioned but maybe that's a reflection of the sheer number of allegations!

  10. Cameron Colley

    Dear Apple: Fuck off and die.

    Yes, you "pioneered home computing" or some such back in the day -- but now you're just another patent-trolling innovation-stifling waste of space.

    To all those that have bought Apple products in the last few years: Thanks a fucking bunch you selfish morons -- you helped to fund this shit which will cost us non-Apple customers for years to come.

  11. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Oh for flips sake!

    I have a LG GW520 and it has loads of similar gestures to my wife's Jesus-phone, like swipe-smooth scroll in picture gallery, twist and tilt to rotate the on screen orientation! I use Apple desktop kit, like it but Apple can be very, very short-sighted and childish about things like this.

    What's next? Suing the UK pound stores, seizing the kiddies plastic toys that look a little like the J-phone?!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Simple - Lawyers win

    Apple have lots of money = expensive Lawyers

    Google have lots of money = expensive Lawyers

    Microsoft have lots of money = expensive Lawyers

    Nokia have quite a bit of money = decent Lawyers

    OK - no one dare take on Microsoft but Apple will be fighting Google and Nokia at the same time. That cash mountain is going to disappear fast and I think Nokia will win their case.

    Patents, good greif. Oh wait, they are written by patent Lawyers...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    So basically ...

    This isn't about product protection at all, but more to limit consumer choice - by bringing some never-before-enforced (submarine) patents to the surface to push a rival which might take a slice of market you had staked out for yourself under.

    Smooth move, Apple - now they're just another patent troll ....

    Oh well.

  14. Drefsab

    Thanks Apple

    I'm in the market for a new phone I've been toying with waiting for the iphone 4th Gen or an android device such as Nexus One, Sony X10 or Motorola Shadow.

    This news has made me scratch the iphone off the list of possibles :) I know apple don't care about my personal busisnes but the only way they will ever learn that people don't like these types of action is mass voting with feet.

    Sadly I doubt there's enough people who are informed enough or opinionated enough to make a reasonable dent in apple's sales. As such they will continue to do all they can to make sure you don't get a choice of decent phones.

  15. Michael


    Sorry, but this is complete and utter pish.

    The sooner software patents are banned the better. The whole patent system needs re-thought and the bloody obvious ones should stop getting granted. The whole point of the system was to provide access to new innovations and enable inventors to be re-numerated for sharing their knowledge rather than keep it secret. This in turn should enable further innovation.

    Wide ranging non-specific patents should not be allowed in almost all cases.

  16. Ian 45

    Soon to be irrelevant?

    Since the west seems to be in terminal decline and all our jobs are exported to India and China one guesses they will be buying all the phones anyway.

    Tried Apple stuff, expensive for an average experience.,

    1. Macka

      Re: Looking on the bright side...

      Unlocking an iPhone is a one or two step process. The first is a finger gesture - a swipe which either takes you to the app screen or to a keypad to enter a pin. The second, the keypad/pin screen is not always required, it depends how you've got it set up. I've got mine set to screen lock quickly to protect against accidental input, but only to activate the keypad and pin if the device is locked for more than a few minutes. So if I use it, put it down and then pick it up again within a few minutes I don't have to faff around tapping in a pin number.

    2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      The Stupid is Strong in this one.

      Apple have NO FUCKING CHOICE. They are LEGALLY OBLIGATED to protect any patents they own, or they will lose them.

      Replace the word "Apple" in the preceding with any other US corporation.

      Do you not understand the definition of "democracy"?

      Don't like Software Patents? Guess what? YOU—"The People of The United States of America"— are ENTIRELY responsible for the actions of your government. Including passing dumb, stupid laws like these, which effectively hamstring corporations and stifle competition.

      *Every* business with a patent portfolio has to go through this crap. It only makes lawyers (and the USPTO) happy. It does sod all for a business and is actually a cost-centre and low-grade, blunt-stick tool for inter-corporation diplomacy. ("Hey, those guys have some patents we could use, let's sue 'em to bring them to the negotiating table...")

    3. David Webb


      Hate to point out the obvious but Nokia is as rich as, if not richer than, Apple, with assets of over $53 billion compared to Apples assets of $42 billion. Jobs was proud to announce Apple were a $50b company, Nokia already were.

      When it comes to phone patents, Nokia could take Apple to the cleaners and back again, HTC is an easy mark to go against, why go for the ones that could defend themselves against this patent, go for the small fry.

      1. Raumkraut

        Patent expiration

        "Apple have NO FUCKING CHOICE. They are LEGALLY OBLIGATED to protect any patents they own, or they will lose them."

        Wrong. Patents do not expire if you do not enforce them; otherwise there would be no problem of "submarine patents": where a company keeps quiet about holding/enforcing patents which read on a technology until it becomes widespread, essential, and thus provide easy pickings. Take Microsoft and FAT, for example.

        What you're thinking of are Trademarks. They can get diluted and/or genericised if their licensed use is not enforced, causing the owner to effectively lose their exclusivity on that mark.

        1. Anton Ivanov

          And they should

          And the easiest way to solve this problem is if they do expire.

          A patent should automatically expire if the holder fails to bring a product to market or put it out for RAND licensing within 1 year after the patent has been granted. Considering that it takes 2-5 years on average from filing to granting this is not a particularly onerous requirement.

          Similarly, a patent that is not available for RAND licensing should automatically expire one year after the last non-insider sale of an item which contains the patented technology.

          And so on. By the way - software is not the worst offender here.

          Guess how much patents on battery technology, hybrid propulsion and green tech are held by Esso, BP and other petrol companies.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Nope

        Can’t we just agree that they’re both very well-heeled corporations?

        At the end of 2009, Nokia’s total assets were €35.74 billion, Apple’s (based on today’s exchange rate) was €34.69 billion – not a huge amount in it. Nokia’s net income for 2009 was €891 million – Apple’s was €6.03 BILLION… quite a difference.

        However, I think most would be more interested in a company’s equity (assets minus liabilities). Nokia’s annual results put this at €14.75 billion – Apple’s equates to (again based on the current exchange rate, where the euro is preforming poorly) €23.15 billion.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wolfram Alpha...

        ...has its uses:

        Nokia is the only company with a market cap <$100 Billion and net income <$1 Billion

        That said - Nokis's patent claims would be the most crippling if upheld.

        However, they are a European based company, so most likely to lose in the US courts as we all know how patriotic US judges are.

        1. Mark 65 Silver badge


          for the same reason they'd be more likely to win in Europe which is a bigger marketplace.

      4. Big-nosed Pengie

        Legally obliged

        I fixed that for you.

    4. Brian Morrison

      Now, I refuse to believe....

      ....that there is such a thing as a decent lawyer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        there are decent lawyers, but they are rare

        Clive Stafford-Smith would be the name that springs to mind. He's a good human being.

    5. Aaron 10

      Patenty Trolling...

      By definition, patent trolls are companies that develop patents on products or software but don't make any products. Apple makes products, effectively eliminating them from being patent trolls.

    6. Anonymous Coward

      Software patents

      The lot of you need to understand - software is expensive to develop. (Kinda like hardware! - Surprise!) A patent is a way of allowing an inventor a short term (Yes it is short term!) monopoly to allow them to recoup the investment in said product. Now we could go to a 'no patent' world. Then there would be no transfer of knowledge - because everything would be a trade secret. The bottom line - in the government's view - a patent is a way to get companies to exchange knowledge. This is why you have to disclose everything you know about the best way to do things on the subject of the patent. If you don't, you can lose the patent in a court fight. You want to get rid of software patents - expect the field to slowdown considerably. (I am not a Lawyer - but I got a long lecture - at $400+/hour! - from a patent lawyer about this during the last patent application I made.)

  17. Nigel Wright

    No matter what....

    I still won't buy an iPhone and my next phone is likely to be an Android one.

  18. David Lawrence

    All yourr ideas is belong to Apple

    So Apple now own all smartphones eh? Just wait - when the iPud comes out they will own all Netbooks and eReaders too.

    Don't even think about having any smart ideas in future because they patented the concept of having smart ideas back in 2006.

    So let me get this straight - if they win, my smartphone OS will be totally crippled and loads of common-sense useful stuff will be taken away because Apple thought of it first?

    Is this progress of any kind? I think not. It will stifle any competition and will result in all the bad things that happen when monopolies exist.

  19. hahnchen

    Some [patents] are generic enough to be applied to any computing environment.

    So why were they granted? US Patent law needs reform. The USPO has to start hiring competent members of staff.

  20. Macka
    Thumb Down

    Apple should be careful

    Apple may live to regret this if as a consequence they push mobile vendors in the direction of Windows Phone 7 Series and allow Microsoft back into the game in a meaningful way.

    Personally I think they picked HTC because the they are producing the only phones that IMO offer any real competition with the iPhone. If I were to switch (and occasionally I look to see if I'm tempted) then an HTC Android device is the way I would go.

    I also think this sucks big time. Touch screen devices are the future of computing, and trying to stop people from getting involved and innovating around this to use touch to its full potential is only going to hurt the consumer. Imagine if whoever invented the electronic computer keyboard had been able to stop anyone else but themselves from using it. We couldn't have a computer industry like we do today.

    1. Seb123

      Not only Android

      Windows 7 is built using the same/similar patterns that Android and the iPhone uses...

      The '599 Patent, entitled "Object-Oriented Graphic System," was duly and legally issued on October 3, 1995 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the '599 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit I.

      The '354 Patent, entitled "Object-Oriented Event Notification System With Listener Registration Of Both Interests And Methods," was duly and legally issued on July 23, 2002 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the '354 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit J.

      These two patents mean that Apple basically own the rights to almost every Graphic User interface system in use today. I would like to seem them trying to take MS to court, especially considering that what happened in the 90s that got Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy. I recall Steve says that Bill G was a god amongst men or something similar.

    2. RegisterThis

      Future or present?

      "Touch screen devices are the future of computing"

      They are the present of computing as a 'fad' and have just as many 'cons' as 'pros' when compared to buttons (I for one prefer buttons) ... I think the future is probably more innovative than that like fast, accurate and reliable speech recognition etc.

      1. Gulfie

        Speech Recognition?! Technically feasible, but won't happen

        Sorry, the Star Trek day when everything can be reliably controlled by voice alone will not arrive.

        Even if somebody puts together the hardware and software that will reliably transcribe all accents for a given language there are other reasons why SR will not replace mechanical interactions. We still need feedback in some form to verify what was spoken has been properly understood - OK that could synthesised speech repeating back what the computer thinks you said. Also, once an individual sees/hears that their command has been incorrectly interpreted there is an overwhelming urge to use a mechanical interaction (keyboard, mouse gesture, touch screen) to correct or cancel it rather than risk trying to so using another voice command.

        For me the killer technical issue is that for a computer to reliably differentiate between speech that is a command it should execute, and everything else we and others around us say, we would have to adopt a highly specific vocabulary for addressing the computer.

        There is a bigger problem though that this would still not overcome. Sci Fi generally depicts speech control as an individual using their natural language to address a computer, sometimes prefixing what they say with a 'magic word'. We all understand what is going on because we are capable of analysing not just what the person is saying, but the entire context within which it is said. Thus we are able to determine not only what is being said but also the work out who or what it is being said to.

        Imagine closing your eyes, listening to casual conversation between a group of people and identifying when you are being addressed, and when you are not. Sometimes you'll know because your name is said first. At other times you might be able to work it out from the context of the prior conversation. Sometimes though you'll not be able to know with a high degree of confidence if a question is aimed at you or not. It's the same for a computer - with only one source of information it won't be able to distinguish reliably enough when it is being addressed and when it is not. The irritation of false negatives (commands ignored) risk of false positives (non-commands treated as commands) will remain too high to adopt voice control in any situation where there are multiple people and/or multiple voice activated systems and/or anything vaguely safety critical. You can argue that this will improve over time but what rate is tolerable to joe public? And that's why it won't fly.

        1. RegisterThis

          Your perception of Voice Recognition is contrained by the present ...


          You are thinking within the confines of the present ... what if the device is intelligent enough to understand context and can recognise its owners voice ...? We are talking the *future* here ...

        2. peter 45

          Won't happen...ever?

          I am old enough to remember the days when a new font was invented for machine readable writing because computers were not powerful enough to read handwritten or even typed characters. I still see this font in 60/70s TV and movies. I wonder what happened to it and why it is no longer used?

          Never is a long long time

    3. Gulfie
      Thumb Down

      Wanna bet?

      I'd wager that Windows 7 Mobile will encroach on a few Apple patents as well...

    4. Anonymous Coward

      re: "All yourr ideas is belong to Apple"(sic)

      You've lead a sheltered existence, haven't you?

      This isn't how patents work, or what they're for. They are often abused, and lame as hell, but they work differently. Less spittle, more background reading please.

    5. Shannon Jacobs

      Patents were intended to encourage progress

      How times change. The original idea of patents was to ENCOURAGE more innovation. Now patents are mostly used to stifle progress. The direct stifling is typified by Apple's stalling FUD approach with this lawsuit, but there's also an indirect version, when companies refuse to pursue innovations that don't offer sufficient patent opportunities. High-stakes gambling is NOT the same as technical progress in the arts and sciences.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    "A system in which a software module called an event consumer can indicate an interest in receiving notifications about a specific set of events, and it provides an architecture for efficiently providing notifications to the [event] consumer"

    Oh bugger - I have been programming like this for years (but referring to what I do as "callbacks")

    AC because I don't want to be sued!

  22. Monty Burns

    Not just phones then,.....

    "Some of the patents specify a device with a built-in screen, or battery, or touch-sensitivity, but some are generic enough to be applied to any computing environment."

    Forget the "but....", that already covers my laptop! Surley thats not right???!!! (and I don't mean correct)

    Look out HP & Dell, your next!

  23. Seb123
    Thumb Down

    Software Patterns can be patented

    How did Apple manage to patent software patents that are in use by nearly all GUI interfaces today? Who allows this sort of bs to happen?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    If Apple got their way...

    We'd all be eating oranges to avoid paying them a royalty...


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