back to article The best (of the worst) patent claims of 2009

Two thousand nine Anno Domini was a magical year for US technology patent applications. For each spin around old Sol we're consistently stunned by what major companies claim to have invented - but we dare say the bounty from this year will forever hold a special place in our hearts. (For another week or two, anyway. We've got …


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  1. ian 22

    Damn! No honorable mention in El Reg!

    I work for a major US corporation, and I was granted a technical PATENT this year in the US. Why wasn't MY PATENT held up for ridicule? Why this discrimination? Surely MY PATENT was an obvious application of existing technology! I'm so depressed. My one chance to achieve world-wide fame and <something or other> and it passes me by.

    BTW, should I retire or be declared redundant and thus leave the employ of my , erm, employer, I'm legally obligated to assist their lawyers in creating the application to the Patent Department of any invention I may have submitted to the company's patenting process. No doubt IBM has similar policy and likewise is constantly demanding its employees patent any and all psychotic dreams they may have.

  2. Steve Evans


    I love how Apple's glove has to solve a problem that they have created. Resistive touch screens work fine when you touch them with anything, only capacitive ones, like the ones used in the iPhone, object to being touched by non conducting objects and require a glove with holes cut in it!

  3. LaeMing Silver badge

    Patent on foot shooting?

    "...excessive amounts of time interactive with video gaming or other virtual programming environments have negative health ramifications."

    In other words: Microsoft has applied for a patent based around a reason not to purchase one of their cornerstone products! You could not make up better wording for compulsory health warnings on game console-related advertising and packaging. Whether the statement has any credibility or not it is just too ironic not to make MS print it on all their products!

    If only I owned an X-Box (and lived in the land of litigation). I would now have a sizable chunk of my evidence for the civil suit accusing MS of causing my weight gain in recent years.

    1. Ru

      Re: Haha...

      "Resistive touch screens work fine when you touch them with anything, only capacitive ones...require a glove with holes cut in it"

      Resistive screens can't do multitouch... such a key part of the iphone's UI it can't really be sacrificed.. I don't imagine you can make them quite as robust as a capacitative screen either, though I could be wrong on that bit.

  4. John D. Blair

    the gloves are already a product

    I learned about these from a friend who got some for christmas:

    I wonder if they've licensed it from Apple, or if they will soon be receiving a letter from Apple's lawyers?

  5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    When your employer wants to own your dreams

  6. Martin Huizing

    North-East China, -20 degrees celcius:

    I use my nose to answer calls....

  7. Bah Humbug

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits. - WHY?

    > Below the belt, Apple envisions giving the all-important shoe

    When I started reading that sentence, I was expecting a different word to appear than 'shoe'...not sure if that is indicative of my depraved mind, or if I've just spent to much time reading El Reg.

  8. Simon Neill

    Fig. 4: Microsoft wants fat gamers shamed

    Sorry MS, Nintendo already have that one. Its called "wii fit".

    this just about sums it up.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is it friday already?

    didn't noticed.

  10. fifi


    I've been toying with the glove design myself. I use my iPhone for music and sat-nav in the car, and the only thing preventing me from using it on my motorcycle is that I can't operate it with gloves on. Equally, you can't easily remove a glove while riding.

    I think, however, that some sort of "finger tip" that you can apply to your own gloves would be a better bet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Equally, you can't easily remove a glove while riding."

      And you probably shouldn't be farting about on an iPhone while you are riding either.

  11. Remy Redert

    @John D. Blair

    I believe we refer to this as a case of prior art. Apple shouldn't be granted the patent and the patent cannot be enforced in court.

    Of course that only flies in countries with reasonable patent laws.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    scheduling meetings

    This sounds like a rehash of some very old prior art.

    If you want a meeting to last, say 20 minutes, schedule it to start at 11:40. You can pretty much guarantee that at 12:00 a bunch of the attendees will announce that they have another meeting and have to leave.

    Won't work in latin countries, of course, where no-one would show up until 12:00 anyway...

  13. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Cold weather touching

    ""But then why - pray tell - can't the user simply remove the offending gloves for a moment? Aha! Apple has foreseen this attempted solution. You see, by performing such an impertinent action, "the user's hand may become cold and uncomfortable, which may also lead to user frustration."""

    That actually makes some sense in Finnish winter. When it gets below -20 C, you don't want to take your gloves off for more than an few seconds. Another matter is whether the Apple touch devices will function under these circumstances long enough for it to matter. Batteries drain fast when very cold.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Market traders

    Has nobody in Apple been to an open air market? Traders have been wearing gloves with the finger tips cut off for generations.

  15. Random Noise


    Hackaday have a link to make your own igloves:

    Now even your frilly marigolds can be made to operate an Iphone

  16. Chris Seiter
    Thumb Up

    Item Missing From Inventory

    "fellow gamers such as allergies and other chronic conditions".

    I see it now: large areas of WoW are now deserted due to the characters not able to play in the forests/plains/mountains because they forgot to pack medicine; pharmacies will be created in-game where they can purchase 24 pills of Waradryl and an inhaler with "Breath of A Wolpertinger"; Priests will now be able to carry Epi-Pens. I think this opens up a whole new area of gaming strategies.

  17. jai


    isn't Microsoft's idea for realistic avatars is just going to open up a new avenue of income for those gold-farming spam emails that now, instead of just grinding the money-making parts of the games in their sweatshops, will now all take your avatar account and train it up to full fitness in an intensive 3 day, 24 hours-a-day regime, all for just $60

  18. John 61

    Just imagine... if the boot alarm made it to the real world...

    It's the <(soccer) World Cup Final/Superbowl/Ashes/Baseball or other sporting event>. I'll use football (soccer) as an example. "Here we are in the last minute of nomal time, in this <England/Brazil> game and it's <Stevie G> who has taken the ball all the way down the <pitch>, past <Ronaldo (the Brazillian one)>, he's taken one defender out, and another, can he get the equalizer to force Extra time?" (hysterical rising commentator voice over is getting more and more hysterical) "He lines up the shot and OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! his <insert sports company name here> boot wear alarm has gone off! NNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO! <England> have lost the <2018 World Cup Final> here in <Milton Keynes!>". Insert your event/teams/players/playing area/locations between the angle brackets. Of course, this is nonsense as folk would be watching on digital TV and probably end up with no picture anyway. Go, cos they need the money don't they?

  19. Herby Silver badge

    Some of these things exist already...

    The conference phone "interjection" idea is already covered. Doesn't anyone know about the "mute" button. On the "other" end it gets pressed and in that room, there is a running commentary of the blowhard's speech on the other end. It is usually more enlightening that the "naked" speech anyway, and much more fun.

    As for shoe tactile feedback, they already did that one. Way back when there was a blackjack computer that used a method of shaking the toes to indicate stand/hit and the other toes were used to enter the card count.

    As the saying goes: Everything old is new again, and then it is patented just to make sure! (*SIGH*)

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  21. Mike Bird 1

    They're Dead Jim

    ALARM ! Your shoes have reached the end of life and will be locked out in 100 paces.

    "What .. they're only 2 months old, they've got months of life left"

    ALARM ! Your shoes have reached the end of life and will be locked out in 10 paces.

    "oh no they're ..."...


    <sounds of person tripping over>

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