back to article Apple patent filing portends Google ad war

Apple has filed a patent to enable info and apps to be automagically loaded onto your iPhone/Pod/Pad based on your location - but exactly how it would affect location-based ads remains fuzzy. The patent application, "Location Specific Content", was published by the US Patent and Trademark office this Thursday, after originally …


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  1. Nexox Enigma


    And the beauty of this is: if you /don't/ have some pretty strict content controls, this will get hyperexploited. So Apple's App Store antics will be totally justified.

  2. david 7

    Patents for any old crap (idea is the wrong word)

    How they patent stuff that was being done years ago?

    e.g. sending SMS ads to mobiles in a specific coverage location.

    Seems to me the (US in this case) patent offices are handing out patents for the bleeding obvious requiring no inventive step by anyone familiar with the art/industry.

  3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    Bad Patent.

    Sorry but this is a bad patent for a couple of reasons. 1) Its obvious 2) prior art.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right, who's paying for the data charges then?

    The problem with this concept is the cost. I'm on a UKP 20/500MB data plan and I have no desire to have freeloa^h^h^h^h^h, I mean advertisers, pushing their junk into my phone on my dime. I sincerely hope that Apple provides a lockout for such a feature.... wait, I don't have an iPhone. Phew...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Or, said library or restaurant could simply provide WiFi (which it probably already does) along with a connected web server and the catalogue or menu or whatever running on that, then just post the address somewhere obvious.

    No code to download (I can't be the only one thinking allowing 3rd parties to add code to a device without user interaction is a bad idea), available on any device with WiFi and a web browser, and no licensing fees or giving control to Apple. In the case of the library even the PCs in the library could use the service saving time and effort on maintenance.

    In the case of libraries or other such public institutions they should also provide an API for access to the data, then developers can write apps if they want but there's always the web version.

    I thought Apple was all for open standards - the above is far more open than anything they'll come up with.

  6. jake Silver badge

    Prior art clearly exists ...

    Xerox PARC had this in about 1974. Employee badges interacted with the network according to area of the campus and employee access rights.

    Same for most of the more secure areas of Bigger Blue (oval), at roughly the same time.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Obvious Address

      The address could be in the form of a datamatrix or barcode posted at the entrance which you could scan using the camera built into your phone. Hey presto an app launches you into the local wifi (as the barcode could also contain the key if needed) and onto their homepage.

    2. Steven Raith


      Jake, even if that does cover the requirements for prior art (possibly a bit loose, although I see what you are getting at) you don't actually think the USPO would care?

      They wouldn't know prior art if it kicked them up the 'arris.

      Steven R

    3. Gangsta
      Jobs Horns

      Jailbreak location?

      Yes, your point brought up another interesting point.

      An iPhone Jailbreak Exploit location? Members of the community or whatever could easily exploit iDevices with Jailbreak :) or a virus of some sort :( .

      Although this depends on whether the phone needs to contact Apple's Servers first (its Apple, so yeah), but it could still be done with a breach in the security system of a restaurant for example(especially if the server is a standard Mac/Windows/Linux Box)

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Steven Raith

        "They wouldn't know prior art if it kicked them up the 'arris."

        Agreed ... But not much call for Tweed in the USPO ;-)

  7. shaolin cookie

    from 2008?

    I remember discussing location-based content delivery back in 2005 but of course didn't file any patent applications as it was both obvious and well-known at the time. And then Apple files a patent on it years later. Just when will the patent-craze end?!

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Why not bring interesting patents for once?

    Something that has not been thrown up by the intern during the afternoon break then granted by USPTO officials too clueless to be able to get a decent job?

    Correct me if I'm wrong but if any Reg Readers are already doing this, might they not get into legal hot waters, as if you know that you are infringing and are not shunting money to the guy who suddenly turns out to be owning your idea, eventual punitive damages imposed on you may well be doubled without further ado.

    Big Brother icon because Big State.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    What could go wrong?

    Person goes into resturant / shop WITHOUT this technology. Shop next door (I doubt it's so acurate it can do to nearest metre) sends a fake ad with over inflated prices and bad customer reviews for the rival. Person leaves.

    Sound like a rock solid plan to me...

  10. Miek


    This should not be patentable. Ridiculous American Patent System.

  11. Rob Crawford

    Yes I would really want

    apple, google or anybody else installing software because I walked past somebodys shop or cafe

    It's bad enough with Safari and the fucking google tool bar creeping on to machines without a herd of other shite turning up.

  12. DZ-Jay

    The motives are clear

    >> "Apple banned developers from inserting location-based ads into their iPhone/Pod/Pad apps. It is unknowable whether Cupertino made this move because they wanted to keep that advantage to themselves, or whether they sensed that Google was one month later going to be granted a patent for location-based ad targeting."

    The above comment is based on a misunderstanding (or purposeful distortion) of the actual Apple policy change. What they did was prohibit developers from gratuitously and surreptitiously accessing location information from the user *without his express consent*. From that point on, applications must not depend on this information for their functionality, but must request permission from the user first. Furthermore, and kin to the spirit of this policy, is a further restriction: that an application cannot exists for the sole purpose of collecting such information, nor can it collect such information for the sake of hording it; it must provide actual value to the user in exchange for the information.

    This is addressed (satisfactorily in my opinion) in the forthcoming iPhone OS 4.0, where users can actively select which apps get permission to access such data from the System Preferences panel.

    So, what would be the motive of a policy that restricts developers in what they can do with users data without their permission and without providing value for it? Clearly to put the user (the one who pays for the Apple stuff and passes it on through word-of-mouth) in control.


  13. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    So I can use my worldwide telecommunications capable data device to find out what's on the menu at a neighbourhood restaurant, by physically going to the restaurant and bringing my device. When I get there, the list of dining options pops up on my screen. But it is also posted up on the wall as a legal requirement, and usually printed on elegant brochures placed on each table for the convenience of patrons, so what the heck is it doing crawling onto my phone?

    Well, I suppose I can use an app on the device to order a meal without directly encountering a human being...

    It's like shopping in Argos... (except that the things you bought are usually brought to you by human beings...that might not be the case in Japan, they go for robots bigtime ...)

    But surely the main use of such a device is essentially to find out what's going on anywhere else than where you happen to be? Dis-location services?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Yet more design pretending to be invention

    'Nuff sed.

  15. hahnchen

    Gizmondo tried this, but never put it into practice

    I don't know if that counts as prior art. But the concept of the use of location data to target advertising should not be patented, only specific implementations.

    But then again, the USPTO are the biggest bunch of incompetent wasters around, who have about as much insight into technology as a dead rabbit.

  16. Benny
    Thumb Down

    A few years ago

    I was in a Nike shop in London, at the time I had Bluetooth turned on on my phone - the buggers sent a mini advert thingy of Henry and something to do with trainers....pissed me right off!

    Bluetooth has been disabled on all my phones since then.

    I don't want anything on my phone I dont explicitly ask for.

    1. Simon Taylor 2


      Those type of adverts really !"£$%&* piss me off too! >:o(

      I bet you've never bought anything Nike since. I think one similar example for me could be those roll over ads for surveys on some shopping websites. They sometimes really annoy me too, depending on what mood i'm in.


    Fake Geolocation

    For when you don't want some ad pushing spyware criminal to know where you are... or you fancy a transatlantic holiday without the travel aggro...

    Penguins, because you too could visit the North Pole.

  18. Simon Taylor 2

    Stupid, obvious, and pointless...

    ....would be understatements!!

    "The goal outlined in the filing is to enable mobile devices to take advantage of that mobility by accessing content that's appropriate to their location"

    Well, what did you expect!! It's a MOBILE device, thats the whole point of it in the first place!!

    Also: a mobile device could be provided with a URL, webclip or app based on where it is, and then that content could be removed when the device moves away from the location that prompted the provision of that content. Yeah but what if I wanted to keep/save it to refer to again in the future?

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