In 2006-2007, for my dissertation I did a study in to the effectiveness of the right-context menu for both beginners and "experts". In it, two test were run to perform so DTP tasks on a document; cut text here, paste there, insert caption on picture and set headings, etc.
The alternative menu I used was very much like the interface element described above. The results showed it more friendly to new computer users (a right click menu with +15 options is NOT friendly) and the "experts" would either use a shortcut or just one option somewhere down the list. So, for the "experts" and everyone the extra space not being used as a list helped teach the users shortcut keys and provided a short description.
I was under the impression, this element of user interfaces is to do with psychology and the way we use computers...not a patent. At what point will such behavior stop being useful for the furthering of humanity (not just computers)? I think many reading this comment would say, a loooooooong time ago.
It pisses me off that, if someone were to create an application or OS that is logically better for different users, we now have to pay a company like Apple more $$$ than it would probably make in the first 5 years. Can we not just burn the patent book and start again, it's at the point of being crazy stupid.
As a consumer even, most people (I use a flavour of Linux and LOVE the UI) will have to shell out their hard earned money for such idea's of progress when it should be free for all. Surely, the first wheel wasn't round, more octagonal and when someone made it round, everyone loved it, not just the Ferrari's of the day. Not that I'm putting Apple on the same level as Ferrari.
A quick note to the people saying, xxx copies from xxxx; maybe with products but when it comes to HOW we use the products, noone should be able to lay claim to your mind. I like to have chopped banana in my cereal rather than a banana on the side *patents* GIVE me money if you do too...*sigh*