08-30-12 10:59 AM
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  1. gwanstarr's Avatar
    Co.Design: business + innovation + design

    Will Apples Pinch-To-Zoom Patent Victory Create A Usability H3LL?

    WE TALK TO AN IP LAWYER ABOUT WHETHER APPLE REALLY CAN OWN A GESTURE THAT NOW SEEMS FOUNDATIONAL.


    Pinching to zoom on touch-screen devices is such a common gesture today that its hard to believe Steve Jobs wowed audience members (who actually cheered and applauded for close to 20 seconds) when he first stretched his fingers against the iPhones glass face. Now, the interaction is used by nearly all device makers in electronics ranging from smartphones to tablets to laptop trackpads, a universal gesture for magnifying photos, maps, and webpages.

    But the ubiquity of that hand gesture could soon go the way of the Macarena. In Apples $1 billion patent lawsuit against Samsung, which the company won last week, a jury decided that a slew of Samsungs mobile devices had violated a number of Apples utility patents for interaction designs, including the pinch-to-zoom gesture. In an industry already wary of patent litigiation, the verdict could lead to significant fragmentation in the user experiences created by tech companies eager to avoid the wrath of Apples rabid legal squad.

    IN THESE TYPES OF SITUATIONS, YOURE NOT ACTUALLY PATENTING THE EXACT CONCEPT."With regard to gestures, I think it will be hard to change the status quo because theyve already gained such widespread acceptance," says one top interaction designer at HP. "Ultimately, Im worried it would hurt the end user--it concerns me that you could have these inconsistencies in terms of user experience as you go from different product to product."
    As my colleague Kyle Vanhemert outlined Monday, without usability standards, the consumer experience suffers. The pinch-to-zoom gesture is part of an intuitive, cross-platform interaction language, but due to the Samsung verdict, companies might now hestitate to mimic the experience. The jury also found Samsung had violated other Apple utility patents, for example, including patents for its tap-to-zoom gesture and rubberbanding technology. "Its very much possible that pinch-to-zoom is the best way of zooming in on a map," Vanhemert wrote. "Forcing smartphone developers to come up with a different way of doing things for the sake of coming up with a different way of doing things is outrageously stupid."

    But Christopher Carani, an IP lawyer with McAndrews, Held & Malloy, Ltd. and the former chair of the Industrial Designs Committee at the American Intellectual Property Law Association, questions whether it will ever get to that point. Carani explains that we shouldnt think of the jurys verdict like a binding Supreme Court decision. "This is a district court decision--it doesnt have some sort of precedential effect from one court to the next, or one country to the next," he says. "So before it all gets gloom and doom, which is basically what Ive read so far, with respect to these types of functional utility patents, its critical not to paint with a broad brush and say this is just any type of pinch-to-zoom or tap-to-zoom function."

    Rather, he continues, "In these types of situations, youre not actually patenting the exact concept, but with something like pinch-to-zoom, you have to drill down the specific language of the patent claim itself, so there might be some actual command that has to be used or some underlying instructions that are covered. By now Samsungs attorneys have studied this thing inside and out; they know the prior art; they know the scope of the claim; and theyre going to be counseling their clients to try and find a way to design a workaround." Canari cites his own BlackBerry phone, for example, which has pinch-to-zoom functionality. "But I dont know," he adds with a laugh, "Perhaps Apple will go after [RIM] next."

    Arguably, Apple doesnt even have to. James Schauer, who spent several years at RIM before becoming CEO of Harmonic Interactive Research and Design, which develops gesture-recognition technology, saw firsthand the impact potential litigation can have on product experience. "I can assure you there was a chilling effect on innovation and design at RIM. One of the reasons RIM didnt do any [rubberbanding-like] bounce back was because of Apples patents," Schauer says. "They took a very conservative approach--anywhere we could possibly face litigation was looked at with extraordinary scrutiny. Arguably that became the straw that broke the camels back at RIM. When the lawyers are in charge, thats game over."

    Still, Schauer believes the jury made the right decision in the Samsung-Apple patent lawsuit. "We were pretty upset when we saw Android came out--we knew they hacked all over Apples patents, and we were like, 'This is not fair,'" he says. "I think the jury made the right ruling, but I think the real question is: Should pinch-to-zoom be patentable?"

    I CAN ASSURE YOU THERE WAS A CHILLING EFFECT ON INNOVATION AND DESIGN AT RIM.Many share his concerns. Slate said Apples new "pinch-to-zoom monopoly is bad news." The New York Times reported that some designers are concerned the patent cases outcome could lead to unnecessarily differentiated user experiences, akin to being forced to create triangular steering wheels for cars because of patent concerns, despite rounded wheels being the universal standard.
    Triangular steering wheels? "I think thats a healthy dose of hyperbole," Canari says.

    "Look, if indeed there wasnt any pinch-to-zoom functionality before Apple created and patented it; if the patent office decided it was novel, unique, and meritorious; and if a jury had to weigh in and give its stamp of approval; then it is a valid patent bounded by its claims. Its already been through the crucible of litigation, though it can of course go to appeal," he says. "For people to argue against that, well, just look in our Constitution. This is exactly what a patent provides Apple to do."
    08-28-12 01:52 PM
  2. gwanstarr's Avatar
    couldn't post a direct link because the URL has the potty word H3LL in it.... wow, CB is nun & saint squeaky clean!
    mud314 likes this.
    08-28-12 01:53 PM
  3. kbz1960's Avatar
    Hard to say. The greedy bastards will probably just make more profit off and feel it and the consumer will lose once again because cost will go up because manufacturers will have to pay more to apple.
    08-28-12 01:57 PM
  4. anon(3896606)'s Avatar
    Microsoft asked permission to used their patents, so maybe RIM could?
    08-28-12 02:04 PM
  5. gwanstarr's Avatar
    Microsoft asked permission to used their patents, so maybe RIM could?
    They will need to say pleeeeeease.... with a cherry on top!
    08-28-12 02:13 PM
  6. f1mx's Avatar
    They will need to say pleeeeeease.... with a cherry on top!
    And prepare their butts :S
    kbz1960 likes this.
    08-28-12 03:04 PM
  7. gwanstarr's Avatar
    And prepare their butts :S
    for a POP! of the cherry on TOP!
    08-28-12 03:26 PM
  8. hootyhoo's Avatar
    I hate to be the Apple defender here, but if I had come up with pinch-to-zoom (and for now, in deference to the lawsuit I will assume that they did) I would want to be paid for someone else to use it.
    mud314 likes this.
    08-28-12 03:48 PM
  9. gwanstarr's Avatar
    I hate to be the Apple defender here, but if I had come up with pinch-to-zoom (and for now, in deference to the lawsuit I will assume that they did) I would want to be paid for someone else to use it.
    I might agree if the prior art wasn't so clear and displayed in this TED video before the iphone was ever released
    meganVee and recompile like this.
    08-28-12 04:28 PM
  10. hootyhoo's Avatar
    I might agree if the prior art wasn't so clear and displayed in this TED video before the iphone was ever released
    While I want to agree with you, who patented what first will have to find it's way through the courts as the Apple multi-touch may be based on a totally different code and it could be that this code is what they are claiming has been copied.
    08-28-12 04:34 PM
  11. gwanstarr's Avatar
    While I want to agree with you, who patented what first will have to find it's way through the courts as the Apple multi-touch may be based on a totally different code and it could be that this code is what they are claiming has been copied.
    I'm sure that Samsung didn't just lift the code from Apple - the point is if there was prior art previous to the patent, the patent should be invalid (my humble understanding of it)
    meganVee likes this.
    08-28-12 04:45 PM
  12. hootyhoo's Avatar
    I'm sure that Samsung didn't just lift the code from Apple - the point is if there was prior art previous to the patent, the patent should be invalid (my humble understanding of it)
    After seeing the packaging and accessories, the incriminating emails and duplication of icons, why would Samsung stop at copying a few lines of code?
    08-28-12 04:55 PM
  13. gwanstarr's Avatar
    After seeing the packaging and accessories, the incriminating emails and duplication of icons, why would Samsung stop at copying a few lines of code?
    because they're different operating systems and don't have access to the code I'd suspect? iOS is based on unix and android is on java so I would suspect the coding would be totally different. Even if they did have the code, I'm pretty sure that you can't just copy and paste the code and voil, you have pinch to zoom - it would need to be re-coded to work on android.... I could be wrong as this is beyond my scope of knowledge on programming
    08-28-12 05:08 PM
  14. omniusovermind's Avatar
    The Apple-Samsung case will affect everything, even toaster ovens. Engadget reports that it will have little to no impact on the proliferation of threads making this patent suit out to be the 2012 apocalypse.
    08-28-12 09:06 PM
  15. kfh227's Avatar
    Apple turning into the Evil Empire. Who would have thunk that Microsoft lost it's crown?
    08-28-12 11:05 PM
  16. GTiLeo's Avatar
    because they're different operating systems and don't have access to the code I'd suspect? iOS is based on unix and android is on java so I would suspect the coding would be totally different. Even if they did have the code, I'm pretty sure that you can't just copy and paste the code and voil, you have pinch to zoom - it would need to be re-coded to work on android.... I could be wrong as this is beyond my scope of knowledge on programming
    IOS is based off darwin a UNIX like kernel. Android is based on Linux also a UNIX like kernel. BB10 is QNX also a UNIX like. All with very different architectures but Linux being closes as it is a monolithic kernel while QNX is a microkernel and darwin is a hybrid based on a simple microkernel called Mach and a combination of a monolithic kernel. All are written in C/C++
    08-29-12 04:12 AM
  17. BitPusher2600's Avatar
    No usability h*ll, just hold down the ALT key and roll upwards on the trackpad...oh wait

    Written from BitPusher's BlackBerry 9650 using Tapatalk
    pcguy514 likes this.
    08-29-12 08:28 AM
  18. GTiLeo's Avatar
    Bb10 is.gesture based why not use a single finger gesture to zoom just like the rest of.The phone will be geared toward one handed gestures. Hmmmmmmmm we don't know so we can't speculate on how bb10 will work
    08-29-12 09:50 AM
  19. pcguy514's Avatar
    James Schauer, who spent several years at RIM before becoming CEO of Harmonic Interactive Research and Design, which develops gesture-recognition technology, saw firsthand the impact potential litigation can have on product experience. "I can assure you there was a chilling effect on innovation and design at RIM. Schauer says. "They took a very conservative approach--anywhere we could possibly face litigation was looked at with extraordinary scrutiny. Arguably that became the straw that broke the camel’s back at RIM. When the lawyers are in charge, that’s game over."
    New Perspective into what went wrong..
    08-29-12 10:02 AM
  20. nickthebold's Avatar
    Next apple is going to patent one finger tapping on a touchscreen and say they invented the "one finger to select" idea.. Apple is dominating the tech market extremely and will probably continue to be number one for many many many years to come (I'm talking like 50-100 years),everyone knows it. I don't care how successful samsung rim microsoft etc become and grow, apple will always be growing at a faster or same rate so they will always stay on top. The iphone was the biggest game changing piece of tech in all of history and has set the company up for a life of being number 1. I'm blackberry by choice (ex apple lover) but apple need to sit back, stop sueing,relax and have a beer - you'll be fine apple, just fine
    08-29-12 10:16 AM
  21. skyrocket9's Avatar
    but apple did invent it lol

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9900 using Tapatalk
    08-29-12 10:32 AM
  22. omniusovermind's Avatar
    Apple is dominating the tech market extremely and will probably continue to be number one for many many many years to come (I'm talking like 50-100 years),everyone knows it
    In regards to your part in brackets: You are hilarious.
    /facepalm
    08-29-12 11:23 AM
  23. highos's Avatar
    Apple did not invent multi touch nor gestures-there is plenty of prior art to reference.

    They may have been the first to use it quite so successfully on a mobile device, but stating that they invented it is being an bit over the top, but then history is written by the victors after all. Be a bit objective and don't just drink the koolaid, is all I have to say.

    The US patent system has obviously gone down in the past few decades and does not produce the same quality it once did.

    No one is a winner in these sitautions, IMO.
    08-29-12 12:33 PM
  24. Bigruss8's Avatar
    Apple did not invent multi touch nor gestures-there is plenty of prior art to reference.

    They may have been the first to use it quite so successfully on a mobile device, but stating that they invented it is being an bit over the top, but then history is written by the victors after all. Be a bit objective and don't just drink the koolaid, is all I have to say.

    The US patent system has obviously gone down in the past few decades and does not produce the same quality it once did.

    No one is a winner in these sitautions, IMO.

    Just because you didn't invent something does not mean that a patent on a new use of existing technology shouldn't be awarded. obviously Apple is not popular here but to deny that their utility patents are not valid simply because the technology was available previously is not fair. Pinch to zoom was not being done before the iphone. Apple is not claiming they invented touchscreens, they are claiming they came up with new ways to use the touch screen which is patentable.
    08-29-12 12:49 PM
  25. highos's Avatar
    to deny that their utility patents are not valid simply because the technology was available previously is not fair.
    Fair? What does fair have to do with this.

    Pinch to zoom was not being done before the iphone.
    Not on a mobile device, but it was being done.
    08-29-12 01:20 PM
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