Well, Apple is at it again! This time, the fruit giant has its sights set on the Galaxy Nexus. On Thursday, the public redacted version was made with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and became available on Friday. Apple’s motion against the Galaxy Nexus relates to four patents:
- The “data tapping” patent of which the ITC ordered an import ban against HTC
- A patent related to Siri and unified search
- A new slide-to-unlock patent
- A word completion patent that provides major speed enhancements to text input
It’s said to be that number 1 is of the most danger to Samsung, based on precedent in the HTC case as well as the fact that Android actually infringes on this at the operating system level (opposed to implemented by OEMs like Sense and TouchWiz). Although some of these new filings will actually hold a strong case against Samsung and Google, hit the break for my spin on the Apple patent circus.
However although people will immediately call blasphemy at Samsung and Google for so willingly stepping on the toes of Apple, I find that many of the patents filed by Apple tend to be so precise and meticulous that I’m surprised they haven’t patented the way you hold it.
See, the way I see it is simply Design vs Function. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to every rule, and this is only my opinion. I must say though, if Samsung were to create a phone with similar dimensions, colour scheme, and with one circular home button just like the iPhone, Samsung (and any other company) would be knee deep, up a creek without a paddle. However to patent things like tablet-styled phones with a touch screen, or the way that you unlock them (unless a really innovative marvel of ingenuity) is simply ludicrous. It stands in the way of choice for the user!
When it comes to touch technology — especially smartphones — and the way that you interact with them, there is a certain inevitable way that the user can comfortably hold and use the device. You certainly couldn’t comfortably hold (and therefore wouldn’t even think of buying) a circular smartphone or tablet device. Neither would it be too appealing if it were completely square. So my question is then, what was Apple thinking when they thought they could deem certain Samsung devices “too similar to the iPhone”?
Another scary hiccup in Apple’s logic is the patenting of slide-to-unlock technology. Alright, alright, you got to it first. Cool. I’m real happy for you. However when you think of unlocking a phone, the most natural and organic way to do so is to? Interact with the screen. Slide, move, draw, tap. The Apple patent (#3 on the list) that this deals with is one of the patents this article began with. It’s described in the patent filing as “unlock a device by performing gestures on an unlock image” which is basically monopolizing any form of using any image on any device as a means to unlock it. In the wording of the patent filing, this would even cover the existing Android unlock scheme that I personally love the most – drawing a personalized pattern. How can Apple possibly get away with such a generic patent? It’s honestly almost like patenting the way you put toast in a toaster. It forces companies to unnecessarily research and develop an entire new way to unlock a touchscreen device. I don’t think it should be legal to patent what may be the only way to properly and effectively secure your touchscreen device (I certainly wouldnt want to unlock my device by pressing volume down repeatedly or some odd way like that).
So, at the end of all this, I suppose it wouldn’t be too irrational to allow Apple to patent chiclet keyboards (my Samsung laptop that I’m using to type this would be infringing). Heck, let them patent keyboards themselves! If not, at least give them keyboard volume controls. When I put it this way, it sounds silly, right? I’m obviously all for the protection of intellectual property. When it involves patenting for control of industry though, I hardly deem that intellectual.