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Prior Art February 21, 2006

Posted by Florian in GPE, Maemo.

According to an ars technica article (http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060217-6212.html) Apple seems to own a fresh patent (filed 16 September 2005) which covers all sorts of on-screen keyboards for touchscreen devices. This affects not only hildon-input or matchbox-keyboard but much older implementations like XKBD (first release in summer 2000) too. Of course there are a pile of much older commercial products as well.
It should not be complicated to prove prior art… but unless someone does, it is a valid US patent. Sometimes i really wonder how these things happen… and feel really lucky that i’m not in the US.


1. Jason Pester - February 21, 2006

I’m not sure about this particular patent, but Apple has been in the news recently for patents related to multi-touch technology (more than one touch point on the surface… LCD, touchpad, etc.). From what I understand, they funded associated research at NYIT. The last generation of PowerBooks used multi-touch technology on the touchpad to control either page scrolling or mouse movement depending on whether one or two fingers were used. If Apple’s virtual keyboard patent is related to the multi-touch idea, it might be valid. Apple seems to be on a patent frenzy of late, no doubt making up for losing the virtual desktop metaphor to Microsoft (which Apple “borrowed” from Xerox).

Regarding patents in the US, I wish I were alive during Tesla and Edison, when patents probably cost a nickel ($0.05) to file. Our government makes A LOT of money off of the patent process. I think the cheapest patent for a small entity is $1,000.00 these days. The prices are listed on http://www.uspto.gov if anyone’s interested (view the patent area of the site).

2. Jason Pester - February 21, 2006

Better link on US patent fees… http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2006jan01.htm


3. Jason Pester - February 21, 2006

Hmmm… the prices have dropped significantly from the last time I looked a few years ago. Maybe I should patent something :) Anyway, I hope the info was valuable for the curious.


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