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Micron Lands Broad "Slide To Unlock" Patent 211

Posted by timothy
from the is-it-malice-blindness-or-incompetence dept.
Zordak writes "Micron has recently landed U.S. Patent 8,352,745, which claims priority back to a February 2000 application---well before Apple's 2004 slide-to-unlock application. While claim construction is a highly technical art, the claims here are (for once) almost as broad as they sound, and may cover the bulk of touch screen smart phones on the market today. Dennis Crouch's Patently-O has a discussion."
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Micron Lands Broad "Slide To Unlock" Patent

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  • processing circuit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stevejf (2724307) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:12PM (#42752181)
    The claim still requires a 'processing circuit coupled to the touchscreen.' The disclosure also talks about a 'compare circuit.' I would think that a software implementation would not be covered by at least claim 1 of this patent. They may be able to argue software implementations are covered under doctrine of equivalents, but personally, I would think that dedicated hardware does not function in 'essentially the same way.'
  • by Immerman (2627577) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:49PM (#42752607)

    Actually yes, it does. You can patent the *specific* hardware implementation of a task. Someone else could then do the exact same task with a different implementation and bypass your patent.

    Honestly I'd have no problem with software patents if they just followed the same rules as hardware - you patent the implementation, not the effect. Of course the versatility of software means that would render almost all software patents trivially easy to bypass, but I don't see a problem with that. Let's take real world "slide to unlock" functionality - I can think of a half-dozen different deadbolt and related designs offhand, and I bet all of the modern implementations are/were patented, and none of them violated the patents of the others.

    Would that mean you can't meaningfully patent your brilliant software idea? Almost certainly, but then ideas are *explicitly* denied patent protection to begin with.

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:57PM (#42752737)

    Indeed.

    Swipe to unlock for doors == a bolt.

    Swipe to unlock for GUI == ?

    Patenting GUI analogs of physical devices is an oxymoron - you're copying a user interface that already exists. The very reason you made that analog in a piece of software is because it ISN'T a new and innovative idea. It's familiar and obvious to people or there would be no point.

    If you want to patent UI metaphors, you should first demonstrate that no-one understands how to use it without first reading the manual.

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