Patently ridiculous: Apple granted patent for something it was already sued for infringing upon

Patently ridiculous: Apple granted patent for something it was already sued for infringing upon
Apple won a slew of new patents today, although only three of them directly impact mobile devices, and of those, two seem to be blatantly a part of the "bogus patents" that Google sounded off about recently. We've already covered how the U.S. patent system needs an overhaul, so with this news we'll try not to get too deep into how absurd the new Apple patents are, but we will count this as the first part of an ongoing series covering the ridiculous patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The new patents related to mobile that Apple has won include patents on: integrated touchscreens, pre-loading data on startup, and visual voicemail. 

The patent for integrated touchscreens isn't necessarily for mobile devices, but currently only mobile Apple devices have touchscreen displays. The patent covers a process of stacking together touch-sensitive circuitry into an LCD display to decrease the number of parts and steps in the manufacturing process, as well as making a display that is "thinner, brighter, and require[s] less power." Apple first applied for this patent in September of 2009. 

The next two patents are the ones that could easily fall into the "bogus" category which Google seems to want to be rid of. First, Apple won a patent for loading startup applications influenced by users. This is a fancy way to say multiple user accounts may soon be coming to iPhones, iPods and iPads, because this process allows for loading up certain data (perhaps contacts, calendar, messages, etc) based on user input. This system could also be applied to having different profiles on a mobile device, so certain data would be preloaded for work, home, etc. when booting the device. 

The craziest patent won by Apple is for their visual voicemail system, which Apple applied for the day before the OG iPhone launched back in 2007. What is most ridiculous is that the visual voicemail patent covers selection and playback of voicemail, and Apple was sued for infringing basically the same patent (and remember, patents are meant to represent original ideas,) held by Klausner Technologies. The case was settled, and Klausner is actually cited as a reference in this patent.



1. lubbalots unregistered

Apple is worth billions now. Almost number one above exxon. They can basically do whatever they want. Just throw a few "greens" to the lawyers and lobbyists and everything is solved.

10. dionddc

Posts: 129; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

They won't be there for long.

11. shafboy

Posts: 179; Member since: Sep 26, 2010

Yeah but common.. Apple are doing a great job but I think competition should still be there to make it interesting

2. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Jesus. Really? Really, patent office? I can already load multiple Google accounts onto my Android phone which load my data and settings as the phone boots. Multiple accounts have been possible on Android since 2010.

12. FNugget unregistered

Obviously you don't know how patents work, as the patent for "multiple accounts" was filed in 2007.

33. Penny

Posts: 1869; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

I don't know if this is right, or I may be crazy, but I swear I've seen multiple user accounts somewhere before - oh, that's right, it was on my WINDOWS PC. I think this practice started somewhere near the beginning of time. But let's not go there lest Apple should claim credit for the Big Bang as well...

13. FNugget unregistered

Obviously you don't know how patents work, as the patent for "multiple accounts" was filed in 2007.

21. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Facts don't matter to him fnugget. Only bad things for Apple are acceptable.

24. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Oh, and FNugget, only bad things for Google are acceptable for Taco. Just thought I'd let you know in this completely passive aggressive fashion. Taco, you know that this is something Apple shouldn't be granted a patent for.

34. Devon unregistered

Taco is the epitome of an Iphone fanboy, no use Sniggly. He's always in these posts protecting the Apple ideology.

3. android_hitman unregistered

apple is starting to make me puke... i hate you apple

4. PeterIfromsweden

Posts: 1230; Member since: Aug 03, 2011

This is ridicoulus ! Someone must do something to stop apple with this madness.

5. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1250; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

I hate when people or in this case, companies misuse the legal system just to get money out of them. This only hurts the economy more. Not that Apple cares since they have so much money.

6. ztedac

Posts: 69; Member since: May 17, 2010

soon enough, no companies want to sell phones to the states just because of apple and all americans can only have apple phones..... this is GREAT competition for the slumping economy.... good job apple, this is your only way to make money not from originality but by suing.... just good job.... wish you luck in the future of taking over the would

7. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

while i dont have anything to say about Apple's use or misuse of our legal system.... if what they did was legal and they won, then so be it. If what they did and won wasnt.. well then, its just another legal battle waiting to happen. Personally, I think Apple has gone FAR beyond what would be concidered "IP Protection" and well into the realms of "we want a monopoly, so screw u".... Regardless, I side with the law.. if its in their favor or not.

14. FNugget unregistered

The people who examine patents kind of have it tough. Theres an effort to process applications faster, but the only way to defend against applications like these is to have more time to find/gather more evidence. Sometimes, the time constraints win. HOWEVER, because these patents are granted does not mean it's over. Then that whole business about patent infringement starts up.

22. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Apple has about 28% of the smartphone market in the US and less than 10% of the cell phone market when you count all phones. That hardly qualifies as a monopoly.

23. redleg6

Posts: 25; Member since: May 14, 2011

Get a few isheep in the patent office and BAM! Apple has a patent.

8. APPLEhater unregistered

I'm all for innovation and competition it's what make everything work but I hated when a company tries to monopolize and give us the little consumers LESS choices. Makes me want to go and have one of those protest to boycott their products.

9. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

That's it! First thing in the morning, I'm going to get a patent for H2O, breathing, sleeping, and the word "The". Sounds pretty stupid right? Well, we'll just see what the USPTO has to say about that!

15. FNugget unregistered

I can't speak on behalf of the USPTO, but I'm quite sure none of those would pass 35 USC 101.

20. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

The USPTO recently awarded a patent for toast, so you might have a good shot at those too.

31. FNugget unregistered

If you're talking about the one in 2000, US 6080436, then you should take a closer look at it. Do you know of a toaster that heats at a range from 2500-4500 degrees fahrenheit?

32. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Either way, why is there a patent for the process of making toast. I think Michael is pointing out the ridiculousness of a patent for just about anything. Even something that already has a patent.

38. FNugget unregistered

Seems simple, but so does toilet flushing technology. You'd be surprised how much technology exists in that. Now try imagining something complex as a mobile communication device. Every single bit can be made better. It's the tiny differences that make up so many patents.

16. dandirk

Posts: 187; Member since: Aug 04, 2011

The USPTO and patent system is a joke. 30% of all tech/software patents approved have already been patented. As FNugget said, companies, patent trolls are all pushing for faster patents which is causing issues. The patent office didn't even want to start accepting software patents due to issues that are similar with literature. They got pressured by business and now everything is a mess. Even the programmers who create the software think patents are insane. The idea of patenting a GUI like pictured above is retarded to me. Sure patent a METHOD of capturing, sending vociemail. The engine used to record, process, and send the voicemail but the GUI???? OMG... I patented visual voice mail displaying a caller by their NAME. Now all over vendors have to use numbers, nick names, picture... or maybe they can show who called by just showing their fingerprint... that makes sense.

17. corps1089

Posts: 492; Member since: Jan 20, 2010

I plan on applying for patents for every feature the iPhone and iPad have and once the Patent office inevitably awards me those patents, we can sue the apple out of crapple. 2 of the more hopeful outcomes: 1) We win and Apple has to pay 2) The Patent system is exposed for the sham it is and gets an overhaul [those guys must be way too overworked] Who's with me?

19. FNugget unregistered

Except that patents are based on filing date, so unless you have a time machine...oh wait, someone has already tried to patent one of those already.

18. Junior in Jamaica unregistered

Payola at work...this needs to stop because Apple will not force the world to consume its overpriced piece of scrap metals! Look at what they doing to Samsung!

26. PeterIfromsweden

Posts: 1230; Member since: Aug 03, 2011

Good that Samsung is fighting back, and will win. Cant tolerate Apple stupidity suing everyone.

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