USPTO fails again: Google patents gesture unlock/app launch feature

USPTO fails again: Google patents gesture unlock/app launch feature
Here's a pretty easy question for the audience: when was the first time you saw a lockscreen app, or OEM customization that offered unlock-to-app launching? If you said that it was before March of 2012, then you might want to try helping out the USPTO in investigating patent filings, because Google was just awarded that patent.

We routinely point out when the USPTO fails with patents that Apple has filed (because it seems like Apple files far more than other companies, or at least it makes the news more), and so we have to do the same when the USPTO fails on a Google patent as well. The patent filing shows a system where you'd use the Android grid gesture unlock, but be able to launch directly into an app through that system. The strange thing is that the patent filing shows the system on what looks like a Nexus One, but the filing wasn't submitted until March of 2012, which makes it seem like Google just had this one sitting around for a while. 

Of course, that sort of system has been widely available through various lockscreen replacement apps for a while, so it doesn't make much sense as to why the USPTO would award this patent. Still, maybe it'll be a new feature that we see with Android 5.0?

source: USPTO via Engadget

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18 Comments

1. tedkord

Posts: 17463; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It's not just that Apple files more, they file over broad and silly patents, then use them as bully sticks. I can imagine Google filed this so Apple couldn't file for it even though they don't use it. But, I'd have rather seen it denied.

4. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

And, when was the last time Apple used patents to bully a company? Samsung doesn't count, because that's not bullying, that's a straight up heavyweight fight.

5. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

eh HTC?

8. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

My point exactly. That was 3 years ago when Steve Jobs was still in charge

10. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

You mean how HTC saw the religion, repented and then signed a patent licensing agreement with Apple after their $300 million acquisition to counter sue Apple blew up in HTC's face. Apple does license it patents from time to time -- both IBM and Nokia got access to the rubber-band patent.

13. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

I am strongly against HTC giving in to Apple and has stop buying HTC products. I am a strong support for Samsung because Samsung fight Apple that abuse a broken patent system to wage their own patent war. If Apple has innovation ang guts they will not rely on patent war to lose everything in the process.

15. MCrapp

Posts: 318; Member since: Apr 07, 2013

And I'm with you!!!!!No more HTC for me!

16. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Why would you do that? HTC had no Other choice to begin with

17. Ninetysix

Posts: 2965; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Please tell us how much Samsung or any other Android device maker is paying Microsoft.

11. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

Here's the problem that Michael H. doesn't get. The "unlock-to-app" is an idea and how you achieve that idea can be patented. For example, a "mouse-trap" might be the idea, but there are difference ways to build this mouse-trap resulting in numerous patents on mouse-traps. When I was awarded my patent, the patent examiner referenced patents that covered the same idea, but my algorithm was so unique, that it was deemed original and novel to be awarded the patent. I wish Michael H. or any other critic would go through the patent process to get better understanding of what is patentable. The general rule is you can't patent the idea of "unlock-to-app" but you can patent a process that achieves unlock to app. Again, you CANNOT patent the idea of a "mouse-trap" thus preventing all others from building new and novel mouse-traps.

2. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

Google know they are wrong for this, but then again, you can't blame them for doing this to prevent Apple for doing it first. I can almost guarantee you that Google will not use this to go after a company (Except MS & Apple) for patent infringement.

6. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

I can understand where you're coming from, but if we're going to stick with the idea that USPTO needs to change its process of awarding patents, a little bit of consistency from those complaining (not addressing you particularly) would probably be beneficial, otherwise the whole USPTO patent debate is pretty much just fanboy rage. At the end of the day wrong is wrong and this probably should have been rejected.

12. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

I agree 100% with you wrong is wrong, but what would you do if your company was facing a enemy who is doing sneaky under hand tricks?. Playing the system. Google came in didn't own any patent, and was going about it business, until everyone started attacking Android (oracle, apple and ms). So yeah I can't blame them for being overly protective. Heck if I was them I would file for a patent on keyboard (it might get pass uspto).

3. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Michael. I haven't seen the particulars, but if Google filed an earlier patent application and was awarded a patent for the pattern recognition unlock, and if there was sufficient 'teaching' of pattern unlock to app launch in the original application, Google can file a continuation application if they meet certain criteria. If they meet the criteria, the continuation applications the benefit of the earlier filing date. A lot of ifs, but there is a recognized path to a patent that appears to be pre-dated by other functions.

7. neutralguy

Posts: 1152; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

I think this is normal, unless used to sue other companies that started it.

9. Sauce unregistered

Apple is always in the spotlight. Don't get so butt hurt. A wise man once said, "EVERY GREAT NATION WILL FALL."

14. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

Apple started this. All the tech companies must patent the silliest things so the compeition doesn't take their idea and use it against them.

18. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Just proves the USPTO is still in need of major help. Love Android, Google to death....but I cant throw hate at Apple and excuse Google for this. But...the Nexus One came out before March 2012. If this is related to the Nexus One...wouldnt it be tied in with the launch date, development of the phone? If thats from Android that launched with the Nexus One, does the filing date matter? I think somethings missing somewhere from the whole story.

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