USPTO grants Apple another patent (transparent texting) with a long history of prior art
You may recognize the title image for this article, it's from an app called Type n Walk, which has been in the iPhone App Store since 2009. It allows your phone to use video input from the rear facing camera as the background of a text message, so you can see where you're walking. Apparently, the USPTO has never heard of this app, because today Apple was granted a patent for essentially the same thing.
TransparenTXT was released for Windows Phone and Transparent Screen came out on Android), and the USPTO has taken the year and a half since then to determine that Apple's patent was valid and not in violation of existing products. We're not exactly sure how the USPTO could have come to this conclusion, perhaps none of the other app makers filed patents on their work. Or, maybe Apple's solution uses a hidden API that somehow makes it "unique".Apple filed its patent application in late 2012 (which, incidentally, is also after
We can understand why Apple filed the patent. The worst case scenario for Apple was that the filing was denied, and the best case is that the USPTO continues its confusing streak of ignoring its own prior art rules. Frankly, we're getting a bit tired of trying to figure out if there is any logic put into the decisions made by the USPTO in regards to software patents. At the end of the day, it seems like a waste of time for everyone to try to find reason where there is none.
We contacted Type n Walk, and were told that the developer doesn't have a patent on the app, and had no plans to take action against Apple. But, acknowledged that its app would certainly count as prior art to nullify Apple's patent.