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USPTO grants Apple another patent (transparent texting) with a long history of prior art

Posted: , by Michael H.

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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.

Apple filed its patent application in late 2012 (which, incidentally, is also after 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".

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. 

source: USPTO via BGR

  • Options

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:01 12

1. D.Aceveda (Posts: 396; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)

Apple has been getting patents for things that are either extremely vague or for things that other companies/people have already made

Expect more lawsuits. It's the Apple way.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:35 7

7. appleDOESNT.com (banned) (Posts: 456; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)

Apple see, Apple patent, Apple sue, company is run by monkeys apparently

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:44 9

12. Finalflash (Posts: 3527; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)

Damn it, it took Apple 2 years to go from innovator to full retard patent troll. They moved the industry up 5 years and are now hell bent on slowing down the next 20.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:46 1

13. PBXtech (Posts: 1032; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)

So you're saying Apple copies? No way!

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 10:22 2

16. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

Uspto is an office of mental retards feed by apple... now patent granting right should be given to european union, atleast EU is a group of many countries so their patent will not be biased towards own bucks full company like US is biased granting patent to its own bucks full compny...

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 13:48 1

22. downphoenix (Posts: 3165; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)

At this point, I can't blame Apple. The USPTO has allowed itself to be abused by them and some others for so long now, that this is just the norm. At this point, I'm disappointed in the USPTO, not Apple for this. Why wouldn't Apple put in this patent, knowing it can get away with it like it has many times over? I would be more surprised if they didn't.

posted on 28 Mar 2014, 19:11

45. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)

Not even a single Apple user or a fan here to side Apple,,,,,

Where are the Apple fans, no where to be seen,,,,.?

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:07 5

2. blingblingthing (Posts: 578; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)

So..... Lawsuits incoming against any smartphone with a camera and a SMS app.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:08 12

3. Diego! (Posts: 677; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)

WTF??? There's an app that is now acient in Google Play that allows you to do that. Apple, always imitating. And stealing. GFY!

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:13 6

4. Antimio (Posts: 313; Member since: 11 Nov 2013)

This is Apple. The US company.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 17:25

31. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)

Apple think they own THE USPTO.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 17:45 1

34. Augustine (Posts: 1043; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)

Apple does not think that; it does own the PTO, along with the courts.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:23

5. amiaq (Posts: 509; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)

Cant' wait for the release of ipong 6, so I can laugh at it!!

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:28 5

6. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2286; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)

Wow!!!! You can patent stupid shyt these days....smh < literally...

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:36 3

8. fzacek (Posts: 2486; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)

These patents are only filed for the sake of being annoying. Apple seriously needs to become less annoying with these useless patents.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:41 8

9. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

Maybe this generation will finally realize why our generation kicked Apple to the curb. And the USPTO is a derelict organization that would patent running water if Apple applied for it.

John B.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:41 3

10. Cyberchum (Posts: 749; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)

This is Apple we're talking about guys, this is nothing new.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:43 5

11. Deadeye37 (Posts: 192; Member since: 25 Jan 2011)

I think the USPTO office really is just an Apple sattelite office. Probably has a big picture of the late Steve Jobs right behind the receptionist in the main lobby.

I think Lucy Koh has a secondary office there also.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 10:03 2

14. Augustine (Posts: 1043; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)

This is how the PTO operates: it leaves to courts and lawyers to decide. It forfeits its obligations because those who work at the PTO eventually consult for law firms in trials. It's yet another facet of the hollow American state, a self-serving parasite that has absolutely nothing to do with what the Revolutionary War intended and that generations of venal and apathetic citizens destroyed.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 10:21 1

15. SAO101789 (Posts: 123; Member since: 10 Feb 2014)

It's annoying they are falling behind when they were one of the best. Now from what I see it's better just jailbreaking your iphone or get a android or WP and I am currently using a 5S. I like iphone but they can do better. I just hope they get their act together. Big price phones are big because they are flagship phones but they are pointless if it doesn't satisfy your needs!!

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 10:28 5

17. vijaysivakula (Posts: 224; Member since: 17 Aug 2011)

The USPTO is filled with idiots!!

posted on 28 Mar 2014, 19:12

46. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)

Apple is bribing them,,,

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 10:29 5

18. Lt.Green (Posts: 397; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)

USPTO needs a brain.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 17:24

30. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)

This is their brain ON APPLE.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 10:53 3

19. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)

I guess now we really know what apple is doing with all of those billions besides litigating.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 12:23

20. wando77 (Posts: 1076; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)

I had an app like this on the Nokia n97 when it came out

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 12:55

21. winter_hat (Posts: 110; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)

This has been available for years on secondary market Android keyboards. Earlier than your referenced 'firsts' above. Ultra keyboard or Perfect keyboard or...? I can't remember, but it's on at least a couple and I tried this a couple years ago. Burns battery (camera) and doesn't really help much.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 14:57

23. TechDork (Posts: 313; Member since: 10 May 2010)

I just want do like WhatsApp & be able to add backgrounds to my text conversations....meh.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 15:13 1

24. phatdaddy (Posts: 5; Member since: 27 Mar 2014)

As a patent attorney, I feel like I need to correct a very common misunderstanding that people seem to have over and over on thesse boards. Apple DID NOT receive a patent for this, not yet. All it is, is just that their patent application was PUBLISHED, which occurs 18 months (a year and a half) after it was filed. In other words, a patent application remains secret for 18 months, and then it becomes available to the public. It may or may not have been examined by the USPTO yet. If the prior art is really good, it will either never issue as a patent (not a patent application), or issue with VERY VERY limited scope.

Apple has received way too much hate for their patent filings, which I think is undeserved. Phonearena does a good job fanning the flames. Most of the time, they report Apple has received a patent, when it is just a patent application. The editors/reporters need to do a better job reporting the news.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 15:26 4

26. networkdood (Posts: 6330; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)

You must work for Apple..troll on!!!

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