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

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

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43 Comments

1. D.Aceveda

Posts: 432; Member since: Jun 30, 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.

7. appleDOESNT.com

Posts: 456; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

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

12. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 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.

13. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

So you're saying Apple copies? No way!

16. Ashoaib

Posts: 3298; Member since: Nov 15, 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...

22. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 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.

45. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Not even a single Apple user or a fan here to side Apple,,,,, Where are the Apple fans, no where to be seen,,,,.?

2. blingblingthing

Posts: 976; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

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

3. Diego!

Posts: 876; Member since: Jun 15, 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!

4. Antimio

Posts: 313; Member since: Nov 11, 2013

This is Apple. The US company.

31. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Apple think they own THE USPTO.

34. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

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

5. amiaq

Posts: 509; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

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

6. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2360; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

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

8. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

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

9. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 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.

10. Cyberchum

Posts: 1093; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

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

11. Deadeye37

Posts: 305; Member since: Jan 25, 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.

14. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 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.

15. SAO101789

Posts: 123; Member since: Feb 10, 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!!

17. vijaysivakula

Posts: 229; Member since: Aug 17, 2011

The USPTO is filled with idiots!!

46. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Apple is bribing them,,,

18. Lt.Green

Posts: 397; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

USPTO needs a brain.

30. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

This is their brain ON APPLE.

19. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

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

20. wando77

Posts: 1168; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

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

21. winter_hat

Posts: 110; Member since: Feb 04, 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.

23. TechDork

Posts: 404; Member since: May 10, 2010

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

24. phatdaddy

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 27, 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.

26. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

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

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