Apple's Gesture Dictionary

3 Aug 2007 - 12:41am
7 years ago
29 replies
1344 reads
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Apple's most recent patent is for a "multi-touch gesture dictionary".
I'm most interested in figure 2, which suggests using a thumb and
finger pinch to cut content, and spread to paste (functions not
currently available on the iPhone). The patent describes thumb and 2
finger and 3 finger actions, as well as clockwise and counter
clockwise gestures. Some of them seem quite intricate, but the simple
ones could be fairly intuitive. It's an interesting idea.

Article with examples: http://www.macnn.com/blogs/?p=338
Full Patent: http://tinyurl.com/2xc8mq

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

If there's anything more annoying
than a machine that won't do what you want,
it's a machine that won't do what you want
and has been programmed to behave
as though it likes you.

- Don Norman

Comments

3 Aug 2007 - 5:21am
Chris Pallé
2007

To me, this approach seems very intuitive. This is precisely how I
imagined stepping away from a traditional keyboard back in
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=17165#17165

This was before I had the iPhone. I imagined a new type of input
language using my thumbs with "chords" as defined in the patent.
Almost as if I had a Playstation controller and "danced" with my
thumbs on the analog sticks.

As far as the how we define which characters are evoked, I'd think we
would use the Dvorak science; ie, the most frequently used letters
get the easiest movements (single stroke) where less frequent
characters get more complicated chords.

But oh man, the most exciting part is the prospect of text selection
and copy n paste, etc.

chris.pallé, {human} experience
--------------------------------------------------------
blue flame interactive
732.513.3570
chris.palle at blueflameinteractive.com
http://blueflameinteractive.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrispalle

On Aug 3, 2007, at 1:41 AM, Jack Moffett wrote:

> Apple's most recent patent is for a "multi-touch gesture dictionary".
> I'm most interested in figure 2, which suggests using a thumb and
> finger pinch to cut content, and spread to paste (functions not
> currently available on the iPhone). The patent describes thumb and 2
> finger and 3 finger actions, as well as clockwise and counter
> clockwise gestures. Some of them seem quite intricate, but the simple
> ones could be fairly intuitive. It's an interesting idea.
>
> Article with examples: http://www.macnn.com/blogs/?p=338
> Full Patent: http://tinyurl.com/2xc8mq
>
> Jack
>
>
> Jack L. Moffett
> Interaction Designer
> inmedius
> 412.459.0310 x219
> http://www.inmedius.com
>
> If there's anything more annoying
> than a machine that won't do what you want,
> it's a machine that won't do what you want
> and has been programmed to behave
> as though it likes you.
>
> - Don Norman
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

6 Aug 2007 - 10:18am
.pauric
2006

Whether the gestures prove to be intuitive or not... I'm a little
bemused as to the short-sightedness of patenting a gesture language.

The reason we have qwerty, for all its faults, is that its an open
standard. Users can move from one machine to the next without having
to re-learn how to input.

Patenting a specific gesture sets the world up for a plethora of
non-infringing implementions for those vendors that cant use Apple's
ideas or wont pay a potential royalty.

Hopefully they wont enforce it. Very disappointing if they do,
especially coming from a company that differentiates on designing for
the user, where's the greater good?

In other news, the Queen patented the English language, all non-Brits
must now start paying royalties to the royalty.

p.atently-evil

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

6 Aug 2007 - 11:10am
James Melzer
2004

I completely disagree that this is a short-sighted move on Apple's
part. To do anything else would be unthinkable.

>From a certain perspective, the business model of both Apple and
Microsoft is essentially monopoly creation and cultivation based on
the network effects of intellectual property (via patents and
copyrights). Both companies build integrated platforms to lock in a
user community (and sometimes a vendor community). And then both
companies release products to increase their base from that core
platform. Microsoft has the Windows ecosystem. Apple has the iTunes
ecosystem. Both empires are built on a series of patents.

Patents serve the greater good by supporting commerce (i.e. business)
rather than by directly helping consumers. In fact, the benefit to
consumers is pretty darn round-about and only happens by coincidence
rather than through any good will on the part of government or
industry. Regulations can serve consumers (sometimes) but patents only
serve their owners.

As Pauric said, hopefully Apple won't enforce it. But Apple has to
patent it regardless.

By the way, Christopher Sholes did indeed patent the QWERTY keyboard
in 1867 [1]. It is only an open standard today because the patent was
heavily licensed and expired long ago.

~ James

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QWERTY

On 8/6/07, pauric <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:
> Whether the gestures prove to be intuitive or not... I'm a little
> bemused as to the short-sightedness of patenting a gesture language.

--
James Melzer
http://www.jamesmelzer.com
http://del.icio.us/jamesmelzer

6 Aug 2007 - 11:53am
Stacy Felish
2007

Pauric -

Well put! I was discussing these downsides of patenting UI elements with friends over the weekend. I also hope these go unenforced.

Sincerely,
Stacy Felish

-----Original Message-----
From: pauric <radiorental at gmail.com>
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Sent: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 10:18 am
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Apple's Gesture Dictionary

Whether the gestures prove to be intuitive or not... I'm a little
bemused as to the short-sightedness of patenting a gesture language.

The reason we have qwerty, for all its faults, is that its an open
standard. Users can move from one machine to the next without having
to re-learn how to input.

Patenting a specific gesture sets the world up for a plethora of
non-infringing implementions for those vendors that cant use Apple's
ideas or wont pay a potential royalty.

Hopefully they wont enforce it. Very disappointing if they do,
especially coming from a company that differentiates on designing for
the user, where's the greater good?

In other news, the Queen patented the English language, all non-Brits
must now start paying royalties to the royalty.

p.atently-evil

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

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6 Aug 2007 - 11:57am
.pauric
2006

Bearing in mind this discussion is about events that have not, or may
not, happen.

Apple could have just as easily released this in to the public
domain, making the design non-patentable. Even if they dont enforce
it, the patent cloud will restrict universal implementation.

I believe its shortsighted in the sense that, if implemented and
enforced, it makes it difficult for non-native speakers to easily
move to your devices. And visa versa, consumers will tolerate bad
design because they invested in your language.

As an effective incumbent in the mobile device segment, they are
acting as a monopoly. Locking users in makes perfect sense in the
short term, however it can take the edge off striving for the best
possible design. Winning because of strategically captured consumer
pawns not on the merits of your R&D.

Show me an incumbent monopoly that consumers dont hate... the iPod
wins because it does one thing and it does it well, the i-tunes
lock-in is secondary. Things are not so simple in a multifunction
mobile device playing field. Apple does make design mis-steps
(Newton was an unmitigated disaster, .mac is a #$%^ing joke) To lock
users in with an gesture language is setting yourself up for
complacency and failure.

That said, I agree with your take on business development and
patents. Thats just part of the imperfect world we live in.

regards - pauric

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

6 Aug 2007 - 12:18pm
ldebett
2004

Pauric, you bring up an interesting point, albeit tongue-in-cheek, about
patenting a language. I'm especially curious to see if the US Patent office
(or other int'l offices) approves the patenting of a gestural language. I
mean was American Sign Language ever patented? James M, do you know?

~Lisa

On 8/6/07, pauric <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> In other news, the Queen patented the English language, all non-Brits
> must now start paying royalties to the royalty.
>
>
>

6 Aug 2007 - 12:25pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Though they may have spawned from the bay area, home of free love and all that, Apple is very much a FOR PROFIT company. Why should they give away intellectual property rights? Is there an ethical obligation when working in the UI world?

I understand that open systems can be beneficial to both community and to the inventors. I disdain, from a consumer perspective, the silo-ing that has for years held telephony back. I also understand the benefits to a brand for letting technology become an open system. Lastly, I totally understand giving technology away to establish industry standard (postcript, pdf, flash, etc). Explain to me, a coherent BUSINESS strategy for giving the rights to Apple's gesture technology away so early. How will this benefit Apple?

Marf

On Monday, August 06, 2007, at 12:57PM, "pauric" <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:
>Bearing in mind this discussion is about events that have not, or may
>not, happen.
>
>Apple could have just as easily released this in to the public
>domain, making the design non-patentable. Even if they dont enforce
>it, the patent cloud will restrict universal implementation.
>
>I believe its shortsighted in the sense that, if implemented and
>enforced, it makes it difficult for non-native speakers to easily
>move to your devices. And visa versa, consumers will tolerate bad
>design because they invested in your language.
>
>As an effective incumbent in the mobile device segment, they are
>acting as a monopoly. Locking users in makes perfect sense in the
>short term, however it can take the edge off striving for the best
>possible design. Winning because of strategically captured consumer
>pawns not on the merits of your R&D.
>
>Show me an incumbent monopoly that consumers dont hate... the iPod
>wins because it does one thing and it does it well, the i-tunes
>lock-in is secondary. Things are not so simple in a multifunction
>mobile device playing field. Apple does make design mis-steps
>(Newton was an unmitigated disaster, .mac is a #$%^ing joke) To lock
>users in with an gesture language is setting yourself up for
>complacency and failure.
>
>
>That said, I agree with your take on business development and
>patents. Thats just part of the imperfect world we live in.
>
>regards - pauric
>
>
>. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>Posted from the new ixda.org
>http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934
>
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
>Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>Questions .................. list at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>
>

6 Aug 2007 - 12:32pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

I don't know much about patent law, but I suspect there is a good
reason that it is described as a "gesture dictionary", rather than as
a language.

> A multi-touch gesture dictionary is disclosed herein. The gesture
> dictionary can include a plurality of entries, each corresponding
> to a particular chord. The dictionary entries can include a variety
> of motions associated with the chord and the meanings of gestures
> formed from the chord and the motions. The gesture dictionary may
> take the form of a dedicated computer application that may be used
> to look up the meaning of gestures. The gesture dictionary may also
> take the form of a computer application that may be easily accessed
> from other applications. The gesture dictionary may also be used to
> assign user-selected meanings to gestures.
>

On Aug 6, 2007, at 1:18 PM, Lisa deBettencourt wrote:

> Pauric, you bring up an interesting point, albeit tongue-in-cheek,
> about
> patenting a language. I'm especially curious to see if the US
> Patent office
> (or other int'l offices) approves the patenting of a gestural
> language. I
> mean was American Sign Language ever patented? James M, do you know?

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Things should be as simple as possible,
but no simpler.

- Albert Einstein

6 Aug 2007 - 1:20pm
Morten Hjerde
2007

Errr... maybe I'm slow but Apple has made a patent application for a
dictionary "application", not for the content of such a dictionary. They
describe various methods for looking up gestures in a dictionary. I cant see
that they claim to have invented gestures. Could someone who can read
patentese confirm?

Morten

PS
I strongly agree that patenting the gestures themselves is a patently stupid
idea. Gestures are just abstract representations, it would be like
attempting to patent the Ctrl-C shortcut.

6 Aug 2007 - 1:31pm
Dave Chiu
2006

What about Palm's Graffiti? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graffiti_
(Palm_OS) ) Apparently, Xerox patented its Unistrokes system (which
Palm arguably "borrowed" for its Graffiti), which includes drawings
of the specific motions required to produce specific characters
(i.e.: a gesture alphabet, albeit with a stylus):

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=5596656

10. A machine implemented method for interpreting handwritten text
comprising

writing said text in sequential time order using an alphabet of
mutually independent unistroke symbols to spell out said text at an
atomic level, each of said unistroke symbols conforming to a
respective graphical specification that includes a stroke direction
parameter, some of said unistroke symbols having graphical
specifications that differ from each other essentially only on the
basis of their respective stroke direction parameters, some of said
unistroke symbols being linear and others being arcuate;

Dave

6 Aug 2007 - 1:58pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Point of process.

Can we be *VERY* careful posting and discussing patent issues in this
open forum? I remember getting into some serious gray areas back in
my days at Adobe that are legally not a good place to be in, and I'd
hate to have people on this list compromised unintentionally by
anyone involved.

What this means:

* Please do not post links to patents.
* Please do not excerpt patents.
* Please refrain from discussing patents except in theory. In other
words, do not discuss details of patents in the open on the list.

I know I'm going to sound like a buzz kill here, but having dealt
with this in the corporate world, it really is serious business
whether my Libertarian brain likes it or not. Please be aware that
you may be putting others into a compromising situation by discussing
this on this list. To the degree that some people would have to drop
from it if their legal teams find out you guys are discussing it
openly like this.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

6 Aug 2007 - 2:18pm
SemanticWill
2007

I'm a bit confused, or could you amplify your last email.

Are you saying that there are potential legal problems re: discussing
publicly available information about patents?

Are there legal issues with excerpting a patent which is published in the
public domain?

Are their legal issues with linking to patent applications?

For instance. if I want to discuss a patent or patent application (say some
usability guru tried to patent inline commenting in social network blogs),
can I not discuss it? If it is published on the USPTO website, can I not
take an excerpt from it? Can I not link to the patent, as well as the
usability guru's website to discuss the patent absurdity of the claim? (pun
intended).

I am looking for a little clarity as to what people are and are not allowed
to discuss about information in the public domain, and what, exactly, are
the potential legal problems of such a discussion.

I think these conversations are good, so I might just ask my friend (IP
lawyer) if there are any issues we should be concerned about before we
volunteer a gag-rule on the topic.

~ will

On 8/6/07, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
>
> Point of process.
>
> Can we be *VERY* careful posting and discussing patent issues in this
> open forum? I remember getting into some serious gray areas back in
> my days at Adobe that are legally not a good place to be in, and I'd
> hate to have people on this list compromised unintentionally by
> anyone involved.
>
> What this means:
>
> * Please do not post links to patents.
> * Please do not excerpt patents.
> * Please refrain from discussing patents except in theory. In other
> words, do not discuss details of patents in the open on the list.
>
> I know I'm going to sound like a buzz kill here, but having dealt
> with this in the corporate world, it really is serious business
> whether my Libertarian brain likes it or not. Please be aware that
> you may be putting others into a compromising situation by discussing
> this on this list. To the degree that some people would have to drop
> from it if their legal teams find out you guys are discussing it
> openly like this.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--

6 Aug 2007 - 2:49pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Aug 6, 2007, at 12:18 PM, W Evans wrote:

> Are you saying that there are potential legal problems re:
> discussing publicly available information about patents?

Yes. If you read a patent and then build something that even hints on
infringing that patent, you are putting yourself at risk to have to
fight that in court. The "knowing" part and "intent" part get tricky
legally here.

The best way to avoid this compromising situation is to avoid reading
patents outright and let the legal team do it. In fact, some
companies have strict policies that their engineers, product managers
and designers cannot ever peruse any patent sites whatsoever so as to
avoid compromising situations.

This was the case for me while working on the Creative Suite and
Lightroom, and as far as I know, it's a general policy at most large
companies. Although this may have been relaxed in the recent past. I
don't know for sure.

> Are there legal issues with excerpting a patent which is published
> in the public domain?

See above. Patents are very tricky because they are very specific,
but they tend to cover large areas in the way they are written in an
attempt to cover all the bases or the company trying to patent
something. The problem is, you often don't know what the potential
conflicts might be until you read them. Yes, it's a chicken and egg
problem. Most companies have the lawyers or some other expert read
the patents instead of the engineers or designers to make sure those
that are building things don't inadvertently read something they
shouldn't have.

Remember, it's often not the enforcement of the patent that is
problem. It's the expense or threat of going to court in the first
place that makes this issue so painful. And for small companies, that
cost is often something that can literally kill their business.

> Are their legal issues with linking to patent applications?

Only in that its a temptation for people to read them. And sometimes,
people click through without properly reading what they are clicking
to read. The act of visiting the site is all a lawyer needs. And that
sort of thing is tracked by server logs. So do your fellow list
readers a favor and don't link to them.

> For instance. if I want to discuss a patent or patent application
> (say some usability guru tried to patent inline commenting in
> social network blogs), can I not discuss it? If it is published on
> the USPTO website, can I not take an excerpt from it? Can I not
> link to the patent, as well as the usability guru's website to
> discuss the patent absurdity of the claim? (pun intended).

You can, but you put everyone on this list at some form of risk in
doing so, depending if they are working on something like what the
patent describes or comes close to. I would prefer those conversation
are done in private email.

> I am looking for a little clarity as to what people are and are not
> allowed to discuss about information in the public domain, and
> what, exactly, are the potential legal problems of such a discussion.

In general, being safe versus sorry is the golden rule with patents,
imho. Unless you have a lawyer explicitly tell you its ok to read the
patent website and such, I'd refrain from it.

> I think these conversations are good, so I might just ask my friend
> (IP lawyer) if there are any issues we should be concerned about
> before we volunteer a gag-rule on the topic.

Gag rule or not. I've had experience in this area, and I for one
would remove myself from the list if this sort of topic is widely
discussed. I have no desire to play with fire when it comes to the
work I do for my clients in this area.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

6 Aug 2007 - 2:49pm
Dave Malouf
2005

If I'm not mistaken, the issue is plausible deniability.

If I'm working on something "in parallel" that later gets
patented, I think the level at which the "offense" of patent
violation is cited differs greatly.

Andrei, as administrator, before I make any guideline change (and as
an inny who has and will continue to submit patent disclosures, I'm
very sensitive to this), I think there needs to be more discussion at
least among the board.

I.e. can we ever police what is vague enough, or non-descriptive
enough to satisfy? I don't think so.

We have had "legal" issues on this list before, so I am a bit aware
of indemnity issues on the list, but have not heard this one till now.

I will bring the issue to the board and if you have any issues you'd
like to clarify with us (or anyone else for that matter) please email
me off list.

I think for this thread though 90% of the discussion has been less
about Apple's specific patent and more about the issue of patenting
UI elements at all. This should continue on this list.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

6 Aug 2007 - 2:58pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Excellent thought Andrei. Thanks for the 'heads up'.

On Monday, August 06, 2007, at 02:59PM, "Andrei Herasimchuk" <andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
>Point of process.
>
>Can we be *VERY* careful posting and discussing patent issues in this
>open forum? I remember getting into some serious gray areas back in
>my days at Adobe that are legally not a good place to be in, and I'd
>hate to have people on this list compromised unintentionally by
>anyone involved.
>
>What this means:
>
>* Please do not post links to patents.
>* Please do not excerpt patents.
>* Please refrain from discussing patents except in theory. In other
>words, do not discuss details of patents in the open on the list.
>
>I know I'm going to sound like a buzz kill here, but having dealt
>with this in the corporate world, it really is serious business
>whether my Libertarian brain likes it or not. Please be aware that
>you may be putting others into a compromising situation by discussing
>this on this list. To the degree that some people would have to drop
>from it if their legal teams find out you guys are discussing it
>openly like this.
>
>--
>Andrei Herasimchuk
>
>Principal, Involution Studios
>innovating the digital world
>
>e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
>c. +1 408 306 6422
>
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
>Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>Questions .................. list at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>
>

6 Aug 2007 - 3:26pm
Will Parker
2007

On Aug 6, 2007, at 11:20 AM, Morten Hjerde wrote:

> Errr... maybe I'm slow but Apple has made a patent application for a
> dictionary "application", not for the content of such a dictionary.
> They
> describe various methods for looking up gestures in a dictionary. I
> cant see
> that they claim to have invented gestures. Could someone who can read
> patentese confirm?
>
> Morten
>
> PS
> I strongly agree that patenting the gestures themselves is a
> patently stupid
> idea. Gestures are just abstract representations, it would be like
> attempting to patent the Ctrl-C shortcut.

Morten:

As you correctly noted, this patent is definitely NOT about patenting
specific gestures. While the images in the patent do show specific
gestures associated with specific commands, all these are explicitly
marked as "exemplary [gesture] dictionary entries".

The text of the patent describes in great detail how gestures may be
captured, concatenated, modified, displayed, and assigned to device
actions, but _all_ references to specific gestures are given as
examples, not patentable patterns. Nothing here is going to prevent
others from coming up with a different set of methods for handling a
user's gesture preferences. However, it's quite clear that the Apple
UX team has been beavering away on this subject for quite some time,
and it will be interesting to watch how the other multi-touch leaders
handle the same problem.

N.B. - The REALLY interesting part is Apple's breakdown of how many
types of gestures the human hand can make relative to a touchscreen
surface. The money quote is this:

"With each hand able to execute twenty-five or more chords, and with
each chord having thirteen or more motions associated therewith,
there may be over three hundred possible gestures for each hand. Many
more gestures are possible if both hands are used together."

This indicates that Apple has -- or believes it has -- some means of
distinguishing between individual fingers on the hand or hands
touching the screen, and indeed one of the figures shows a method of
setting gesture meaning based on which fingers of the hand are used
to make a gesture. I'll have to go back and _read_ the patent instead
of skim. Too busy now.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

“I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products.” -
Steve Jobs

6 Aug 2007 - 3:27pm
Dave Chiu
2006

Andrei makes a very good point and I apologize if my earlier post
might cause any problems for readers of this list.

My only intention behind posting that information was to clarify
whether the Xerox patent was about simply the general input mechanics
or if it included the actual character gestures themselves. This was
something the Wikipedia entry wasn't clear about, and so I went to
primary source material without thinking about the consequences.

Dave

6 Aug 2007 - 3:42pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Aug 6, 2007, at 12:49 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> Andrei, as administrator, before I make any guideline change (and as
> an inny who has and will continue to submit patent disclosures, I'm
> very sensitive to this), I think there needs to be more discussion at
> least among the board.

Please do. Will Parker's message is exactly the kind of thing I would
like to avoid speaking for myself, as he treads very close to "iffy"
territory. And now his message is archived on people's servers and
machines, discussing the patent directly, and even quoting it
outright. Patents are a huge problem for technology companies, but
they are a fact of corporate life right now.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

6 Aug 2007 - 5:36pm
Will Parker
2007

On Aug 6, 2007, at 1:42 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Aug 6, 2007, at 12:49 PM, David Malouf wrote:
>
>> Andrei, as administrator, before I make any guideline change (and as
>> an inny who has and will continue to submit patent disclosures, I'm
>> very sensitive to this), I think there needs to be more discussion at
>> least among the board.
>
> Please do. Will Parker's message is exactly the kind of thing I would
> like to avoid speaking for myself, as he treads very close to "iffy"
> territory. And now his message is archived on people's servers and
> machines, discussing the patent directly, and even quoting it
> outright. Patents are a huge problem for technology companies, but
> they are a fact of corporate life right now.

I'd suggest we adopt a 'spoilers'-style policy. Require that the
title of any message that includes discussion of patent information
to include a specific string (e.g., '[PATENT]') which would allow the
offending messages to be auto-deleted. Better yet, offer a no-patents
version of the mailing list, with the filtering being performed at
the server end.

I for one don't want to forego discussion of patents, since I have no
intention of going near solutions that have already been patented.
However, should the group decide to ban patent discussion, I will
honor that decision. In either case, I'd be happy to help people of
other persuasions keep their deniability.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

“I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products.” -
Steve Jobs

7 Aug 2007 - 7:04am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

Andrei makes a very good point here about being cautious when discussing
patents, especially patents that are related to your current work.

First off, there is nothing illegal about reading a patent - the illegal
part comes in if you then develop a product that infringes a patent that you
had read at some point in the past.

If you file for a patent, many patent attorneys will ask you to list all the
prior art that you are aware of concerning your patent concept -- but these
attorneys will often warn you not to go searching further because of the
potential of infringement. The attorneys will do a search for prior art and
make a call whether your patent idea should go forward (which isn't cheap -
patents fees are going up and the process now takes many years). There are
a number of patent lawsuits where emails between engineers indicate that the
engineers had knowledge about a patent and those emails were used in the
trial. Seemingly harmless notes that reference a patent idea can come back
to create significant damage to a company. If email, face-to-face, or other
electronic or paper trails provide evidence that people had some awareness
of potential patent infringement, that is called "willful infringement".
Willful infringement carries with it the possibility of treble damages
and lawyer fees that could be as much as damages.

There is a good (and short) article at
http://www.mmmlaw.com/articles/article_234.pdf that gets at the main issues
around willful infringement. A few emails from a chief architect or primary
developer might be enough for the company bringing a lawsuit to file for
willful infringement. An RSS feed that discusses patents in a particular
field would really be something to avoid.

At some firms, IP lawyers warn engineers not to put anything in writing
about their thoughts on possible patent conflicts - those issues are to be
discussed in person so the discussion falls under lawyer-client privilege.
There is a legal obligation to disclose information about patent conflicts
to your IP lawyer once you become aware of those conflicts.

So, discussing a specific new patent that would be related to something you
are working on now could be very risky since that email could end up on a
backup tape somewhere and be subpoenaed for trial. At a personal level, you
could end up in depositions, legal meetings, and eventually a trial that
could last a long time.

Note that there are a number of patent reforms being considered as we speak
and many people are lobbying to change patent law in the USA from "first to
invent" to "first to file" which is the way most of the rest of the world
deals with patents. For an update on patent reforms see
http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/og/2007/week22/patcomm.htm

Chauncey Wilson (a patent holder and husband of a patent attorney who made
him read the patent handbook before their wedding :-).

On 8/6/07, W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I'm a bit confused, or could you amplify your last email.
>
> Are you saying that there are potential legal problems re: discussing
> publicly available information about patents?
>
> Are there legal issues with excerpting a patent which is published in the
> public domain?
>
> Are their legal issues with linking to patent applications?
>
>
> For instance. if I want to discuss a patent or patent application (say
> some
> usability guru tried to patent inline commenting in social network blogs),
> can I not discuss it? If it is published on the USPTO website, can I not
> take an excerpt from it? Can I not link to the patent, as well as the
> usability guru's website to discuss the patent absurdity of the claim?
> (pun
> intended).
>
> I am looking for a little clarity as to what people are and are not
> allowed
> to discuss about information in the public domain, and what, exactly, are
> the potential legal problems of such a discussion.
>
> I think these conversations are good, so I might just ask my friend (IP
> lawyer) if there are any issues we should be concerned about before we
> volunteer a gag-rule on the topic.
>
> ~ will
>
>
>
>
>
> On 8/6/07, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
> >
> > Point of process.
> >
> > Can we be *VERY* careful posting and discussing patent issues in this
> > open forum? I remember getting into some serious gray areas back in
> > my days at Adobe that are legally not a good place to be in, and I'd
> > hate to have people on this list compromised unintentionally by
> > anyone involved.
> >
> > What this means:
> >
> > * Please do not post links to patents.
> > * Please do not excerpt patents.
> > * Please refrain from discussing patents except in theory. In other
> > words, do not discuss details of patents in the open on the list.
> >
> > I know I'm going to sound like a buzz kill here, but having dealt
> > with this in the corporate world, it really is serious business
> > whether my Libertarian brain likes it or not. Please be aware that
> > you may be putting others into a compromising situation by discussing
> > this on this list. To the degree that some people would have to drop
> > from it if their legal teams find out you guys are discussing it
> > openly like this.
> >
> > --
> > Andrei Herasimchuk
> >
> > Principal, Involution Studios
> > innovating the digital world
> >
> > e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> > c. +1 408 306 6422
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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> > Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
> >
>
>
>
> --
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

7 Aug 2007 - 8:13am
.pauric
2006

Lisa/Jack: 'can actually you patent a language? Isnt this a patent
for a dictionary?'

Yup and yup, but there's more than one way to skin a cat. This
patent would seem to make it difficult for users to learn an
alternative language if it comes with a non-infringing but hokey
dictionary design.

Mark: "Explain to me, a coherent BUSINESS strategy for giving the
rights to Apple's gesture technology away so early. How will this
benefit Apple?"

Point taken, but, we're in the BUSINESS of advocating the user.. or
shall I just go home, farm some potatoes and let the BA do UCD all by
themselves?

My argument is that while we sit here on verge of a new interaction
paradigm, we can go segmented & closed or with a universal language &
differentiate on good design.

I believe the entity that defines the first universally adopted
language will reap greater rewards in the long term. I confess that
I'm having a hard time quantifying this strong hunch, but open
standards seem to last longer and gain wider adoption. Proprietary
can win in the short term but generally withers as the crowd moves
on.

Let me turn your question around. We are going to have a multitouch
gesture language for the foreseeable future. How does a closed
language benefit Apple?

If you want to do business in the world today, you have to speak
English.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

7 Aug 2007 - 8:21am
Mark Schraad
2006

>Mark: "Explain to me, a coherent BUSINESS strategy for giving the
>rights to Apple's gesture technology away so early. How will this
>benefit Apple?"
>
>Pauric: Point taken, but, we're in the BUSINESS of advocating the user.. or
>shall I just go home, farm some potatoes and let the BA do UCD all by
>themselves?
>
>My argument is that while we sit here on verge of a new interaction
>paradigm, we can go segmented & closed or with a universal language &
>differentiate on good design.
>
>I believe the entity that defines the first universally adopted
>language will reap greater rewards in the long term. I confess that
>I'm having a hard time quantifying this strong hunch, but open
>standards seem to last longer and gain wider adoption. Proprietary
>can win in the short term but generally withers as the crowd moves
>on.
>
>Let me turn your question around. We are going to have a multitouch
>gesture language for the foreseeable future. How does a closed
>language benefit Apple?
>
>If you want to do business in the world today, you have to speak
>English.

I am no expert in open systems, but my hunch is that they work better when spawned from cross company initiatives - or when a community collaborates to create something better (W3C). In some cases it seems that lose licensing can afford this sort of standardization as well. The licensing of drop down menus and mice for navigation seem to be everywhere. I am unaware of any company other than apple licensing this technology from Xerox.

This is just the sort of collaborations that professional associations and academics are equipped to facilitate (and a very few forward thinking companies).

Mark

8 Aug 2007 - 8:44pm
dszuc
2005

Nice piece here by Paul Sherman - "Your Design Is Infringing On My Patent:
The Case Against User Interface and Interaction Model Patents and
Intellectual Property" - http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000210.php

Rgds,

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
www.apogeehk.com
'Usability in Asia'

The Usability Kit - http://www.theusabilitykit.com

8 Aug 2007 - 10:13pm
Dave Malouf
2005

While in the spirit of unity and human kindness I agree, but just like
there is copyright law and patent law on every other form of
intellectual property, why in the world would I give up my rights to
make CASH for the betterment of all humanity in THIS case.

Yes, it helps create conventions if more people use this stuff, but
using disruptive and successful technology is a huge part of how many
companies differentiate themselves. AND further who digital interfaces
and not physical interfaces? What's the difference? I mean if I
patent the rotary dial for a phone, isn't that like patenting a new
UI for a virtual keypad layout for a PDA phone w/ touch screen?

I just don't get it.

Now, the consortium of Linux contributors that was set up to share
patents so long as those using the patent are doing so WITH Linux
sounds like a great way around some of the issues, but even then, I
bet there are going to be many exceptions, or many of those companies
won't contribute back to the Linux projects their best ideas.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

9 Aug 2007 - 2:28am
Morten Hjerde
2007

> patent the rotary dial for a phone, isn't that like patenting a new
> UI for a virtual keypad layout for a PDA phone w/ touch screen?
>

I'm my opinion, you are asking the wrong question. Yes, there absolutely
have to be patent law and it must be possible to protect IPR also in the
digital domain.

The question is how to avoid attempts to exploit the system? The intent of
the patent system is to give legal protection to inventors. In reality, the
majority of patents applied for is not in accordance with the intent.
Finding some angle to someone else's invention that is not covered in their
patent, trying to patent something obvious, trying to make a patent overly
broad.

I think the Apple Gesture Dictionary is an example of something that should
not be granted a patent. I love Apple, but this is silly. Calling gestures
"gesture chords" and putting them into a list. Where is the inventive
step???

It should not be possible to patent something that is blatantly obvious to
any skilled person.

Someone should file a patent like "Methods and Systems for Exploiting Patent
Law". But if would probably be rejected due to massive amount of prior
art...

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

9 Aug 2007 - 7:30am
Dave Malouf
2005

I agree that not everything should be patented, but I was responding
to the person who was suggesting that all patents for GUI's is
wrong; I wasn't responding specifically to Apple's patents.

BTW, in patent law it is better to patent everything and find out
later it won't hold up then to miss a good patent. Let the courts &
lawyers decide if it is patentable. It is just too risky in today's
market not to at least try to patent original ideas. "Obvious" is a
very very subjective term.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

9 Aug 2007 - 7:31am
Mark Schraad
2006

The other thought here is that filing or getting a patent does not
preclude a company from giving the technology away. It just gives the
company more options.

Mark

On Aug 8, 2007, at 11:13 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> While in the spirit of unity and human kindness I agree, but just like
> there is copyright law and patent law on every other form of
> intellectual property, why in the world would I give up my rights to
> make CASH for the betterment of all humanity in THIS case.
>
> Yes, it helps create conventions if more people use this stuff, but
> using disruptive and successful technology is a huge part of how many
> companies differentiate themselves. AND further who digital interfaces
> and not physical interfaces? What's the difference? I mean if I
> patent the rotary dial for a phone, isn't that like patenting a new
> UI for a virtual keypad layout for a PDA phone w/ touch screen?
>
> I just don't get it.
>
> Now, the consortium of Linux contributors that was set up to share
> patents so long as those using the patent are doing so WITH Linux
> sounds like a great way around some of the issues, but even then, I
> bet there are going to be many exceptions, or many of those companies
> won't contribute back to the Linux projects their best ideas.
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
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9 Aug 2007 - 8:58am
.pauric
2006

Mark: "The other thought here is that filing or getting a patent does
not preclude a company from giving the technology away. It just gives
the company more options."

True, however, a patent pending will hinder adoption until then.
Meaning designers will start looking at other methods to crack the
problem. In a situation like this where I feel the problem is
universal and part of the design solution is mass market adoption;
you're either the leader of a pack, or running around your own
walled garden while everyone else is sorting things out as a group.

I'm all for protecting intellectual property, I have a patent filed
for a UI design http://tinyurl.com/ys7a3v that has been used against
other vendors. The dictionary design solution, I feel, is not best
served under a patent. It will restrict its mass market usage,
enabling another design to flourish, thus rendering the Apple
solution obsolete in the long term.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

9 Aug 2007 - 11:55am
andrew_hinton a...
2007

I have a special place in my heart for Palm's old Graffiti. Rather than
spam the list with *all* my thoughts, I blogged them here:

Where's My Graffiti?
http://www.inkblurt.com/archives/510

Do you think it fits a similar mold as Apple's 'dictionary'?

By all means, patent the hardware and the software necessary to make it
work, but why patent the shapes one draws, and keep everybody else from
being able to use them? Especially if you're not even going to make any
devices that use the writing system -- I don't know what Xerox did with
Graffiti, but it might as well be buried in a PARC basement, since I can't
use it now.

---
Andrew Hinton
Vanguard User Experience Group
personal: inkblurt.com

pauric <radiorental at gmail.com>
Sent by: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
08/09/2007 09:58 AM

To
discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
cc

Subject
Re: [IxDA Discuss] Apple's Gesture Dictionary

Mark: "The other thought here is that filing or getting a patent does
not preclude a company from giving the technology away. It just gives
the company more options."

True, however, a patent pending will hinder adoption until then.
Meaning designers will start looking at other methods to crack the
problem. In a situation like this where I feel the problem is
universal and part of the design solution is mass market adoption;
you're either the leader of a pack, or running around your own
walled garden while everyone else is sorting things out as a group.

I'm all for protecting intellectual property, I have a patent filed
for a UI design http://tinyurl.com/ys7a3v that has been used against
other vendors. The dictionary design solution, I feel, is not best
served under a patent. It will restrict its mass market usage,
enabling another design to flourish, thus rendering the Apple
solution obsolete in the long term.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18934

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