Apple Granted ‘Mother Of All Software Patents’ That Could Destroy Android Rivals

Apple Granted ‘Mother Of All Software Patents’ That Could Destroy Android Rivals

This patent could be Apple’s biggest weapon against the competition yet.

Apple has been granted what has been described as “the mother of all software patents,” which covers a whole host of features that Apple pioneered with the iPhone. Not only is this huge for Apple in its fight against copycats, but it could have a significant affect on almost every single device that rivals the iPhone or the iPad.

Patent number 8,223,134, entitled “Portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents,” covers the user interface Apple designed for email, telephone, camera, video player, browser, widgets, search, notes, maps, and most significantly, a multitouch interface.

These are all features that have now made their way into almost every Android and Windows Phone smartphone and tablet on the market, and one Android fan believes its affects could be “swift and lethal.”

Kevin Krause over at Phandroid writes:

Apple’s latest patent should give Google and its stable of Android device manufacturers reason to worry. Granted just today, the latest addition to the Cupertino-based tech giant’s stable of intellectual property could be the mother of all smartphone software patents [...]

The bad news for Android and its hardware partners is that this patent will likely become a stable of future patent infringement claims coming from Apple’s court. The effects could be swift and lethal, depending on how descriptions of user interface elements are leveraged.

As you’d expect, the news hasn’t be well received by Android users, who have argued that Apple’s plan for dominance should not include taking down all of its competitors. Instead, they believe the company should just… compete.

However, Jack Purcher from Patently Apple makes a very good point:

In 2007, Samsung, HTC, Google and all others in the industry didn’t have a smartphone with the likes of Apple’s iPhone features. They didn’t have the solutions that Apple eloquently brought to market to make a smartphone truly smart. Apple carefully and meticulously crafted a full end-to-end smartphone solution. So when the copycats and their followers whine in public and on blogs that Apple should learn to compete instead of initiate litigation – I bowl over with laughter.

Admittedly, it does appear that Apple uses its legal team to fight the opposition all too frequently. A recent report found that the Cupertino company is at the center of 60% of all major patent suits. However, Apple has made its feeling towards copycats perfectly clear, and it will do whatever it takes to prevent other companies from stealing its intellectual property.

In a recent interview with Walt Mossberg at the D10 conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Apple doesn’t want to be anyone’s design house.

Related
  • wardmundy

    Apple didn’t seem to mind using Xerox as its “design house.” How quickly we forget.

  • Ed_Kel

    Apple didn’t seem to mind using Xerox as its “design house.” How quickly we forget.

    “The first successful commercial GUI product was the Apple Macintosh, which was heavily inspired by PARC’s work; Xerox was allowed to buy pre-IPO stock from Apple, in exchange for engineer visits and an understanding that Apple would create a GUI product” – in other words, the way business SHOULD be done.

    It’s almost laughable to think that people out there are ignorant enough to find a similarity in this.

  • AndyS_OSU

    Xerox essentially LET Apple steal that technology. I’m pretty sure Apple paid a fee in order to view the mouse and GUI concepts. Secondly, Xerox had not patented those things at the time because they didn’t know how it was going to make their COPIERS better. The GUI Apple came up with was certainly inspired by what they saw at Xerox but didn’t resemble it at all by the time it went to market (and included a LOT more functionality). And lastly, Xerox didn’t sue Apple until well after the PC blew up with the public at large because they weren’t concerned about it when Apple first introduced it (since it didn’t resemble their functionality and they felt it wouldn’t matter in the long run)

  • patstar5

    I will go thermonuclear war with android. Apple has carried that on. Time to see android fall. They need something to stop the marketshare from rising. I don’t want all apple or all android. Don’t want just 2 operating systems to choose from for my phone. I want at least 3. Hope windows phone 8 will succeed. Might switch. People ain’t concern about android because of all the different skins that fragments it. They should be worry about android becoming an monopoly not Apple. I think that we will see a new global patent system coming out in the end. Google is trying to be everywhere. At least apple is trying to stop them. Hope they don’t target windows phone. It needs to succeed.

  • CALL_151

    OT, but as a writer you really should learn the difference between “affect” and “effect”, it’s not that hard. Hint- Kevin Krause got it right.

  • ddevito

    so sad that Apple’s only fight appears to be in the form of a courtroom, and those injunctions don’t even last.

    Don’t innovate. Litigate.

  • skiptv

    Apple Sucks, I used to be a Fanboy but now my Apple is rotten to the core. What happen to free market and competition. Apple has so lost their innovation. That the only way to stay ahead is with ridicules patents and patent lawsuit.

  • Ed_Kel

    so sad that Apple’s only fight appears to be in the form of a courtroom, and those injunctions don’t even last.

    Don’t innovate. Litigate.

    I get that you’re just another ignorant troll, but this is the dumbest thing heard yet.

  • Kenton Presbrey

    What Jack Purcher said is true. Apple was the first to invent the modern day touch screen smartphone.

  • Jack Gnasty

    “Why can’t Apple just compete?”

    I’m not quite sure what ‘compete’ means in this context… Developing new software, new designs, new interfaces, that’s all competing. The ‘competing’ is taking place constantly as new and updated products roll out. Companies who steal and copy, they are not competing. They are, well, stealing and copying.

    My case in point: So how many of you out there have ever had an idea stolen at work by another employee? Most of us have. Did you in turn go to your boss and seek to obtain rightful credit and recognition of your idea, aka LITIGATION? Or did you simply allow them to steal it and tell yourself you just better ‘compete’!?

    A lack of imagination and design ability is no excuse for allowing others to steal ideas. Apple’s success is also no excuse to allow others to steal ideas. Microsoft was able to come up with a completely unique ‘Metro’ interface for their phones. Android can too.

  • Yahrghrr

    Wait, why are people actually glad that this is happening? Companies copy from each other and Apple is no different at all. As awesome as iOS’ current UI is, it is not too far off from Palm’s design and there are numerous UI elements taken from Android e.g. the notifications curtain. I would rather have Apple focus on innovating rather than fighting it out in the courts because honestly, Android as an operating system is moving ahead of iOS with darn nice features like a fully capable notifications system, easy task switching and Google Now. Don’t forget, no competition = no innovation = customers lose. Even that applies to Apple.

  • Kentholio

    “Why can’t Apple just compete?”

    I’m not quite sure what ‘compete’ means in this context… Developing new software, new designs, new interfaces, that’s all competing. The ‘competing’ is taking place constantly as new and updated products roll out. Companies who steal and copy, they are not competing. They are, well, stealing and copying.

    My case in point: So how many of you out there have ever had an idea stolen at work by another employee? Most of us have. Did you in turn go to your boss and seek to obtain rightful credit and recognition of your idea, aka LITIGATION? Or did you simply allow them to steal it and tell yourself you just better ‘compete’!?

    A lack of imagination and design ability is no excuse for allowing others to steal ideas. Apple’s success is also no excuse to allow others to steal ideas. Microsoft was able to come up with a completely unique ‘Metro’ interface for their phones. Android can too.

    Do you really think that Android, and Apples interfaces are similar (Aside from Samsung, which was a complete rip off)? I don’t think they look similar at all, granted you could fill your home screens with icons, and make it look similar, but out of the box stock android does not look like ios.

  • Kentholio

    Prior to the iphone release, the Android team had a working blackberry style prototype, and an all touchscreen prototype. What Apple did, was demonstrate that the public was ready for such a device, something Android did not think was the case. So, Android is not quite the rip off that you think they might be.

    We all need to understand that we are consumers, not employees or shareholders of these companies. We need Android, Apple, and others to do well in this space. Competition is what drives innovation. It saddens me when people call for the death of Android, or Apple, or whoever. This country is in need of a patent approval overhaul..and I think this is just the type of patent to do it.

  • SevanGrim

    Steve Jobs swore upon the idea that all great ideas were stolen and tweaked … and now the company is best at blocking idea stealing.
    it only bothers me because it almost seems like Apple doesnt believe in themselves anymore. They are the largest individual portion of the market, and the most sought after, but they still would rather stop the opposition at the gate?]
    they are going to litigate themselves into a monopoly, and then the government will have to step in and shatter their business. i bet thats totally what Steve wanted…

  • dcj001

    OT, but as a writer you really should learn the difference between “affect” and “effect”, it’s not that hard. Hint- Kevin Krause got it right.

    You had a choice of emailing the author to suggest that he make corrections, or you could have posted a comment that publicly criticizes the author. The choice that you made says a lot about your character.

  • Victor Valentini

    1. If you guys read Steve Jobs biography, you’ll find out the truth before saying bull**** about Apple x Xerox, ok? Be curious and read it.

    2. I think Apple is right because the concept of smartphone, the actual UI on most smartphones was not “created”, but “conceived/inspired” by Apple. Other companies had copied most UI in small details – check S-Voice from Samsung and even Samsung Retail Store! Its the same! – Come on, inovation is not TO COPY but, as Jobs would say: “make/present the same think, differently” with creativity and simple way. That’s why Apple conquered a considerable share of the market with just FEW products! Besides, creativity ADDS VALUE, so more $$ for costs, profits, margins.

    3. So, Apple is right to claim its rights, however, as 5 years have passed, I think it’ll be difficult manage this issue…

  • Joseph_Jin

    There’s probably a lot of disagreement about what qualifies as an original design. Nothing under the sun is absolutely new, yet artists and designers have to protect and maintain basic ownership of their creations. Not exactly an environment where clarity can thrive.

    However, Apple’s actions would probably make a lot more sense if you stop thinking of them as being about innovation. I believe disruption is much more fundamental to their reason for being. Any so-called innovation on their part is likely to serve that higher purpose.

    You might not like that. You may even be right in not liking it. But you’d be mistaken to ignore it.

    As for me, I tend to respect Apple for this. A lot.

  • TheKnightWhoSaysNi

    Another BS software patent awarded by the incompetent USPTO.

  • shagans

    Xerox essentially LET Apple steal that technology. I’m pretty sure Apple paid a fee in order to view the mouse and GUI concepts. Secondly, Xerox had not patented those things at the time because they didn’t know how it was going to make their COPIERS better. The GUI Apple came up with was certainly inspired by what they saw at Xerox but didn’t resemble it at all by the time it went to market (and included a LOT more functionality). And lastly, Xerox didn’t sue Apple until well after the PC blew up with the public at large because they weren’t concerned about it when Apple first introduced it (since it didn’t resemble their functionality and they felt it wouldn’t matter in the long run)

    So you need to have a patent in order for it to be considered stealing? Granted I wasn’t there nor know the circumstances surrounding the design or how much was copied but if the design is almost identical, than stealing is stealing patent or no patent. ps, I am a huge Apple fan

  • mreine

    so sad that Apple’s only fight appears to be in the form of a courtroom, and those injunctions don’t even last.

    Don’t innovate. Litigate.

    Could not agree with you more. Apple is pure crap. Their OS sucks, their hardware sucks and their tactics suck.

  • Jack Gnasty

    Don’t forget, no competition = no innovation = customers lose. Even that applies to Apple.

    Right. You seem to be on both sides of the argument here… Copying is not competition. Copying is not Innovation. So why would patenting be a problem? According to your argument, patenting would spur more innovation and therefore make customers happier.

  • technochick

    Steve Jobs swore upon the idea that all great ideas were stolen and tweaked … and now the company is best at blocking idea stealing.

    Apple doesnt feel the other boys are stealing IDEAS but the expression of them. That’s an important difference

  • kramer_jk

    Apple can succeed on their own merits and the superior implementation of their designs. I don’t blame Apple for trying to get any patents it can get its hands on, but its a shame that this stuff is even patentable in the first place and that this kind of legal environment exists. This is what a forward thinking government would seek to eliminate to give the economy a free boost.

  • Christian Moesgaard

    This is just another case for why the US need to reform patents.

    The real innovation here is mutlitouch screens. The gestures, and thus the scrolling, are barely innovations. In the event that they can be considered innovations, I’d like to patent like 20 different “innovations” I made with my jailbroken iPad the other day.

    The rest of the iOS appearance really isn’t anything special. The gesture to scroll through lists is lifted wholesale from the mousewheel – invented on the PC market and not Apple’s, and the list view is, likewise, invented on the PC market and not on Apple’s devices. And don’t even get me started about on-screen keyboards.

    Heck, I remember a Microsoft presentation in 2002 showing off all of this stuff. Just about the only thing they hadn’t done was throwing the Windows UI out the window and making something with less menus and more buttons.

  • Michael Helsing

    Go away – fanboys. All of Apple’s anti-innovative and whiny efforts will in the end be – futile.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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