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Scary Smartphone Motion Control Patent Granted 163

An anonymous reader writes "On March 16th, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a very broad patent on motion control in computing devices, one that seems to cover any smartphone that uses a built-in accelerometer. It was filed in July 2006 and preceded by a nearly identical patent granted in 2004 after a 2001 application. So it predates many of today's popular smartphones — the iPhone, the DROID, the Nexus One, etc. What will happen if the company that owns the patent asserts it?"
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Scary Smartphone Motion Control Patent Granted

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  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @11:54AM (#31598714)
    Exactly right. Could at least the editors read the claims before posting nonsense like "cover any smartphone with built-in accelerometer"? This patent is not overly broad in any sense. It may be obvious - accelerometers are known, forward-back mousgestures are known, so the combination might lead the man skilled in the art to the subject matter of claim 1, but this patent in no way threatens "any smartphone".
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @11:56AM (#31598754) Journal
    How so? It's more likely that Apple & Co will just pay that company.

    Especially if that company doesn't make a single thing (except lawsuits), and thus infringes on zero patents.

    How's that for patents encouraging innovation...
  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @12:10PM (#31599004)
    Unfortunately, algorithms are often dictated by mathematical properties of the world we are living in. When two people solve the same mathematical problem, it's not all too surprising that they tend to arrive at the same solution.
  • by kawabago ( 551139 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @12:40PM (#31599468)
    I don't understand why when one person invents the wheel, someone else can 'invent' rolling it. Isn't rolling the wheel inherent to the invention of the wheel?
  • by gilgongo ( 57446 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @01:44PM (#31600498) Homepage Journal

    Because algorithms just get plucked out of thin air, right?


    "I think algorithms are difficult to create. Anything that's difficult to create and used to make money needs protecting by patent. Therefore, software and business methods patents are legitimate."

    Because the US patent system is perfect, right?

    Listen - I don't disagree that algorithms are difficult to create. But if you're going to argue that position to legitimise their patentability, at least provide a means by which patent trolling can be avoided. I think you find you can't. Moreover, not being able to prevent such trolling does far more damage to the economy and creativity overall than simply disallowing software patents (as they do in Europe).

  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @01:51PM (#31600610)
    Note that the claim defines a "complementary threshold" for the forward and reverse motion respectively. So it already claims two thresholds which may, or may be not identical. Contrary to popular belief, the language of claims is actually quite precise and not made for obfuscation. It might seem obfuscated at the first glance, but so would a "Hello World" program in C to someone who only knows BASIC: "What the fuck is all this int main... crap about when a simple 10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD" would do?". You gotta learn the language.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @01:59PM (#31600754) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like an impact sensor, and a measurement of how hard the impact was. Like an airbag impact sensor (ball bearing, ramp, magnets, contacts) but using an accelerometer and software.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @06:54PM (#31605022)

    Well, the person who invented it get a bunch of royalties or a large sum for the patent, and are encouraged to innovate more.

    There is a massive difference between "innovating" just enough to put together a patent and making an actual working product that takes advantage of your "innovation". If all you do is sit around "thinkin' s*** up" and filing patents, then you are not adding value to society. If you try to monetize those patents using litigation, then you are a patent troll and a drain on society.

    Think of it this way: Do you think that Apple or anyone else came across this patent and then said "holy crap! let's use that for our new cell phone!" OR do you think it is possible that their engineers came up with the same solution as whoever wrote this patent?

    Imagine that, two different people independently coming up with similar solutions to the same problem! Does the first to file a patent deserve compensation from the second (who actually took their idea to a real product)? The patent-holder didn't assist the product maker in any way... so why do they deserve compensation? WHAT VALUE DID THEY ADD???

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