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  • Apple Awarded Scroll Bar Patent, Effectively Gives Company Legal Nuclear Bomb



    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple a patent covering vertical and horizontal UI scroll bars.

    Yes. Apple has a patent on scroll bars.

    Patent No. 8,223,134 for “Portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents" covers the implementation of transparent and disappearing vertical scroll bars in essentially everything. These are the same bars that appear when scrolling any webpage, playlist, and any type of “digital document” that cannot be fully displayed on a screen at once.

    The USPTO awarded Apple the patent only four short months after Apple’s initial filing in March. Apple created the patent in order to better utilize the small screen real estate available on mobile devices.

    As portable electronic devices become more compact, and the number of functions performed by a given device increase, it has become a significant challenge to design a user interface that allows users to easily interact with a multifunction device. This challenge is particular significant for handheld portable devices, which have much smaller screens than desktop or laptop computers. — Apple
    The potential legal fallout from this new patent is substantial considering a court recently awarded Apple an injunction against the Galaxy Nexus for its search function. Nearly every touch-based smartphone utilizes the scroll bars covered in the patent.

    The USPTO just added a thermonuclear legal bomb to Apple’s arsenal.

    Source: Apple Insider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Awarded Scroll Bar Patent, Effectively Gives Company Legal Nuclear Bomb started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 43 Comments
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by fventura03 View Post
      does this mean, no one else can use scroll bars? or they just can't use the same shape?
      "covers the implementation of transparent and disappearing vertical scroll bars "

      They can't use the ones that disappear when done scrolling.
    1. dsg's Avatar
      dsg -
      it's a totally pathetic patent, end of!!!!!!
    1. GmAz's Avatar
      GmAz -
      What about all that time before this POS passed through that they existed? Die Apple DIE!
    1. mori's Avatar
      mori -
      Quote Originally Posted by lkailburn View Post
      Patent the telephone. Anything that makes a phone call.

      Ridiculous bs.

      -Luke
      i will patent the form a lung intake oxygen and exhales Co2, smile pay or die..lol
    1. myhargalan's Avatar
      myhargalan -
      Im gonna take **** and patent it so no one in the world can **** the way i do
    1. iPhoneThereforeIAm's Avatar
      iPhoneThereforeIAm -
      Quick! ... has anyone patented the wheel yet ?

      How TF are Apple getting these patents through ?

      If there is 'prior art' (ie - someone has previously invented it - but not patented it), surely the USPO has no legal grounds for granting the patent.

      Or is this patent simply for the code used for Apple scrollbars ... meaning that it only affects anyone wishing to use the same/very similar code ?
    1. dennder's Avatar
      dennder -
      Quote Originally Posted by GmAz View Post
      What about all that time before this POS passed through that they existed? Die Apple DIE!
      Oh come on. Patent office should die, not apple. The way i see it, apple may try to patent oxygen-hydrogen atmosphere, but those people at the patent office should be reasonable enough not to allow such bs.
      Still, patent for disappearing scrollbars... patent system is broken.
    1. iPhoneThereforeIAm's Avatar
      iPhoneThereforeIAm -
      Quote Originally Posted by dennder View Post
      Oh come on. Patent office should die, not apple. The way i see it, apple may try to patent oxygen-hydrogen atmosphere,


      ... scary atmosphere !
    1. thomaspeter's Avatar
      thomaspeter -
      If they just continue to award patents like this, and continued to fuel the already going battles, soon companies will start thinking outside the rules and regulations of the patents!

      As for this patent, I think it must be a reservation of this specific kind of scroll-bar and not general scrolling property or all scroll-bars, these are long time established companies using scroll bars, so the patent attorney must either be mistaken or it would be a patent for this specific and exact type of scroll-bars as I mentioned earlier!
    1. raptorjr's Avatar
      raptorjr -
      Why call it scrollbars? You cant use them to scroll. Page-view-position bars maybe.
    1. rocky5's Avatar
      rocky5 -
      So what if we don't make the scroll bar transparent & not fade out, but instead make it slide out of view until its needed again?
    1. thazsar's Avatar
      thazsar -
      Quote Originally Posted by raptorjr View Post
      Why call it scrollbars? You cant use them to scroll. Page-view-position bars maybe.
      +1
    1. CoronaDelux's Avatar
      CoronaDelux -
      These patents are getting pretty ridiculous. How do they even get passed and granted in the first place?
    1. znbl's Avatar
      znbl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cer0 View Post
      "covers the implementation of transparent and disappearing vertical scroll bars "

      They can't use the ones that disappear when done scrolling.
      I know I've seen disappearing scroll bars long before the iPhone came along (namely in certain web browsers, such as any Firefox, Mozilla, and Netscape (as far back as 2.02 / ~1994, as well as Opera, albeit usually not transparent (although some skins might provide a transparent effect.) There are other applications that have scroll bars that auto vanish when they aren't needed too. I sincerely hope the patent only applies to mobile devices, but regardless, this is precisely the sort of patent that never should be granted. No basic common element of a GUI should be patentable.
    1. unmystic's Avatar
      unmystic -
      I am going to pattent the letter "i" so when you type iPhone you gotta pay me..!! If they pattent a scroll bar, maybe i can pattent a letter :-)
    1. alanjf's Avatar
      alanjf -
      Quote Originally Posted by raptorjr View Post
      Why call it scrollbars? You cant use them to scroll. Page-view-position bars maybe.
      This is an excellent point, that a lot of us seemed to have missed. They aren't actually scroll bars. The user doesn't interact with them directly at all, they just reflect the current position as the user scrolls using their fingers on the page or list.
    1. tongxinshe's Avatar
      tongxinshe -
      I AM REALLY AMAZED HOW WE AMERICANS ARE EDUCATED BY THE SCIETY TO SPEAK (WRITE COMMENTS) BEFORE EVEN LISTENING (READING). Just look at all of the comments up there, 90% of them were written by people didn't ever finishing reading the short article!!!!!!
    1. znbl's Avatar
      znbl -
      Quote Originally Posted by alanjf View Post
      This is an excellent point, that a lot of us seemed to have missed. They aren't actually scroll bars. The user doesn't interact with them directly at all, they just reflect the current position as the user scrolls using their fingers on the page or list.
      Agreed, though there are many mouse-based interfaces that can also be scrolled using the keyboard, making the scroll-bar appear to move on it's own, but it is still an interface element the user can directly interact with, where as those in iOS are for feedback only, so I would agree that calling the latter a scroll bar is a misnomer and technically incorrect.
    1. brodimus's Avatar
      brodimus -
      Quote Originally Posted by tongxinshe View Post
      I AM REALLY AMAZED HOW WE AMERICANS ARE EDUCATED BY THE SCIETY TO SPEAK (WRITE COMMENTS) BEFORE EVEN LISTENING (READING).
      Irony.
    1. Breezer23's Avatar
      Breezer23 -
      Quote Originally Posted by fventura03 View Post
      does this mean, no one else can use scroll bars? or they just can't use the same shape?
      It isn't a scroll bar - it's just a page location identifier that disappears.

      Again, not an innovative feature.

      Secondly, I don't see this doing much for Apple. This is not a feature that people buy phones for not to mention it would be easy to work around. Google could just shrink it rather than make it disappear.

      "Sir, I'm really in need of a device that has a disappearing scroll bar. If you had one, I'd buy millions!"

      Comparing this to the universal search patent is ridiculous. Not even in the same ball park in regards to significance. Granted, I didn't buy a phone for universal search either.