Apple Patents Rotary iPhone

from the there's-no-app-for-prior-art? dept

theodp writes "It took almost five years, but Apple now has a patent for its Telephone Interface for a Portable Communication Device, which essentially uses an iPod click wheel to emulate an old-school rotary phone dialer. The nine listed inventors of the Rotary iPhone include Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Guess the USPTO couldn't find any prior art for using a wheel interface to spit out numbers and letters!"


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    greg.fenton (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    iPatent

    Guess the USPTO couldn't find any prior art for "using a wheel interface to spit out numbers and letters..."
    But you forgot to add: "... on an iPhone."

     

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    identicon
    Don, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:00am

    What about the patent for their laptop?

    Is there a patent for this guy before someone else decides to make it?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BnLbv6QYcA

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:57am

      Re: What about the patent for their laptop?

      so instead of pressing 1 key 1 time to type a letter, i need to keep pressing 1 key half a dozen times to type that same letter? and that is an improvement?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:48am

    Unless it spins a mechanical device for making signalling interrupts on a copper wire phone line, it is something that has not been done before. Also, it isn't clear that you have to spin this, rather it is a positional number selection interface using a circular input device.

    It is actually pretty unique. I can't remember anyone doing it.

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:55am

      Re:

      "Unless it spins a mechanical device for making signalling interrupts on a copper wire phone line, it is something that has not been done before. Also, it isn't clear that you have to spin this, rather it is a positional number selection interface using a circular input device."

      Nice satire?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re:

        Nope, a statement of fact. Rotary dial requires a mechanical action, and equal mechanical work from the person operating the device.

        This appears to be a positioning system, which would be a very unique interface for a digital phone.

         

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          greg.fenton (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 11:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          But not a unique interface.
          _____ on a digital _____
          doesn't justify a patent.

           

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            ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 11:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Jeebus. The stupidity of patent examiners is the biggest hinderance to progress in this country.

            If the only distinction is "digital" it's frakin' obvious. I can imagine six digital things a day.

            Reject it, Patrick N. Edouard. And grow a damn pair while you're at it.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 11:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It would be a unique input method on a phone as well. I can't remember there being any phones with push buttons instead of rotary with the numbers and * and # keys done like this.

            It hasn't been done as mechanical device, and I don't remember seeing anything like it in a digital device. "on a digital device" is only an observation, not a requirement.

            It is actually a very interesting and ingenious use of a very limited input system. Maybe it has been done before, but I don't remember seeing it.

             

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            Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 3:02pm

            Re: doesn't justify a patent

            On the contrary, that seems to be exactly how patents work.

            * Develop a theory for representing sound waves in mathematical form that can be freely converted to different representations, e.g. acoustic, electrical—not patentable.
            * Build a machine that makes use of that theory—patentable.
            * Build an improvement on the original machine that makes use of that theory—patentable.
            * Take an old idea from analog mechanical devices and implement it on digital virtual ones—even more patentable.

            So the more fundamental and far-reaching your innovation is, the less patentable it is.

             

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          Chosen Reject, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 11:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          A positioning system much like onscreen keyboards you mean? Oh, but this is in a circle rather than the normal keypad layout so it's totally different I suppose.

           

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          The Baker, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 11:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Way back when they were coming out with push button phones,my mom bought a push button DTMF phone with the buttons arranged like a old rotary dial. You pressed the buttons, nothing moved. It would seem that this would take the same mechanical action of the user as pressing a virtual button on a iPhone. The mechanical action of a rotary phone was to actuate the pulse dialing mechanism, DTMF replaced this decades ago. Seems that there is plenty of prior art here.

          Who patented displaying a keyboard on a touch panel? Same thing!

           

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          MAtt, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          OK, but does this idea cover the software required to translate the input, or perhaps the design of showing the rotary phone interface? I don't think either should be patentable. Or does it cover a modification of the underlying electromechanical touch hardware? That would be deserving of a patent.

           

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      dev, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:27am

      Re:

      this is not new. it is essentially an implementation of a pie menu

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pie_menu

       

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    Freedom, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    Patent for "Magic"

    Yes, but on the iPhone you have "magic" that makes it work ...

    Seriously, if this is something that gets a patent, the patent office and defenders have lost all their moral standing.

    So let me see if I understand how this works, take something that already is common place, do it on the iPhone and get a patent? So does that mean if I wipe my a** with an iPhone, I can get a patent on that now as well? Hell, I'm pretty sure their isn't any publicly available prior-art to me wiping my a** so I might even have a better patent application ...

    Freedom

     

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    techturf (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    Perfect fit

    If this is made into a graphic version for the iPhone, I am sure it would be popular : since so many iphoners think their old-fashioned ringer ringtone is clever, they would love dialing with this.

     

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      techflaws.org (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 4:11am

      Re: Perfect fit

      Old-fashioned my a$$. These sounds are better than any darn shreeks from Lady Gaga, the Two-And-Half-Men intro or funny clips like "hey dude, pick up your phone".

       

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    JH, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    This looks VERY similar to the phone function of the Audi MMI interface circa 2007

    http://www.germancarforum.com/q7/2951-audi-q7-mmi-navigation-screen-shots.html

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:35am

    Do people really care about this? There is no iPhone with a click wheel. I assume back when they were first working on the iPhone, some people thought about having it just be an iPod with the clickwheel interface instead of a keypad or touch interface. This is probably the result.

     

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    Steve Bennett, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Still on At&t

    That "I phone" in the patent application must still be on At&t it only has 2 bars.

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    Monty Python Patent

    In the first place, I have an Innovision MAG 786PF computer monitor, manufactured in July 2002, which uses approximately the same system to set brightness, etc. Take it from me, it's a really dumb idea, whether on a computer monitor or an Ipod/Ipad/Iphone. On examining the patent language (below), the system would appear to be the same. However, that does not save it from being an artifact of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

    In the second place, will someone, anyone, please teach the Patent Office the first principles of structured programming? I find that I have to reformat claim text in order to understand it. At any rate, the critical Claim 1 would seem to be substantially anticipated by the MAG monitor interface.

    ===============================================================
    Claim 1, Patent 7,860,536, reformatted:

    1. A method, comprising:
    at a portable communication device
    having a display and a click wheel:

    detecting a first input on the click wheel;

    in response to detecting the first input:
    displaying a telephone user interface on the display,
    including a current image of a rotary dial,
    wherein the current image of the rotary dial
    provides visual clues
    as to the functionality of the click wheel
    for a current mode of operation;

    and entering a first mode of operation,
    wherein, in the first mode of operation,
    the current image of the rotary dial is a
    first image of the rotary dial
    including a plurality of icons
    arranged proximate
    to a periphery of the rotary dial,
    the plurality of icons include numbers,
    and
    there is an absolute angular relationship
    between
    respective contact points on the click wheel
    and
    corresponding icon positions on
    the first image of the rotary dial;

    detecting a second input on the click wheel;
    and in response to the second input,
    entering a second mode of operation
    distinct from the first mode of operation,
    wherein, in the second mode of operation,
    the current image of the rotary dial
    is a second image of the rotary dial
    including a different shading pattern
    than the first image of the rotary dial.

    =================================================================

    In the third place, I chose, while skipping and knocking two coconuts together, to sing comic songs about patent examiners Patrick N. Edouard and Shantell Heiber, comparing their intelligence unfavorably to that of a South American Llama. The Patent Office would work much better if it were run by "J. Fred Llama and forty South American Llamas."

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:39pm

    RE: Monty Python Patent

    Correction: In the third item, it should be "choose," present/conjectural tense, rather that "chose," past/completed tense. Also, Techdirt suppressed the whitespace formatting of the patent claim.

     

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    Francis, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 12:06am

    The Dymo labeler and subsequent digital Brother labelers had circular input devices, This could be used in obviousness at least. I think big companies are intimidating to examiners to they give them patents on lame things and then the examiners hassle solo inventors with real stuff.

     

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    Johnny, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 6:38am

    Apple should patent

    Apple should patent the business of selling people overpriced alarm clocks that don't always work and handheld phones that have no reception when held in your left hand.

    Now that is unique and hasn't been done before, especially not in one and the same overpriced device.

     

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    droo (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 5:29am

    Android app...

    I was planning on making an Android Application for a touch screen rotary dialler... I'm safe right?

     

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