Adding A Second Touchscreen Is Patentable?

from the in-what-world? dept

It really has become somewhat ridiculous when you look at what some companies figure is patentable these days. Engadget points us to a newly published patent application from Apple for a “Hand held electronic device with multiple touch sensing devices.” While plenty of sites scour these types of patents to get a better feel for new Apple products, this really looks like a ridiculous patent. The “innovation” in the application is simply the idea that you would add a second touch sensor to a handheld device, rather than just a single sensor. Yes, that seems to be the grand total of the invention, and it’s designed to cover any such device that happens to include a second touch sensor — because, clearly, without this patent, no one would ever independently think of adding a second touch sensor to a device. Again, since it’s just an application, we can hope it’s rejected. But, the ease of getting patents these days encourages companies to apply for such patents on ridiculously obvious ideas.

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Comments on “Adding A Second Touchscreen Is Patentable?”

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AJ says:


I would like to see an article one day explaining that the patent office has realized how stupid their system is and see them post a detailed plan restoring said system to actually accomplish what it was designed to do. I know I may be dreaming, but eventually, with enough bashing, they’ve got to come to their senses. Or am I dreaming?

thisGuy says:

Re: when

This is a government office, asking them to think is too much. The war on drugs hasn’t ever worked but they’re still fighting “the good fight”. I hate to say it, but our government can be much like a spoiled stuborn child, resistent to change.

PS. Are we getting out of Iraq soon? Oh no, the government still thinks it was the right thing to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: when

PS. Are we getting out of Iraq soon? Oh no, the government still thinks it was the right thing to do

Nononono, noone in the gov’t thinks it was the right thing to do. Every one of them is well aware it was the perfectly wrong thing to do.

But they can’t actually admit that. Think of the worldwide repurcussions from that. People might actually respect us. We can’t have that. We MUST continue to say that it was a good idea, but just “harder than we thought it would be”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: re: when

Common sense might not be patentable.. BUT

“A team of indivuals evaluating submitted ideas for uniqueness with the aid of a computer system” is.

If the patent holder refuses to license this “technology” to the patent office, then they can’t use computers. Or at least, in the world according to the patent legislation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Apparently, people only read the title of a patent

Have people actualy read the patent? The claim is not “has two touch screens”. It rests a large part in identifying the user and configuring the device based on the user (see claim #34). It identifies which hand the user is using, which user it is and the settings for that user.

Once again, this is not simply “two touch screens” being patented.

Proxy318 says:


Apple makes mice with more than one button. Sort of. The “mighty mouse”, which is just an un-ergonomic as their previous mice, has right and left sensors that can be configured to right and left click (though by default they’re both configured for left click. You know, so as not to confuse people). And it only costs 3x what a normal 2 button + scroll wheel mouse costs.

Susheel M. Daswani (user link) says:

Read the Patent

Neither Mike nor the “Anonymous Coward” above gives whole story. One of the claims (#1) is for a device with two touchscreens, whereas another (#34) claims determing users based on how the two screens are touched. The first claim is definitely too broad – expect it to get rejected. I am not sure about the second claim though – I’d need to look at the disclosure more fully to get a better idea of its legitimacy.

But Mike is right – the PTO has not done a good job with patent quality, so inventors will try to claim as broadly as possible in order to get a strong property right. Then again, it is the job of any good patent prosecutor to try to claim as much as possible for their client.

Mark Hopkins (user link) says:

I'm not sure, but it is hard...

I’m not sure if it’s patentable, but it is extremely difficult to do with off the shelf os’s and hardware.

I recently designed a handheld last year designed to work with mutiple touch-sensors and touch screens, and it was a PAIN IN THE ASS getting them to work with any OS at all.

If it had been my idea, and didn’t belong to the company I contracted for, I might have been inclined to patent my technique. It’s not an obvious thing to be able to do. It requires a good deal of engineering. Trust me.

Brad says:

Re: I'm not sure, but it is hard...

This isn’t that hard to do. Windows handles it just fine.

I can run up to 8 seporate monitors (with suitable graphics cards and multiplexers) and the standard touchkit software package supports each independantly, or with a slight tweak they can be used in conjunction.

I outfitted a car with two computers and six monitors, four of which were touch screens. The drivers had absolutely no difficulty understanding the multiple screens.

Doing it on a small, embedded device is different, but some of the images in that patent seem downright laptop sized.

As an aside: I agree with the request to keep mild political gripes (and off-topic jabs at unrealted companies) off the boards. We’re talking about Apple and it’s use (and enforcement) of absurd patents. What’s that got to do with Bill Gates, who runs neither MS nor it’s patent arm? Learn first, speak second.

Fallen says:

Arrggg Defending Apple

As Much as i hate to do it apple is not patenting two touch screens i believe the original plan as it was layed out about a year ago was to have access on a touch screen say a tablet PC so you could touch one point and then move another by touching another spot at the same much like the desk in the movie “the Island” where he moves stuff around at two points on the desk at the same time.

Anonymous Coward says:

#37 and #39 are what I was thinking. Just look at how many times apple has been sued for the iPod and the ammount of times they settled on other bad patents. Apple probably has to make sure every new concept is patetened by them, so thier continues sucess does not continue to be the ‘backup buisness plan’ of failing buisnesses with broad patents.

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