Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Google Co-Founder on Pulling out of China: 'It Was a Real Step Backward' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

There is an old rule in the stock market and that is that NO ONE is bigger than the market. That also applies to China and we hope their leadership ultimately understands that. But Google is subject to this rule too.

Google Co-Founder on Pulling out of China: 'It Was a Real Step Backward' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
"Last week, Google announced it would withdraw its Chinese operations from Beijing and instead serve the market from freer Hong Kong. The Internet giant's co-founder, Sergey Brin, 36, discusses his company's troubles in China and its controversial decision to pull up stakes and leave."

Sweden tops IT economy ranking - The Local

Sweden tops IT economy ranking - The Local

World Diplomacy : Let's Try Dancing

Where The Hell Is Matt?

Don't Touch! Apple Sues HTC for Infringement of its Multi-touch Patent : The Prior Art of "Open Sesame" : The Patenting of Human Gestures?

Don't shake your finger at Steve Jobs or the people at Apple if you are standing too close to a non-Apple touchscreen device or they may sue you for infringement of their "multi-touch" gesture patent.

Not only has Apple sued HTC for patent infringement of its "gesture patent" but it has also petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission to block imports of HTC devices, based on various patent infringement claims. The motive? Given the gouging price being charged by Apple for iPhones, you do not want any substantially lower price competition offering similar technology.

Apple is apparently on a high from the recent patent grant by the USPTO of an overly broad patent in the case of US Patent 7,663,607, which granted a patent for capacitative sensing as follows:
"A touch panel having a transparent capacitive sensing medium configured to detect multiple touches or near touches that occur at the same time and at distinct locations in the plane of the touch panel and to produce distinct signals representative of the location of the touches on the plane of the touch panel for each of the multiple touches is disclosed. 
Not much room left for competition there, is there?
DON'T TOUCH! That is Apple's message to the competition.

Capacitive sensing, on the other hand, contrary to all the noise being made by Apple, precedes Apple in technology by many years. Larry K. Baxter in Capacitative Sensors: Design and Applications, wrote in the year 1997 - 7 years before Apples filing of its "multi-touch" patent that:
"Capacitative sensors can solve many different types of sensing and measurement problems. They can be integrated into a printed circuit board or a microchip and offer non-contact sensing with nearly infinite resolution. They are used for rotary and linear position encoding, liquid level sensing, touch sensing, sensitive micrometers, digital carpenter's levels, keyswitches, light switches and proximity detection. Your telephone and tape recorder probably use electret microphones with capacitative sensing, and your car's airbag may be deployed by a silicon accelerometer which uses capacitive sensing. The use of capacitative sensors is increasing rapidly as designers discover their virtues."
Is the Apple "invention" obvious? To a large degree, yes, and only to a small degree, no - i.e. that part which is its particular "technical" solution - but Apple is not content to take its small share of the capacitative sensing pie in the small gadgets market. Rather, it wants it all, or as much as it can get. Indeed, companies appear to have taken the option of trying to patent entire technologies, not just the specific product they have invented. Why compete in tough markets when erroneously granted patents will give you monopolies that "overcapacitated" (pun) judges will affirm?

We posted on this topic previously at Aladdin and the Magic Lamp : Patents for Human Motion? The Proprietary Pinch : Apple Filing Multitouch Patent and Trademark Applications.

Applause now is due to Farhad Manjoo at Slate.com for his "Patently Stupid: Apple's multitouch lawsuit is both dumb and dangerous."

He has saved us from further ranting and raving at length about erroneously granted patent 7,479,949, issued on January 20, 2009 by the USPTO to Apple  for "multi-touch" touchscreen technology - impossibly patenting human motion regarding an instinctive hand and finger movement which has been used as a symbol for "opening"  things already for millennia, of which "open sesame!" comes quickly to mind. The patent reads:
"A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items. "
Apple borrowed that finger motion from humanity and from prior art - not vice versa.

Apple should be allowed to patent their iPhone but not the human motion associated with command of that gadget by human hand and  finger movements.

Those intuitive hand and finger motions belong to the humanity of the users - not to the gadget industry.

Indeed, research shows that these gestures are already "hardwired" into humanity, so that it is a particular offense to all of us for anyone to lay claim to a patent on any of them, in any way, shape or form. It is an even worse offense for any legislator or judge to assign a right to any of   them to 3rd parties by the power of their office.

The time has come for the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit and all of the other judges out there to point out clearly and unmistakably that patents apply to the thing invented, i.e. the specific product, and not to the human means by which machines of any kind are operated, as if steering wheels could be patented based on the human motion required to turn them, or gas pedals and brakes on the manner in which the feet are to move.

Read more voices about the Apple Patent Infringement action against HTC:

Mark Hachman
at PCMag.com - Apple-HTC Suit Cites Multitouch, Gesture Patent

Gizmodo -
Apple Sues HTC For Infringing On 20 iPhone Patents: The Complete Documents

We close with the legal question of the month: is a two-punch KO a patent infringement of Apple's multi-touch patent if it occurs next to an infringing device that picks up the vibes?

How about the soft touch of the fingers on skin on a sunny afternoon near an infringing device?

Apple, get a life [Get a life! - "standard way of suggesting that someone has succumbed to terminal geekdom".]

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