Multi-Touch Patents, You Belong to Apple Now

Steve Jobs: Architect of the iPhone

What was once but an administrative possibility has become the most sublime of legal certainties: Apple has been granted the multi-touch patents.

Credited to the one, Steve Jobs, and the many, Scott Forstall and the iPhone team, the news patents are simultaneously as wide ranging as they are specifically crafted towards the implementation of one or many fingers interacting on the screen in a mobile device, with the most subtle of heuristic interpretations.

Apropos the heretofore mentioned anomaly; ergo Palm Pre's exacting duplication of the iPhone's multi-touch gestures and behavioral interactions and Apple's deliberately obscure threats in their direction, these new patents provide a single, potentially catastrophic result of a singular equation: Apple has grounds to sue.

Vis a vis Palm's own far-reaching patent portfolio in the mobile space: these remain a perplexing, perhaps equation changing variable. Through one door, a cross licensing agreement. Through the other, years if not decades of litigation.

In sum, the situation remains predictably uncertain.

(Thanks to David, Chad, and everyone who sent this in!)

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Multi-Touch Patents, You Belong to Apple Now

45 Comments

finally that shameless copy of the iphone that will remain nameless will have to be redone maybe they can do something original

nratoepreotyfmces on September 25, 2011 omg the sauve thing was so corny lol but hey its 2 free products so ill do it. i love your channel and facebook and site so great! im kat elliott on facebook it really would be great to have a forum and your site would be perfect for that

Yeaaaaah, so that scene in the Matrix reloaded was just one of many things that ruined that franchise, but goddamn is it also somerthing that makes blogs hard to read when they're trying to be funny. Do your editors impose a word count? Was "Apple already have the patents to pummel the Pre into oblivion" not enough?
You want everyone to start hating this blog as much as we hate the Matrix sequels?

yeah the matrix pic is a lil much how bout a simple pic of jobs when he was joking about "boy have we patented it"

And someone on this site is power tripping, 5 of my e-mail addresses have been banned and i dont even comment that often

@iAirmanshirk We don't typically ban email addresses in blog comments, let me know what the problem you're having is (i.e. what error message do get) and we'll look into it. Feel free to email me directly: news (at) tipb (dot) com.

Even if Apple has the right to sue I hope they don't. In my opinion the pre is by far the most exciting phone to come out since the iPhone. My hope is it pushes apple to rip off some of it's great features in the next iteration of the iPhone.

IMHO Apple wont be anle to any better product, patent or not. Multi-touch is Pre's only one of the many iPhone beating features, time spent on bettering products is much preferable than it being in court rooms Mr. Jobs! You have all it takes to beat the Pre, work on it!

Muriness1 on December 28, 2008 THANK YOU!! People rethar throw their past in their face when they are CLEARLY Improving and growing every day

if palm is forced not to use multi touch... couldn't this delay the pre's release for a sufficent amount of time? we all know that palm and sprint need this device out asap...

Yes, there will b a delay, palm could well to that feature and do a timely release. Hopefully once the dust settles the feature can be added thru an update!

yeah ... so as long as the multi touch feature could be added via update ... so it shouldent be catastrophic for palm and sprint... maybe they will be able to trade patents.... hopfully this will all be straitened out in Barcelona next month

Has Handango got any meadcil software for the Android? I just did a search for meadcil software for the T-Mo G1 as the selected device and I got a There are currently no Medical products available at this time message.

I wish... I wish, people who write these articles will do their homework. The patent Apple allied for is "A" form of multi-touch. There are several forms of multi-touch, the Pre does NOT use the same multi-touch screen as the iphone. Cypress Semiconductor is the designer of the multi-touch screen on the Palm Pre, they have been making touch screens for years.
The Palm Pre uses Projected Capacitive,
This method senses finger position on a sensor from the electric field projected through a substrate. It is typically implemented with one or more patterned ITO layers, applied to one or more transparent substrates. Projected capacitive is very durable, because users touch the top of a glass or plastic substrate, while the ITO layers are protected below. Coordinates are calculated from measuring signals off patterned ITO with a deterministic position. This makes projected sensing more accurate and repeatable than other capacitive sensing methods. Projected capacitive controllers generally require more sensing input pins for larger screens. In practical terms, they are limited to approximately a 10” diagonal screen for single chip solutions. Alternative solutions using multiple controller ICs or unique ITO patterning are also possible.
The iphone uses plain o'l Capacitive,
Which is coated with a material, typically indium tin oxide, that conducts a continuous electrical current across the sensor.[4][5] The sensor therefore exhibits a precisely controlled field of stored electrons in both the horizontal and vertical axes - it achieves capacitance.
Projected Capacitance is more accurate!

@Informed: that does not mean Palm did not steal the gestures Apple uses for multi-touch, unless Palm had been using these gestures for years. Wait a sec, they haven't!!!

btw, I did some research and all the resources I came across were saying that because the iPhone is using Projected Capacitive, different multi-touch screen manufacturers such as Synaptics started producing Projected Capacitive screens for other phone manufacturers to compete with Apple. Before the iPhone was released, Synapics and other manufacturers were recommending Resistive Capacitive (or what you call plain o'l Capacitive).
Please provide a source to support your claims that the Pre uses "better" multi-touch screen than the iPhone.

Sorry for triple posting (there is no edit), but this keeps getting better and better.
I did find your source: Palm WebOS Blog? really? so much for an honest "homework". Besides, even the that blog posting, they did not mention the iPhone. All they claimed is that the Pre uses technology "best in class".
Therefore, I wish... I wish, people who come here posting pretending to have a clue to actually show some respect for the article writers because they do know what they are talking about.
So much for your "credibility".
btw, any1 want to check the source, it's here: http://palmwebosblog.com/tag/multi-touch/

If apple sues over this I will NEVER buy anything that's made by apple ever again. Multi-touch should not be able to be patented, thats just ridiculous. I had the iphone for a while and it had the potential to be a great phone, but apple is too lazy to make the changes that would actually make it a "smart" phone. All the little crap that it can't do that 5+ year old phones can do is ridiculous. And not being able to remove the battery is its biggest fault, idk about you guys but i like my phone to last more than 4 hours. So now apple is just going to sue it's competition to remain the dominant touch screen phone. If they haven't patented touch screen they might as well, because touchscreen phones are absolute garbage without multi-touch.

I gotta say, while I like my iPhone and all that, how can apple sue palm given the iPhone looks exactly like fricken 10 year old palm OS (Garnet, that is) with better res and transitions?seriously.
I like the interface but it sure did borrow a lot from other sources, to say the least. And borrow is a kind word.

about time for mighty APPLE to rift the benefits of their hardwork and investment. Hope this will give some iclonic companies pause to think their strategy to compete with the JESUS PHONE. Back to the drawing board PALM. CONGRATULATIONS TO APPLE AND THEIR DEDICATED HARDWORKING TEAM.

@M. Elwan
Credibility?! You're saying I am disrespecting the writers when there is zero objectivity and a BIAS in their article? Please! You found Palm webOS good for you, what is your argument? In that Blog you should have learned that the iphone and the Pre DO-NOT use the same screen.
I want to make a correction, the Palm Pre uses True-Touch Capacitive multi-touch
http://download.cypress.com/truetouch/CY8CTMG110.pdf
Also, since you're implying Palm "stole" gestures from the iphone, let's see the evidence you have!
Here are patents that were given before Apple, just to name a few:
US Patent 6492979 - Dual sensor touchscreen utilizing projective-capacitive and force touch Issued on December 10, 2002
US Patent 6297811 - Projective capacitive touchscreen Issued on October 2, 2001

Lets stop arguing guys. Let the court decides the case. I guess, Ex Apple guys brought the technogy to Palm.

@ Steve Jobs: thanx for sharing that article. It's dated back to Jun 6th and it says the Nano G4 will use that screen as well. So, the "upcoming iPhone" is indeed the iPhone 3G (since the 3G wasn't out till Jun 11th if I remember correctly).
@ Informed: TrueTouch is a form of Projected Capacitive, not a whole new technology. The only difference is that TrueTouch is optimized for specific screen size that the Pre uses. If you check the comparison chart on WebOS's blog, you will see that the Projected Capacitive is listed as the ultimate quality.
My argument remains valid regarding the patents you posted; these patents represent the technical side (same argument in your original post). They do NOT address the multi-touch gestures such as pinching (for zooming) and many more.

@M. Elwan
I am well aware the Pre uses TrueTouch Projective Capacitive, my point is the iphone does not. You saying the Pre is using an "optimized" version of TrueTouch makes no sense, last I checked the Pre's touch screen has not been designed before. As for the patents, if you check you will see that a dual sensor basically means multi-touch. As for pinch/zoom, once this is challenge in the courts Apples so-called patent will be thrown out. It is much easier filing for a patent, defending it is much-much tougher. If Apple chooses to sue Palm or whom ever else this will drag on for years, in the mean time the Pre will get free publicity/advertisement.

My point regarding optimization was taken from your source, WebOS's blog: "Palm Pre will most likely use the Cypress’ TrueTouch Touchscreen Solution CY8CTMG110-32LTXI which is a capacitive touchscreen controller optimised for screens up to 4.3 inches in size." And then it goes on saying how the Projected Capacitive is superior when compared to Resistive and Surface. My point is that the iPhone uses Projected which is among the best in it's class. You were claiming it uses "Plain o'l capacitive", remember?

Your point about the geek etnnrtaiement value of this story is what stands out to me. I was more interested in the next development of this story than anything I might have missed on TV in the last three days.

Cargo1273 on October 2, 2007 I bghout one like this one 3-days ago in Gold Mist with Cocoa and Light Cashmere leather to match my 2008 Black Raven Escalade. Awesome ride. The only complaint I have about it is the navigation and/or the software seems to be defective, everytime I start the engine I have to press the damn OK disclaimer in order to use the navigation., plus on top of that, the voice prompts are either late or too early., sometimes it doesn't even give the correct directions at all.

Either case, you have to admit the patent Apple was granted does not cover Cypress Semiconductor multi-touch/pinch/zoom technology. Although the ideas in the Palm Pre and the iphones multi-touch may have some similarities the technologies do not have the same design. TV manufacturers tried unsuccessfully to make the argument one was stealing from the other, if thee original TV manufacturer had been successful we would all be using/buying the same TV-Set. Same holds true for most electronics.

Good good, I can buy ahneotr unused 3GS for 100 pounds or so (got a 32gb when the 4S was announced!) . There are plenty out there and the more obsolete' the warehouses think they are the better.

Hello, i came to this blog even though looking for something else, but to my joy i discovered this internet site. Keep doing what you are performing, its great.

dnsraipbrieg on October 20, 2011 The Twilight Game would be awesome! You could play as sall the different vampires (Edward as the main character) and while you venture through the game, you find out about the secrets of the vampires, and battle some werewolves, Carnivores, Etc.The battling could be RPG Based, like final fantasy.or proper real-time combat like the Matrix.and you could have various missions on it for example: Kill 50 Werewolves in 3 Minutes.The game too could be combined with the movie clips.