The software patent system is totally askew. We need to look no further to see this than the recent news that Apple was granted a patent on sliding to unlock a mobile device. (Edit: It actually was granted back in February, but the case pinged again, and so we're all revisiting it.) It's bad enough that a governing body somewhere actually believes that you or I aren't smart enough to come to the natural conclusion on our own (that's basically what a patent means -- it's a unique idea or process), but the fact that it existed on an old Windows CE device in 2005 was totally overlooked.
I present the Neonode N1m, as reviewed by none other than Tnkgrl.
Jump to 4:00 if you're impatient. Now you might ask two things -- why was this patent granted, and does "prior art" really mean anything? The first is an easy answer, the folks who granted the patent probably never heard of the Neonode N1m (but I'm sure Apple did). You can't blame them if they didn't know, even if they should have. The second question is a bit more tricky. Usually, if prior art can be proven, a patent is invalidated. Proven is a tough word that means more than one thing to different people. It should be easy to interpret, but that's not how the legal system in the US works.
It did work as expected in the Netherlands though, and Samsung has already brought the lowly Neonode N1m in front of the court there -- and had Apple's claims over slide to unlock determined to be "trivial and likely invalid", and the court refused to consider them. I'm sure HTC and Motorola, who are being sued over multiple gesture patents in the US, already have this particular Youtube video bookmarked. If this patent stands, we all should just go back to this.
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