Not to belabour the case against software patents, but as a newly converted follower of the Cult of Mac I found this one quite interesting. Apple has been sued by small web developer EMG Technology for infringement of its patent protecting an “apparatus and method of manipulating a region on a wireless device screen for viewing, zooming and scrolling internet content” (US Patent 7,441,196). No prizes will be awarded for guessing where the suit was filed.
The abstract reads:
“A method and apparatus of simplified navigation. A web page is provided having a link to a sister site. The sister site facilitates simplified navigation. Pages from the sister site are served responsive to actuation of the sister site link. In one embodiment, the sister site includes matrix pages to permit matrix navigation.”
Let me see, so this patent covers any sort of navigation simplified for mobile devices, and was filed in March 2000. I guess the examiners missed that the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) was first established in 1997. Or perhaps they also missed that in that same year Openwave had a functional HDML browser for AT&T handsets. Or they also missed that Microsoft has had its Microsoft Mobile Explorer since 1999, from technology developed also in 1997.
Let me get my patent troll detection kit:
- Exceptionally broad and obvious claim (check).
- Small company, (check)
- with suspiciously empty website (check).
- Patent application filed around 1999-2000 (check).
- Plenty of prior art (check)
Seriously, who examines these applications anyway? Don’t they have Google?