Apple gains important multitouch patent from 1995

By , Jul 24, 2012

As Google is shifting gear and asserting that iPhone inventions should become broadly available to everyone, Apple is aggressively bolstering its patent portfolio pertaining to iOS software and multitouch user interface.

Just last week the company was awarded a Goliath of a patent that depicts the iPhone’s user interface in excruciating detail. Today, another patent grant has surface in the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s (USPTO) database that Apple bought from a Canadian inventor, pressumably for a significant fee…

Engadget first discovered today’s patent titled “Method for providing human input to a computer” that belongs to Timothy R. Pryor who originally filed it back in 1995. And this is in addition to another transfer of intellectual property which occurred in March 2010.

And how’s this 17-year-old invention worth to Apple?

You’ll be surprised to learn that Canada-born Pryor envisioned basic multi-touch controls. It’s broadly conceived and offers a range of possible applications beyond the independent claims, including an aircraft cockpit or vehicle display.

As detailed in the patent’s claims, that includes controlling a virtual object on a screen with two simultaneous touch inputs, as well as virtual controllers displayed on the screen that can also respond to touch input. The patent also describes responses to touch input, including both visual and force feedback cues.

And this is a summary from Apple’s patent application:

The invention provides a method for providing human input to a computer which allows a user to interact with a display connected to the computer. The method includes the steps of placing a first target on a first portion of the user’s body, using an electro-optical sensing means, sensing data related to the location of the first target and data related to the location of a second portion of the user’s body, the first and second portions of the user’s body being movable relative to each other, providing an output of the electro-optical sensing means to the input of the computer, determining the location of the first target and the location of the second portion of the user’s body, and varying the output of the computer to the display based upon the determined locations for contemporaneous viewing by the user.

Apple, of course, has not commented publicly on the deal with Pryor yet and likely won’t, even if this patent proves a solid proof that the transaction took place.


Apple is patenting touch features of iOS left and right.

Apple’s late co-founder exclaimed “boy, have we patented it” at the January 2007 iPhone introduction and we’re seeing the prophecy come true, especially in past twelve months.

In my view, Apple is seeking to bolster its patent portfolio in order to extract high royalty fees from Samsung and other Android backers.

I think a settlement of sorts could be in the cards, though Apple may want to leverage them to prevent Google from copying iOS user interface features with Android.

Your take?

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  • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

    In other word the rest of the touch screen phone makers are screwed … Now show apple your money ..and I think they’ll have to pay up because of the devices out there at the mo..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

    So basically any product whatsoever that has “multi-touch” has to be licensed through Apple now, and any product with multi-touch is also going to get banned? That’s my take on this. I’m sorry, but I’m going with Google that *some* of Apple’s patents are things that should be standardized, and multi-touch is one of them.

    • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

      I don’t think any product that has multitouch .. I had a car stereo that had multitouch back back in 92/93… I think it’s more on how the multitouch is used on the device… Swipes and how you can zoom in/out..

    • http://www.facebook.com/jerrod.banks Jerrod IBanks Banks

      Why should it be? It was a new technology created. Because it became so popular doesn’t mean it should become a standard. The best selling CD in the world didn’t become a standard for music making because it was popular and it didn’t allow other people to use the beat of those tracks on the CD to become an standard, people had to pay to sample that track and use it for commercial use.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        Yes, but they were still allowed to use the “compact disc” is was made on. The problem here is the technology has been around forever, and almost every single device today has “multi-touch” built-in. Every “standard” technology was, at one time, new and patented. It’s time something that IS a standard and *expected* in devices to become standardized, and to throw these stupid patent grabs out.

  • http://twitter.com/oo7plasma Brandon

    i keep hearing the argument of “oh its so essential to have multi touch on a phone”. Last time i checked, there weren’t any multitouch phones out on the market before the iphone, Apple innovated. If they can, so can HTC, Google, Blackberry and whoever the hell makes phones nowadays lol.

  • http://twitter.com/purpledodi Jens Tinnerholm

    This is just hilarius. Anyone got patent on whiping their butts with toilett paper? If not then im taking it. Then i will be just as rich as apple. If not more…

    On a more serius side. I think that in the end every phone manufacturer will bail on the usa market if this is how its going to be in the future. Apple getting patents on basic features which will result in monopoly. It will only hurt the americans in the end with a less satisfactory mobile market with limited choices.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1016087499 Ruud Dé Brûíñ

    Anyway, Apple has a point here. Those arguing that every mobile device has now ‘touch’ and saying it’s ‘an essential industry patent’ have a very short memory. My earlier smartphones BB, HTC and Nokia had all keys or/and a stick. Androids didn’t exist. So Apple iOS was the first. I even remember back then ‘analysts’ predicted it being a ‘dead end’. So before making silly comments better look at the facts first.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jerrod.banks Jerrod IBanks Banks

      Exactly. The touchscreen used on my T-Mobile MDA could have been used on the existing Android devices. I’m sure they would have had to license that technology from somewhere as well.

    • imaginarynumber

      Erm my 2004 HTC BlueAngel had a touch screen (same size as an iphone’s screen), as did all of my smartphones from that point onwards.

      Not sure that I need to look at the facts- I can just look at the phone and the receipt…