Remember the story about how Apple was stealing a third-party app developer’s work and patenting it?
At the time, I explained in a long post that the patent was nothing to do with FutureTap’s excellent WhereTo? application. And, after consulting a patent lawyer who managed to get in touch with Apple’s patent lawyers, that’s exactly how it’s panned out. In a post on their blog, FutureTap’s Ortwin Gentz quotes Apple’s senior patent counsel, Anand Sethuraman:
“The patent application in question does not claim as inventive the pictured user interface nor the general concept of an integrated travel services application. We appreciate your taking time out to discuss the matter and will keep you updated.”
So there you have it. This was a long-way from the “evul Apple!” that many sites went for – but, as I said at the time, this says more about how Apple is currently perceived than its actual behaviour.
Patents are hard to understand. If any government wants to reduce the costs of running a business quickly and easily, it should revamp the system of patents to make them easy for people who aren’t lawyers to read, and harder to actually get in the first place.
So it’s no surprise that there’s been a massive amount of misreading of Apple’s patent application on “Systems and methods for accessing travel services using a portable electronic device”. What’s made it easier to misread is Apple’s – frankly stupid – use of FutureTap‘s interface for its excellent Where To? application in the descriptive part of the patent. FutureTap, understandably, are miffed because it looks like Apple is trying to steal their ideas.
And the coverage on the back of it follows suit. John Brownlee at Cult of Mac titled his “Apple submits software patent for other developer’s app, including title and design“. Om Malik at GigaOm (probably my favourite tech site) was so astounded by what he thinks Apple is doing he had to preface his post title with “Not a joke“. Continue reading