…A federal agency ruled on Monday that a set of important features commonly found in smartphones are protected by an Apple patent, a decision that could force changes in how Google’s Android phones function….
…For example, the case decided Monday involves the technology that lets you tap your finger once on the touch screen to call a phone number that is written inside an e-mail or text message. It also involves the technology that allows you to schedule a calendar appointment, again with a single tap of the finger, for a date mentioned in an e-mail.
“Clicking” (tapping) on a phone number is a novel idea protected by an apple patent?
…Apple applied for one of the patents at issue in the HTC case — for detecting phone numbers and other forms of data — in 1996, 11 years before the iPhone was released….
I wonder if Skype is currently paying Apple royalties for use of essentially the same idea in their browser plugin, or if the patent is somehow unique to mobile, or to “tap” instead of “click”.
The routine granting of patents for techniques that would be obvious to any software engineer confronted with a particular context of technological ‘affordances’ is deeply harmful to software innovation, competition, and freedom.