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Yahoo Patents 'Smart' Drag and Drop 128

Posted by Zonk
from the will-wonders-never-cease dept.
Unequivocal writes "According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Yahoo has filed a patent for 'smart' drag and drop. From the article: 'A computer-implemented method for manipulating objects in a user interface, comprising: providing the user interface including a first interface object operable to be selected and moved within the user interface; and in response to selection and movement of the first interface object in the user interface, presenting at least one additional interface object in the user interface in proximity of the first interface object, each additional interface object representing a drop target with which the first interface object may be associated.' How do these patent claims differ from normal drag and drop? In pretty trivial ways if at all, but it may be hard for a patent examiner to understand that trivial changes in drag and drop user interface are not in fact novel enough to warrant a patent. If Yahoo gets this patent, they'll have a mighty big stick to shake at competitors."
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Yahoo Patents 'Smart' Drag and Drop

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  • Misleading headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by DustyShadow (691635) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @09:30AM (#22137386) Homepage
    They've applied for this patent. It has not granted yet. Seems like a small point but it isn't.
  • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @09:48AM (#22137552) Homepage
    People are asking about traditional drag-n-drop or drag-n-menu, but let's try to be specific to the claims made. After reading them I am convinced Apple's "spring loaded folders" match the description. They were released in the 1990s, I believe in OS8.

    "A computer-implemented method for manipulating objects in a user interface, comprising: providing the user interface including a first interface object operable to be selected and moved within the user interface;"

    Since this is the "drag", this portion of the patent is prior-arted by just about everyone. Next...

    "and in response to selection and movement of the first interface object in the user interface, presenting at least one additional interface object in the user interface in proximity of the first interface object, each additional interface object representing a drop target with which the first interface object may be associated.'

    This is the key. Although other UIs might meet the first portion of this part of the claim, the second is more narrow. Specifically it has to open something near the first that is a drop target. Menus are not drop targets, so they don't apply. Launchers are not related to the original drop target, so they don't apply.

    But spring loaded folders absolutely do. They opened in response to a "hesitant drop" over a folder, creating a new window under the cursor showing the contents folder (as if one had double-clicked it). This window is "at least one additional interface object", it is most definitely "near the first that is a drop target", it is definitely an "object representing a drop target", and finally, it is [related to] "the first interface object may be associated".

    Flush.

    Maury
  • by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @09:51AM (#22137576) Homepage
    There may be prior art, but after carefully reading the patent, I suspect claim 1 may hold up. It uses the word 'presenting' confusingly, which can invalidate a claim, but the body of the patent makes it clear that 'presenting' means creating new objects on the screen that weren't there before in that location. If you drag an object, they might pop up a recyle bin right next to it, which otherwise wouldn't even be visible. I'm afraid this claim wont infringe any drag-and-drop application I've ever seen.

    Two points: First, who cares if Yahoo patents some tiny area? This patent is so specific that few will ever feel the need to violate it. Second, this patent sucks because it's a software patent, not because it's obvious. I have several software patents. You need them in the US to protect your company from your competitor's software patents. However, the EU got it right when they rejected the concept. The world would be better off without them.
  • My Mac II SE (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @09:54AM (#22137616)
    From 1990 had a drag and drop interface. Windows 3.0, and OS/2 back in the early 90's had a drag and drop interface. IBM PARKS in the early 70's used a drag and drop GUI. I dont see how Yahoo can claim this as theirs.
  • by MiniMike (234881) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @09:59AM (#22137660)
    But it looks like this isn't just plain old drag and drop. Can't say if it's patent worthy, or even something with no prior art. Read the article if you didn't get the difference from the description. My summary- It's sort of like they combined a right-click with a drag, popping up drop targets when you start to drag an object (similar to opening a new menu when you right click on something). I wouldn't think it's patent worthy, but that standard seems to have fallen recently...
  • ProTools (Score:3, Informative)

    by log0n (18224) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @09:59AM (#22137662)
    has had this for years. Dragging/dropping in context of what the content is your manipulating - and then initiating an action (or series of).

    Hell, anytime you've burned a CD in OSX by dragging to the trash can and it changes to a burning icon, you've just prior-arted Yahoo.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @10:16AM (#22137866)
    WTF are you talking about?!? 1) There is no such thing as "patent tax revenues". 2) Which "patent trolls are claiming that all those inventions that were suddenly extant and infringing on day 0", you gibbering, faux-cynical moron?
  • by who's got my nicknam (841366) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @10:55AM (#22138406) Homepage
    Apple's Final Cut Studio. When you drag an item from the Browser over to the Canvas, a number of drop targets pop up, offering the editor a bunch of options for how to integrate that particular item (video clip, still picture, etc) into the timeline. Pretty straightforward stuff. Not sure if Apple has patented it, but it's definitely prior.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @11:46AM (#22139144)
    I am sorry - but that isn't insightful. The day of filing has to be within a year of invention being made public. The day of filing is NOT the day of invention. An idea can have been in public knowledge for any time period less than a year and a patent can be filed. The definition of public knowledge is also complex, in this case. You don't have to have announced it. If you are using an idea deep within a service you are providing to a customer, that is considered "making public". So, if you start selling a product or providing a service within which you have some ideas which you believe are patentable, you can file for those up to a year hence.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.

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