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Steve Jobs Patents "The Dock" 580

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what's-next dept.
theodp writes "If you're a PC, you may be unfamiliar with The Dock, the bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of a Mac and provides easy access to Apple applications. But don't count on it becoming a standard on the PC. On Tuesday, the USPTO awarded Apple — and inventor Steve Jobs — a patent for their User Interface for Providing Consolidation and Access, aka 'The Dock,' after a rather lengthy nine-year wait."
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Steve Jobs Patents "The Dock"

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  • CDE? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goaliemn (19761) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:44AM (#25298775) Homepage

    you have to be kidding.. CDE has had this for years, if not decades..

    • Re:CDE? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by furball (2853) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:48AM (#25298823) Journal
      You mean NextStep has had this for years, if not decades.
      • Re:CDE? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by electrictroy (912290) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:04AM (#25299067)

        Don't PCs already have a dock? "The bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of a Mac and provides easy access to Apple applications."

        The sounds like a description of the start menu, and its corresponding bar.
        Hmmm.
        I wonder why Jobs did not patent the Trashcan/recycle bin utility?

        • by littleghoti (637230) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:16AM (#25299229) Journal
          /. story here [slashdot.org]
        • Re:CDE? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mollymoo (202721) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:58AM (#25299817) Journal

          Don't PCs already have a dock? "The bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of a Mac and provides easy access to Apple applications."

          The sounds like a description of the start menu, and its corresponding bar.

          Yes it does. There are bazillions of patents with similar names because they cover similar subjects. With only a brief description of a patent it's impossible to know whether it is indeed novel. Fortunately, patents are more than a brief description. The Dock patent does into great detail covering the magnification feature. It's easy to trash a patent by looking at the title and saying "it's been done before". But when you actually read it, it becomes a bit less obvious the novel things the patent claims have actually been done before. Does Claim 120 ring any bells?:

          120. The method of claim 117 wherein each icon is displayed within a corresponding tile area having two opposite edges that are respectively located at distances d.sub.1 and d.sub.2 from said cursor, and said other icons are magnified by the factor 1+(d.sub.2'-d.sub.1')/(d.sub.2-d.sub.1), where: d.sub.1=S.times.sine(.pi./2.times.d.sub.1/W) and d.sub.2'=S.times.sine(.pi./2.times.d.sub.2/W), where W is equal to said defined distance, and (S=((H-h)/2)/sine(.pi..times.(h/2)/(W.times.2)), where H is a magnified size for one dimension of said one icon, and h is a default display size for said one dimension.

          That's some details of how that nice "hump" is generated when you use the magnification feature. Had you seen specifically that before 1999?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Workaphobia (931620)

            Sheesh, at this point, why don't they save themselves the trouble of writing a patent claims list and just cite their source code instead? Or if they wanted to obfuscate it, why not claim "a procedure consisting of the following assembly instructions: ...".

            I wonder how much money I could make writing a routine to translate source code into patent claim descriptions. I smell an esoteric programming language.

        • Re:CDE? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by painandgreed (692585) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @12:17PM (#25301019)

          The sounds like a description of the start menu, and its corresponding bar. Hmmm.

          I wonder why Jobs did not patent the Trashcan/recycle bin utility?

          You mean the Apple menu and it's associated bar? As it was pretty much taken directly from the MacOS. There were plenty of other similarities like how holding the shift key down during boot would turn off extensions/go into safe mode. IIRC, they copied Win95 from the MacOS so closely they managed to get some of the bugs in there also.

          Jobs should have patented it so that MS wouldn't have copied it when they made Win95. Perhaps he's learned his lesson?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Idiomatick (976696)

            If i thought of a gui first would i deserve billions of dollars? NO fuck that. If an idea takes under 10minutes to come up with and the implementation is nothing then it SHOULD NOT be patentable. If you make every idea patentable then we would have nothing. Talk about stifling competition. One company could have the rights to mp3s another to volume control another to the audio port another to........ Aside from the RIAA i don't think anyone would be happy if it cost a million dollars for a music player.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lisaparratt (752068)

        You seem to be under the mistaken impression that OS X isn't just the rebranded latest version of NextStep.

    • Re:CDE? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by moro_666 (414422) <kulminaator@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:48AM (#25298825) Homepage

      PC. On Tuesday, the USPTO awarded Apple â" and inventor Steve Jobs â" a patent for their User Interface for Providing Consolidation and Access, aka 'The Dock', after a rather lengthy nine-year wait."

      Didn't everyone already have a dock 9 years ago ?

    • Re:CDE? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Froze (398171) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:49AM (#25298841) Homepage

      I can recall using CDE on an AIX box just over ten years ago. It was a well established part of the interface at that time. Anyone actually know the inception date of CDE's dock?

    • Re:CDE? (Score:5, Informative)

      by GauteL (29207) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:52AM (#25298869)

      CDE [wikipedia.org] came out in 1993. The MacOS dock has its origin in NeXT [wikipedia.org] who was later purchased by Apple, leading to Steve Jobs coming back to Apple.

      Nextstep [wikipedia.org] was first released in 1989 with previews all the way back to 1986 (according to Wikipedia anyway).

      Thus, Nextstep does seem to preceed CDE by quite a few years and with NeXT Apple purchased these IP rights.

      What this means for other OSes and Dock implementations I don't know.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AvitarX (172628)

        It means the patent ran out.

      • Re:CDE? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Henriok (6762) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:00AM (#25299025)
        Patent application #5146556 [uspto.gov] from 1992 is clearly the precursor to the Dock. Filed by Steve Jobs et al, while at NeXT.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kidde_valind (1060754)
        Mod parent up! As much as software patents apall me, I can't se why this would be any less valid than any other.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by lysergic.acid (845423)

          because it's freakin obvious as hell. imagine if every generic UI feature were patented when they first came out:

          • mouse cursor
          • desktop/desktop icons
          • drop-down/pop-up/contex tmenus
          • scrollbars
          • control box/buttons (minimize,maximize/restore,close)
          • command prompt
          • resizable windows
          • modal windows
          • title bars
          • command buttons
          • checkboxes/radio buttons
          • combo lists, drop down lists
          • input boxes
          • inline links
          • tree list/directory tree
          • save/open file dialog
          • file extensions
          • file icons
          • file associations
          • status bars
          • shortcuts/symbolic links

          all o

      • Re:CDE? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by speedtux (1307149) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:14AM (#25299191)

        Thus, Nextstep does seem to preceed CDE by quite a few years and with NeXT Apple purchased these IP rights.

        "These" IP rights? What IP rights would that be? Even if NeXT had been the first company to do this in the 80's, they would have had to apply for patents then, not more than a decade later.

        Second, there were equivalent constructions for X and Smalltalk. Oh, and in case you were wondering, both of those predated NeXT and NeXT liberally copied from both of them.

    • CDE was introduced in 1993 [wikipedia.org]. NeXT Introduced a Dock like function in 1988. I havn't read the patent application but it might be a continuation of the Dock like functions in NeXT Step
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:45AM (#25298785) Journal
    I don't think this was covered on Slashdot and I wish I could find a better citation than this but it's been said [neowin.net] that Apple has threatened makers of "docks" for PCs with lawsuits. I can't verify that but I do know that I downloaded and installed a beta program called Y'z Dock [softpedia.com] which was developed by a now defunct crew [designtechnika.com].

    The Y'z Dock software was really really slick and very comparable to Apple's. You can still find the beta distros on pages like Fileforum and other third party hosters (I won't link because you will have to use those at your own risk).

    I don't think anyone in the community ever thought they could get away with mimicking the dock ... but my default response to software patents is that they're broken. Those of you that use Windows will never know the dock because Steve Jobs doesn't want it that way. Also, I'm kind of pissed that "a PC" means Windows ... it means personal computer, does it not? Isn't my Linux machine a personal computer? I hate that. But that's a totally offtopic rant triggered by marketing from all camps.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by clone53421 (1310749)
      • From a marketshare perspective, "PC" meaning "PC running a Windows OS" is less wrong than "PC" meaning "PC running Linux".
      • "PC" is easier to say than "PC running a Windows OS".
      • People are lazy.
    • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:53AM (#25298899) Homepage Journal
      This is probably actually a move to advance that agenda--Apple's paranoia about its software running on generic hardware actually extends to any representation of its interface running on generic hardware. There have been about a dozen Windows dock applications under various names, many of which have gotten cease-and-desist orders. Aqua-Soft [aqua-soft.org] has been something of a hub for this kind of stuff in the past, and their various policies and histories are very prominent indirect evidence of exactly what the landscape looks like. (They used to host things more directly, if I recall.)

      I wonder if StarDock will come under fire for ObjectDock.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      I don't think anyone in the community ever thought they could get away with mimicking the dock...

      Ummm, why? Everyone mimics everything else, so why wouldn't you think you could "get away" with mimicking this?

  • by AnswerIs42 (622520) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:46AM (#25298795) Homepage
    You know, that area on the windows tool bar that gives you quick access to applications? Been there since Windows95 I think..
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:52AM (#25298875) Homepage Journal

      No, he means the 'system tray', which is the closest equivalent to 'the dock' that exists on Windows. 'The dock' has been part of the Macintosh OS and user interface since its introduction in 1984. There have been plenty of imitators, such as the GNOME System Notification Area and The Windows 9x System Tray and the 'dock area' in so many other environments -- KDE, NeXTStep, OpenStep/GNUStep, XFCE, CDE, etc., but I don't think any of them predate the Mac's 'dock'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by clone53421 (1310749)

        The "Dock" allows quick access to both commonly-run applications (like the quick launch and/or start menu) and currently-running applications and windows (like the task buttons and system tray). Either way, Windows has had the same thing since Win95.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:04AM (#25299073)
          Windows doesn't have any widget that gives you access to both running apps and common apps in the same place. A task bar combined with a quick launch bar is slightly different, as you'll end up with 2 icons for something launched from the quick launch bar, one representing the running app, and the other prepared to launch another instance. Mac's interface is different from windows.
          • by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:10AM (#25299147) Journal

            That's an awfully trivial difference.

            • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:21AM (#25299307)

              That's an awfully trivial difference.

              Not in patent-land.

            • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:58AM (#25299811) Homepage Journal

              That's an awfully trivial difference.

              Which is exactly what makes it patentable in the United States.

            • by CountBrass (590228) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:00AM (#25299835)
              Not in usability land either. It's those kind of small difference that are found throughout OSX make the difference between an average UI and a great one.

              Yes I know OSX isn't perfect (I can rant for days about the awfulness of Safari) but to paraphrase Winston Churchill: OSX is the worst operating system, except for all of the others.
              • by thepotoo (829391) <[thepotoospam] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:24AM (#25300161)
                What? That's ridiculous logic. I've used the dock on OS X (a little bit, anyway) and it's wonderful, except that you can't tell if something is running or not.

                If I glance at the KDE bar under the browser window right now, I can see a couple of PDFs, my Thunderbird Inbox, and Firefox open to Slashdot. In a separate area, I can see commonly used stuff that could be open but isn't right now (Konsole, Ktorrent, KVpnc, and Amarok).

                Tell me, why is it better to have these bunched together into a single menu where you can't differentiate what's open and what isn't?

                P.S. I bet I hit -1, Flamebait in less than 2 minutes for this, but I'm asking an honest question and would appreciate an well-thought-out answer from someone.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by niklask (1073774)

                  What? That's ridiculous logic. I've used the dock on OS X (a little bit, anyway) and it's wonderful, except that you can't tell if something is running or not.

                  And here I thought the little shiny "blob" under the icon indicated a running app in MacOS X.

                • by caluml (551744) <slashdot AT spam ... OT calum DOT org> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:51AM (#25300625) Homepage
                  I've started using AWN [launchpad.net] at work. And although I'm not a Mac-ite - you know what? It makes sense.
                  Why (in Windows, KDE, etc) is there a place to start a program (Menu, QuickLaunch), and a different place to maximise it from, see where it's running? Answer me that?
                  When I click the Firefox icon on the AWN dock, I'm saying "I want Firefox". I don't care if it's not running, and has to start a new one, or if there's one already running it can bring up. I just want Firefox to appear in front of me. Same for Thunderbird, PSI, Last.FM, Amarok, whatever.

                  So yes, actually, docks make a lot of sense for apps that you only ever have 1 instance of. Like most of them. Terminals, etc - sure - that's different. And FWIW, I just have a Terminal quicklaunch set up to spawn as many as I need.
                • In my Dock there are little indicators that tell you if an app is running or not. Maybe you need glasses?

                • by carou (88501) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @12:49PM (#25301497) Homepage Journal

                  Tell me, why is it better to have these bunched together into a single menu where you can't differentiate what's open and what isn't?

                  In many ways, it doesn't matter whether an application is currently running or not.

                  You want to use it? You click on it.

                  The advantage is that it's in the same place every time, whether running or not. Sure, if it needs to launch the application then you might have a delay for a few seconds first, but otherwise the resulting behaviour should be pretty similar in both cases. (i.e. if a text editing application is running but has no windows open, then clicking on it in the dock will open a new window - just as opening the application would. The HIG documents mandate this.)

                  If background applications are intelligent about not using CPU time, and the OS is clever about paging out unused code - then there's little reason you should ever need to quit an application. It therefore makes little sense of Apple to optimize their UI for two different cases, when a simplified version will handle both adequately.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        Uh no. Not "the dock" that they're claiming here hasn't.

        Features such as magnification and zoom were not around back then I would suspect (but not 100%)

        I am sure plenty of them predate the mac's "dock" in this case....they're claiming the new doc plus unrelated features that are really just desktop components....they took the concept of "hey, this is the mac doc style" and turned it into "we're patenting the graphic and functional nature of the OS"

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Bullshit - the dock on Mac didn't show up until 7.5, and it was stolen from a free (non-Apple) system extension then anyway (like almost every "upgrade" after System 7).

      • No dock... (Score:4, Informative)

        by shmlco (594907) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @12:30PM (#25301209) Homepage

        "The dock has been part of the Macintosh OS and user interface since its introduction in 1984."

        Uh. No. The 1984 Mac (which I owned and for which I also wrote software) most certainly did NOT have a dock. It had menus and windows and desktop icons... but no dock.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You know, that area on the windows tool bar that gives you quick access to applications? Been there since Windows95 I think..

      ooh! can Microsoft patent the icon? How bout right click? Well, I'm sure everyone can agree that they can patent the "crash".

    • You know, that area on the windows tool bar that gives you quick access to applications? Been there since Windows95 I think..

      Yup. First of all, the tray bar was there since the original launch of Windows 95, which often was used by apps to implement similar functionality.

      A bit later, IE4 for Windows 95 (distributed later as Windows 95 OSR2.x) added also:

      - the quick launch bar
      - custom toolbars displaying folders and shortcuts of your choice
      - address toolbar

      There is no much to patent on the OSX toolbar, apart from the look-and-feel, and we know how well this went in the past.

    • You know, that area on the windows tool bar that gives you quick access to applications? Been there since Windows95 I think..

      You know, that area at the screen edge that gives you all your application tiles? Been there since Nextstep I think..

    • by tgd (2822) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:29AM (#25300251)

      I don't mean to pick on you in particular in this story, but you're the first post I ran across I could reply about this to.

      Every single person on here talking about prior art, prior patents, the quick start bar or any of a dozen other things among the responses to this story clearly have never written, or had to read or evaluate a patent before.

      If you don't know how to read a patent (and there are *very* specific ways that the description relates to both independent and dependent claims), then you really have no idea what you're talking about when you start talking about prior art.

      And FYI, the quick start bar is not prior art for the independent claims being made in this patent.

      Its one thing to criticize software patents in general, but you shouldn't get specific with criticisms unless you know what you're talking about... it weakens the arguments you may be making.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by psydeshow (154300)

        Its one thing to criticize software patents in general, but you shouldn't get specific with criticisms unless you know what you're talking about... it weakens the arguments you may be making.

        You just described a novel process for responding to Slashdot articles.

        I've never seen such an approach used here before, you should patent it before someone else does.

  • but what's the difference between this and the quick launch bar in Windows?

    • by onecheapgeek (964280) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:51AM (#25298853) Journal
      Reading the patent, it specifices a magnification effect on the icon the mouse is over.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by somersault (912633)

      Well, the dock can auto magnify icons when you put the cursor over them, and provides some useful shortcuts like being able to specify whether an item should be loaded on startup if you right click on its icon in the Dock. It's more analagous to the quick launch plus the task bar though because it keeps track of currently open applications and hidden windows too.

      No, I don't think it's worthy of a patent, it's just a menu bar and probably a lot of the ideas in it have prior art. I don't really think software

      • Heh. According to what a few other people have said, the magnification feature might have been the only patentable idea... and I agree that it's quite gimmicky/tacky.

    • The Apple dock wastes far more screen real estate? Or is designed for people who are bad with mice?

      I wonder if it was the inspiration for the Microsoft ribbons. Big fucking huge toolbars with giant monster buttons.

      The Stacks also remind me of the Places bar in Gnome...but with a thumbnail feature and again, supersized.

  • Then you've been knowing 'the dock' for a very, very long time now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jaysyn (203771)

      Since 1996. Apple was using it in 1985 right? This looks like it may have some harsh repercussions.

  • by B5_geek (638928) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:52AM (#25298881)

    Another example of prior art is HP's Dashboard. (It was a 'Program Manager' replacement for Windows 3.1. It's main design hurdle was that it was in the middle of the screen and thus you had to either keep minimizing apps, or resize them around the center program launcher if you wanted to quickly swap around to different applications. Once you got around it's quirks if was a very fine piece of software for its time.

  • How specific is the patent? Between Windows' Quick Start Bar, Google Desktop, Vista's desktop startbar, it seems like this has the possibility to stamp on a few related applications.

    How specific is this patent?
    Does it cover only docks at the bottom of the screen?
    How would you distinguish between the Quick Launch bar in Windows, Google Desktop, and a dock? They're similar mechanisms which allow similar behaviors. The difference is primarily in the presentation: OSX's dock doesn't span the screen and has
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zordak (123132)

      How specific is this patent? Does it cover only docks at the bottom of the screen?

      I'm not going to read all 129 claims, but a quick glance seems to indicate they all include resizing an icon and moving the others to accomodate the resized icon.

      I'm usually the one standing up to defend the patent system, but I've got to say, claim 1 is astoundingly broad. I'm stunned that the examiner couldn't find any prior art on this.

      Of course, the real value of this patent is it has 129 claims, meaning it would cost a

  • by Shin-LaC (1333529) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:55AM (#25298947)

    Inventors: Ording; Bas (Sunnyvale, CA), Jobs; Steven P. (Palo Alto, CA), Lindsay; Donald J. (Mountain View, CA)

    Since when does the comma take precedence over the semicolon? Normally, that would be read as a list of four items: Ording, Jobs Bas, Lindsay Steven P., and Donald J. The fact that such vile abuse of punctuation is standard as the USPTO is irrefutable proof that the entire institution is corrupt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by camperdave (969942)
      The fact that such vile abuse of punctuation is standard as the USPTO is irrefutable proof that the entire institution is corrupt.

      Never attribute to malice that which can just as easily be attributed to stupidity. The punctuation abuse is irrefutable proof that the USPTO is not entirely sane.
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:57AM (#25298967) Journal

    Can you even bother to read the abstract?

    To provide greater access and consolidation to frequently used items in the graphical user interface, a userbar is established which includes a plurality of item representations.

    Not the patentable part...

    To permit a greater number of items to reside in the userbar, a magnification function can be provided which magnifies items within the userbar when they are proximate the cursor associated with the graphical user interface.

    Ah, yes, there we go. The patent is for rollover magnification of the items in the dock.

    • Ah, yes, there we go. The patent is for rollover magnification of the items in the dock.

      Ooh. In that case, Microsoft should patent the sub-menu.

    • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:05AM (#25299087)

      To permit a greater number of items to reside in the userbar, a magnification function can be provided which magnifies items within the userbar when they are proximate the cursor associated with the graphical user interface.

      Ah, yes, there we go. The patent is for rollover magnification of the items in the dock.

      This concept is also old as the world. You can find a myriad of, for example, Flash UI-s and experiments on the web as early as 1996-8 that offer all kinds of navigation via "lens zoom" when you hover.

      But I guess the irony comes from the fact that kind of zoom is a usability disaster, and Apple themselves have disabled it by default on Leopard.

  • watch them twist and turn in their attempts to validate this one. gui's had this for over a decade... but they won't let facts get in the way of steve's glory!!!
  • Good! (Score:5, Funny)

    by pmontra (738736) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:16AM (#25299221) Homepage

    Good! That row of icons that I never liked will be relegated to the Apple desktop and won't clutter anymore the screens of any other OS :-)

  • by radarjd (931774) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:18AM (#25299253)
    Here are the patent's independent claims [wikipedia.org]:

    1. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a bar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a size of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display and for repositioning others of said plurality of tiles along said bar to accommodate the varied size of said one tile.

    Roughly, increasing the size of the icon which the mouse is over, and repositioning icons around it.

    36. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a userbar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a position of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display, in accordance with a predefined relationship between an effect width W, a default height h of said at least one of said plurality of tiles and a selected maximum height H of said at least one of said plurality of tiles wherein said predefined relationship includes a function S defined as: S=((H-h)/2)/sine(.pi..times.(h+2)/(W.times.2)).

    Roughly, a bar in a gui where the position of icons nearby the mouse is modified according to the formula given.

    65. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a userbar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a position of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display, wherein said processor displays a label associated with said at least one of said plurality of tiles with a first predetermined fade-in rate when said cursor moves proximate said at least one of said plurality of tiles from another of said plurality of tiles, and with a second predetermined fade-in rate when said cursor moves proximate said at least one of said plurality of tiles from outside a region associated with said userbar.

    Roughly, displaying the name of a program (by fading it in) when you run the mouse over the associated icon from outside the dock.

    67. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a userbar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a position of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display, wherein said processor displays a label associated with said at least one of said plurality of tiles with a first predetermined fade-in rate when said cursor moves proximate said at least one of said plurality of tiles from another of said plurality of tiles, and wherein said processor fades out said label when said cursor moves away from said at least one of said plurality of tiles using a first fade out rate when said cursor moves into another of said at least one of said plurality of tiles, and using a second fade out rate when said cursor moves out of a region associated with said bar.

    Roughly, displaying the name of a program (by fading it in) when you run the mouse over the associated icon from another icon.

    69. A method for displaying items in a graphical user interface comprising the steps of: providing a plurality of said items in a region of said graphical user interface, each of said items having a default height associated therewith; moving a cursor along said region; and selectively magnifying at least one of said items closest to said cursor to a first level and magnifying items proximate to said one item to other levels less than said first level.

  • by somethingwicked (260651) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:32AM (#25299447)

    Key pieces of this story:

    It's Apple.
    It's Jobs.

    It's therefore NOT eligible for scrutiny.

    Move along...

  • OH NOES! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:33AM (#25299469) Homepage Journal

    Oh shit! This means we can't have icons both showing a task that can be opened and one that already is in one icon!

    Oh well! I'm not sure how we'll survive, but those crazy developers are pretty resourceful, I'm sure we'll find some other way to launch applications and check if they're still open later.

  • by Isvara (898928) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @10:36AM (#25299509)
    I guess they're patenting the dynamically-sized bar. Acorn's RISC OS came out in 1989, and it had an icon bar for applications and devices. Arthur before it (1987) had one too. The only difference is that they were always full-screen-width.
  • Apple is vicious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ProzacPatient (915544) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:11AM (#25299965)
    I fear what this could mean for other operating systems because Apple has a reputation for being rather zealous about their software patents; as Microsoft might remember.
    I don't know if anybody else remembers Apple's patent frenzy on people who used a 'Recycle Bin', let alone an entire GUI.

    On a side note; in KDE you can simulate a dock by sizing your taskbar to 50% and putting nothing but icons in it and then enabling the KDE menu on the top, it'll look just like a Mac desktop.
  • magnification (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:15AM (#25300021)

    The patent is specific enough to not be abusive. IMHO including specifics like User Bar and Magnification separate the patent enough to avoid interfering with other products.

    To permit a greater number of items to reside in the userbar, a magnification function can be provided which magnifies items within the userbar when they are proximate the cursor associated with the graphical user interface.

    I still don't see why a decorative aspect of an interface is patentable but...

  • o_0 (Score:4, Funny)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@NospAm.davidgerard.co.uk> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:15AM (#25300025) Homepage

    Good Lord, Steve. Just patent PURE SHINY EVIL [today.com] and be done with it.

    Authentic Apple iEvil! Not that ersatz Zune Evil, hahahahaha! Get only the best evil!

  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:19AM (#25300073)

    I have just had a look at the patent and it seems to be *how* the "dock" is *presented*.

    E.g. the patent constantly mentions things like *fading-in* the program name over a "tile" (icon?), *magnification* of a tile and it uses the term "bar" instead of "dock". The patent even specifies formulas!

    Does this mean that a "dock" can be implemented by using different "effects" and formulas?

    Also, the "magnification" seems to be specifically defined in the patent. I'm sure there are other ways this can be done without "violating" the patent.

    Certain parts of the patent seem very narrow. It seems to cover direct clones of the Mac "dock".

    If this is the case then this seems to be an expensive patent for a trivial issue.

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