Apple Wins Google-Worrying Patent For Mobile Maps Interface

A patent originally filed by Apple back in 2008 has just been granted by the US Patent Office, with the tech giant somehow managing to convince the authorities it should own a patent for a method of displaying maps on a touchscreen device.

It’s not the hugely apocalyptic attack on Google Maps you might expect, as the patent mostly focuses on Apple’s own iOS Maps touch-based interface that used to sit atop Google’s mapping data, although the concept of Apple being allowed to patent anything to do with such a basic feature as showing a map to a person on a touch display seems rather shocking.

Back in 2008, however, mobile maps weren’t quite so critical. Many phones couldn’t even handle mapping, and those that did offered crappy custom interfaces often controlled by things knows as “buttons”. As well as covering Apple’s own touch control system, this patent also mentions more complex technical issues and some we tend to associate with Google, like the concept of pins marking locations.

If Apple was to manage to force Google to dumb down its mapping tools in any way as a result of this, it would be an enormous victory for the company. And a big loss for non-Apple users around the world, too. [USPTO via Apple Insider via Gizmodo UK]

Our newest offspring Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone, so check them out if you need another Giz fix.



    You have to be shitting me...How the freaking hell was this granted?

    Am I supposed to go to the linked articles to find out what the patents are?

      The patent boils down to 'things you can do on a touchscreen, but doing it to a map'.

    What utter bs the US patents system is and what utter ***** Apple has become.

    Yes now mapping like this is a basic feature but when Apple applied for this patent it wasn't.

    It was an innovative new feature and the interface was unique. Just because it takes the USPO 4 years to get around to approving a patent doesn't mean at the time it was any less an innovation.

      a common miscoception inthis day and age, and half the problem with the patent office, Innovation <> Invention.
      Patents are (meant to be) for INVENTIONS.
      If I invent a new shovel I can patent it.
      If I'm innovative and find it can be used to move horse poop, I shouldn't be allowed to patent the idea of using it to move manure.

      This is why software patents are an issue.

      The Tochscreen existed, maps existed, using them together (regardless how innovative) is NOT a new invention.

    I think "pins marking locations" safely pre-dates the 2008 filing of this patent so Google are pretty safe, I'd reckon. In fact, I seem to recall more than one WWI movie where pins in maps were used to mark locations.

      it doesn't matter if it was previously done in a movie on a physical map, the key part of it all is that its on a touchscreen.... sigh, stupid patent system, stupid apple.

        I don't think so. All that they are doing is replicating something in the real world, not inventing something that didn't previously exist. They might be able to patent some particular implementation, but the idea of marking places on a map with pins is as old as pins with coloured heads so it would have to be very narrow to hold up against a legal challenge, I reckon. And if it is narrowly defined, then it will be easy to get around.

          MM, don't try and add logic into the patent system. It just doesn't work. Yes, in the patent offices eyes, a virtual pin is not like a real pin.

          People have successfully patented many things which are essentially "Doing what people do in the real world, but on a computer/phone". I looked at the patent, and it will be hard to get around, which means it will need to be challenged or licensed, which at best means a lot of time and money wasted on litigation and at worst shitty maps on everything but Apple (Which also has shitty maps, but for a different reason)

          MM, unfortunately, the US patent system is different to the Australian one in a very important way. With the US system you can just claim a patent then others have to chase/sue if there's prior art. It's part of how Apple have been able to get away with so many stupid patents.

      But this is "on a touch screen"... so its not the same, right.
      Just like the USPO are cool with all the "...but on a computer", "...but on a Mobile", "...but on the internet", "...but on the cloud".

      I would like to think that slide to unlock being the same as some-one unbolting a door would invalidate it... but no...

    Didn't the first iPhones come with Google Maps, anyway? Isn't Apple patenting something it, itself, clearly knows has prior art designed by another company [i]because they used it?[/i]

    Last edited 01/11/12 9:38 am

      Doesnt mean anything in the US by the looks, they patented the motion of your hand across a surface FFS

        Would not surprise me if Apples lawyers were knocking on my toilet door the next time I wipe my ass

      "as the patent mostly focuses on Apple’s own iOS Maps touch-based interface that used to sit atop Google’s mapping data"

      I'm guessing you missed that bit..

    This is just nuts.
    What's next a patent for playing music using a touch screen device?
    Or making a phone call or reading a book perhaps.

      Touching a touch screen on a touch screen device.

    >Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for providing maps, directions, and location-based information

    So would this invalidate all GPS devices too? I'm pretty sure TomTom would already have a partial patent to this. They've been around since the early 2000s. I can't believe someone in the patent office would approve this. So much for "innovation".

    Doesn't anyone remember the windows pocket pc's? they were rounded rectangles with the ability to have internet, touch screen & gps mapping data! so it had mapping on a touch screen device.

    the us patent system is royally screwed. NO COMPANY should be allowed patent of any kind that uses generic/basic terms it should say exactly what it does, how it does it, methods used and all technical details. e.g. like microsoft trying to patent windows and they failed this is exactly like that same as apple winning the patent fight to do with a device with round sides.

    I hate apple so mutch! seriously!

      So Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to trademark the word "windows", or "word"? Because its basically the same. Try using the word "windows"on a product in the tech world and see how far you get.

      That mapping UI on touch screens did not exist before Apple introduced the iPhone. They rightfully applied for the patent. If it were granted back in 2008, nobody would have given a shit, but now everybody has use of a similar UI, people like you have to bitch about it.

      Apple have a right to apply for a patent on anything they develop. You want to stop everyone filing patents on anything now? So google, MS, Nokia, and others should have all their patents voided too?

        The difference between most of the other companies you mentioned and Apple is the fact the other companies are usually more than willing to reach a compromise when someone violates one of their patents. Apple actively tries to utilise their patents to kill off any sort of innovation in the industry to try to monopolise it for themselves. That and other companies don't usually try to patent idiotic things like 'rectangle with rounded corners'

    This is BS and makes me hate Apple even more, they are just out to stomp on innovation because they can. Apple should not have been awarded this. I'm sure that my old navman had touch well before this.

    "And a big loss for non-Apple users around the world, too. "

    Just to recap, the whole world need not suffer for a US patent. Apple cannot enforce their patents in countries where they have no control over what rivals do.

    <"@"%:@<#"%<@^@^<"@ @$^@^#>>"$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    This whole US patenting thing is a scam rort, whatever you want to call it. Whats next, will they patent a car, wheel, incadsent lightbulb, led's, shoes, the whole telephone???

    Seriously, they (Apple) have some high paid people on the patent board.

      So we should void all Apple patents? What about google patents too? Or Nokia patents? They're all pretty vague if you choose to read any of them. The system has its rules, and has approved these things, but somehow its Apples fault? Why, just because you hate them? So lets ban everything Rupert hates. Give us a list and I'll get right on it.

        I don't think it's so much the fact that this patent was granted that is why it's getting all this furore, it's more the fact that it was granted to Apple.

        If a patent like this was granted to Google, it would be a minor issue, mostly troubling to people who like alternative services like Mapquest or Bing maps and the like, but the likely end result of that scenario is Google asking for a small percentage of commission from these companies is anything they do violate the patent.

        Apple on the other hand will more than likely try to use this patent to sue any company that violates it in an attempt to force them out of the market. This is just another chapter in Apple's story of trying to monopolise the smartphone and tablet industry for themselves.

        Last edited 01/11/12 2:17 pm

    US Patent Office: Hmm, looks like you can already do every single thing on this application with existing software.. But this is a touch screen! WOW! WHIZZ BANG! NO PRIOR ART OBVIOUSLY!

    Well if they go to court and there is proof some device exists with this "tech" then it would invalidate the patent and get thrown out. I'm sure they cannot defend this patent

    a much better analysis of the whole thing can be found here

    Kind of funny as with Apples maps at the moment they couldn't find their own backsides! But then all this is utter utter s**t.
    Will they ever grow up?
    P.S Loving windows 8.

    A good watch on you tube is a video entitled Has Apple Really Ever Invented Anything by razethew0rld. It's 20mins but hey make good points about how they develop with partners then patented it themselfs or they modify something existing just enough then patent it even though its as common as breathing air.

    Further proof that the American patent system is clearly broken

    Seems to me like Apple is following Steve Job's wish of waging thermonuclear war on Google!

    It's quite unbecoming of them, really. I can't see Apple customers or non-Apple customers reading this positively for Apple. It just looks petty at this point.

    A trademark is completely different to a patent.
    You can't use "windows" in a tech product because it's already at tech brand.
    It's like saying I'm going to release a new line of fancy expensive suits and call them Nike.
    Even though Nike might not do suits, you still can't use their brand.

    But its all right to use it as a phone. ?? Sorry Mr Bell .. apple invented the phone !!!!

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