Apple’s Game Changing Patent – A Portable Multifunction Device with a GUI

Apple, Inc (www.apple.com) was granted a patent on its popular iPhone in June, 2011. U.S. Patent No. 7,966,578 to Tolmasky (pdf here) was issued on June 21, 2011 for a graphical user interface or GUI covering some functions on the popular iPhone (http://www.apple.com/iphone/). Some commentators expressed concern about the scope of the Apple ‘578 patent and how the patent may force competitors to leave the smart phone field. See http://www.patentlyapple.com/; and http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387401,00.asp.
As commonly known, the scope of a patent is limited exclusively to the words set forth in the claims at the end of the patent, and equivalents thereof. The Apple ‘578 patent has 20 claims, of which claims 1, 2, 8, 9 and 15 are independent claims. In order to infringe the ‘578 patent, the accused device must have a feature or function which corresponds to each word or phrase in at least one independent claim in the patent. Claim 1 provides a goods example. that claim states:
1. A method, comprising:
at a portable multifunction device with one or more processor, memory, and a touch screen display;
displaying a portion of web page content in a stationary application window on the touch screen display, wherein the portion of web page content includes:
a frame displaying a portion of frame content and other content of the web page, comprising content of the web page other than the frame content;
detecting a translation gesture by a single finger on or near the touch screen display;
in response to detecting the translation gesture by the single finger, translating the web page content to display a new portion of web page content in the stationary application window on the touch screen display, wherein translating the web page content includes simultaneously translating the displayed portion of the frame content and the other content of the web
page;
detecting a translating gesture by two fingers on or near the touch screen display: and
in response to detecting the translation gesture by the two fingers, translating the frame content to display a new portion of the content in the stationary application window on the touch screen display, without translating the other content of the web page.
To infringe this claim, the accused party’s device must operate with a single finger, and also operate with at least two fingers, and permit the user to either move or translate web content inside a frame and, with another finger gesture, move the content in the frame.
The best explanation is provided in the patent specification, as it described Figure 5A.
“A graphical user interface (e.g., UI 4200A, FIG. 5A) on a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display comprises a portion 4202 of page content on the touch screen display. which includes: (1) a frame 4204 displaying portion 4206 of frame content and (2) other content 4208 of the page. In response to detecting an N-finger translation gesture 4210 on or near the touch screen display, the page content is translated to display a new portion 4212 (FIG. 5B) of page content on the touch screen display, wherein translating the page content includes translating the other content 4208 of the page. In response to detecting an M-finger translation gesture 4214 on or near the touch screen display, where M is a different number than N, the frame content is translated to display a new portion 4216 (FIG. 5C) of frame content on the touch screen display, without translating the other content 4208 of the page. As noted above, the M-finger gesture 4214 may be performed by the user on top of the frame content be translated so as to identify which frame content to translate. Thus, depending on the number of fingers used in the gesture, a user may easily translate page content or just translate frame content within the page content.” col 18, line 49 through col. 19, line 3.
In simple terms, without extensive review of the USPTO record, two fingers can change content within the frame and a single finger can change content on the frame itself.

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