Microsoft Awarded Button Clicking Patent
Microsoft has recently been granted a patent which directly affects using hardware buttons on a Palm OS handhelds and applications. The patent is described as a "time-based hardware button for application launch."
The abstract describes the patent: "A method and system are provided for extending the functionality of application buttons on a limited resource computing device. Alternative application functions are launched based on the length of time an application button is pressed. A default function for an application is launched if the button is pressed for a short, i.e., normal, period of time. An alternative function of the application is launched if the button is pressed for a long, (e.g., at least one second), period of time. Still another function can be launched if the application button is pressed multiple times within a short period of time, e.g., double click." (US Patent No. 6,727,830, granted on April 27, 2004.)
People are describing this as a "double click" patent (which has sparked outrage), but really it's a patent that suggests that without being approved by Microsoft, a program can't have operations which perform multiple different actions depending upon the length of time an "application button" is pushed.
This suggests to some a hardware button, but the text of the patent is vague. Examples in the Palm OS world where this patent could potentially cause trouble include: multiple pushes of a hardware button switching Palm OS categories, launcher apps that allow you to launch a different app depending upon how long a hardware button is pushed, and security apps that turn off the palm if you don't press a hardware button twice within a certain amount of time.
The patent is being protested by the New York-based Public Patent Foundation. The full text of the patent can be found here.
IDG reports, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed that the patent was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to Microsoft and that it was developed by employees working in the company's Pocket PC group. He couldn't say whether or not the patent applied to desktop applications, or how Microsoft planned to enforce the patent.
Article Comments(48 comments)
This article is no longer accepting new comments.