Xerox Lawsuit Over Graffiti Reinstated

Way back in1997, Xerox filed a lawsuit against U.S. Robotics, who owned the Palm OS at the time, claiming that Graffiti was an infringement on their patent for a handwriting recognition method, called Unistrokes. The patent was awarded in January of 1997. In June of last year, a judge dismissed the suit on the grounds that Graffiti wasn't similar enough to Unistrokes.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has now reversed that decision, saying the judge misinterpreted how and where the symbols must be written to be recognized by the computer. The case will now continue in the District Court.

Carl Yankowski, Palm's chief executive officer, said, "Palm continues to believe that the Graffiti software does not infringe the patent and that Palm has other defenses supporting its stance. Palm intends to continue to vigorously defend itself.''

Article Comments


The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Comments Closed Comments Closed
This article is no longer accepting new comments.


Hmmmnn. And you say MSFT steals other companies ideas???

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 9:22:14 AM #

Hi, Mr. Troll
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 9:27:34 AM #
Yes, Microsoft does it all the time. And this has been proved many, many times, not just alleged by a single struggling company in a desperate bid for cash.

RE: Block Recognizer
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 10:41:04 AM #
Pocket PC 2002 has something called Block Recognizer that works like Grafitti. Will Microsoft be next?

RE: Hmmmnn. And you say MSFT steals other companies ideas???
flywheel @ 10/10/2001 7:10:01 AM #
Well, for Redmond it is a daily duty...

Xerox is a bit different, they have been rather innovative in the past, I'm not sure they still are but that's another matter.

Live long and prosper...

Bad Patent?

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 9:29:47 AM #
How did Xerox get a patent for Unistrokes in 1997? Graffiti
had already been in Palms for years at that point. Is this
another example of the Patent Office giving a patent to
someone they shouldn't have?

What did Xerox ever do with Unistrokes? Anyone remember
any products they made with it?

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 10:17:32 AM #
I Believe I bought my first Palm back in 1996, so It isn't quite "years"

It is interesting though that they received the patent after the PalmPilot was already out.

I have owned the original pilot, pilot professional, pilot 5000, Palm III, Palm V, Palm Vx, Palm IIIc, Handspring Visor Prism, and now the Palm m505.

RE: Bad Patent?
maven @ 10/9/2001 10:33:39 AM #
Patents are issued much later than they are applied for, many (most?) times years later. That's why we see "Patent Pending" on so many products. So, maybe Xerox had applied much earlier.

On a different topic: The new way of logging in for posters will pretty much ensure the majority of posts are by "I.M. Annonymous", I think.

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 10:39:29 AM #
Remember that Grafitti did not first appear on the Palm, it was avavilable as an alternative input method on the Apple Newton in at least 1994.

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 11:07:10 AM #
The PalmPilot was in development since the late 80's, early 90's by Jeff Hawkins. It went commercial in '96 when USR agreed to market it. So it's definitely been "years" before Xerox could have event put in the application for the patent of Unistroke.

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 11:25:08 AM #

The date of the original patent application that resulted in the issuance of the subject United States Patent No. 5,596,656 is 06 OCT 93. A copy of the Xerox decision is available at:

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 11:53:16 AM #
Remember, you can even patent ideas! So when someone finally makes your idea a reality, they owe you for the patent rights. As long as there isn't something already on the market, or otherwise patented, your idea can be protected! Sort of like domain name squatters that have been declared illegal?

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 12:18:11 PM #
No, you cannot patent an idea. You can only file for a patent after you have the product. You can file for a provisional patent, without building a product, but you only have 1 year after getting a provisional to file the real patent, which means you have 1 year to make it.

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 12:51:30 PM #

35 U.S.C. 101 entitled "Inventions Patentable" does not limit the grant of United States patents to products. In fact, many issued patents commonly referred to as "paper patents" cover inventions that have never been reduced to a product. The danger to an inventor in seeking and obtaining a patent based on an idea per se is that it may be inoperative rendering the issued patent worthless. In sharp contrast, 17 U.S.C. 102 specifically prohibits copyright protection for ideas per se and allows copyright protection only for those ideas that are "fixed in any tangible medium of expression."

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 2:17:42 PM #
It also appeared on the Casio/Tandy "Zoomer" Z-PDA's. These PDA's ran the GEOS operating system and came out about the same time as the Newton. Of course, Apple got all the press.

Fact remains that I used Graffiti several years prior to the release of the original Pilot 1000...

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 3:27:18 PM #
Sorry, my mistake on the patent. You can file ideas, but if you build the product, then you have greater rights to the patent than without it. That's what I mistook for having to file with a product.

RE: Bad Patent?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2001 6:50:42 PM #
This is probably the best written thread I've seen on this site, but it brings back bad memories of Patent Law. The term "sucks" wasn't used once in this thread!

I think Xerox never got over the "copier = xerox" issue. I agree that Microsoft may also have liability in this area if they prevail. Does anyone know what happened to Jot?

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/10/2001 4:21:08 AM #
Sorry, that was too tempting to resist...

It would be interesting to see how unistroke acqually looks like.

I've seen other hand recognition programs and none are as intuitive as grafitti. Not only is it the most intuitive it actually works. its accuacy is also unmatched.

I honestly dont think Xerox has a chance. its almost written in stone that grafitti was the driving force in the development of PALM. Jeff Hawkings designed not as a PERSONAL DIGITAL ASSISTANT but as a platform for grafitti. grafitti was sort of his pet project during his study of neurology.

But then again this is not about who thought of grafitti or unistroke first. This is about who patented what first. In that aspect Xerox may have a point.

RE: Bad Patent?
flywheel @ 10/10/2001 6:58:46 AM #
Well, because of its size Xerox does have a chance!

And Jot is still alive and kicking :o)

Live long and prosper...

RE: Bad Patent?
quengho @ 1/22/2003 4:37:20 PM #
"The date of the original patent application that resulted in the issuance of the subject United States Patent No. 5,596,656 is 06 OCT 93."

Dean Rubine published several papers and released the source code to a single-stroke recognition system in 1991. The source code to this recognition system is under the GPL, and it's available in a number of products including the "xscribble" graffiti emulator used in handheld Linux systems.

"Rubine, D. "Specifying Gestures by Example", SIGGRAPH91, July 1991.

Dean Rubine, CMU: "Integrating Gesture Recognition and Direct Manipulation", pp 281-299, USENIX Conference Proceedings, Summer 1991, Nashville, TN.

Referenced by:

Original paper (myst be an ACM member)L

The original source, published under the GPL:

Sun's HRE API and a plugin:

XScribble project page:

Prior Art??

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/10/2001 1:52:28 AM #
Back in 1994 I bought a big an clunky Sharp Zarus that had Palm OS 1.0 on it. I definetely remember an ad WAY back then for a "Graffiti hand-writting recognition upgrade" to enhace the crude character recognition that was preinstalled. The symbols, as I remember them, were very similar to the current ones. Doesn't that constitute prior art?



Register Register | Login Log in