decoration decoration

When you want to know more...
For layout only
Site Map
About Groklaw
Legal Research
ApplevSamsung p.2
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Gordon v MS
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
MS Litigations
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
OOXML Appeals
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v Novell
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Unix Books
Your contributions keep Groklaw going.
To donate to Groklaw 2.0:

Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Contact PJ

Click here to email PJ. You won't find me on Facebook Donate Paypal

User Functions



Don't have an account yet? Sign up as a New User

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.

What's New

No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola? - Updated 4Xs
Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 05:11 PM EDT

This is amazing -- an iPad-like device that is 17 years old. Props to Daily Mail for finding this. Here's a detail that might matter:
A 1994 promo film released by technology firm Knight-Ridder talks about 'taking today's newspaper into the electronic age'....

The Tablet was created by a team of journalists, designers and researchers.

It was never released, and was instead developed to show the media industry what the future of news consumption could hold.

When I put my patent-context hat on, that tells me it's valid prior art, depending on the dates of various patents and functionality.

Check those dates, Barnes & Noble! No. I will do it for you. The patents that Microsoft hilariously claims are being infringed by Android were issued in the following years: 1998, 2002, 1999, 2005 and 2005 respectively. I am looking at my calendar. OMG. The year 1994 comes before all of them. My, my. That predates all of Paul Allen's patents too. Check out the video. I see a "Tell Me More" column. And it had a Personal Interest feature. It even had a touchscreen. Say, Google, are you aware of this? If not, here's a present for you and Android, I hope.

And here's the interesting part. I just checked Microsoft's patent No. 5,778,372, and I don't see this Knight-Ridder tablet listed as prior art. That, of course, is the issue Microsoft has raised in its appeal to the US Supreme Court in the i4i v. Microsoft case, what level of evidence is required to toss overboard a wrongly issued patent that was not considered by the USPTO examiner prior to its issuance. Talk about conflict. If this turns out to be relevant prior art, what will Microsoft want to happen now, I can't help but wonder?

Update: More, more, more ... to add to your findings in your comments: A prototype of a tablet demonstrated in public by MIT in December 5, 1995:

A Status Report on Reading Appliances
David Chaiken
Digital SRC
Thursday, December 7, 1995
1:45 PM (1:30 refreshments)
Edgerton Hall, Room 34-101

Thursday, December 7, 1995
Computer Architecture Group Seminar
Laboratry for Computer Science, NE43-6th floor playroom, 1:45 PM (1:30 refreshments)
David Chaiken, Digital SRC
A Status Report on Reading Appliances


Within the next five to ten years, consumers will be able to buy portable reading appliances from stores like Circuit City. These virtual books will cost at most $499 and will have interfaces tuned both for browsing on-line media and for sustained reading. For the next five years, the cost of reading devices will be driven primarily by the cost of high-resolution liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Portable displays with resolution suitable for sustained reading will first appear in high-end laptops in the two year time-frame, triggering a race to the consumer appliance.

In anticipation of the availability of high-resolution screens, the virtual book project at SRC has built a prototype reading appliance called Lectrice. This virtual book has a 10.4 inch, XGA (1024 X 768 pixel), 122 dots per inch (dpi), color LCD. Initial experience with the device has led to a number of conclusions about the architecture and the interface for reading appliances. Specifically, current laptop displays --- with resolutions less than 100 dpi --- do not have adequate resolution for sustained reading, but the Lectrice screen is above threshold. Given appropriate resolution, the reading interface still needs careful tuning. Neither a keyboard nor a stylus suffices for input, and current displays are too cluttered to be good for sustained reading. Lectrice includes buttons for common actions (such as turning pages), as well as display software with minimal ornamentation to reduce distractions while reading. Finally, the previous generation of low-power processors is adequate for a prototype device, but true reading appliances will require processors that are just making their way into the marketplace.

This talk describes the virtual book project and discusses how the project fits into the high-level themes and organization of research at Digital. The presentation concludes with a hands-on demonstration of Lectrices.

Joint work with Mark Hayter, Jay Kistler, and Dave Redell.

Host: Stephen A. Ward

And here's a paper from 1988, "Tablet: The Personal Computer of the Year 2000", where the authors describe a tablet, stating that everything in the description was already known and existing in 1988:
Background: On September 3, 1987, Apple Computer invited students from twelve, top-ranked universities in the United States to detail their vision of the personal computer of the year 2000. The students were asked to be creative but practical, to describe the purpose and underlying technologies of their design. They were to be judged on both original thought, and how well they showed their thought would work. Each school sent its two best entries to Apple engineering directors. From these entries, the directors were to select the five best. From these, the nation's best entry was to be determined by a distinguished panel of judges comprised of Steve Wozniak, Alvin Toffler, Alan Kay, Diane Ravitch and Ray Bradbury. On January 28, 1988, that honor went to the the Tablet team from the University of Illinois. This is their entry....


The University of Illinois design extends the freedom of pen and notepad with a machine that draws on the projected power of 21st century technology. Without assuming any new, major technological breakthroughs, it seeks to balance the promises of today's growing technologies with the changing role of computers in tomorrow's education, research, security, and commerce. It seeks to gather together in one basket the matured fruits of such buzzword technologies as LCD, GPS, CCD, WSI and DSP.

The design is simple, yet sleek. Roughly the size and weight of a notebook, the machine has no moving parts and resembles the dark, featureless monolith from a well known movie. Through magneto-optics, a simple LaserCard provides exchangeable, mass data storage.

Its I/O surface, in concert with built-in infrared and cellular transceivers, puts the user in touch with anyone and anything. The ensemble of these components, directed by software that can transform it into anything from a keyboard or notepad to an office or video studio, suggests an instrument of tremendous freedom and power....

The Machine

Our machine will have the same dimensions as a standard notebook. It will look like an 8x11 monolith from the movie 2001, and be reminiscent of the Dynabook. This rectangular slab will weigh but a few pounds, and have no buttons or knobs to play with. The front surface will be a touch-sensitive display screen and will blink to life upon touching two corners. On one of the short sides will be a credit card sized slit, while the other three sides support a ridge with a slight reddish tint. It is targeted towards the professional of the year 2000; the engineer, lawyer, or teacher who is willing to pay the equivalent cost of a microcomputer of today. The I/O Surface

The most important part of any computer is its interface with the user. The front surface of our computer is a high-resolution touchscreen, which yields slightly to the touch. With this single input device, we can get a tremendous range of flexibility and options. We can use it to create an entirely soft interface.

Fingers are low-resolution devices. They can get in the way in certain applications, especially when they block our view of what they point at. To take true advantage of human motor control and a high-resolution touchscreen, we need a fine-tipped stylus. A walk through any art gallery shows what man can do with stylus type devices.

On powering up our machine, icons representing a typewriter keyboard, a ball point pen, a telephone, a calendar, a TV, and a host of other applications will appear. By touching and dragging with the stylus, we can manipulate the icons as with a mouse. We can move rapidly through a series of pop-down, drag-off menus by checking off what we want with the stylus. Pressing the typewriter icon will cause a keyboard pattern to appear on the screen. This pattern can be redrawn like MacPaint objects and so be customized to the user's finger size and taste. Since it is soft, the key pattern can be QWERTY, Dvorak or based on one of the new, non-standard shapes like the chord. As we traverse down a menu and we need text input, the keyboard will pop up.

But if we are holding a stylus, why bother with the keyboard? Unless the user requires rapid entry, the stylus is a natural way to enter text. Pressing the ball point pen icon will cause a ruled notebook page to appear on screen, right down to simulated loose-leaf holes if desired. With the stylus, we can write and draw directly on the surface of the screen. As we stroke the stylus across the screen, a simulated ink trail is left behind. Nothing beats a pen for writing or doodling, so this will permit the ultimate integration between text and graphics. Some people feel more comfortable composing on paper than on a computer, and this presents the illusion that they are. And, if we wish, handwriting recognition software will convert to type all the text we scrawl out.

This metaphor will extend easily to the applications we are familiar with. Text editors can be built around the standard editorial symbols used by proofreaders, where slashing out a word means deleting it and circling two words transposes them. Despite the interactive nature of word processing programs, almost all writers print out a draft and scratch corrections upon it before pronouncing it ready. Our text editor will support this style, and graphics and mathematics will be integrated in a similar fashion.

Without question this is technologically feasible. Our interface relies on three different technologies: display, touchscreen, and optical character recognition. Each of these is progressing nicely towards what we need in 2000. The density attained in liquid crystal display (LCD) technology has increased by a factor of 100 every 7 years [1]. For an 8'' by 11'' color display with laser printer resolution we need less than ~3 E7 pixels, which by extrapolation will be available by 1991 and cheap by 2000. In addition, LCDs represent the perfect foundation for a touch-sensitive display. The capacitance of an LCD cell is pressure sensitive, so we can easily detect the tip of a stylus and even how hard it is being applied. Already, LCDs have been used as digitizing tablets [2] and given the resolution of our display we will have no difficulty mimicking the finest ball point.

Cursive character recognition is a difficult problem, and smacks of artificial intelligence. However, there has been enough progress to show that it is coming. Today, there exist systems with 97% character recognition accuracy for neat handwriting. Combined with spelling correction, such systems achieve near 100% accuracy [3]. Adjusting for variations in handwriting is equivalent to breaking a substitution cipher [4,5], a trivial task for our computer. Training on the owner's handwriting will lead to the highest possible recognition rate. Of course, no system will recognize 100% of handwritten text, but what isn't recognized can be highlighted in a different color and reentered by the user.

A high resolution, color display can do more than just imitate a notebook page. It will be fast enough to support video. The entertainment possibilities are amusing, such as having a display of thirty-six 1"x1" moving icons, each one a different television channel, permitting us to monitor the action over a large section of the dial. We can watch the bad guy being rubbed out on channel six while the passion heats up on channel forty. A more important application is video communications. Video is the next obvious step in the communication evolution which started with text and has progressed to voice....

There is no major aspect of our machine which is not in some sense sitting in a laboratory today. We do not suppose a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, superconductivity, or any other sexy technologies, as foretelling their destiny is still the province of psychics, not scientists. We do not rely on the construction of a new, national infrastructure such as a fiber optic link to each home, since this will require at least a generation to complete. We look at what is possible and start from there. The creativity in our design involves synthesis, uniting disparate elements into a clean and satisfying whole.

The Systems Research Center of Digital Equipment Co. (DEC SRC) of Palo Alto built a working and usable tablet in the early-mid 1990s.  One of the key developers there was Mark Hayter. Their description of the virtual book is here [PDF].

Update 2: Here's a bit more information on the Knight-Ridder tablet, in an article on Bloomberg in 2009, "Amazon’s Kindle DX Resurrects ‘Crazy Idea’ From Knight Ridder", by Greg Bensinger, including the name of the lab where it was built, and yes, it was built, and where one of the leaders of the project now is working:

In 1992, Knight Ridder Inc. set employees to work at a lab in Boulder, Colorado, to create its own portable newspaper-reading device to boost readership and revenue.

“There were people talking even then about the death of newspapers and there would be some electronic medium that would replace ink on paper,” Roger Fidler, who headed the Knight Ridder laboratory, said in an interview last week.

Fidler and his colleagues spent about three years trying to create an electronic tablet that could download newspapers and magazines. With the death of James Batten, Knight Ridder’s chairman at the time, the project fizzled and the 10-person lab was shut down, according to Fidler.

McClatchy Co. bought Knight Ridder, the publisher of the Miami Herald, in 2006. Fidler, 66, is now the program director for digital publishing at the Donald Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri in Columbia. ... didn’t take any inspiration from Knight Ridder in developing the product, Drew Herdener, a spokesman for the Seattle-based online retailer, said in an e-mail....

From 1992 to 1995, Fidler and his team worked on the tablet and attracted some interest from newspaper and magazine publishers in joining a distribution system. Hardware tripped them up: Screens then were too heavy or bulky for most consumers and required too much power, Fidler recalled....

“I am thrilled this is finally happening,” said Fidler. “It’s vindication for all the years when people said this was a crazy idea and it wouldn’t work.”

I love Amazon saying they didn't take inspiration from it. But it is still prior art to the degree it matches any patent claims. That is true whether or not they knew about it or drew inspiration from it. I'm posting this because someone posted a comment alleging that there was no hardware ever built. But as you can see, there was.

Update 3: You can find information about a RAND tablet, in use since 1963, here. There's a PDF on that page, a RAND paper that tells you all about what it calls "A Man-Machine Graphical Communications Device". 1963.

Update 4: And here's a fascinating article about Alan Kay's Dynabook, dated from 1968, where even the journalist can see the obvious foreshadowing of the iPad (and of course other tablets). There's a link also to an interview with Kay in April of 2010 by Tom's Hardware, "Did Steve Jobs Steal the iPad?", in which he pointed out that the touchscreen comes in the modern day from One Laptop Per Child's XO:

Of course, many things in the multi-touch UI, page turning animations, etc. were first done by the group of my friend Nicholas Negroponte at MIT. The idea of touch screen interaction also goes back to this community, both at PARC and Negroponte’s research group at MIT that invented a multi-touch tablet in the 70s. One set of the machines we made, called ‘The NoteTaker,’ had a touch screen.
That is what is so discouraging about the US patent system, that the wrong people take credit for work that others have actually done first, and the prior art only comes to light with litigation or an article like this. That is *especially* true with regard to prior art created by the FOSS community, because in the normal course, the USPTO examiners don't know about it and they won't find it ever in their usual practice of searching for prior art.

Then somebody steals the idea and patents it. I don't know the history here, so I'm not making the accusation the article does, and wouldn't without my own research. But let's assume for the sake of argument that it's so. You know what? At least Jobs sees value where it exists. I was thinking about Microsoft, and how it actually partnered for a while with OLPC. They surely saw the same innovative things that the rest of us did. And yet their phone is so ugly and so uncool. How does that happen?

Oh, and for all you Sci-Fi freaks, some PADDs. What's prior art searching without Klingons?

Update 4: Another entry, the Acorn NCs, STBs & Prototypes dating back to 1996, with a link to a fact sheet [PDF] about the research done there.


Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola? - Updated 4Xs | 357 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: wordsofwonder on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 05:35 PM EDT
I wonder if this might be prior art, too, even though it was never a produced product: Knowledge Navigator. From Apple, circa 1987 or so. Looks suspiciously like an iPad to me in terms of both form and function, but there you go.

[ Reply to This | # ]

[CORRECT] Corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:06 PM EDT
Place corrections here. Make the title like, wrong -> correct.

There is nothing unknowable—only that which is yet to be known. —The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] News Picks threads
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:08 PM EDT
Place News Picks comments here. Say which one, please.

There is nothing unknowable—only that which is yet to be known. —The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT] Off Topic threads
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:09 PM EDT
Anything topically-not-on goes here.

There is nothing unknowable—only that which is yet to be known. —The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Cyberbooks" by Ben Bova
Authored by: tknarr on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:09 PM EDT

"Cyberbooks", Here's another link to an article about the book. Obviously not a detailed technical write-up of the actual implementation, but a fairly detailed description of the outsides and methods of operation. Even down to how the publishing industry tried to kill it, and how it got back-doored in by another route.

[ Reply to This | # ]

[COMES] Comes v. MS docs
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:10 PM EDT
Transcriptions of Comes v. MS docs can go here.

There is nothing unknowable—only that which is yet to be known. —The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? GRiDPad
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:16 PM EDT
When I was a young buck in the late 80's, GRiD Systems was developing a wireless GRiDPad device that used a stylus, flash memory drive, and wireless radio for network connectivity. It used a DOS operating system, though I don't remember if it was MS-DOS or not.

They also were working on a windows convertible tablet/laptop (called the GRiD Convertible) that ran windows 3.11 that had a stylus pen interface. It was sold briefly by AST: AST PenExec/GRiD Convertable

A google search for grid system, grid pad and grid convertible turn up a lot of info. I bet there is a ton of prior art from them as at least one of the founders was from Xerox PARC, and Jeff Hawking of Palm Pilot/Handspring fame did a lot of their development.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:27 PM EDT
Ideas are cheap, especially in this information age where
lots of people are connected. Patents do not help bring
products to market, improve quality, or reduce cost. The
entire patent system should be shut down. There is plenty of
motivation to create new and innovative products, without the
promise of a 20-year monopoly.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:30 PM EDT
The real inventions are way to make like new types of screen, processors,
memory's. The rest follows almost automatically. Given the same tools, humans
will assemble the same kind of things.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: IMANAL_TOO on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:37 PM EDT
An article at eweek reads:
From Telautograph to Apple iPad: The Tablet PC's First 123 Years
Posted on Monday Apr 25th 2011 by Nicholas Kolakowski.
Filed under: Enterprise Mobility

Although Apple's iPad and its Android-based competitors dominate the consumer tablet market as the hot new things, the history of tablet PCs actually extends back decades. Since the 1950s, various manufacturers have been experimenting with electronic text, handwriting recognition, and tablets as a means for digital input. In the 1960s, television shows and movies like Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey predicted a future where tablets were used for communication, work and entertainment. But it was the 1980s and early 1990s when tablet technology really started to take off, setting down the fundamentals of what would eventually become today's touch-screen marvels.[...]

Following generalized research in the 1950s into electronic text and handwriting recognition, the RAND Corp. produced a RAND tablet in 1964. "The RAND tablet is believed to be the first such graphic device that is digital, is relatively low-cost," read a corporation research memo.

How many sci-fi movies aren't there? Who will check ?



[ Reply to This | # ]

I think the intent of The Tablet was closer to a Kindle or Nook
Authored by: Bystander on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 06:37 PM EDT

The demonstration video and other information available about the Tablet project at Knight Ridder seems to show that the device was really focused on being an enabler for electronic publishing. It wasn't intended as a more general-purpose mobile computing platform.

There's this article from May 2009 that talks about the Knight Ridder Tablet in comparison to Amazon's Kindle. In the article, Roger Fidler explains in an interview that the main downfall of the Tablet concept at the time was the unacceptable bulk and power demands of available screen technology.

In many ways, the advantages of electronic newspaper publishing with a specialized Tablet device that Fidler foresaw in 1994 have already come to pass in a more general way with the widespread proliferation of Web-based news publications. The Tablet demo hardly mentioned networking at all, especially wireless networks. It assumed that distribution could be controlled through dedicated kiosks that would download content onto physical memory cards for playback on the Tablet.

Still, it's interesting to see how even though the newspaper industry was given fair warning years ago about how their existing business models might be vulnerable to changing consumer attitudes due to technological advances, they generally chose to do nothing about it until it was probably too late for many of them.

It seems that Fidler's name has cropped up over the years every time someone came out with a tablet-like device. Back in 2003 when there was talk of Windows-based tablet computer, Fidler was once again pointed to as a man ahead of his time.

The coming of the tablet PC

Roger Fidler predicted the future of computing more than 20 years ago. The recent slate of tablet PCs is evidence that Fidler's vision has begun to arrive.
Fidler is a newspaperman with technological vision. While with Knight-Ridder in the '80s, he started the first computer-based news graphics service and the first global Intranet for the newspaper industry. In 1991 at Columbia University, he created the first prototype electronic newspaper designed specifically for viewing on magazine-size tablets. A year later, he launched Knight-Ridder's Information Design Laboratory in Boulder, Col., and wrote Mediamorphosis: Understanding New Media, published in 1997. Today he is director of the Institute for Cyberinformation at Kent State University.

History shows that a lot of people have had the idea that a tablet-like device would make a good consumer product. Until Apple's stab at the prize, though, no one had been able to pull it off successfully.

While I don't think any ideas from the Knight Ridder Tablet would actually qualify as prior art to counter specific claims in the patents Microsoft has cited in its action against Barnes & Noble, I think B&N is on the right track in emphasizing that even if every Microsoft claim on patented technology were true, it's overall significance in the context of the whole tablet product, and its OS in particular, is miniscule. Such minor contributions should not be allowed to stifle competitive products, nor should they allow anyone to extract absurd royalties.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 07:03 PM EDT

I am bit of dissapointed, that no one mentioned Alan Kay's Dynabook. The paper describing it was publish somewhere in early '70 I think.

There's even a video available where he is presenting idea.

If you watch it closely, you should even notice an elastic cover attached to side of it... -- sieciobywatel

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reminder that prior art must be focused on specific claims
Authored by: Bystander on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 07:03 PM EDT

Reading the comments, I see lots of people throwing out examples of tablet-like devices as examples of prior art. While interesting, this is mostly unhelpful in aiding the defense of Barnes & Noble against the claims being made by Microsoft. Microsoft is not asserting patents that claim invention of a tablet-like computing device.

To be really helpful, you need to go back to PJ's article talking about B&N's answer to Microsoft's claims. In the text of the reply, B&N lists each of the patents that Microsoft has asserted they have infringed on. You can look each one of these up, and read the specific claims within the patents.

U.S. PATENT NO. 5,778,372 "Remote Retrieval and Display Management of Electronic Document with Incorporated Images"

U.S. PATENT NO. 6,339,780 "Loading Status in a Hypermedia Browser Having a Limited Available Display Area"

U.S. PATENT NO. 5,889,522 "System Provided Child Window Controls"

U.S. PATENT NO. 6,891,551 "Selection Handles in Editing Electronic Documents"

U.S. PATENT NO. 6,957,233 "Method and Apparatus for Capturing and Rendering Annotations for Non-Modifiable Electronic Content"

If you can cite prior art for a specific claim, particularly the independent claims, then that is what might be most helpful.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: IMANAL_TOO on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 07:06 PM EDT
An article:
Rawlins, Gregory J. E. "The New Publishing: Technology's Impact on the Publishing Industry Over the Next Decade." The Public-Access Computer Systems Review 3, no. 8 (1992): 5-63. To retrieve this article, send the following two e-mail messages to LISTSERV@UHUPVM1 or LISTSERV@UHUPVM1.UH.EDU: GET RAWLINS1 PRV3N8 F=MAIL and GET RAWLINS2 PRV3N8 F=MAIL.


This report discusses technology's impact on the products, revenue sources, and distribution channels of the publishing industry over the next decade. It examines the threats and opportunities facing the book publishing industry, and presents a strategy for publishers to meet the threats and to use the opportunities to decrease risk and increase profit. The strategy also benefits education, science, and technology by making books cheaper, more flexible, and more easily and quickly available.
where the Appendix B describes the Dynabooks which sound pretty close:
In 1971, Alan Kay at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) had an idea for a computational notebook that he called a dynabook. [59] For the purposes of this report, a dynabook is a notebook-sized keyboardless portable computer, with a large high-resolution touch-sensitive color display and an electronic pen. It communicates with the world through radio. The screen is large enough to display two document pages at a time, in 11 point font and at paper resolution, and the pen can be used to annotate electronic documents. The dynabook must be a carry-anywhere device; it must be waterproof and robust enough to survive a two meter fall.

It could function as: computer, phone, and credit card; body health sensor, proximity sensor, and police whistle radio; clock, calendar, agenda, reminder, alarm, and diary; notepad, drawing-pad, and music synthesizer; mailbox, typewriter, and voicewriter; spelling, grammar, style, pronunciation, and word frequency checker; dictionary, encyclopedia, foreign phrase translator, global map, location finder, and restaurant guide; video camera, news viewer, video game display, and movie viewer; library, and of course, book reader.

Dynabooks have yet to be realized cheaply but the technology is almost here.

Close enough for me, as have many other already mentioned been.



[ Reply to This | # ]

Apple Newton?
Authored by: mirumu on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 07:08 PM EDT
Maybe I'm missing something but wouldn't the Netwon first released in 1987 be
prior art? People called them PDAs at the time, but as anyone who owned one will
say at the size of them they physcially were much more like tablets. They were
mini computers in essence running applications just like the modern tablets and
smartphones of today. I recall using my Newton to read back in the day, although
I couldn't pinpoint the year or method by which I did so.

I guess though using an Apple product as prior art could open a completely
different can of worms.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Star7 from 1992 was also amazing
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 07:10 PM EDT
Color square icons was one of the things apple was suing over.

Star7 PDA Prototype - 1992
- handheld wireless PDA
- 5" color LCD with touchscreen input
- color icons and kinetic scrolling
- multi-media audio codecs
- built in infrared transciever
- built in speakers
- 900MHz wireless spread spectrum networking

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: DrHow on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 07:10 PM EDT
Even if the Knight-Ridder tablet had been produced in the mid '90s, I don't
think it could have been a success. The problem lay in how the information gets
into the tablet. The subsequent dramatic expansion of the Internet and the
World Wide Web has changed all that. The modern tablets would not be very
successful without their ability to connect to the Internet via wi-fi, 3G, or

I am very much a 'computerized' person, but my desire to acquire a tablet
computer is quite low. OTOH, I am very happy with my iPod Touch, another sort
of mobile Internet device or MID, which is _truly_ portable, as you can just
stick it in your front pocket. (Though I greatly admired iPhone technology, I
have no need of a mobile phone; but I was pleased when I discovered that an iPod
Touch was much like an iPhone without the phone or the contract.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

A question about the MS/i4i suit...
Authored by: deck2 on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 07:17 PM EDT
Is it possible for MS to end the i4i suit now that it has been argued before
SCOTUS to prevent a decision by the Court? It would seem that for MS it would
be less expensive in the long run to pay i4i the money than to risk competition
from Android by keeping the evidenciary bar high.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Micro$ofts worst nightmare
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 07:37 PM EDT
What is happening here is why Micro$oft wanted to keep everything under an NDA.
They knew that the graybeards of the community would rip them to shreds if they
got a hold of it, just like with Tom-Tom. It's also why Groklaw needs to
continue in some form.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 08:01 PM EDT

Prior art? That's not prior art. This is prior art!

July, 1945!< /p>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Last posting date?
Authored by: electron on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 08:18 PM EDT
Hi PJ.

I love reading your site. While I know how labor-intensive it can be maintaining
a site such as this (I too have a geeklog based site) I'd love it if you didn't
stop completely. The post that you put up today was priceless. :)



"A life? Sounds great! Do you know where I could download one?"

[ Reply to This | # ]

1993 prior art
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 09:32 PM EDT
ATT's "You Will" commercials. They're spot on.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hmmm - not quite :(
Authored by: dmarker on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 09:45 PM EDT

This is just a tablet as was being discussed in computer circles at the time.
Notice it uses a pen pointer.

The iPad is totally different in that it uses touch & gestures & that
idea was not picked up by this example.

The only similarity to an iPad is the shape & size & they are pretty
much a constant in any likley similar device.

15 years ago while working for IBM, we had videos of similar devices that we use
to show at tradeshows as teasers.

One such device is still under development & uses a bendable color screen.
But, even it (in the info we had at the time) used buttons to change pages.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 09:52 PM EDT
how about this?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Almost offtopic - Has MS sued Nintendo?
Authored by: tqft on Thursday, April 28 2011 @ 11:51 PM EDT
Consider the Nintendo DS

DS info

Handheld, touch sensitive screen, pen input, voice & image stuff.

Released 2004 so not prior art.

The question - do Nintendo & MS have a deal?

anyone got a job good in Brisbane Australia for a problem solver? Currently under employed in one job.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sorry PJ, I'm going to have to one up you
Authored by: celtic_hackr on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 01:14 AM EDT
Here's a piece of much earlier prior art.

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back. They had iPad type devices.
They had a big transparent touchscreen they used for battle planning. You could
finger-click and zoom in on parts of a screen. There was more, but it escapes me
at the time. The date is 1980 btw. Which predates I think even Windows 286.
Star Trek used similar such devices in the Star Trek movies.

There was a Star Trek episode where Kirk and Spock landed on a planet where the
sun was about to go SN and they found a librarian there who had sent the
population to various places in history. I seem to recall he had an iPad type
device. That would have been 1969. The title "All Our Yesterdays"
episode #78 (of 79) March 14, 1969. Beat THAT for prior art! Although one would
need to confirm the iPad type device. But I'm certain they were using such
devices in the Star Trek Movies in the repair bays and such. Technicians
carrying them around.

They were used in ST:TNG, 1987-1994. In fact everything in ST:TNG was a
touchscreen or a touchscreen handheld pad. Every darn episode of TNG is prior
art; 8 years worth of prior art in the faces of millions of people around the
world. Beat that for prior art!

They had them on DS9, 1993-1999. The Ferengi Bar owner used one to keep track of
his profit.

They had them on Voyager, 1995-2001.

The Wrath of Khan, 1982 (in the Space Dock at least, but I recall many other

The Search for Spock, 1984; gosh even his coffin had a touchpad on it.
Need I go on?

Corbomite[sic] carriers (ie what they froze Solo in) all had touchpads on them,
but don't recall if it was smooth, or an actual control panel, or a mix.

I'm sorry, but the idea of a touchpad and an iPad have been completely obvious
for years before they were invented. I give you as my last example the Jetsons.
My brain is too tired to list all the Arthur Clark, and other Sci-Fi writers and
Stan Lee, et al pre-inventors of all these stupid patents that the PTO granted.

PS, the original Star Trek invented the computer disk, floppy disk, and the
CD/DVD (reference episode #78 above, and others.

[ Reply to This | # ]

1968 is the earliest 'tablet' concept I've seen.
Authored by: Bernard on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 03:00 AM EDT

In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

There are a couple of scenes where the astronauts on the Discovery are reading news & watching videos from home on a tablet-type device lying on the table as they eat breakfast.

This promo poster even shows some folks on the moon using one.

I re-watched that movie on Blu-Ray recently, and, speaking as a mechanical engineer who specialised in space systems, it's impressive how much stuff in that movie wouldn't look out-of-place in a 'realistic' modern movie...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 05:07 AM EDT
I'm sure I've seen examples of this stuff in SciFI films, and episodes of star
trek etc...

would this constitute prior art, and be patentable by television/film



[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 07:12 AM EDT
I officially posted this on the March 21 post, and someone followed up
mentioning ncsa mosaic. P.s. Sorry links are not clicky, I am reposting
this from my Android phone...:

Microsoft had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for this
one I see... I think Netscape Navigator and Adobe Acrobat
provide prior art to invalidate these patents.

Patent #5,778,372: “Remote retrieval and display management
of electronic document with incorporated images.” July 7,
Founded 1994
Netscape was owned by AOL, and MOzilla was spawned by 1998
Patent #6,339,780: “Loading status in a hypermedia browser
having a limited available display area.” Jan. 15, 2002.

Patent #5,889,522: “System provided child window controls.”
March 30, 1999.

Patent #6,891,551: “Selection handles in editing electronic
documents.” May 10, 2005

Patent #6,957,233: “Method and apparatus for capturing and
rendering annotations for non-modifiable electronic
content.” Oct. 18, 2005.
Acrobat 6.0 was released in July 2003. This version
introduced significant changes to the family of Adobe
Support "Reader enabling", allowing Adobe Reader to save,
sign or annotate PDF files if the PDF file allowed

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw has covered patent 5,579,517 before
Authored by: IMANAL_TOO on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 10:16 AM EDT
Groklaw has covered patent 5,579,517 before:

Open Invention Network Is Looking For Prior Art -- 2 Ways To Help Out


tridge offers a new patch to Linux's VFAT filesystem

and an old helpful user comment titled Does Android use long file names? :
Authored by: alisonken1 on Friday, April 30 2010 @ 02:12 AM EDT Android is Linux based, so it uses POSIX long filename support. MS patent is on using VFAT style long filenames. Big difference.

Hope this is useful.



[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 10:35 AM EDT
The date that matters for prior art is the filing date of the patent
application, not the issue date.

The item or document or public use must have been published, presented or in use
before the effective filing date of the patent application.

The issue date is simply when enforcement rights begin.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 10:39 AM EDT
The date for prior art for the 5,778,372 patent is its filing date, April 18,

The application doesn't have any parent applications that would set an earlier
date for prior art.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't forget the EO (AT&T) and Newton (Apple)
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 12:21 PM EDT
The AT&T EO was a crude text tablet like device way back then too.

Not near as ipad like as the Knight Ridder tablet, but still an early tablet
mobile communications capabilities.

Also, there was the Newton from Apple, though I don't remember the years it
was really around.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Excellent Way to Say goodbye
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 01:08 PM EDT
One unspoken topic about the great anti-Linux SCO crusade has been Microsoft's
involvement. This is the best way of showing Microsoft is out to get Linux.

The friends you have are a good way to show what a person is like.
Maybe a better way to show what a person is like are who your opponents/enemies
are. You certainly found a heavy weight opponent in Microsoft.

This is a very good way to say good-bye

[ Reply to This | # ]

Inventory management pads
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 01:13 PM EDT
When did the purolator or mobile inventory management pads come into use?
Purolator guy was at your door. The inventory ones were used in warehouses.

They connected wirelessly to a database and displayed and updated information in
the database based on user input

[ Reply to This | # ]

"372" patent bad for more than just MS tablet competitors
Authored by: Bystander on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 02:04 PM EDT

Having looked at the claims for U.S. Patent No. 5,778,372 more closely in a previous comment, it becomes apparent that if it is proven to be valid then it has potentially serious implications for more than just rivals to Microsoft in the tablet market. The patent makes claims on the general technique of loading images found on web pages independently, possibly using separate network connections running simultaneously, in order to reduce the delays that users see before they can begin reading content. This patent could potentially cover nearly all modern web browsers in use today, including Firefox, Opera, Safari, and all other WebKit-based browsers such as Google Chrome. All of these browser competitors to MS Internet Explorer are currently distributed freely, but MS could use the threat of infringement on the "372" patent as a way to either curtail that or force the producers to fork over hefty royalties for the right to continue distribution.

I have a feeling that B&N may get considerable help from Google/Apple/etc. in trying to get the "373" patent overturned.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Obvious ideas are obvious
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 06:27 PM EDT
One of the many problems with the current patent system is that it seems unable to reign in patents on ideas which are obvious to one skilled in the state of the art.

The first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation aired in 1987 (24 years ago). Even the original series, now over 40 years old, showed tabled-shaped devices being used the way one might use an iPad. Here's a google image search to make this point.

The idea of an iPad is not novel or deserving of any sort of patent protection. It's obvious.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Barnes & Noble don't need our help
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 29 2011 @ 08:24 PM EDT
At least they don't need it as prior art searches. The best way we can help
B&N is to buy stuff from them and recommend them to family and friends,
and tell f&f to not believe everything they read in the papers.

Neither in IMO do Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson P.S. need help.
A Seattle based law firm daring to poke a stick in the dragon's eye.
Sure it's a well sharpened, poisoned stick, but this is no ordinary dragon,
more like a Hydra. HCM&P must have been watching very closely as
this deck was shuffled. They've called all the bad cards, and put in
side bets for HTC and Amazon. But don't expect them to "win"
this one. The interesting part of this case will be just how MS
buy their way out of it without exonerating Android.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dynabook in 1968
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 30 2011 @ 02:32 AM EDT
Alan Kay created the original tablet computer concept in 1968. It was called
the Dynabook.

Alan Kay worked for Apple doing research on computers.

He told Steve Jobs to take the iPhone and enlarge the screen to about 10
inches - creating a tablet computer out of it. This product, he told Steve,
would change the world. And thus, the iPad was born.

Yes, there is prior art for various ideas.

But Apple also created its own art and patented them. Thus the lawsuit
against Samsung.

[ Reply to This | # ]

star trek 1967
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 30 2011 @ 09:56 AM EDT
the tablet they used to hand james kirk to do his stardate logs on looked an
awful like like the tablets just smaller, so the vision was there....the sliding
doors we have them now...diabetics have a kind of hypo spray that uses micro
needles to inject that barely puncture the skin thus its not painful and so on.

So why is crap patentable thats been dreamed up via science fiction and then the
very dreamer in first palce aka gene roddenberry never gets a dime for being teh
real dreamer of the inventions that sets ALL the inventors to make what he
envisioned. AND yes there is a theory for a kind of warp drive that could go
faster then light using a kind of stretched space ideal.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Knight-Ridder was never a tech firm
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 30 2011 @ 11:06 AM EDT
Boy oh boy. Facts just don't seem to matter much anymore.
Knight-Ridder was a news/media company. Any tech that came
out of there was incidental.

[ Reply to This | # ]

sorry the solution is too simple
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 30 2011 @ 01:36 PM EDT
M$ can just buy-out Knight-Ridder, or whoever owns it now,
thus making that prior art theres.

done, see how easy this is ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 30 2011 @ 04:36 PM EDT
I wouldn't want to steal any Journalists thunder but...
I grew up with tablets and touch screens (in my imagination), I watched Star
Trek in the late 1960's as a child. I have always attributed the concept to the
late Gene Roddenberry.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? It's all in the claims - not the movies
Authored by: rlillard on Saturday, April 30 2011 @ 05:15 PM EDT
Movies (Star Trek), even prototypes and movies about prototypes (Knight-Ridder),
do not count, entertaining though they may be. What matters is the content of a
claim and the date of disclosure.

At the time of the patents at issue, the US was under a first to invent regime.
(Now it is first to file.)

What is needed is a review of the documentation establishing the date of
invention, and a comparison of the date and specifics of the claim against the
disclosure date of the art deemed in conflict with the patent.

It is not enough to show a movie, even a movie of a working prototype without
addressing the specifics of the claims. Once competition (conflict) between a
claim and a product in the marketplace is established, then reference to a
calender is appropriate to establish preeminence.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola? - Updated
Authored by: JamesK on Sunday, May 01 2011 @ 03:41 PM EDT
Within the next five to ten years, consumers will be able to buy portable reading appliances from stores like Circuit City. These virtual books will cost at most $499 and will have interfaces tuned both for browsing on-line media and for sustained reading.

Yeah, right... ;-)

BTW, I recently picked up a Kobo e-reader for $129.


(I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Knight Ridder Tablet was a concept, not a real device
Authored by: Bystander on Tuesday, May 03 2011 @ 05:37 PM EDT

In a update, PJ mentions that a commenter alleged that the Knight Ridder Tablet was never built. That probably refers to me. In an earlier post, I pointed to a Google cache of the text of a keynote address that Roger Fidler gave at an SND conference in September 2010. In that keynote address, he describes how what his team created for the video was a mockup of a device, and a very convincing simulation of what the software might look like on that device. The Google cache can be found be doing a search for "Roger Fidler SND keynote" on Google, and clicking on the cache link for the entry entitled "Roger Fidler to present Keynote at the Society of News Design ...".

Roger Fidler to present Keynote at the Society of News Design

The state of the Tablet concept at Knight Ridder was confirmed by this journalist's account of a visit he made to Fidler's lab to investigate claims of the tablet device he had heard.

I was shown the media's future 16 years ago: now with the iPad, it's here

Slightly sleepless, we arrived in the foothills of the Rockies to find a team of a dozen or so working on the future under the leadership of a man called Roger Fidler. This is an extract of the memo I filed back to London: "At present it consists only of an A4 block of wood, with a 'front page' stuck on it: the technology for creating Fidler's 'Flat Pad' is, he estimates, still a couple of years off.
"The Knight Ridder lab is working on the software for the flatpad… You can ask the current versions to read stories or information to you (handy if driving). It will do so in your voice, or in the voice of Walter Cronkite, Anna Ford, James Naughtie or Elizabeth Hurley. It offers moving graphics, video footage of news events and sports. An asterisk in the text indicates that there is visual back-up. You can interrupt an account of a World Cup match to see the penalty shoot-out the writer is describing."

All this over a block of wood! My memo went on to quote Fidler's colleague, Peggy Bair: "We're working on the technology of the panel: things like size, battery life, screen resolution and two-way wireless communications. We think it may be achievable around the beginning of 1996.

So Fidler and his team had come up with some software prototypes for how the user interface of the Tablet should behave, which they demonstrated somewhat in their 1994 video simulation. But they did not have any actual working hardware. The mockup was a simple block of wood dressed up to look like a Tablet. Unfortunately for Fidler's vision at the time, the lab was shut down in 1995, so a real device couldn't be created within the earliest timeframe that they had estimated that technology would be sufficiently advanced to attempt it, which was 1996.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Update 3: RAND is not prior art
Authored by: soronlin on Wednesday, May 04 2011 @ 03:37 AM EDT
The RAND tablet is a graphics tablet, not a tablet computer. The touch sensitive
device was the whole device; the screen and the computer were elsewhere and
significantly more massive.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent 5,889,522 -"System provided child window controls"
Authored by: Bystander on Wednesday, May 04 2011 @ 12:49 PM EDT

Taking a closer look at one of the patents, U.S. No. 5,889,522, leads me to believe that it isn't even applicable to Android.

Each of the patent's independent claims describes the claim as consisting of in part:

"In a computer system having a display, an input device, and a processor running an operating system (OS) and an application program ..."

With each claim describing a method or thing for performing in part the display of a graphical element through one of the following: [emphasis added by me]

"predefining, by the OS, a tab control class"
"predefining, as part of the OS, an application program interface (API)"

Now, MS Windows tends to view the graphical display operations to be part of the OS itself. But in many other operating systems, especially Linux- based systems in particular, the graphical display component is not actually part of the OS kernel itself. There are more carefully defined layers which separate the OS functions, which run in kernel mode, from userland applications, which run in an unprivileged mode. In MS Windows, the graphics API calls that are described in the patent claims may be logically seen as part of the OS. In Android, the equivalent calls are part of a separate application layer that provides graphics functions.

In a pure Java system, the graphics functions are provided by a Java graphics library such as AWT, Swing, or SWT. In Android, Google has developed their own graphics library, but the principle remains the same. It appears that it can be strongly argued that the MS patent claims in this case do not apply to Android because the MS patent reads only to cover graphic functionality provided by OS API calls, and not application-provided API calls.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? Anyone? Barnes & Noble? Google? Motorola? - Updated 3Xs
Authored by: UnixGuy on Wednesday, May 04 2011 @ 12:56 PM EDT

Microsoft was selling Windows for Pen in 1993-1994, and you could buy it on a Compaq Concerto, a touch-pen based tablet which turned into a laptop or vice-versa.

I know because I had bought one to see if the pen was better than a mouse with my arthritis, and I was using it to give demos of the Internet and web browser software when I was starting up an ISP in 1994.

I haven't been through all the patent claims yet, but IMHO, that should entirely invalidate the "using touch in place of a mouse" patent claims. I suspect that the ability to run Mosaic on that tablet (or maybe Netscape 0.something?) as I was doing then probably invalidates the loading icon patent too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
Comments are owned by the individual posters.

PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )