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Is Apple intentionally delaying a W3C Touch interface spec?

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 19 Dec 2011 4:44 User comments (4)

Is Apple intentionally delaying a W3C Touch interface spec? An initiative to standardize the way touch enabled devices interact with web content has had a wrench thrown into the works, at least temporarily, by Apple.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Events Working Group was created last year and tasked with standardizing the way touch devices, from smartphones and tablets to drawing pads and spatial sensors, interact with web applications. One of the specifications they have been working on is called 'Touch Events.'

As part of the standard development process, the working group sent out multiple requests for patent exclusions. In layman's terms, these are requests for disclosure of any existing or pending patents which might be required to implement a standard.

Responding to the third of three calls for exclusions this year, Apple provided the group with a list of four patents, one of which has already been approved, two which are pending approval, and a fourth which is in the early stage of application, which they say are related to the Touch Events specification.

A developer for the Opera browser who blogs under the name Haavard is crying foul on Apple's move, and says they are simply trying to impede the creation of the Touch Events spec. He points to similar occurences in 2009 and 2010, when Apple made exclusion claims with respect to the W3C Widgets specification.

Of the three patents listed in those claims, two were found to be nonessential, while the third was deemed both nonessential and invalid due to prior art.

When a patent exclusion claim is made to a W3C working group, the organization must appoint a team to examine the patents in question to determine whether they are, in fact, necessary to the spec in its current state. This means delaying finalization until the determination is reached.

Perhaps the key technology which Apple has used as a cornerstone for their multitude of patent lawsuits against handset and tablet makers around the world are is the touch screen. Simply put, Apple wants to use patents to restrict other companies' touch implementations.

Of course that's despite the fact their touch screen technology isn't necessarily as revolutionary or original as their patents suggest. In some cases they cover technology which was in production by other companies before the Apple patent application was even filed.

It's also notable that Apple decided not to participate in the Touch Events working group. One possible reason was that they don't really want standardization in that area. But according to Haavard, the additional benefit was it allowed them to wait until the last minute to disclose the patents they say are required for the specification.

The advantage in this would be delaying the adoption of any kind of standard by at least a few months. Work on the standard will essentially grind to a halt while Apple's claims are examined. Given the ever increasing number of devices on the market with touch screen interfaces, that's not really good for anyone - not even Apple.

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4 user comments

120.12.2011 7:26

What Apple is doing is trying to put themselves ahead of the competition. When you and your opponent are neck and neck, forcing your opponent back to the starting line gives you that much advantage in the race. Thus Apple waited as long as they reasonably could to make their poor quality patents known to maximize their advantage. Now Apple can claim to be "lightyears"ahead.

221.12.2011 13:29

I say this is a ploy to call the competition out to show their hand first. this way Apple gets to randomly throw out the first lawsuit claiming copyright/patent infringements.

It just goes to show they're the big bully on the block & why other companies seem to have more lawsuits garnered on them as apposed to CrApple having imposed on them.

Look at it as legalized pole positioning & who gets ahead in the bloating of the 1st quarter gains.


323.12.2011 12:23

Apple has a legitimate right to protect their intellectual property.

Apple took the risk of created a new type of smart phone which is wildly successful. Then Google and others slavishly copied it without any risk or effort.

The Anti-Apple bias is starting to drive me and others away from AfterDawn which is going to leave them with a very narrow audience. And not a very desirable one.

423.12.2011 16:53

So Samsung, LG, Motorola, Windows, HP, Blackberry... none of them took the plunge at making a smart phone? Apple took their chances just like everyone else, their just using a different operating system. Palm, HP, & Windows were at it LONG before CrApple even got into the mix.

Whining that a technology is intellectual property, elite over another because you waited months for someone to make the first sales move doesn't make you an innovator. That's like saying you're a hunter because you wait ten feet from a 'sure-thing' baited trap.

CrApple has so often scooped up "hackers" slave labored apps & technology and claimed it as their own so often I could puke. So stop whining like they actually have a research & development lab. They sit just like the same vultures you are calling Google & suck the life force out of whomever they can to vacuum the marrow right out the hollowed bones of whomever they can to save a buck, just like the next vampiric corporation.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 23 Dec 2011 @ 16:54

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