Microsoft, Google and Apple Being Sued Over Icon Navigation

A lawsuit was filed in Arizona Federal court against Microsoft, Google and Apple by Cygnus Systems, Inc. over use of their just granted patent for "System and method for iconic software environment management."

As Ars Technica points out:

"Its abstract describes "a method and system for storing, navigating, and accessing files within an operating system through the use of a graphical thumbnail representing the video display of the active document within the active application." In other words, Cygnus' patent describes features similar to those of Windows Explorer and Apple's Finder—these applications use scaled-down previews to represent the actual documents being browsed by users. The patent could also include things like file icons that dynamically update to reflect changes to the contents of their respective documents, as well as Opera's "Speed Dial" feature, which offers a visual dashboard of easy-access websites. Cygnus' complaint even cites the iPhone's "accompanying iconic file preview and access functionality" and the Safari browser's tab thumbnails."

As Ars Tecnica details the suit has some flaws - Google as yet does not have an operating system, and prior art - a major factor in patent law - "constitutes all information that has been made available to the public in any form before a given date that might be relevant to a patent's claims of originality. If an invention has been described in prior art, a patent on that invention is not valid," according to Wikipedia.

Add this lawsuit to the rest that impact the industry and have yet to be ruled on.... should be an interesting year in the legal realm.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.