Apple Granted Patent for Disappearing Scrollbar

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Apple has been granted what could be a significant patent (discovered by PatentlyApple) covering a disappearing scrollbar on a touch screen. Filed in 2007, refiled in 2010, the patent was granted on Tuesday, and it could be a weapon in the company’s ongoing battle against what it perceives as Android copycats.

Apple Patent Figure

Figure from Apple Patent

The patent is technically titled, “Portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents,” and is patent 8,223,134. What it spells out, though, is the idea of having a scroll bar appear when scrolling through a list that is a proportional representation if where you are in that list. When you stop scrolling, the scroll bar disappears.

This was a novel concept when Apple introduced it in iOS, and The Verge pointed out that Google implemented the concept in Android 2.3. It is currently featured on most Android devices on the market.

If Apple pursues patent infringement claims against Android device makers, it could result in Google having to pull this functionality from its mobile operating system or developing an alternative implementation that doesn’t infringe.

This has been Apple’s goal, as articulated by CEO Tim Cook, who on several occasions has said that his company can’t be the developer for the rest of the world. At the 2012 D10 conference, Mr. Cook said, “From our point of view, it’s important that Apple not be the developer for the world. We can’t take all of our energy and all of our care and finish the painting, then have someone else put their name on it.”

At the same time, Mr. Cook has also stipulated that he’d prefer not to have to litigate these issues, with the insinuation that this would require that competitors stop copying Apple’s inventions. It remains to be seen if Apple does choose to assert this patent against its competitors.

Apple doesn’t just use this concept on iOS devices, as it was brought to the company’s line of Mac computers starting with Lion. Patent 8,223,134, however, is specific to touch screens.

The patent credits Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall, Henri Lamiraux, Andrew Platzer, Michael Matas, and Imran Chaudhri as inventors on the patent

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Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Mr. Cook said, ?From our point of view, it?s important that Apple not be the developer for the world. We can?t take all of our energy and all of our care and finish the painting, then have someone else put their name on it.?

Then license it Cookie, because 1/2 the world doesn’t want the baggage that comes along with your innovations.



Then half the world should come up with their own innovations.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It’s funny how when Apple steals others’ IP, it often appeals for FRAND terms, essentially compulsory licensing, but where Apple accuses others, it doesn’t even offer licensing. Note in both cases that the IP “owner” is not contacted and consulted before a use is made.


I made websites with disappearing scroll bars in 1998.

Seriously, how is Apple getting Patents on these things? Is this simply a situation that with enough money and lawyers they could patent the wheel?

Bryan Chaffin

Brad, saying that Apple is appealing for FRAND terms is not accurate. It implies that that the patents weren’t already committed to FRAND terms, which just isn’t the case.

The patents Apple has been accused of infringing (and is most likely infringing) are patents already committed to FRAND terms where the patent holders haven’t offered FRAND terms to Apple. In most of those cases, the patent holders have asked for terms that do not match those offered the rest of the industry, specifically violating the “D” in “FRAND,” not to mention the “F” and “R.”

In other cases, Apple has claimed to be covered by other licensees’ licenses. It remains to be seen who is right on that.

Show me a case where Apple has refused to pay FRAND terms not covered by its sub-licensee claims and I’ll heartily condemn Apple as a hypocrite.

Even if Apple is a hypocrite in some example or another, it doesn’t excuse infringement by others. It just means that the courts will catch up to Apple, who will then rightfully be forced to pay for a license under FRAND terms.

In the meanwhile, despite daemon’s invention in 1998 of disappearing scroll bars (which is certainly cool, daemon!), Apple figured out all this stuff and brought it to market. While there are some examples of prior art that the courts have dealt with on a very small number of patents, the reality is that Apple figured this stuff out first. Apple made it work, and Google and its hardware OEMS copied it. Not everything, but a lot, and it’s not OK.

Even Microsoft, for goodness sake, figured out its own way of doing things in Windows Phone 7.x.

I just don’t understand your attitude. It appears irrational to me. I would like to be able to understand where you’re coming from, but I just haven’t been able to.



Even Microsoft, for goodness sake, figured out its own way of doing things in Windows Phone 7.x.

Nicely put, and a claim I’ve made often as well. MS beat their own path with the Metro interface, while Android copied and then modified iOS.

Anyone with one good eye should be able to see this. Just look at smartphones before, then after, iPhone. Then look at tablets before, then after, iPad.


Metro is the only exception to the rule, and that it comes from MS is enough to make one’s head explode. smile

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