The Frontier of IP (Part 1)



Today we begin a 5-part series on intellectual property that is at the edge in one way or another – either a novel technology, or a familiar “asset” that is being protected in new ways, through patent law, copyright or trade-marks. We start with gestures.

Characters in movies such as Avatar, Minority Report, Ironman and The Matrix all used hand gestures to manipulate computers. Not all that futuristic anymore, at least not for anyone who has used a Wii or Kinect to play games.

Apple and Microsoft are among the innovators who are rushing to the patent office to protect the use of hand gestures in conjunction with computer hardware devices and software to perform certain functions such as, in the case of Apple’s patent application (PDF), for real-time video processing. Microsoft’s application covers the use of hand gestures to “draw” three-dimensional objects on a computer. Before you get worried that Bill Gates can stop you from gesturing your hands in the air, there are a few points to make: these applications first have to pass through the patent office, to verify their patentability. Second, a patent would only protect an invention which uses gestures in conjunction with specific software and hardware to perform the functions covered in the patent’s claims.

If issued, these patents could provide valuable ammunition in future patent battles involving the use of gestures in conjunction with mobile devices.

Calgary – 07:00 MST

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