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Apple Files for Face Unlock Patent, Are You Kidding Me? (Updated)

According to Apple patent investigator Patently Apple, the Cupertino based king of patent trolling has filed for a new facial unlock detection patent. Seriously, Apple? You don’t even have facial recognition technology out to the public yet, but your competitor does and you file for a patent on it? I mean, come on. We get that you hate Android with a passion, however, this just looks pathetic.

If you glance over the fancy little stick-figured depiction of this new technology, you will see that it matches up almost perfectly to what the same feature does in Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Let’s see, it says that the device will look for eyes and a mouth in normal locations, analyze weight differences, and then unlock if it matches up to the one on file. Yeah, that’s exactly how Android’s face unlock works.  

Update:  According to Engadget, Apple actually filed for this patent back in June before Android had unveiled their Face Unlock and is just now being disclosed to the public. It should also be noted that Google purchased a facial recognition software company around that same time. Tough to tell if that company has any patents for their software or not. Ahh the patent wars – can they be anymore obnoxious?  (Cheers Dave!)

Update 2:  A reader who says that he is a patent attorney has weighed in through the comments. Both of his remarks are worth a read, one of which we have pasted below. You can find them here and here.

I am a patent attorney specializing in computer hardware/software,  telecom, mobile computing, etc., as well as a DL fan and reader. i see a lot of confusion about a number of items here so i want to clarify a few points that are clearly being misunderstood:

1. the shift from ‘first to invent’ to ‘first to file’ has nothing to do with prior art. no patent will ever be valid if there is publicly available prior art that has made the invention known to the public before the patent filing.  The only difference arises in a case where A invented something before B, but B was quicker to file his patent application.  Under the ‘first to invent’ doctrine, if A can prove that he invented first, he will receive the patent even if he filed his patent application later.  first to file changes this, whereby it doesn’t matter when you came up with the idea – only when you filed the patent application.

2.  no one (including apple) can simply get a patent on an ‘idea’ without (a lot) more. i can’t just patent the idea of ‘unlocking a phone with face recognition.’ in order for a patent to be valid, it must ‘enable’ the invention. in a nutshell, that means that there must be enough detail for someone else in the same field to be able to read the patent and understand exactly what the invention is, how it works, and how to make it.  abstract concepts are not enough – there must be concrete examples,steps,etc., which spell it out (here, likely a series of algorithms).


Via:  BGR, Patently Apple

  • Timothy Do

    Android already has this, how can Apple patent it when it already exist? At this rate, Apple will patent eventually patent the numbers on your keypad of the phone so that they force everyone else to use roman numerals to dial. This is getting ridiculous.

  • Go read the application.

    United States Patent Application: 0110317872

  • And web sites that strip out paragraphing lead the list of forces leading to the deconstruction of civilization.  Makes everything just a run-on jumble of tiny ideas with no structure or relationship.

  • Seem to be a lot of misconceptions here.  Read the attorney’s brief tutorial lesson.

    One patents a thing when it has been developed.  Has nothing to do with manufacture, use, release or any of that.  There is no requirement to even ever use it.  It’s not about staking out territory by being first to market.Patent protection actually has nothing to do with products at all, or the right to sell certain kinds of products.  It has to do with the patented device.  Only.

    There is a culture wide dumbing down of everything and the deconstruction of all of civilization going on, epitomized by the flame wars.  Nobody bothers to understand structure or formal concepts; it’s all just about pop culture and whose “side” we are on.  The reader will note that this is basically just primitive tribalism with only instinctive actions.There are tons of things wrong with the patent system.  But letting Apple patent a method it invented that does the same thing as something someone else also does is not one of them.Personally, I think it began when government abrogated its responsibility to examine patents.  Also, Congress needs to limit patents to a concrete method or process, not a visualization of a result.  Apple will not be able to patent the idea of doing face recognition (and here is where the system has pretty much completely jumped the rails — but blame the idiot mostly Democrat congress, not Apple).  A patent was supposed to apply to one particular way of doing something, and that way should need to be distinctive.  The rules about prior art and obvious engineering have been pretty well gutted so now it’s more of a gold rush to stake out claims than any real contribution of solutions, which is what patents were supposed to encourage and protect.But once you can patent the idea of using a click on a web site to buy something, we are in deep, deep trouble.  That is one owned by Amazon which Apple licenses for iTunes and other uses.If there is only one way of doing something, obviously that is the obvious way, so it should hardly qualify for a patent.Research labs have been doing face recognition for security purposes long, long before either Apple or Google started messing with it.Apple sells many products which include others’ patented technology.

  • Pegwinieoncp

    crapple is just a f***ing company that gets all of its profits and products off suing other companies about things the other company already did, and that crapple was going to do, but was too dam lazy to get off their f***ing butts and make it. But they weren’t too lazy to sue people. Did you know I hate apple? FYI.

  • Guest

    APPLE <3

  • Bayberry29

    My dell all in one desktop has this feature for years now. I bought it in 2007 July to be exact. Apple is a bunch of assholes. I’m sick of their petty garbage. They don’t have too much longer anyways. RIP to Steve but without his guide and leadership they’re done anyways.

    • They are not applying to patent a feature.

      Your Dell can keep its feature, implemented its way.  Dell cannot use the same group of tricks to do it better that Apple has detailed in the application, if the patent is granted.

  • Mirko Fumagalli

    Today other STUPID charapter about this war…. we talk also in italy


  • Anonymous

    my friend’s mother makes $80/hour on the internet. She has been fired from work for 10 months but last month her 
    check was $7998 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site…  LazyCash1

  • Quinny898

    What’s the bet that their next “idea then patent” will be previews with multitasking?

  • I really don’t see how Apple can patent this honestly. It’s like the slide to unlock thing. Regardless, all the lawsuits, patents, etc. prove that Apple truly is afraid of Google when it comes to the wireless industry. You know, perhaps if they changed their business model so that it’s not so damn proprietary, they might not have to worry as much. If they opened themselves up a bit, they would gain back quite a bit of that market share they lost to Android I bet. While it can’t do as much, iOS is VERY easy and user friendly. Why not open it up to other manufacturers like Google has done? Oh wait….Then they wouldn’t have complete and utter control over the consumer. Nevermind….

    • Apple didn’t start it.  Amazon patented using one click to buy something, and it’s all been downhill from there.

  • my best friend’s step-aunt makes $68 every hour on the
    laptop. She has been fired for 9 months but last month her paycheck was $8807
    just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site…  LazyCash1

  • This is ridiculous, even more so taking into account there are even third-party apps that feature face recognition in the android market (search for “FaceLock for apps” in the Android market, for example)

  • Daniel Archibald33

    Pretty soon apple will try to file a patent that they were the first to create the “Smartphone” too

  • Rizzidy

    DL continues to look stupid when talking about patents.

  • Did anyone here actually read the patent?  Or are you just sheeping it up?

    • I read it.  There is quite a bit to the details, and I’m not an expert in the state of the art in face recognition.  However, I did recognize some of the steps as being pretty standard.  All in all, it struck me as the straightforward way someone would engineer that process.  But maybe there are some innovative details, possibly in the part about quickly doing the match.

      What concerns me is there seems to be a claim not to patent presence detection, and not to patent face recognition, but to patent connecting detection with proceeding to attempt recognition.  Now that’s downright obvious to me, and hardly a “process” or “device”.

      But if Amazon can defend the idea of patenting not clicking, and not buying, but of letting a click buy something, then Apple will probably prevail.

  • Anonymous

    Had to repost this….dunno where my cousin found it.

    cumulative reasons to get a mac:

    -you have no hardware knowledge.

    -you have no software knowledge.

    -you have no friends who know anything about hardware/software.

    -the most complex thing you have ever done is install a program and change the background image.

    -you are unable to make basic choices regarding hardware and looks and are happy to only be offered a single alternative.

    -you like shiny things.

    -you have a lot of money to spare.

    joking 😉

    but seriously.