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Alexander Pruss
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I am afraid what I said wasn't exactly right. I forgot that on classic Palms, the geometric recognition wasn't on-screen but in a small "graffiti input" silkscreened rectangle below the screen (but the rectangle was included in the same resistive touch detection unit as the screen, I think). It was only in 2001 with the release of the Handera 330 (and later in 2002 with the Graffiti Anywhere app) that Graffiti input on the LCD screen itself became possible. Still, it seems to me (who am not a lawyer, though) to be a bit silly to think that the Handera 330 would have automatically infringed on this patent just because it extended the LCD to cover the input area and kept the old password system unchanged.
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Palm devices have had password locks for a long time. The Palm III, released in 1998, had it (I just checked with a manual of it online). Now you might say: "Big deal, entering a password is not drawing a geometric pattern." But it precisely is, since the text input on the classic PalmOS devices is done by drawing geometric patterns recognized by the Graffiti system. Seems a perfect match to the quoted claim (but I am not a lawyer). E.g., if you set up your password to be a single space, to activate the device you need to swipe left to right, because that's how you write a space in Graffiti. Or you can activate your device by drawing a circle, simply by setting the password to "o". Granted, I think you also have to tap a submit button. But the claim listed doesn't say that the geometric pattern is ALL you need. And it's an obvious modification to activate the device as soon as the password has been entered, without the need for pressing a submit button. Moreover, it would not surprise me if one of the many replacement security apps for PalmOS devices included a feature where you don't have to tap on a submit button, but it lets you in as soon as you've entered the password.
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Jan 4, 2012