Microsoft granted patent on button click timing

Microsoft has been granted a patent relating to the use of buttons on hardware devices that form part of a user interface.

U.S. patent 6,727,830, granted April 27, is described as a "time-based hardware button for application launch." The patent abstract goes on to explain that the patent relates to how different functions can be invoked depending on whether a button is clicked once, clicked and held down for a period of time, or double-clicked within a short period of time.

A Microsoft spokesman confirmed that the patent was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to Microsoft and that it was developed by employees working in the company's Pocket PC group. He couldn't say whether or not the patent applied to desktop applications, or how Microsoft planned to enforce the patent.

The patent mainly concerns handheld computing devices that come with a set of application buttons, according to the patent description:

"In the past, the actuation of an application button caused an application to be launched in a particular state, for example a view state. The user was required to take further steps to invoke additional application functionality, such as opening a document. It is desirable to more easily launch applications in various states. The present invention is directed to increasing the functionality of application buttons so as to accomplish this result," the patent reads.

Jeff Norman, an intellectual property partner with the Chicago law firm Kirkland Ellis, said that the patent appeared to cover "the time dimension to a click."

"Depending on how long you hold the button, that would define a different set of applications," he said. "It could be used, for example, in a voice recorder. Instead of launching the application, the voice recorder software could know to begin recording if the user clicked and held down on the click."

Late last year, Microsoft began demanding royalty payments for the use of its FAT (file allocation table) system, for which it was granted a patent in 1996. A group called the Public Patent Foundation in April called for that patent to be revoked, claiming that this amounted to an abuse of monopoly power by Microsoft.

"Microsoft is using its control over the interchange of digital media to aid its ongoing effort to deter competition," the group said. "The ... patent is causing immeasurable injury to the public by serving as a tool to enlarge Microsoft's monopoly while also preventing competition."

(Robert McMillan in San Francisco contributed to this story.)

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

David Legard

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?