The smartphone patent wars continue

Method and apparatus for controlling a computer system

AllThingsDigital brings news of yet another patent issued for technology we've been using for years. The patent, Method and apparatus for controlling a computer system, which was filed in June 2006 and granted last week, is shockingly broad - essentially describing any means of using an accelerometer to control a computer.

Unsurprisingly, it's not hard to find prior art on this one.

In early 2005, software engineer Amit Singh published his experiments using the motion sensor present in Apple PowerBooks as a human interface device (HID). Then in May 2006, Nintendo unveiled the motion controller for the Wii console at E3.

An AllThingsD commenter also points out a cracker - the accelerometer-based inertial navigation systems used in military hardware since the 1940s.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, but doesn't the existence of the accelerometer itself represent prior art? The simple implementation an existing component shouldn't be grounds for a patent.

The interesting thing about this patent is that it hasn't been granted to Apple, HTC or anyone else you might be thinking of. The holder is Durham Logistics, a Las Vegas-based limited liability company that no one seems to know anything about.

The ramifications of this patent could be massive, with accelerometers present in just about every smartphone I can think of, and god knows how many other "computers" released in the last decade. We'll count this one as Exhibit Z in the case for patent reform, and keep you posted with further developments.

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