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EP249293 Indicating instrument for data and/or graphics which is controlled by a processor
Advice on the reading of patent specifications:
  • The decisive element are the claims, as they specify which actions are forbidden within the framework of the patent.
  • Violating one single claim is sufficient to be considered a patent violation. Generally, claim number 1 is the decisive main claim which covers all other claims relating to special cases.
  • The description is intended to help the reader interpret the claim. At the same time, it is supposed to document and disclose the details of the invention. This disclosure is the original purpose of the entire patent system.
  • In practice, a patent specification contains no detailed information on how the patented procedure could be implemented (even if the patent owner allowed the implementation). In particular, a software patent contains no program code (reference implementation), but merely describes the idea of a software.

Patented idea: Context menu

Main claim: The user earmarks any spot on the monitor (e.g mouse pointer) initiating a move (e.g. mouse click). As a result a menu shows up.

Further claims:

  • The menu disappears after the work is done
  • Usage of a mouse, visible mouse cursor

Description: As motivation are mentioned the following disadvantages of conventional pull-down-menus:

  • Permanent occupation of space on the screen
  • Lacking possibility of specifying concurrently with a move the spot where this move is meant to occur.

Everyday parallel: A buyer points to a displayed article (pointer) and asks (move) the seller for details (menu) of his offer.

Examples for patent infringements:

  • The majority of windows manager and desktop systems (e.g. fvwm2, GNOME,KDE, MS-Windows) and many graphics programs (e.g. GIMP, Adobe Photoshop) display a menu when the right mouse key is pressed.

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