Dear Mr. Halling,
you are of course correct, that a lot of my 'rant' (as I termed it myself) is an emotional appeal not substantiated by technological facts. A large part of my posting pertained to a personal exasperation what today is termed a patent, not an erudited evaluation if all those patents actually have some grounds to be granted. I apologize for the unclear formulation.
Thank you for the additional information on this particular case, some of which I was already aware of, and permit me to answer your points in relation to this case only as an example of what I 'rant' against, as I do not have the background or time (or even interest) to fully investigate all patent claims that 'irk' me and formulate a thoroughly validated and provable theory as to the misuse of the patent office (my bad).
The one point I feel safest with to argue with my own background in information technology is the hardware and software to be patented:
You would have seen that this was about a device with a foldable display that takes certain action when it is folded in different ways. These actions are explained in the patent application as making or receiving a phone call, sending or receiving an electronic document, activating or deactivating a software program, and connecting to or disconnecting from a network.
from the application:
" ... a processor, a foldable display including a bendable material configured to emit light and including a folding axis, wherein the bendable material extends across the folding axis and the foldable display is configured to be folded with respect to the folding axis. ..."
Software that initiates certain actions when a certain device state is recognized (here folding) is neither new nor ingenious. Such devices have already been built and programmed for many years. Toshiba might have claim to the same 'initiating action on folding' (click), to show just one example. A different case would be if the action were initiated by a new technology, e.g. touchpads with NFC communication to tablets or smartphones as GlidePoint is offering (click) or Dimple has integrated in a realised product (click). At least here I can see some ingenuity in putting existing technologies (NFC and touch-devices) together into new functionality e.g. for tablets and smartphones, and offering these as fully realised products. But even with these products I'd only see the patent-value in fully realised products, not the combination of 'NFC- and touch-technology to initiate actions'.
The device's hardware is again not fully explained: bendable displays have been produced at least as prototypes by other companies already (and I assume have existing patents?). The 'folding' itself is not differentiated whether the bendable display itself folds around the edge fully or whether there is a hinge of some kind along the axis to be folded, where the bendable display is interrupted. The shown diagrams do not explain this either. Or if I were to 'interpret' then one axis is folding around, the other is a hinge with no display folding. The wording in the different text passages is inconclusive which is which or does what. Nor does the application explain if the bending can occur along any user-chosen axis or only along predefined axis, or which bendable materials the patent is to cover in conjunction with the folding and initiating action. These I'd consider important in granting a patent on a 'folding device with bendable display' as it would cover just about every device that can be folded (from eReaders, to tablets, to machine-devices, to ...), that has different (even not yet invented) bendable materials and initiates certain actions via software.
Regarding the comparison you make yourself to the announced Samsung devices, I'll defer to your expertise as a patent attorney to distinguish what Samsung has promised to release in the short future as a product and what SAP has applied for as a patent for some unspecified release. From the information available to me as a lay person and what I could glean from the additional information you pointed me to, I do not see much of a difference. However knowing big companies I'm sure Samsung also has some patents to cover their new device. Or am I to assume, that we're looking at the next patent lawsuit?
Re my ranting claim that such a technology is not yet available you're right: as a 'foldable device with bendable displays initiating software actions' on it's lowest denominator that is most certainly possible to build today. However the generic terms of the patent you linked also cover all future bendable displays with different folding axis initiating even farther software actions not yet programmed. Which brings me back to my exaggerated claim of the all-in-one devices claimed as patent but not invented yet. It would cover devices like the ereader/tablet combination already offered with different materials on different device-sides or display portions, or even a display that can dynamically switch between eInk and IPS. If you as a patent attorney will prevent such future devices/materials/functionality to be covered by above patent, I withdraw my observation and apologize for my ignorance.
My wording itself was certainly not up to objectivist standards - which I would never claim to be able to uphold at all times, otherwise I'd have to shut up about 90% of the times I've spoken up in this forum ;) My apologies for any offence given.
On the other hand I cannot credit patent applications with an abundance of 'understandability' as shown in the document you linked to the details of the patent application. The different 'aspects' specified in that document require some serious interpretation and some creative juggling of wording to narrow down functionality like '... at least one of ...' (limited or not limited to a list?) or '... there may be various different methods employed ...' (which will be employed?) or '... with respect to a second folding axis ...' (which one will that be?) or '... at least one of organic light emitting diodes or inorganic light emitting diodes ...' (how many materials does that include? or would it be easier to specify the few it actually excludes?).
If such complex 'if-when-else-maybe' structures are required to specify the details of a patent and still leave them open to such a wide-spread interpretation it is no wonder patent lawsuits are increasing (again I have no figures for that - ahhh: found one - click - don't know if it holds up to expert evaluation).
I hope I could illustrate the point I was trying to make in my initial 'ranting' without the substantiating evidence. I still stand by my claim, that patents today seem (to a lay person) to have become legal excuses for suing each other for money and no longer a recognition of man's mind and it's creations. Materials and functionality is claimed as a patent without specific details what it is actually limited to, even covering inventions still to be made. However I'm willing to defer to your expertise in this field if you can point me to details regarding this specific patent that will prevent my above interpretations and apologize that I smeared an entire profession or you as a patent lawyer. That was certainly not my intention - I was only trying to point out a tendency instigated by many companies and individuals how they are trying to abuse patent law (in my non-expert opinion). The recent slew of patent trials certainly points in the same direction - again unsubstantiated as I have not read thousands of depositions made pro and con.The office of patents and it's intended function to protect "... the source of all human creation, the products of man’s mind ..." is most certainly not what I'm attacking - only the use many companies and individuals are trying (and in my opinion often succeeding) to make of it.
I hope that exonerates me of the accusation of running a SOCIALIST SCAM ;)
Vera S. Doerr