Apple seeks patent for translucent windows, similar to features shown in Microsoft’s Longhorn previe

“Apple is seeking a patent on a method for rendering translucent-appearing windows, technology that appears similar to features Microsoft has been previewing for its next major Windows release. Apple Computer Inc.’s patent application, which dates back to November 2003, was published Thursday on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Web site. By law, most patent applications become public record within 18 months of being filed, a patent office spokeswoman said,” Matt Hicks reports for eWEEK.

“According to the filing, the patent covers a method in which ‘information-bearing windows whose contents remain unchanged for a predetermined period of time become translucent.’ The translucency would intensify the longer a window’s content remains unchanged, the patent application states,” Hicks reports.

Full article here.


  1. The Mac translucency functionality goes way beyond what is proposed for Longshot. But it does make me wonder if Microslop has an insider at Apple who is leaking future functionality to Redmond so they can copy it in advance.

  2. Translucent windows were available in winamp in 2001; Nvidia has had translucent windows in thier driver set since 2000. You can’t patent everything, especially where it has been implemented before. Windows 2000 (out in 1999) has had support for alpha blending (and therefore translucency). That’s why the menus fade into to existance and fade out.

    of course that’s not as as bad as the person who ‘patented’ e-commerce then tried to sue everybody.

  3. Abomb, it would amaze me if there are not informers in both camps; all it takes is money.

    Shabaz, ATI also provides some translucent windows in their TV applications.

  4. Shabaz – read the patent claim. This goes far beyond the transparency available in Winamp and others. FAR beyond that. In fact, the patent claim has to do with other functionality, not the translucency per se.

  5. The formatting pallettes are a pain in the screen and their transparency would be a great improvement for office 2004 over previous version. Is there still a “Hide” command, or does the latest version have red yellow and green buttons at the top level?

    I agree this is a stupid patent claim, but perhaps Apple wants the patent just so it doesn’t get sued by somebody….it has a massive legal department, which is there in large part to reject suggestions from apple users, for example, and does a fine job of it…

  6. This patent covers a gradual increase in translucency relating to how long the window has rested idle. When it gets to a certain level, clicking on the window area will activate whatever is behind the window, not the window itself. They are not trying to patent translucency in itself – there is plenty of prior art for that.

  7. Apple’s prior art goes back to it’s and NEXT’s beginnings in the 1980’s. There is a lot of prior art around but Apple was one of the first to produce it in the GUI space.

  8. Smart windows sound good to me and will be another benefit in the realm of Expose, both which will help you when you have multiple windows/apps open…but I would expect more than just what the patent describes from Apple. Another function that we needed but we didn’t know we needed. Isn’t that what Apple is all about anyways? When the iPod came out, I said “cool”, but I never expected what has happened with it and ITMS. I am just a little tired of all the iPod exposure and ready for the new Tiger exposure striped tan.

  9. Any reason why? Patents exist to benefit and protect the patentee… crazy patents are rampant nowadays… The term “windows” patentable or generic… example of another current patent lawsuit by Microshit vs. Lindows (LINux based winDOWS) the jury has to determine if windows is a generic term for an OS as percieved by the public in the 80’s… Hopefully, Microtrash will lose to Lindows Inc. Hell they are called Microsoft not Windows… Apple is Apple not System V…. and once and for all XEROX had all ya’ll beat in the early 80’s as both Apple and Microdweebs … stole/borrowed from that window-based interface! As we all should rememeber the GUI ain’t the OS it’s just an interface! Oh yeah…the thread… Apple as no right to patent a transparency/translucency … GET A GRIP!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.