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Yahoo files for 'smart' drag-and-drop patent

updated 03:20 pm EST, Thu December 27, 2007

Yahoo drag-and-drop patent

A Yahoo patent application, currently making its way through the US Patent and Trademark Office, is facing serious scrutiny as part of a new public review process. Peer to Patent is co-sponsored by the USPTO and the New York Law School, and as a pilot project is using over 1,000 public participants to review roughly 250 technology patents. The aim is specifically to test them against standards such as "prior art," or whether they are merely "obvious" extrapolations of current technology.

The Yahoo patent revolves around the concept of "smart" drag-and-drop commands, which show users good places to move an object. The problem, according to Peer to Patent reviewers, is that there are several instances of prior art, among them Apple's Mail and Finder applications, along with Microsoft's Excel and Visio. In the case of the latter two, points are generated on a diagram as users drag out lines; this may or may not be enough to challenge Yahoo, as the patent mentions close proximity to the drag source.

A more relevant instance of prior art may come from a "drag-and-pop" concept devised in 2003, which displays drop points near an object as it is moved. Even if it is useful however, no Peer to Patent judgment is final, since its information is merely passed on to the USPTO for consideration. [via Ars Technica]

by MacNN Staff



  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ....did Apple's finder get smart drag/drop?

  1. beeble

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Drag feedback

    The only kind of feedback Finder gives is when you're dragging a file and the cursor changes to tell you if a copy or move is going to take place. I don't think that is quite the same thing.

    However I've seen several things over many years where objects will change their colour or similar visual feedback based on whether they can receive a dragged object or not. I'm sure there a literally dozens of cases of specific prior art on this concept if MacNN is describing it accurately.

  1. chulitomio

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Drag Feedback

    Um. I think they mean the way folders are drawn with a blue highlight or the bar is drawn to indicate 'in between' when you drag to Finder window sidebars, the way the dock shuffles other icons out of place when you drag to the dock, and that same behaviour from Mail. They use this to indicate where a file/folder is allowed to go, and to "show users good places to move an object."

    This is an example of art that makes this patent look like an "obvious" extrapolation of current technology.

    It is a small leap to go from the current Finder behaviour to the one described by the patent - where these possible locations for a file/folder are highlighted when the user *begins* the drag, not just when the user drags *on top of* the location.

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