Finally after nine years, on Tuesday the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) awarded Apple and inventor Steve Jobs a patent for their User Interface for Providing Consolidation and Access. Their what? It is more commonly known as “The Dock”.
If you’re a PC user, you may be unfamiliar with The Dock. According to the Apple website “The Dock is the bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of your screen. It provides easy access to some of the Apple applications on your Mac (such as Mail, Safari, iTunes, Address Book, and QuickTime Player), displays which applications are currently running, and holds windows in their minimized state. It's also the place to find the Trash (its icon looks like a waste basket). For your convenience, you can add your own applications, files, and folders to the Dock too.”
Many PC users may think that this sounds like a description of the Start menu, and it’s corresponding bar. Well, yes it does when put in simple terms. However there are tons of patens with similar names because they cover similar subjects and ideas. When you actually read it, it becomes a little less obvious the novel things the patent claims have actually been done before. Like all government related processes, it’s the details and intricacies that make patents more than a brief description. You just can’t read the title and think “It’s been done before.” For example, The Dock patent does go into great detail covering the magnification feature.