No Multi-User Login For Android 4.2: Stifled by Nokia Patent Lockout

I can’t believe what I’ve just read. One of the cool new features of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is that it allows multi-user logins. This is just the same principle as seen on Windows, Linux, Unix and many other operating systems and has been around since the dawn of modern computing, around 50 years plus. However, Nokia somehow managed to actually get a patent on this regardless of this prior art, let alone it being such basic and obvious functionality. The upshot is that Android phones are not allowed to feature mult-user logins, while tablets running Android can, as advised by Google in its feature description. This is yet another good example of how patents actually stifle innovation rather than foster it, as is claimed by proponents of the current patent system. The US patent system is seriously broken, as often reported on TechDirt. The critical part of the patent is shown in the quote below.

A mobile telephone is designed to be used by several different end-users at different times. A first end-user can alter the mobile telephone so that it operates in a manner specific to that first end-user and a subsequent end-user can alter the mobile telephone so that it operates in a manner specific to that subsequent end-user; wherein each end-user has only to respond to prompts displayed on a screen in order to alter the mobile telephone so that it operates in a manner specific to that end-user…

The present invention therefore moves away from the established assumption that a mobile telephone is personal to a single end-user and instead readily allows the mobile telephone to be used by several end-users through appropriate on-screen prompts. Such a device may be especially relevant to communities where few individuals can afford the cost of their own personal telephone. More generally, it is useful for any entity to whom there are benefits from being able to easily share mobile telephones across multiple end-users (e.g. large corporation may have a pool of such mobile telephones; any employee can then simply pick up one of these telephones and be able to use it like a personal device).

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