How & why can you patent something already in the public domain?

It’s a perfectly simple question – surely if it’s already out there and people know about it how can someone patent the idea 5 years later? Isn’t that theft? That’s the way it works in music – if someone claims that a riff is theirs but later it turns out that someone else wrote it they get pilloried in the media and are forced to pay up in court…

So why has Apple been given $1bn for an idea they ripped off?

I’m not going to go into the legal details because the issue is laid out far better by MAXWELL KENNERLY, ESQ. of the Beasley Firm, LLC. In his excellent and well referenced article he states:-

“On December 14, 2007, Apple laid claim to the supposed novel invention of “list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display,” the formal title of United States Patent 7,469,381 B2, with a patent application granted after a year-long review by the patent office that apparently didn’t include watching this scene from 2002’s Minority Report, where Tom Cruise does all of those things and more with a spiffy 3D interface.”


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