Apple looking to control look and feel of mobile applications

In a move being called scary and patent trollingthe Unwired blog passes along some information about three new patent applications by Apple when it comes to ideas about mobile applications. These patent applications have to do specifically with mobile apps that deal with arranging travel, booking hotels and finally shopping.

According to Unwired if these applications are granted Apple would be able to patent the way that mobile applications functions – from mobile boarding passes to store locator options.

Here are the diagrams that go along with the patent applications.


Hotel – Booking


The Chill

It is easy enough to shrug this off and say that companies are filing patent applications all the time both to protect ideas and for future use. The problem here is two fold. First Apple isn’t one for just filing applications for the hell of it and they are equally known for stomping real hard on anyone who they thin is infringing on any aspect of their patents.

The second problem is that these three patent applications cover areas that are constantly seeing new companies coming along and trying to innovate, or improve, what services are already there. As Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb points out in her post:

What does this mean for companies already building applications similar to these? For example, OpenWays, which has already built mobile applications that allow smartphones to work as hotel room keys or Socialight which can be used to build a “virtual hotel concierge” service, among other things? What of the fact that multiple airlines already have their own mobile boarding pass applications? What of the universal remote apps like FLPR, Bobby, L5 and RedEye, to name just a few? And the list could go on and on.

It is this type of preemptive patenting that is have a detrimental effect on software development. This is not to say that Apple is alone in this as it is every time we turn around some new software patent is being filed or yet another lawsuit is underway for some stupid software patent infringement.

Going by Apple’s reputation one has to really wonder what the fallout of this will be if they are granted the patents.