By now we have all grown familiar with the “pull down to refresh” action on mobile websites. Especially websites like Twitter and Facebook, but now Twitter is trying to patent the action – which means we’re going to see that small but extremely useful little trick less and less.
Loren Brichter filed for the “User Interface Mechanics” patent back in 2010, when he still worked for Tweetie, the move is something that really makes sense. Instead of having to press a “refresh” button, simply pull down and it will do the actual refresh automatically. The system is described as:
A method, comprising: displaying a content area; receiving input associated with a first command, the first command including a request to scroll the content area; and based on the first command, performing a second command, the second command being independent of the first command
Since the description is kind of “way out there” and doesn’t really say – Pull Down To Refresh – this means that if twitter gets the patent, any website that uses a pull down to refresh command is going to be breaking the patent which means you’ll have to sit around jerking your phone up and down trying to refresh your news feed looking over your shoulder making sure no one is trying to file a lawsuit for crude gestures in public.
This is the only thing I hate about patents, instead of making life easier on everyone else; we’re stuck in their stupid legal debates. Imagine if someone patented a cure for cancer and didn’t allow anyone else to use it – yet, they had no way of actually putting the cure to good use. [USPTO via iPodNN]