In reference to the patent US20160267056

From a quick read I have the impression this patent applies to any layout manager on computers as they have been around since the early days of computing, dating back to graphical user interfaces (GUIs) as developed at Xerox PARC and likely earlier (e.g., Engelbart's NLS system in 60s).

More tellingly, also as is in use by the web browser used to outline the web page which shows the patent itself.

Does this constitute sufficient prior art, or can somebody provide prior art in a more suitable format?

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    Please note that the cited document is an application, not yet a patent.
    – Eric S
    Nov 24, 2017 at 4:42
  • @Eric Although not that obvious from Google Patents, eventually I figured this out. All the more reason for posting, no? From reading the help section it was my understanding that one way of preventing patents like this from being granted is to post as I did here. If time permits I can add more specific prior art as an answer, but for now the argumentum ad absurdum might already do its job. Nov 24, 2017 at 8:05
  • It wasn’t obvious you were requesting prior art. Perhaps you might review some of the other prior art requests to get an idea of format.
    – Eric S
    Nov 24, 2017 at 14:32
  • @EricShain I did, as per this list from the faq. Did I miss anything specific? To make it more concrete I included an explicit question. Nov 24, 2017 at 14:37
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1 Answer 1


It is important to understand that this application is not in any way trying to patent layout managers in general. Indeed the specification clearly describes existing layout manager systems including Swing, WPF, Qt, Cocoa and others. What it is attempting to patent is a specific method of providing layout management using a logical binary tree structure. Therefore, if one wants to provide prior art to invalidate this patent, you need to find an existing example of a similar scheme. I'm not personally aware of one, but I'm not particularly experienced in this field.

Another thing to consider is that claims as published in applications are very frequently far broader that what might eventually get granted. I looked up the current status in the US Public Pair and the application has received a non-final rejection. In particular Claims 1-6, 15-20, 22, 29 and 10 were rejected as unpatentable over Dyar et al US2016/0092084 A1, in view of Atkins et al US 2010/0275152 A1 published 10/28/2010. Further claims 7 and 21 were rejected as unpatentable over Dyar in view of Atkins in view of Zeidler et al "Constant Solving for Beautiful User Interfaces: How Solving Strategies Support Layout Aesthetics", 2012.

This is not to say it wouldn't be valuable to seek additional prior art, but this doesn't seem to be one of those software patents that is trying to patent common knowledge, and it seems at least at this time that the examiner is doing her job.

  • "specific method of providing layout management using a logical binary tree structure". At a glance, this just seems like the obvious implementation, thus not living up to the requirement for it being patentable, i.e., a “person having ordinary skill in the art” would know how to solve the problem at which the invention is directed by using exactly the same mechanism. Quite likely, very similar implementations are in use today, although I have not looked at the source code. Nov 26, 2017 at 19:34
  • Thank you for referring to the additional information which can be retrieved from US Public Pair. Weird this is not listed by default on Google Patents. Nov 26, 2017 at 19:38
  • P.s., Which search string and type of number (application number or something similar) do you use to search on Public PAIR? I tried several options and altered formats but can't find any matches. Nov 26, 2017 at 19:50
  • I’ve never searched Public Pair. Once I know the patent’s number I use Pair to pull up specifics. In this case, select “document number” and enter 20160267056. I like www.lens.org for patent searching. Better than Google.
    – Eric S
    Nov 26, 2017 at 21:24
  • K, so without 'US' prefix, 'A1' suffix, and '/' separator. :) Lovely user friendly search engine. Thanks! Nov 26, 2017 at 22:02

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