Apple applied for a patent on the Apple Dock in 1999, and it was granted in 2008. This was despite the use of a very similar concept in the RISC OS marketed by Acorn as far back as 1987, Sun's Project Looking Glass, and the release of the Dock idea as part of the OPENSTEP specification by NeXT, who Apple bought out.
This software patent is threatening to GNUstep, an important free software project, as well as several others, such as Cairo-Dock, GNOME Do's shiny new Docky interface, and of course the endless proprietary implementations of this idea.
 Related pages on en.swpat.org
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