Why is Apple QuickTime required to view images on the website of United States Patent and Trademark Office?

Head over to a patent on the website of United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Chances are, the patent has images that go along with it. Click on the “Images” button on the patent page and you will be taken to another section on USPTO’s website that will show you the images attached to the specific patent you were viewing. The only problem? You need to have Apple QuickTime installed to view the images!

Why for the love of all that is tech is QuickTime required to view images? Is it really that hard to use simple HTML to display images? Or, if USPTO wants to get fancy, create an image gallery using JavaScript, AJAX, or HTML5. Heck, even using Flash would be better than QuickTime.

I realize the USPTO’s website is old (and ugly). While I don’t know exactly when its current design was put into place, it looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90s or early 00s. So it could be that QuickTime was simply the best available option way back when USPTO’s website was built (was HTML dead?!). However, there is no bloody reason in today’s day and age to require users to have QuickTime installed to view images… unless I’m missing something, in which case please do correct me.

Maybe this is why Apple has no many ridiculous patents — Apple will break USPTO’s website unless they bend to Apple’s will. Just kidding. Kind of.

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3 comments

  1. DrTszap

    Recommended PC viewers are AlternaTIFF and interneTIFF (Quicktime is only recommended for pre-safari Macs)… See: http://patft.uspto.gov/help/images.htm

    …Quick test… Yep, AlternaTIFF plugin installs and works in FireFox 8-) *HOWEVER* the FireFox plug-in finder doesn’t seem to know about AlternaTIFF… maybe because it’s an oldskool Netscape-style plugin rather than a FF-specific add-on…(Chrome OTOH, has a bug that requires an alternative version of AlternaTIFF that poses as Quicktime – go figure)

  2. Steve Cohen

    If I remember correctly, the USPTO paid a lot of $$ to upgrade its system and the contractor really screwed up the job. This seems to be the norm for U.S. Government contractor work. 20+ years ago the FAA gave IBM $5 Billion to upgrade its air traffic control system. The product IBM produced was unusable. No wonder the U.S. Government is in debt and so much does not work right.