Here is another that is pertinent which covers the display of the stacks/piles:
Wow, reading through that application's claims, it appears they are trying to patent the concept of displaying multiple windows on multiple monitors, display digital images in a grid, a filmstrip, etc., etc. In my opinion, their claims seem extremely vague and very, very broad. The Patent reads as if they believe they invented the idea of displaying images in rows, in columns, in a grid, in stacks, etc. No one can really expect Apple to be the only one allowed to display images in rows and/or columns? Especially when this is already accepted practice and commonly known techniques used by
hundreds of programs?
Sounds like potentially dangerous waters to enter to me.
I wouldn't want to attempt to copy any specifically patented, unique feature from another program either. But I don't see how Apple can claim to have "invented" the concept of stacking photos on top of one another, especially when they don't appear to be the first to have done so. Lightroom as well as Elements support image stacks, and now that Microsoft owns iView MediaPro, I can't imagine it will be long before they incorporate the feature as well. Regardless, a quick search seems to reveal there are existing, related patents for stacked windows, stacked images, etc. which Apple would have to reference as "prior art" and deal with as part of the patent they are trying to achieve.
In fact, I think a very good argument can be made that Photo Mechanic has long been implementing a basic stacking feature, well before Aperture, Lightroom or Elements. RAW+JPG is essentially an automatic stacking of images based upon filename and specific file extensions.
Just my 2-cents.