Apple Wins Slide-To-Unlock Patent

Apple’s latest patent success could spell a lot of trouble

for Android and Windows Phone 7 handset manufacturers.

In the US,

Apple has won a patent on its slide-to-unlock feature having initially filed

the patent in 2009. The feature was first introduced by Apple in 2007 on the original

by Steve Jobs, and as you can see from the video below, it elicited a lot

of gasps from the audience on first showing.

With Android and Windows Phone 7 having similar

systems, this patent is likely to become another stick with which Apple will

hope to beat its rivals. However the patent has only been granted in the US, and a Dutch

judge had previously thrown out Apple’s application in Europe.

This was because a small Swedish company called NeoNode had

introduced a slide-to-unlock technology as far back as 2005.

The full patent filing is:

“A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked

via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked

if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking

the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which

the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device. The

performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may

include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the

unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues

of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture.”

With the acrimonious legal battles between Apple and Samsung

being waged across four continents, having a well-stocked patent portfolio is

becoming as important as having the best hardware or best software.

Apple Slide-to-Lock Patent

This patent is certainly broad in its description of the

technology involved, and may be challenged by other manufacturers in court, but it

does signal that Apple is intent on tying up as any patents as possible in the

current smartphone wars.