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Apple awarded patent for unlocking touchscreens

Apple might have just been awarded the patent to rule all other mobile patents, and made all future legal battles more interesting. As of this morning Apple is officially the only company that is allowed to unlock a touchscreen device by using a sliding motion. We see this used on Apple devices as the familiar “slide to unlock” screen, but almost every other touch screen phone or tablet on the market currently use some form of sliding to unlock the device.

Apple originally applied for the patent way back in December of 2005, but it did not appear on a device until January 2007 when Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone. Seeing how every single Android device uses some form of sliding gesture to unlock the device this might be a momentous patent in the ongoing legal battles.

Samsung has been very publicly fighting Apple over patents in the recent months. Google recently purchased Motorola Mobility to protect Android from patent attacks from Apple or Microsoft. After reviewing the 18 most important patents involved in the Motorola purchase we can see that none of them protect them from Apple’s latest patent.

The language of the patent is very open, and basically any sliding motion used on a touch screen to unlock a device will infringe on the patent. It will be very interesting to see how this newly awarded patent will impact the future legal battles among touch screen operating systems. Read the description of the patent below.

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. In addition, there is a need for sensory feedback to the user regarding progress towards satisfaction of a user input condition that is required for the transition to occur.

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