Most smartphones use a form of Slide to Unlock to go from the lock screen to the main menu. The feature was (I think) introduced in the original iPhone, and it’s not clear if there was prior work. In any case, Apple has been awarded the patent, which has been filed in 2005. Now that the patent has been officially awarded to Apple, the company may use it to go after folks who have been using something similar, namely score of Android phones, to pick the juicy part of the market.Now, I’m no patent lawyer, but there’s a chance that only the implementation above is being patented, so lock screens that slide the whole screen, or the multi-directional unlock of Honeycomb may not be infringing – but that wouldn’t prevent Apple from suing anyway. The actual patented slide and lock is describe below and is pretty detailed, so anything that falls outside this description may not be infringing.
“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.”
Of course, if there is litigation, it’s up to the courts to decide and given what has happened recently, anything can come out of it. By the way, did you know that Atari had a patent on “pixels”?
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