Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Apple wins 'slide to unlock' patent

Many of the patent applications and grants we come across involving Apple relate to theoretical products that may never see the light of day. Today, Apple has been granted a patent that covers one of the most basic (and copied) processes in iOS, slide to unlock.

Though Apple holds many patents pertaining to gestures, the slide-to-unlock gesture is both symbolically and practically the one that gets everything started. Here is the official wording from the United States Patent & Trademark Office, describing what other companies are now restricted from including in their touch-sensitive operating systems:

"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."

That's one way to say it. The easier way came from Jobs himself as he introduced the original iPhone in 2007, saying, "We wanted something you couldn't do by accident in your pocket. Just slide it across--BOOM."

Given the ongoing legal battles that Apple is facing with companies like Samsung over design stealing, another major patent win can only serve to strengthen Apple's position.

Should Apple go on the offensive with its new patent for slide-to-unlock or sit back and use it for legal-defense purposes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!