Slide to Unlock Apple’s New Patent Weapon

Apple has been protecting their patents by bringing culprits to court.  And we all know that Apple’s crosshairs are aimed squarely on of devices using the Android platform. It’s no longer a mystery why Apple is in hot pursuit of these patent pirates; the late Steve Jobs wants to destroy them for copying iOS features.

Apple and Android device makers have been locked in court battles in various parts of the world for over a year, and now Apple has another patent that could open up new infringement cases for other devices.

United States patent number 7657549 states that “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.”

Back in 2007 when Jobs launched the iPhone, he was like a kid excited over a new toy.  Jobs gushed about the unlocking mechanism of the iPhone, saying, “to unlock the phone, I just take my finger and slide it across. Wanna see that again? We wanted something you couldn’t do by accident in your pocket. Just slide it across – BOOM.”

Apple tried to secure the patent for the unlocking mechanism in Europe, but it was denied since the technology had been available and used two years before the iPhone even came out.

And now that they have finally secured the patent, this spells trouble for all Android smartphones, as well as Windows phones.  Apple can argue that Android’s pattern-unlock and Windows’ slide up to unlock feature infringes their slide to unlock patent because you’re still basically doing the same touch gesture; sliding on the screen is still sliding, no matter which direction you go.

Apple can go about this situation two ways; they can take Google and Microsoft to court, or they could employ Microsoft’s current tactic, entering into a licensing agreement and have those copycats pay royalties.  Apple’s been partial to court battles regarding other patent infringement cases, so it’s quite possible this could be a going trend for the iPhone maker.  Just when you thought these patent battles couldn’t get much worse…