Apple awarded patent for touchscreen slide-to-unlock gesture

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple's arsenal of patents potentially became stronger this week, when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the company another patent related to unlock gestures on a touchscreen device.



U.S. Patent No. 8,406,721, entitled "Unlocking a Device by Performing Gestures on an Unlock Image," was awarded by the USPTO this week. First filed in an application in 2009, the invention includes Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS software, as one of its inventors.



A report from the BBC on Wednesday said the patent "would appear" to cover a number of devices that compete with Apple's iPhone and iPad, including touchscreen products developed by Google and Microsoft. But an intellectual property solicitor in London told the news organization that it's unknown whether the patent win will help Apple in its legal pursuit against devices running Android.



"Often you have situations where patents are argued through long and hard to get to registration, but when they are challenged there is a counter action to claim that the patent shouldn't have been granted," Silas Brown, of the law firm Briffa, reportedly said.



One example of this is in Apple existing patent infringement action against Samsung. In August, a Dutch judge said that a previously granted patent, also related to Apple's slide-to-unlock gesture, was likely invalid.







U.S. Patent No. 7,657,849 was awarded to Apple in February of 2010, and it is even listed as a related U.S. patent document in the new gesture patent awarded by the USPTO this week. A Dutch judge said he felt the '849 patent, awarded in 2010, was "not inventive," and therefore likely invalid.



The patent awarded this week describes a touchscreen device where certain gestures performed on the display can unlock it and allow users to use it.



"The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device," the filing reads. "The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predetermined 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 touchscreen."



Software cannot be patented in Europe, but Brown told the BBC that Apple could potentially still utilize the newly approved patent if the company could demonstrate that the slide-to-unlock gesture materially improves the performance of the hardware, such as giving it added security.



Apple has recently been engaged in patent infringement suits against device makers who create smartphones running the Google Android operating system. Its legal pursuits have found some success against rivals HTC and Samsung, and have even resulted in some Android-based Samsung products being barred from sale in Germany and Australia.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 191
    And the patent wars continues. Samsung's gonna be ready if Apple decides to enter the TV market.
  • Reply 2 of 191
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Old news, but sure to bring many clicks.



    So, there you go:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj-KS...layer_embedded
  • Reply 3 of 191
    irelandireland Posts: 16,090member
    I hate software patents.
  • Reply 4 of 191
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,123member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by linkgx1 View Post


    And the patent wars continues. Samsung's gonna be ready if Apple decides to enter the TV market.



    Very good point..hadn't thought about that. But it will would only work if they have patents for either the basic functions or infinite details....shapes etc.....
  • Reply 5 of 191
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 6 of 191
  • Reply 7 of 191
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


    Old indeed: it was dismissed in the Dutch courts months ago:



    Aug 24, 2011

    Dutch judge considers Apple's slide-to-unlock patent trivial and likely invalid

    http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011...-slide-to.html



    It'll be interesting to see if it survives in the States.



    The fact that the patent was granted will change everything and the judge was rather widely criticised for her decision in that case.



    The "prior art" of the N1M is clearly nothing like the slide to unlock that Apple uses for instance. In fact it is itself a rip-off of the Palm "top to bottom" gesture, which is itself a rip-off of the Newton gestures.
  • Reply 8 of 191
    irelandireland Posts: 16,090member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sciwiz View Post






    I love doorOS.
  • Reply 9 of 191
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sciwiz View Post






    Lol, that's a good one.
  • Reply 10 of 191
    ivladivlad Posts: 732member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post


    Old news, but sure to bring many clicks.



    So, there you go:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj-KS...layer_embedded



    Well too bad that company did not patent this because Apple did it first and was granted that patent for a reason. They applied first.
  • Reply 11 of 191
    Anyone who's thinking of posting criticism of this patent should first remember where they first experienced slide to unlock on a touch screen. It was probably on an Apple device.
  • Reply 12 of 191
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sciwiz View Post






    People who post this image (and there seems to be a lot unless it's always you), simply don't understand anything at all about invention, design, patents or much of anything else.



    The existence of cart wheels from the 18th century for instance, has no bearing on whether Ford should get a patent on their newest belted radial tires for example, and even less relevance to whether someone can write a computer game using wagon wheels as design elements. This is 100% irrelevant.
  • Reply 13 of 191
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    I hate software patents.



    Same here. Of course, we have to be very spefific. You don't want what happned in the gaming industry in the '80s (the crash) to happen if you have like 40 versions of pacman....NOT from Namco.
  • Reply 14 of 191
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by geekdad View Post


    Very good point..hadn't thought about that. But it will would only work if they have patents for either the basic functions or infinite details....shapes etc.....



    Yeah, like turning the TV. I swear I'm gonna lose it if Samsung wins some stupid crap like a power button!



    Ah, if only Zenith was a patent troll....
  • Reply 15 of 191
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sciwiz View Post






    Apparently this kind of lock doesn't keep the trolls out.
  • Reply 16 of 191
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by linkgx1 View Post


    Same here. Of course, we have to be very spefific. You don't want what happned in the gaming industry in the '80s (the crash) to happen if you have like 40 versions of pacman....NOT from Namco.



    That was copyright and trademark infringement, not patent infringement.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post


    Anyone who's thinking of posting criticism of this patent should first remember where they first experienced slide to unlock on a touch screen. It was probably on an Apple device.



    There's plenty of room for perfectly legitimate criticism for saying that this is (and most, if not all, software patents in general are) too obvious to be patentable, or that they should fall under the purview of copyright law, not patent law.



    That Apple originated this idea is completely beside the point.
  • Reply 17 of 191
    shrikeshrike Posts: 494member
    Everyone gets lit up on the patent abstract, which is of course the intent of the media. Always read the claims. The abstract is irrelevant to the patent, it's only the claims that matter.



    Here are the claims from the USPTO. Enjoy:



    Code:


    What is claimed is:



    1. A method of unlocking a hand-held electronic device, the device including a touch-sensitive display, the method comprising: detecting a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image; continuously moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the contact while continuous contact with the touch screen is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device; and unlocking the hand-held electronic device if the moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display results in movement of the unlock image from the first predefined location to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.



    2. The method of claim 1, wherein the moving comprises movement along any desired path.



    3. The method of claim 1, wherein the moving comprises movement along a predefined channel from the first predefined location to the predefined unlock region.



    4. The method of claim 1, further comprising displaying visual cues to communicate a direction of movement of the unlock image required to unlock the device.



    5. The method of claim 4, wherein the visual cues comprise text.



    6. The method of claim 4, wherein said visual cues comprise an arrow indicating a general direction of movement.



    7. A portable electronic device, comprising: a touch-sensitive display; memory; one or more processors; and one or more modules stored in the memory and configured for execution by the one or more processors, the one or more modules including instructions: to detect a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image; to continuously move the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the detected contact while continuous contact with the touch-sensitive display is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device; and to unlock the hand-held electronic device if the unlock image is moved from the first predefined location on the touch screen to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.



    8. The device of claim 7, further comprising instructions to display visual cues to communicate a direction of movement of the unlock image required to unlock the device.



    9. The device of claim 8, wherein the visual cues comprise text.



    10. The device of claim 8, wherein said visual cues comprise an arrow indicating a general direction of movement.



    11. A portable electronic device, comprising: a touch-sensitive display; means for displaying an unlock image at a first predefined location on the touch-sensitive display while the device is in a user-interface lock state; means for detecting contact with the touch-sensitive display; and means for continuously moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in response to detecting the contact in accordance with movement of the contact while continuous contact with the touch screen is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device; and means for transitioning the device to a user-interface unlock state if the moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display results in movement of the unlock image from the first predefined location to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.



    12. A computer readable storage medium storing one or more programs, the one or more programs comprising instructions, which when executed by a portable electronic device with a touch-sensitive display, cause the portable electronic device to perform a method comprising: detecting a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image; continuously moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the contact while continuous contact with the touch screen is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device; and unlocking the hand-held electronic device if the moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display results in movement of the unlock image from the first predefined location to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.



    13. The method of claim 1, wherein the unlock image is a single image.



    14. The device of claim 7, wherein the unlock image is a single image.



    15. The computer readable storage medium of claim 12, wherein the unlock image is a single image.







    Will it be invalidated? Who knows. If Apple uses it, then we will have a chance to see.
  • Reply 18 of 191
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 19 of 191
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post


    That was copyright and trademark infringement, not patent infringement.



    Crap....still though.



    Can you imagine?
  • Reply 20 of 191
    gustavgustav Posts: 806member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post


    Anyone who's thinking of posting criticism of this patent should first remember where they first experienced slide to unlock on a touch screen. It was probably on an Apple device.



    Actually, the first time I slid my finger across something to unlock it was a fingerprint detector on a ThinkPad.



    Also patent doesn't just have to be first - it should be non-obvious, and represent IP that has value. I could be the first to build a phone that is unlocked by pressing the letter Q, but that doesn't mean it's worthy of a patent.
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