Originally Posted by Neo42
Apple's patent includes specific information about underlying graphics (which the Neonode phone did not have) so I suppose that makes it unique but to claim Apple invented slide-to-unlock (without assuming they filed patent long ago) seems silly.
This is the biggest problem with people's impressions of what patents actually are.
Patents are not claims on ideas, they are claims on implementing ideas.
There can be 100 different "slide to unlock" patents, but they must all be unique in implementation somehow.
Software patents are more difficult and likely more subject to litigation, because there is no way to immediately see how something was implemented. Companies have to be dragged into courts to expose their code and algorithms and prove it is uniquely implemented.
Furthermore, even if the Neonode did have something similar before the patent application, then only they fall under the "prior art" umbrella, not everyone else. Prior art can be used to invalidate a patent if the described idea was common at the time.