Slide to unlock – Trademarked by Apple

Yesterday something happened, and it wasn’t the launch of a phone. It was the awarding of a trademark to Apple for the slide-to-unlock gesture. The US Patent Office database desribes ….

Unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image.

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.

This new patent will no doubt get used against Android and any other manufacturer who uses it in their touch-screen handset.


Link – US Patent Office
Image – Slide to Unlock

Slide to unlock   Trademarked by Apple

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  • Dave Darvin

    lol, apple are pathetic…. I wonder if I can patent a two-fingered gesture at them?

    • Bugs

      no patent on that, definite open source gesture!

  • Martin

    Android will have to have a ‘touch certain parts of the screen to unlock’  unlock to get around this, Apple will sue very soon that is for sure.
    Bastids :(
    I hope that Google have patented the smile to unlock that is in ICS?

  • Barrybell

    Surely it’s not Apple who are being pathetic here, it’s the US Patents office

    • Martin

      Yes, absolutely correct, very poor to just allow this.

  • Matt Peddlesden

    Nothing new in the software patents industry.  Where-as in the UK a patent is thoroughly tested and must stand-up completely before it is approved (or at least that used to be the case) the USPO has always gone more on a “grant first, test later” leaving it up to the courts to test the patents for validity.  The up-side is that granting patents is quicker and easier, the down side is that then you can get dragged through court and have to prove that the patent is invalid – so it’s up to the defence to prove its invalid, not the patent office or the organisation getting the patent.

    I’m absolutely sure it will definitely be thrown at basically anyone that has a touch screen that needs some kind of unlock :)

    That said, all it takes is for someone to demonstrate prior-art to throw the whole thing in the bin, so rather than complain, start digging through internet history and find devices that already do this, or do something very similar, because you can’t patent something that is an “obvious” extension of something else either.

    Should point out i’m no expert on the matter, I’ve just been through a couple of patent processes at companies i’ve worked for.

  • Hokum

    Windows mobile had a slide to unlock in 05…

  • the_prof

    This kind of thing really gets my goat.  To me it shows just how outdated the patent process in the US is; how it can promote monopolistic behaviour, and stifle innovation and consumer choice.  I don’t think you should be able to patent anything essential to the usage of a device, whether the medium/format was invented by you or not. 

    Besides this, Apple is quite successful enough, thanks very much, and we don’t really need a company as powerful as Apple garnering any more favour throughout the world.  One could argue the same about Google and Microsoft in their respective areas, and it’s these companies that we really need put in their place, and allow them to act a bit more responsibly. 

    We’re talking about three companies with billions in their bank accounts.  Billions.  We’re seeing small, innovative companies go out of business all the time, while these gargantuan organisations fritter away millions upon millions in patent disputes, all of which really benefit nobody, aside from the legal industry. 

    I think it’s a very sorry state of affairs, and the US government need to step up and put a stop to all this.  There are other ways of dealing with this sort of thing – it’s about time we start using them.