Apple wins a pretty vague touch screen patent

Three years after its filing, Apple has finally won the patent for “[a] computer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display, [that] comprises displaying a portion of page content, including a frame displaying a portion of frame content and also including other content of the page, on the touch screen display,” according to PC Mag. The patent was originally filed in 2007, and has only now been awarded to Apple, four years after its submission.

Confused about what the patent is actually for? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. From what it sounds like, this broad patent has wrapped up, in a pretty little bow, the capacitive multitouch interface (the touchscreen) that made the iPhone such a huge innovation back in 2007 when it was released for the first time. If your phone lets you use gestures with your fingers to navigate a website, or even an application, there’s a good chance your phone maker of choice could find themselves in a world of lawsuit hurt in the coming months.

A lot of companies are probably fearing the patent award today as it could open up a whole new round of lawsuits between Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, RIM, Nokia, and anyone else in the capacitive multitouch interface market.

Florian Mueller, who we’ve covered here before, and who writes over at Foss Patents, told PC Mag that “This patent covers a kind of functionality without which it will be hard to build a competitive smartphone… Unless this patent becomes invalidated, it would allow Apple to stifle innovation and bully competitors.”

There are a number of other options, outside of releasing the legal hounds of Cupertino on the smartphone masses. First, Apple could set up a cross-licensing agreement with the companies, and thereby allow them to continue to use the technology in their devices. Second, should this end up back in court, a judge could void the patent entirely in the interests of the public.

Something tells me that the next couple of months could bring with it quite a few articles on legal battles.

Article Via PC Mag

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