Touchscreen interface patent granted to Apple could start many lawsuits

Apple_touchscreen_patent Yes, you read that headline right. Apple has just been granted a patent on mobile touchscreen technology that they filed all the way back in 2007. Obviously, this could cause some big problems for manufacturers of all kinds of electronics, especially smartphones.

Before we get into the possible implications of this action, lets take a look at the patent itself. As stated in the abstract, US patent number 7,966,578 covers "A computer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display." To be more specific, the patent says that Apple owns the idea of using a "gesture on or near the touch screen display" to "translate to display a new portion of page content on the touchscreen display." Basically, this patent could be applied to actions as simple as sliding to unlock or scrolling down a webpage.

As you have probably already noticed, Apple is not the only company that makes use of technology covered in this patent. In fact, nearly every mobile device manufacturer and many desktop companies have devices that violate this patent.

Does this mean that Apple will be suing all of them? Probably not, although it is possible for the patent to be invalidated if Apple does not defend it well enough. However, courts could also decide it is in the best public interest to invalidate the patent if Apple is too aggressive with the patent. No matter what they do, Apple now has a powerful and disruptive weapon in their hands. As intellectual property activist Florian Mueller said, "Unless this patent becomes invalidated, it would allow Apple to stifle innovation and bully competitors."


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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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