A patent originally filed by Apple way back in 2007 has finally been awarded, and it could have significant implications for rival smartphone manufacturers.
The patent specifically mentions touchscreen technology, and the use of finger gestures to manipulate web pages. Sound familiar? Er, that’d be pretty much all touchscreen smartphones then.
An excerpt from the patent specifies: “[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.”
A PCMag source adds: "This patent covers smartphones that allow a user to manipulate the display of a Web page with finger gestures using different fingers and/or combinations of fingers, so it appears broad enough to cover all modern touchscreen smartphones because they all allow you to use one finger to move the Web page left or right, and a combination of two fingers to zoom in and zoom out of the Web page."
Legal dude Florian Mueller of Foss Patents observes: "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.”
Apple could seek to restrict the sale of rival devices (a bit like it’s considering doing with some of Samsung’s new goodies), or it could go down the cross-licensing route for some extra pocket money.
However, the PCMag source suggests that the patent might in fact be scrapped, if it’s “in the public interest”.