Well, it happened - the slide-to-unlock patent Apple has been requesting was granted this morning by the US Patent & Trademark Office, meaning almost any device in America using a sliding unlock mechanism is now infringing on Apple's patent unless otherwise ruled.


While the timing may seem a bit suspicious, Apple originally filed for the patent in 2005. Have a look at this excerpt from the granted patent document:

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. In addition, there is a need for sensory feedback to the user regarding progress towards satisfaction of a user input condition that is required for the transition to occur.

Sounds fairly nebulous, right? It's unclear to me whether this description fits either Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich's lock screens, but it certainly sounds close to Android's current default lock screen, and, given Apple's penchant for going after Android and its manufacturers, we can probably expect to see some interesting developments in the near future. You can see the full patent on the US Patent & Trademark Office's website here.

It's worth noting that Apple won a similar patent in 2010, which focused more around animations, including the lock screen and letter pop-ups on the iPhone's keyboard. Today's patent is essentially an extension or clarification of 2010's patent, related more specifically to the method used by the unlock screen.

via 9To5Mac

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Mordat Dominick

    Was accepted in 2010, and Apple are currently using this patent against HTC in litigation (which has been happening for over a year now).

    So old news... :P

  • Ricky

    Seems like it'd be fairly easy to argue fair use and that most of Android's OEM partners don't use a traditional slide to unlock mechanism on their modern phones. Motorola and Samsung, you slide away the lockscreen. HTC has the circle unlocker. Nexus and Honeycomb use one that operates on two different planes and can also be argued to double as a launcher.

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

      You mixed up a copyright with a patent. There's no such thing as "fair use" in a patent.

  • L boogie

    So what's gonna happen to the likes of Widgetlocker and other apps like it considering Apple's newly acquired "baby"

    • TomRowly

      Widgetlocker will be fine, as long as they don't include any slidy-locks as default :)

  • Juanaguilar_45

    But is android's unlock "gesture" pre-defined?
    Apple's is because one can only slide to its finish and "unlock" point using a pre-defined path that is just a straight line, where as in android, ICS for example, the user can freely move the ring around the screen. It can leave the starting point towards any direction, and get to the end point from any direction.

  • Perry Ahern

    It's already been proven that other phones were using this prior to the iPhone, which is why this patent was denied in Sweden. In addition, the patent can be avoided by a) sliding to an unspecified position, as is already done on some phones, or b) removing the haptic feedback from the slide action as the patent clearly states that there is "a need for sensory feedback" as part of the unlock action under this patent.

    • miann

      last time I checked my eyes were sensors too

      • Mesmorino

        Biological sensors don't count, otherwise your entire hand would be one massive sensor/manipulator

        • Miann

          ... I dont know what you are talking about... my point was sensory feedback does not mean haptic... it means feedback that stimulates any of your senses...

  • ?

    I think this is going to get very ugly. No you can't take my widget locker away.!

  • Haxor

    it distinctly shows the arrow going from left to right for the slide. Does that mean other vendors can go right to left or dr drag downwards like HTC or Samsung which uses a swipe motion to move the lock screen and does not have to go in any particular direction?

  • Owen Finn

    Apple is evil. There is no way Steve Jobs is in any sort of Nirvana right now.

  • http://pinoydroid.net Pinoy Android News

    How about circular motion to unlock? Does it violate the slide-unlock now owned by Apple?

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

    That's probably why the lock screen was changed in Honeycomb to the glowing ring -- there's no predefined path.

  • Andrew Vincent

    I'm gonna be a scofflaw myself and keep my widgetlocker. Way to go APPL- spoil the unlocking fun. and the fanboys rejoice...

  • Andrew Vincent

    I wonder if they'll try to patent the middle finger so they can collect royalties from all of us who use it against them?

    • VAK


      I want a T-shirt with that sentence on it !

  • Chris

    F*ck Apple. I hope all iphones shatter.

  • Trey

    Well it won't change the fact that My Droid X has slide to unlock on it!

  • AEF
  • VAK

    Haha I want a T-shirt with that sentence on it :D

  • iShit.com

    F(u)ck you Apple
    I can't wait for the day iShit get hacked and all their asses f4cked

    • Calum

      Why, who will Google have left to copy if Apple goes belly up?

      • knok

        All the other people and companies that Apple has copied.....

      • Chris

        I think you mean "Who will be left to copy Android if Apple goes belly up?"


  • http://twitter.com/mikeGsays Mike Garcia

    The courts must be getting bought out with these elitist devices all over the world, because they just keep on giving CRApple the WIN all the time.... This is getting ridiculous, I can't wait for ICS and people to come out of their kool-aid drinking spells and see Android for what it is - the true innovator and best OS available.... TO HELL with that rotten fruit!!!

    • Guess

      Send your feedback to USPO. I heard they will approve any patent application including but not limited to:
      - on/off toggle switch
      - downward movement of door handle to unlatch a door.
      - the use of middle finger to dig a nose.
      - swiping motion for wiping a##.
      - synchronize movement between hand and mouth when eating.
      - thrusting motion when making out with your love one.

  • iShit.com

    Hey Steve Crap u can suck my D!ck from hell motherf4ck3r

  • GraveUypo

    oh yay another step backwards on mobile technology!

    it's like the church in the dark ages...

  • ssj4Gogeta

    Seriously? A patent for recognizing a finger movement and doing something in response to that? What are they going after next? Here's a guess:

    A patent for directing an application to list the directory structure of a directory in response to the user pressing and releasing a button on a palm sized device twice in quick succession. A set of images representing the available navigation options in the current view are displayed on the screen, with respect to which the position of the gesture is measured.
    (double-click to open folder)

  • Andy

    let me guess, they've already applied for a patent covering 'a device that can do what it was made to do' and then can sue any other company not yet sued by them

    ridiculous!! how does this help mankind progress? all its doing is paying apple so they can pay for more legal advisers and continue suing everyone

    i hope people wake up pretty soon and see the damage this company is doing. all apple crap should be boycotted and not just because it rubbish lol

  • anhmel

    The whole concept of patents is wrong and unjust. Patents should be abolished!

  • Matt

    Was Apple bought out by Lodsys without anyone noticing?

    • sd

      Is is just me or does android offer an unlock and a sound mode differentiating from left right or right left. Apples iPhone only goes left to right. No infringement.

    • sd duffy

      Is is just me or does android offer an unlock and a sound mode differentiating from left right or right left. Apples iPhone only goes left to right. No infringement.

  • wicked six

    I don't know about you guys but I recall seeing that in the patent they speak of a gesture that requires a constant touch from point A to point B, on all of my android phones I can " fling" the icon to the unlock position. There for I am not " sliding" to unlock, nor in constant contact with my screen as defined in the patent. You can't do that with an I phone that I'm aware of. It must be close to the unlock position at the very least.

  • Kami

    Software patents need to die...

  • kasing

    If i remember well, my old HTC Touch P3450 had the slide to unlock feature.. The very first version of iPhone didn't even exist that time!

  • Al McDowall

    I think the whole patent war that's trending right now is ridiculous. It shows Apple in an extremely poor light and smacks of a childish response to competition in the market. I am well aware that other companies are suing Apple, but those are counter-sues and seem to be the only language Apple speak at the moment.

    Now iOS has the pull down notification area, will Google sue them?

    Ugh, it's all a little depressing. I have never wanted to join the Apple club, but I did respect the company. That respect is dwindling.

  • Picasso

    You must be kidding apple!!! And what about dancing with your finger on iScreen and pulling down the notification bar.

    • Calum

      What about it? If Apple violated any of Google's patents, you can rest assured that Google will be all over them like a rash. Otherwise, just gotta suck it up and play the corporate game.

  • bdf

    Use MIUI ROM.Not Sliding.

  • zzzda

    go fuck yourself apple

    • Chris

      true. though i love my macs. just not the way they are about phones.

  • Edd

    I'm reading Steve Job's autobiography. I've always disliked him from afar and in particular hated all Apple goods (rarely used a mac and HATED i-anything from the original iPod onwards).

    Anyway, his book is amazing and it makes me sad to see that he became the type of person he despised as a young man. Apple are the sucky wannabe-dictators of the mobile industry.

  • sysdrake

    Hey Apple wanna patent the sliding motion of ass wiping too, so at least you can collect royalties on the thing that people do with your phones once they switch from a kindergarden smart phone.. Apple users are the kindergarden computer users of the world.

  • Sensatti

    Apple you will never rule the world. Stop trying!

  • William D

    If the world was a perfect place, the Patent Office would stipulate that all phones and OS' currently shipping and had slide to unlock would be free from this patent. Anything produced after the patent was granted, would be up to Apple to litigate use.

    Thats to say, anything prior to the patent grant would be not in violation, anything AFTER would be.

    Google is saving its butt by the way by pushing "Face Recognition" as an unlock so they have LESS litigation by Apple, it also distinguishes itself from Apple's iOS even more, AND, if Apple uses any face to unlock techniques, they will owe Google instead.

  • Chris

    this is just ridiculous. so i anyway i unlock my screen with touches to the screen as part of the process, its against apple?

  • Lukk

    ANDROID, please patent top-to-down gesture to bring up notification panel. Let iDiots from Apple burn in hell.

  • GreenBotNot

    There's nothing like a good patent lawsuit to get the nerds to hurl turds. No wonder it stinks in here. Please, please Mr. Apple man. Don't break my droid toy.

  • Ishmum

    Apple only knows to steal ideas and call it their "Innovation"
    They know their phone is good, so they will do even more so that Android has less sales.
    Nice job Apple