Have Apple got Microsoft and Google in check with this new patent?

Apple have just been granted a patent that may change the balance of power between them, Microsoft and Apple.

The US Patent – number 8,046,721 describes

“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.”

Here’s an accompanying illustration that was submitted with the patent application:

Apple Patent Swipe

Apple Patent Swipe

Now this seems to me to be that if you are a software maker like oh, Google or maybe Microsoft and you have a swipe to unlock your device, you may be in trouble here.

The good news for Microsoft is that Windows 8 is still in development so if they need to they can

  • Decide to do things differently to allow you to unlock a Windows 8 phone or tablet
  • Pay royalties
  • Wait and see what happens

Now here’s the other piece of this that’s nuts – This is so broad that it may apply to touchscreen PC’s, phones, tablets and other similar devices.

Apple could be making tons of money from royalties from their adversaries for years.

An example of the swipe on Windows 8.

Stay tuned…