Thursday, August 19, 2010

Apple granted two design patents, including 'Slide-to-Unlock'

"Slide to unlock," the basic way that iPhone users unlock their phones to use has been patented. Additionally, so has the "pop-up" key that displays you type on the iPhone's on-screen keyboard.

As noted by TUAW, the patents are here (D621848, D621849). Before people get concerned about Android, which uses a similar slide-to-unlock feature, and which has seen some keyboards with similar pop-up functionality (those using Android know how easy it is to swaps OSKs on those devices), a commenter on the TUAW site notes:
'Patents' that begin with the letter 'D' are design patents, which are closer to trademarks than utility patents. Both of these design patents only claim 'The ornamental design...as shown and described.'

In other words, you can't make a pop-up keyboard or a slide-to-unlock that looks just like the Apple ones, but you can make a pop-up kbd or slide-to-unlock that looks different and Apple will have nothing to say about it.
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