The patent mess has just got even messier. Apple was able to secure the “Slide to Unlock” patent and we all know how things will turn out. This also means that every Android phone and tablet out there is now infringing this patent. The ongoing lawsuits between Samsung, HTC against Apple will probably turn for the worse now.
Unless the patent system gets overhauled, which is not going to happen any time soon, Android phone makers will have to be more aggressive into acquiring patents to defend themselves. The patent in question is 8,046,721, it has a slew of inventors behind it. It was filed back in 2005 by Apple; you can view it by going to patft.uspto.gov.
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.
We’re not sure if the new “Face Unlock” feature is embedded within Ice Cream Sandwich will suffice. Google should definitely look into this, or maybe they already are. Because we don’t expect Apple, the patent “vampires” they are, to sit still without filing another lawsuit.