After three long years of careful deliberation, the Cupertino firm Apple was recently granted a patent affecting touch screens it introduced on its original iPhone. This patent will give Apple rights to multi-touch gestures and displays used on devices like the iPhone 4, the iPad 2, and the iPod.
Why is this significant? This means that Apple is most likely to go after rival manufacturers charging them licensing fees. Of course, if you don’t pay up, Apple will sue you for trademark infringement. We’re guessing rival manufacturer’s lawyers are scrambling as we speak when the news broke out.
According to Florian Mueller, IP law blogger and patent expert, “This patent covers a kind of functionality without which it will be hard to build a competitive smartphone.” He adds, “Unless this patent becomes invalidated, it would allow Apple to stifle innovation and bully competitors.”
What does the patent cover? If you like the pinch-to-zoom feature on other devices, forget about having to use them again not unless you get one of Apple’s devices. Pinch-to-zoom is included in the gestures the patent specifies. Say goodbye to this feature on rival platforms, which force you to get closed-door Apple devices. Say goodbye to the freedom of choice.
Fortunately, not all competitors will be affected. If one of Apple’s rivals has copied the entire interface, then they’ll be in trouble. If not, they should be safe. However, we’re sure Apple lawyers will do their best to try and prove that infringement was done against them.
According to Mueller, “The way to read a patent claim is that it’s only infringed if the accused technology is implemented in its entirety—all of the characteristics must be matched.”
Knowing Apple, they will do everything in their power to take advantage of this granted patent. We’re they’ll try to bully money out of a few if not all of their rivals.