While Apple seems all too keen on taking to the courts in order to protect its patents, it appears that it may be in the back foot in a new battle that has yet to even begin.

A Swedish firm claims to be in possession of a patent which relates to horizontal swiping and gliding, with Apple’s slide-to-unlock gesture being one such example.

The firm, called Neonode, claims to have received the relevant patent during January of this year, and its head of IP, Yossi Shain, says that companies such as Sony and Barnes & Noble are already licensees…

Originally filed back in 2002, patent number 8,095,879 apparently works in conjunction with other Neonode patents to cover the whole sliding gesture arena, and Apple is now being asked to enter into a licensing agreement with Neonode.

Interestingly though, Apple is currently locked in a legal battle with both Samsung and Motorola, with the iPhone and iPad maker claiming that the two Android manufacturers infringe on Apple patents relating to, you guessed it, sliding to unlock.

It’s all getting a little murky in those patent waters, and it is beginning to become difficult to ascertain who is in the right and who is in the wrong. If the likes of Sony are already licensing Neonode’s technology, then it is safe to say at least someone thinks the Swedes have a claim with making.

Now let’s see what Apple thinks.