Apple Wins Sweeping Patent on iPhone’s Multi-Touch User Interface

Apple has been awarded a patent filed in 2007 regarding the iPhone’s multi-touch user interface. As reported by PCMag, this patent is so broad that it could give Apple unprecedented ability to pressure other smartphone makers in the U.S.

This patent outlines the multi-touch technology Apple employs in iOS. Theoretically, this patent gives Apple the rights to almost all of the multi-touch gestures and interface designs that currently exist in other devices on the market.

“Apple’s patent essentially gives it ownership of the capacitive multitouch interface the company pioneered with its iPhone, said one source who has been involved in intellectual property litigation on similar matters. That’s likely to produce a new round of lawsuits over the now-ubiquitous multitouch interfaces used in smartphones made by the likes of HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Research in Motion, Nokia, and others that run operating systems similar in nature to Apple’s iOS, like Google’s Android, said the source, who asked not to be named.

What’s more, the patent seems broad enough in scope to cover virtually any mobile device with an interface that incorporates the finger movements used to operate Apple’s touchscreen devices, the source said.”

The patent is for a “computer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display, [that] comprises displaying a portion of page content, including a frame displaying a portion of frame content and also including other content of the page, on the touch screen display.

This includes very basic gestures, such as, panning around the screen, two-finger scrolling, etc.

Apple could end up playing hardball with this patent, which could result in a majority of other smartphone makers needing to pay hefty royalties.

“Apple could conceivably restrict makers of touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices from selling their products in the U.S. More likely is that Apple would reach a settlement with such competitors and start licensing its patented technology for a tidy new income stream.”

This patent is a huge playing card for Apple. It’s unclear as to what the implications of this patent will be, but companies like Samsung probably don’t stand a chance.

What do you think about this new patent? Does Apple have too much power?