Apple Granted “Slide to Unlock” Patent in U.S.


Apple “Slide to Unlock” patent image

In 2007 at the MacWorld Expo, former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs took to the stage to unveil the iPhone for the first time, and during that unveiling the Slide to Unlock gesture on the iPhone was first shown to the world.

At the time, Jobs touted the feature as a seamless and elegant fix to an otherwise common annoyance: unknowingly pressing buttons on your phone while it is tucked away in your pocket.

 About two years before unveiling the iPhone, Apple had applied for a patent for the gesture, and fast forward years later to today, Apple has finally been granted the patent by the U.S. Patent Office (patent number 8,046,721).

Apple unveils iPhone for the first time in 2007.
Source: YouTube

Apple competitors can no longer use a similar system without risking infringement. The patent abstract explains, “The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture [or path] for unlocking the device.”

It is unclear how easily the patent could be circumvented with marginal changes, given how general the patent application is. Apple competitors today already employ similar unlock features on their respective platforms.

Interestingly, Steve Jobs is not named among the seven accredited inventors.

The Apple stock (NASDAQ:AAPL) closed down nearly 200 basis points in today’s trading session to $397.77 per share.

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Tahir holds a Bachelor Commerce Finance degree from Ryerson University in Toronto. He is planning to purse an MBA in Finance. Write to [email protected]
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  • dmaxi

    Ridiculous! Has the trigger on firearms patented? No???

  • TB

    Good for them!  The thing is, although simple this idea is not obvious and is something android majorly ripped off.

    • Guest

      None of my androids unlock in any fashion to that picture above.  That shows an arrow sliding along a bar from left to right.  On my phone, you slide the whole screen down, on my tablet, you slide a little lock icon out of a circle.  Don’t see where this patent shows infringement that is now relevant.  And if we are talking ripoffs, how’s that new notification system working out for you?

      • Hercules K

        I think this industry needs even more competition. 

        It’s interesting that Steve Jobs claimed that Android was a stolen product by Google, hopefully Schmidt wasn’t as involved with the strategic decision to build Android while he served on the Apple board, that would just be purely wrong from a professional/fiduciary standpoint.

    • Al Knonymous

      OK fanboy dork…

      • Guest

        Shall I call a waambulance for you?

  • Nobdy Actualy

    They should change laws on patents, 1)they reduce the time needed to gain one, and 2) if you release the idea to the public whilst you still don’t have a patent Tough!

    Now Apple will expect for all android devices that already have this a sum of money.

  • Yernas

    how in the world is this patent worthy? sure, it could be innovative but seriously, a patent for this? 

    reading the patent application, kinda shows it’s extremely generic, i wonder if Android will change their unlock system now… btw, took long enough to make a decision, patent office.

  • Montreal Jf

    a patent for this????? wtf?? it’s is ridiculous.

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