After nearly four years of court battles, Apple has finally been awarded the patent for the multitouch screen, used on the iPhone, which could be a huge blow to other smartphone manufacturers.
On June 21st Apple was awarded patent 796678 for: A computer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display, 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.’
Florian Mueller, intellectual property activist comments: “This patent covers a kind of functionality without which it will be hard to build a competitive smartphone…. Unless this patent becomes invalidated, it would allow Apple to stifle innovation bully competitors.”
However it appears that rivals will have had to copy Apple’s technology exactly in order to have infringed the patent; if other manufacturers can prove the technology behind the gesture is slightly different, they may be able to continue using it.
Florian continues: ‘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,”
Not it’s now a question of waiting to see what Apple does. If other devices are found to have infringed copyright, Apple may licence the technology to them (which would bring a new cash revenue to Cupertino) but it could prevent production of devices with the technology altogether.