Windows 8 sure looks like it violates Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent

Windows 8 sure looks like it violates Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent

Summary: Just slide it up ... BOOM!

SHARE:
80

So, Apple's been granted a patent on the 'Slide to unlock' feature present on the iPhone and iPad. Where does this leave Windows 8 which features a similar unlock mechanism?

Some background. Here's a couple of images from the patent granted to Apple:

How does it work? Well, here's how, in the words of Steve Jobs:

"To unlock the phone, I just take my finger and slide it across. Wanna see that again? We wanted something you couldn't do by accident in your pocket. Just slide it across ... BOOM!"

Here's Jobs demonstrating it during the 2007 iPhone presentation (skip to 15:30):

OK, so as my ZDNet blogging buddy James Kendrick has pointed out, the granting of this patent means that every Android device now infringes on this Apple patent. That's a pretty big deal. But he also suggests that Windows 8 might fall into the same trap.

Well, let's find out if the Windows 8 developer preview works the same way shall we?

To unlock the OS, I just take my finger and slide it up. I wanna see that again. Microsoft obviously wanted something you couldn't do by accident. Just slide it up ... BOOM!

Hmmm ... different direction, but otherwise the same gesture. I wonder if the patent says anything about a horizontal slide, left to right. Here's the abstract for patent #8,046,721:

A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device. The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture.

The key phrase seems to be 'predefined gesture on the touch screen,' which to me seems orientation insensitive. Doesn't matter if it's left to right, right to left, bottom to top, corner to corner.

Now, I am not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV or on the internet, but it feels to me like the Windows 8 lock screen does indeed violate Apple's patent.

Related:

Topics: Legal, Apple, Microsoft, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

80 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

    Well, this maybe Microsoft's 'Thermonuclear' moment, if Apple attacks Windows.
    mm71
    • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

      @mm71

      Unlikely. Microsoft and Apple have shared cross licensing agreements in the past. It is unlikely that either company would sue the other due to both sides having sufficiently powerful patent portfolios. In short, Microsoft and Apple are pretty much free to copy one another from a practical perspective.
      techconc
    • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

      @mm71 Microsoft and Apple have a cross licensing agreement. They do not sue one another. Microsoft has the largest patent portfolio in the world, most companies are not going to pick a fight with Microsoft unless they are patent trolls. Patent trolls have nothing to fear because they don't make products that you could countersue against. Apple does make a lot of products and has a lot to lose if Microsoft was forced to have Apple's products banned or altered to avoid infringement.
      cool8man
      • IBM has the largest patent portfolio in the world, not Microsoft

        @cool8man
        :|
        Tim Cook
    • MS can show prior art if they have to

      @mm71 Windows mobile versions pre-dating not just the patent filing date but also the release of the iPhone had a slide to unlock function - old HTC TouchFlo having copyright dates much earlier than Apple's filing have similar functionality - the PTO seems to have no one with the slightest knowledge of existing tech to evaluate these patents
      archangel9999
    • Also limited in scope

      @mm71 Apple's patent description also requires an unlock image at a predefined location and continuously moving said image to unlock the device

      Even if they claim the prior art isn't applicable (Apple does always think they've invented everything), how would the below description from their patent filing cover WP7 and Win8's non-predefined location (i.e., touch anywhere on the screen) and flick (i.e., NOT having to continuously moving an image) to unlock or Android's randomly placed unlocking mechanism??

      "...detecting a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image; continuously moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the contact while continuous contact with the touch screen is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device..."
      archangel9999
    • And since Apple ripped it off

      @mm71 from other pre-dating implementations, it's really not all that "inventive" is it? Nicer art work of the on screen visualization, but the method supposedly being "invented" in this patent wasn't invented by Apple

      Another government (PTO) stooge waiting out their ponzi scheme pension too incompetent to do their job properly who should be fired for cause
      archangel9999
      • Very true

        @archangel9999
        One thing folks forget is that just because someone *patented* something first doesn't mean they came up with it first. Slide to unlock isn't new and existed before Apple itself ripped it off (http://www.androidcentral.com/apple-granted-patent-slide-unlock-even-though-it-existed-2-years-they-invented-it)

        Wonder what Apple would say if Google patented the pull-down notification? Apple probably applied for the patent after they saw it on Android 1.0 <i>3 years ago</i>.
        tallbruva
  • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

    Everyone should show their disgust with apple and just stop buying their products. Maybe they'll get the hint that they are just going to far in believing the own it all.
    Nate_K
    • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

      @Nate_K So if Microsoft or Google had patented this it would be okay? Cue the Double Standards!
      athynz
      • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

        @Pete "athynz" Athens

        Oh where has our favorite friend from Canada gone! At least NZ's iconic phrase still lives on.
        kenosha77a
      • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

        @Pete "athynz" Athens Double standards? Really? I'm just tired of stupid things being legally protected. If we had allowed these things years ago, what would door locks look like today? 'Hey, "turn the key to unlock" was MY idea. You gotta make your key work differently.'

        I'm sick of it, regardless of WHO does it.
        bmgoodman
      • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

        @ bmgoodman

        I fully agree. That "legal protection" thing is just a racket and, other than being mentioned in the US Constitution and dating back to 1474 in Europe, we certainly didn't allow such things "years ago."
        msalzberg
      • The only double standard

        @Pete "athynz" Athens is that Applistas automatically assume that because Apple claims to have invented something - they must have really invented it - in this case they quite clearly didn't invent - they ripped off a pre-dating idea

        Bet you also believe that Steve Jobs really helped "invent" the items in the 300+ patents he slapped his name on before Apple filed them - when the Cult of Apple drink the Kool-Aid, they go full out Jonestown
        archangel9999
      • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

        @archangel9999 i Jonestown they actually used flavor-aid, as opposed to the more expensive Kool aide. Just a little FYI. On a side note, what are your thoughts on Microsoft???s cams to have invented the cellphone battery meter and signal strength meters, and how they wan you of either a low battery, or weak signal?
        Joel-r
    • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

      @Nate_K
      "Everyone should show their disgust with apple and just stop buying their products."

      We tend to appreciate at least a smidgin of logic. But where's the logic in this?? Are you really saying that people should stop buying from a company that makes great products and protects the value of those products by preventing competitors from simply copying. Here's a company that's innovating and using proper legal channels to insist that others also innovate, and you want us NOT to support them. Weird. It might be different if you were complaining about patent law, but you seem to be just zeroing in on Apple...
      Devon65
    • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

      @Nate_K <br>"Everyone should show their disgust with apple "<br><br>Who's disgusted with Apple?<br>And what does that have to do with this story?
      All Apple did was get a patent.
      Chris CA
    • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

      @Nate_K You are right.They are so arrogant.Someone should teach them a lesson.
      anto31
  • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

    More temper tantrums from a dead man.... what a way to embody the spirit of someone....What did jobs say "When salesmen run big tech companies"? Should have eaten his own words...Since that's all he was. a Salesman.
    Nate_K
    • RE: Does Windows 8 violate Apple's new 'Slide to unlock' patent?

      @Nate_K yes, and also add "lawyers": "When salesmen and lawyers run big tech companies"
      Roque Mocan