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

Just slide it up ... BOOM!
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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.


Editorial standards