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Apple wins comprehensive iPhone patent

updated 10:00 am EST, Tue January 27, 2009

Apple wins iPhone patent

Apple has won the rights to a patent critical to the iPhone, documents show. Measuring some 358 pages, the patent covers much of the base software for the iPhone, including the operating system and various modules for functions like contacts, stocks, the camera and media playback. The patent also describes hardware components inside and outside of the device, such as the accelerometer, the audio subsystem and the proximity sensor used to judge when a person's head is near the earpiece.

Much of the patent revolves around the iPhone's multi-touch interface, including basic concepts such as swipes and twists, and determining when to select one object when a finger is positioned over two. The document also highlights the value of touchscreen phones, noting that they can adapt to different applications where most phones are forced to add extra buttons or repurpose old ones.

The completed patent continues to mention features omitted from the original iPhone and the 3G, such as video recording and built-in blogging and dictionary apps. Voice-activated dialing is also mentioned in the patent, and should theoretically be possible now due to similar technology in the third-party Google Mobile app.

In recent weeks concern has emerged that Apple might threaten Palm with a patent lawsuit, on the basis of similarities between the iPhone and the Palm Pre, such as multi-touch control. Apple COO Tim Cook has vowed to defend company patents, but has so far avoided any direct accusations.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Another bad patent...

    How can the USPTO grant a patent to this where patents are supposed to identify a single, specific and unique feature or attribute. This isn't one patent, it's dozens! I truly hope that Apple can defend their iPhone IP but the USPTO isn't doing them any favours on this one as it begs invalidation!

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple has also won lots of patents or filed for them on many other iPhone attributes. They are just trying (?) to cover their bases because the greedy lawyers are out there trying to find anything wrong with Apple's stuff so they can be sued. As I recall Apple put a lot of years into developing this monster hit and the last thing they need are 6 week wonder boys tearing into it. It's a shame things have to be done this way and a HUGE waste of money on attorneys to protect yourself.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    They didn't invent the proximity sensor, but does the patent then make it impossible for anyone else to include one in their product? Or just to include one that behaves exactly like it does in the patent?

    And I'm with Feathers. By patenting the entire phone, does the patent get killed if someone comes in and says "Hey, the accelerometer feature was pre-defined in another patent, so this patent is void!"

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Grouped

    But a patent like this (or any patent, for that matter) doesn't cover your a** from the greedy lawyers. This doesn't all of a sudden mean no one's suing apple. If someone's got an earlier patent, they will attempt to defend it.

    What a patent is trying to do is allow them to go after any other competitor who tries to do what they've done.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    is now a patent expert.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: so

    Not only can you patent an invention of your own, but you can patent an alternative use for an existing device, thus Apple being able to patent the use of an already existing proximity sensor in conjunction with their own solution. If this wasn't the case, we'd still be stuck with the wheel, the s****, the lever, and the inclined plane.

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh no!

    Apple will go out of business in 17 years when the patent runs out and everyone can copy their iPhone! Oh no!!

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