Some contend that this could amount to it being virtually the mother-of-all-multi-touch-patents, effecting virtually every aspect of the market, so it's not surprising that Gizmodo's banner headline on the subject read: "Apple Now Owns The Display On Your Smartphone's TouchScreen."
Depending on how you view this particular patent, this is one patent that could really shake up the entire multi-touch market and not just for smartphones, but essentially for anything else that includes a touch screen that uses more than one finger for input, or gestures, including, of course, the horde of multi-touch tablets now entering the market to take on the iPad.
"Apple's patent essentially gives it ownership of the capacitive multitouch interface the company pioneered with its iPhone, said one source who has been involved in intellectual property litigation on similar matters. That's likely to produce a new round of lawsuits over the now-ubiquitous multitouch interfaces used in smartphones made by the likes of HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Research in Motion, Nokia, and others that run operating systems similar in nature to Apple's iOS, like Google's Android, said the source, who asked not to be named."
After yesterdays disclosure, numerous people have been trying to downplay the significance and importance of the whole deal. They contend that it will never stand up in court, and since it could be so lethal to all of the iPhone and iPad copycats out there that the courts will most likely just end up invalidating the whole thing altogether. I even read somewhere where someone commented that, "This whole thing is ridiculous, how can Apple get a patent for something that already existed and that people have been using long before Apple ever did?"
The answer to the above question, is of course, kind of ridiculous in-and-of-itself, because the truth of the matter is that before the iPhone, there were NO such multi-touch products of any kind or description in the marketplace! None, el-zippo baby! And, naturally, since there were no multi-touch products of any kind in the marketplace there were naturally NO such multi-touch screens until Apple put the very first one in its very first iPhone!
Yes, I know, you know, and everyone else in the civilized world knows that there were 'touch screens' long before Apple ever used them, but they were NOT multi-touch, but rather simple one finger touch screens. The iPhone was the first device, and I mean the first one period, to ever use a screen that could handle and interpret two or more fingers or gestures. And being the first, it was the first to patent them and I don't care what Android, MeeGo, Windows, or WebOS fan boys might think or say about the matter.
Now, like most others, I really don't know how this "mother-of-all-patents" will eventually play out. Will Apple, as some say use it to "bully" its competition? Will companies think twice before deciding to rip off wholesale the iPhone's interface, and yes, you know who you are Google, Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft, etc., etc.? Again, I really don't know?
So, just how big of a deal is Apple's recently granted patent?
Well, in conclusion, the answer is that it's definitely big, and maybe even super big, but just how big or just how it will eventually all play out is anybodies guess.
Apple seems to have great success at acquiring significant patents, but so far it hasn't been all that successful in enforcing them. Since it was Apple and nobody else that first brought multi-touch software and multi-touch screens to the market, it is they who deserve the credit and the rewards that go along with those patents and hard work, NOT Google, Samsung, LG, Motorola, or whom ever, all of whom have thus far have been profiting from Apple's hard work with almost total impunity.
And that's my 2 cents 4 this Thursday, June 23, 2011
Patent illustration via: AppleInsider