Apple’s ‘Slide to Unlock’ patent worries Taiwanese government, forces investigation

“Apple’s recent success in patenting the ‘Slide to Unlock’ gesture used on its iOS devices has the Taiwanese government worried, causing the country’s Premier (Prime Minister), Wu Den-yih, to direct a number of government agencies to assess whether Taiwanese companies will be affected by a possible restriction on the gesture,” Matt Brian reports for TNW. “The original patent was filed in December 2005, more than a year before the first iPhone was released.”

“Attending a weekly Cabinet meeting, Wu said that he was concerned about Apple’s new patent, particularly how it would affect Taiwanese companies operating in the smartphone and tablet markets,” Brian reports. “As a result, both the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) have been instructed to help domestic companies (which includes HTC) to deal with possible patent infringement complaints filed by the Cupertino-based company.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Don’t steal Apple’s patented IP and you won’t have a problem (with Apple, at least).

Related article:
Like Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows 8 looks like it violates Apple’s new ‘Slide to unlock’ patent – October 26, 2011

40 Comments

  1. Before slide to unlock, there was the zipper. Did anyone run into problems making it ubiquitous? It doesn’t cover every conceivable way to unlock your phone.

  2. Maybe they should launch an investigation on why they have to worry about patent infringement. If you do not copy you have no problem. Copy and use it without regard to patents- well, nuf said!

    Just because they made the copier does not mean you “can copy” everthing…., Make your own stuff! Geeez

  3. This is a rediculos patent. It’s patents like these that hold back the entire industry. Can you imagine if xerox had patented the icon or mouse or how about if bell south hod patented the screen saver. The work would be a different place today.

    1. Yes, other companies would pay Xerox a license fee and go on with their business. I don’t see a problem. That’s how it is supposed to work.

      I do find it ridiculous that you can’t spell “ridiculous”, however.

        1. Tack – I’m gonna record an album with one of Bob Dylan’s songs on it, except I’m gonna tell everybody I wrote it and keep the royalties to myself. Set aside the fact that I can’t sing, but does my plan sound rediculos? There’s no difference from the copyrighted Music world compared to the patented technology world. Now if I wanted, I could still record my version of Bob Dylan’s song legally. I would basically just need to pay whomever owns the rights to his works what they are owed.

          1. Copyrights != patents

            You can’t have your cake and eat it too. 150+ year patent? Nope. Keeping someone from singing like you for the next 2 decades? Nope. Furthermore, trademarks, trade secrets, and national secrets are all also not the same. Also, you’re assuming that the patent system isn’t severely broken. It’s impossible as it currently works to weed through bad patents or to even prevent them from snowballing. Someone invented a program that helped them write over 3000 almost identical patents. That’s as bad as someone trying to patent bolts with any head that is a regular polygon from triangles to 50 sides.

    2. They could have made more money by getting a little of the profit on sells. Help to pay for the cost to develope it and have someone else to profit from it.

      That would have been smart of them.

    3. I disagree. It’s patents like these that drive innovation. See, it’s a motivator for some other company to come up with something better. Either that, or pay the original inventor a royalty for using what they invented and you didn’t.

    4. I still remember when I first saw the slide to unlock feature on the iPhone. My initial thought was: “BRILLIANT! These guys think of everything.”

      Looks like the patent office feels the same way.

      Just because it has now been cloned on almost every device it does not mean that it is the only way to do unlock a device. It may be the best way, but it certainly isn’t the only way.

      Copy the Apple way, at your own peril.

    5. Tak said:
      “Can you imagine if xerox had patented the icon or mouse”
      Actually Xerox did patent a lot of the things they invented at PARC. They didn’t see any future in them so they sold the rights to Steve jobs & Apple (the entire project including a lot of the engineers)

      You can’t just use other peoples inventions just because it seems like a good idea now.
      Without the ability to profit from inventions, there will be little incentive to invent or innovate. Even through you hatred of anything Apple you have to be able to see that don’t you?

    6. Clot. Of course it doesn’t. If a company has any merit regarding industrial design it looks at a problem, looks at other people’s solutions, and then arrives at an elegant solution themselves. If they can’t, well that’s their problem. Or are you the sort of halfwit who wants every devise to look like every other devise?
      You, sir, are a fucking idiot.

    7. Having a patent doesn’t mean that no one else can use it. Those that still want the slide to unlock feature will simply need to license the technology from Apple. Had Xerox patented the mouse or the icon, then other technology would need to be created or license it from Xerox.

      Apple isn’t the only one to have patents like this. When the caller ID on your phone shows the name of the person as it appears in your contact list rather than just the phone number – that is patented and licensed by Apple and most handset makers. Just because something seems like it should be free to use, if someone else came up with the idea and patented it, they should be paid.

      There are many other ways to unlock a phone rather than slide to unlock. Hotspots, finger patten, hardware button, directly going to a passcode request, etc.

    8. “It’s patents like these that hold back the entire industry. ” of thieves.

      I am all for holding back the thieves using Android.

      I agree with Steve Jobs and I am incensed that Americans would steal from another American company and then give the software IP away to the every nation diminishing our role in the world.

      The morality of American society has reached an all time low IMHO. If it continues in this course we are doomed as a nation and a people.

      Even China has the balls to put a million people to work combating knockoffs and intellectual thief in the their society. Are they morally a better people than the mix we have in the USA?

      1. They’re called patent land mines for a reason. In today’s world it’s quite possible to reinvent something that you’ve never heard of. In software, it’s inevitable!

  4. There is a company called Wacom who make graphic tablets, they have a patented pen tool that doesn’t need batteries, other manufacturers of graphic tablets seem to be able to make graphic tablets without infringing this patent: Why can’t other companies making smartphones and tablets work this out themselves and not infringe on Apple’s patents?

  5. There are plenty of other gestures that could be used.

    Perhaps the Taiwanese Gov could ask why their companies didn’t think about this first? They could be restricting Apple or taking a hefty license for its use.

    The whole point of the UI patents is to protect what makes an iOS device an iOS device. Copycats, go build your tablet devices but don’t blatantly rip off the iOS-ness, have the temerity to bring something to the table by out innovating Apple…..if you can. If you can’t your customers will have to put up with a second rate experience.

  6. Lots and lots of ways to do it.

    Probably a half dozen or more patent applications in process to do different way, by my guess, and you can search the earlier applications at the USPTO.

    Why not combine the the “action” with a “security motion” which is individual to each person which could never be reliably duplicated by another person even if they saw them do the motions?

    A person could have 3 fingers over the screen and do a motion the person could easily repeat but has the option of 1, 2 or 3 fingers down on the screen, or even another finger down at the end.

    The Premier of Taiwan is a dollar short and over 4 years late in considering the problem. He is a politician, not a product designer.

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