Underscoring how confusing the patent system can be, touch screen maker Neonode claims it was awarded a touch and swipe gesture patent that sounds strikingly similar to Apple’s own swipe patent for the iPhone and iPad.
Neonode’s patent (8,095,879) application was filed in 2002 and granted this year. According to the company, the patent describes touch-based “sweep gesture user interfaces,” and dovetails with another patent it owns (7,880,732).
Patent 8,095,879, titled “User interface for mobile handheld computer unit,” shows a filing date of December 10, 2002 and an issue date of January 10, 2012. Neonode’s earlier patent, number 7,880,732, describes a touch screen system for mobile phones.
The company claims it is already licensing its touch-based patents to the likes of Sony, Barnes & Noble, and L&I. Neonode says its ” patented touch solution zForce is developed for touch enabled smart phones and tablets, toys and games devices, health appliances, printers and office equipment, e-readers and automotive applications.”
According to TechCrunch, Neonode is now looking for what its calls “friendly licensing deals,” and it plans to start with Apple. Since Apple already has its own swipe-based gesture patent — and has used that patent court — it doesn’t seem likely that the iPhone and iPad maker will welcome Neonode with open arms.
Apple has not commented on Neonode’s patents.