The High Court in London has ruled that HTC did not infringe on patents which Apple claimed it had the rights to. Most notably, the slide-to-unlock feature was considered an “obvious” improvement to an earlier Nokia unlock screen, and therefore Apple’s claim to innovation was rejected.
- Unlocking a device by performing a gesture on an image.
- The use of a multilingual keyboard offering different alphabets on portable devices, including mobile phones.
- A system to determine which elements of a screen were activated by single-finger touches; which were activated multi-finger touches and which ignored touches altogether.
- Letting a user drag an image beyond its limits and then showing it bounce back into place to illustrate that they had reached its furthest edge.
The first three were found to be invalid and the judge ruled that the fourth didn’t apply to HTC phones. These same patents have also been cited against Samsung, HTC, and Google’s Motorola Mobility in other courts. This same slide-to-unlock patent has been used to ban sales in the U.S. of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone.
The BBC quoted the judge as saying, “HTC’s ‘arc unlock’ feature - which also involves a predefined gesture along a path shown on-screen - would have infringed Apple’s technology had it not been for a device released in 2004.” The 2004 Nokia Neonode N1 had a padlock screen with the words “right sweep to unlock.”
The lawsuit was filed by HTC in London in an effort to nullify some European patents that Apple had used in a German court. Apple, of course, filed its own countersuit.
While HTC is pleased with the outcome, the impact of this ruling could be limited in scope to just the UK.
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