updated 03:55 pm EST, Tue February 28, 2012
Could undermine Apple legal position
A Swedish touchscreen technology firm, Neonode, says it has won a US patent covering a swiping gesture on touchscreen devices. The company notes that it first filed for the patent in 2002, and in fact got rights to it on January 10th, but is only now pursuing "friendly licensing" deals with various companies. The first target is Apple, which uses a similar gesture in several aspects of iOS, such as the slide-to-unlock command.
The patent could potentially have significance in Apple's ongoing lawsuits against Motorola and Samsung, since both of the latter companies are accused of violating an Apple slide-to-unlock concept. If Apple is forced to pay for a license from Neonode, it may undermine the company's position that it has a right to demand money from others.
The newest Neonode patent is listed as 8,095,879 with the US Patent and Trademark Office. It is said to be connected with two other patents, 7,880,732 and 8,068,101, encompassing small- and midsized touchscreen devices. Neonode's head of IP, Yossi Shain, says that the firm counts a variety of companies among licensees of its other patents. Two examples are Sony and Barnes & Noble, who use them in e-readers.