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Apple grabs important patent in the war against Android

The US Patent Office this week awarded Apple a patent that could become strategically important in the company’s litigation against various Android manufacturers.

The patent that now belongs to Apple concerns a technology for unlocking a phone on a touch screen using a finger. The description of the patent is vague enough that it could also apply to all Android phones on the market, including the upcoming Android 4.0, writes the site Android and Me.

In the patent application, there is the following description for the technology that Apple now owns a patent for (Translate with Google Translate):

A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device. The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture. In addition, there is a need for sensory feedback to the user regarding progress towards satisfaction of a user input condition that is required for the transition to occur.

It is still uncertain what this might mean for Android. Given Steve Jobs’ comments about wanting to crush Android, there is reason to believe that Apple will use the patent in ongoing or upcoming litigation with various Android manufacturers.

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