Android users know that “slide-to-unlock” stands for two things in the smart mobile world we live in, a software utility made popular by Apple to unlock the display of the iPhone and then used in different variations by Android device makers for the same purpose on their phones and a patented weapon for Apple to go after the same competitors in courts.

Apple already has two such patents on slide-to-unlock, one granted in 2010 and a second one in 2011 but a third one, U.S. Patent No 8,286,103 was just awarded offering the company another weapon against its Android rivals.

According to The Verge, the new patent is broader than the first two, as it lifts any of the existing limitations in them that would permit competitors to bypass them:

The ‘103 patent moves past the limiting language of the first two patents that required that the unlock image move along a predefined path, or that it at least start and stop at predefined locations on the screen. The ‘103 patent now broadly covers continuously moving an image to a general unlock region on the screen to unlock the device.

It’s clear that Apple is skating to where the puck is going in its patent wars also. Competitors have already found ways to stay clear of the “slide-to-unlock” Apple patent while still using the technology, but now it looks like the iPhone maker could in theory go after them again thanks to the newly issued patent. That’s because U.S. patent law allows for such patents to be filed and approved:

While many other countries don’t allow it, a US patent owner can file what is called a “continuation” patent application before a patent issues. These continuations can be used to go after different — usually broader — coverage compared to the original patent, effectively presenting the competition with an ever-moving target for its workarounds.

But at the same time it also means that Apple may have other things in mind for the technology. After all Apple started patenting its iPhone-related tech, and not only, long before using the granted patents against Android OEMs.

Of course, we’ll still wonder whether Apple’s next legal moves against Android will include the new ‘103 “slide-to-unlock” patent. What do you think?

  • Will

    This is clearly patent trolling as they won’t be changing their lock screen.

    • inomon


    • this patent crap is retarded i agree too

  • hohopig

    And more to the point, what on earth is the patent office thinking?

  • MasterMuffin


  • spunker88

    The unlock screen used since HC looks nothing like Apple’s. But Apples vague patent probably covers it. Guess they have to protect their outdated 2007 UI from losing to the real innovators.

  • mintslice

    I think they can stick their patents where the sun don’t shine. I wouldn’t buy from them if it was the only choice I had

  • AnotherAndroidKid

    who is stupid enough to use slide to unlock anyway?

    • spunker88

      Apple users have to be given instructions to operate it. Thats why it says “slide to unlock” on the iPhone.

  • jaysann22

    I feel the shadow government of the US is trying to pull down the US financially and economically, employing several branches of government to do so. The US patent system is bent on destroying true innovation and market growth by allowing companies to monopolize the very basic instruments of manufacturing and design; simultaneously filling the pockets of rich bureaucrats….

  • Justin W

    Seriously? If they sue on this, I swear I’m going to go into their HQ and beat their team of lawyers. Android had this type of unlock screen before they applied for this and if any case isn’t thrown out because of that, then its be.

  • Qliphah

    Excuse me but how is filing a patent based off how your competitors are doing it valid?
    Also doesn’t this patent now cover the very act of touching your screen and moving your finger?
    Lastly, who is Apple paying off in the patent office to get these rediculous things approved?

  • hohum

    I think its because apple invented the public toilet…
    They should have added vacant /engaged too.
    That way we all will need to pay apple royalities to have a cr@p.

  • I’m thinking we will be seeing an antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple sometime in the future. They get a patent, see how their competitors are getting around it, then continue their existing patent to cover the workaround that others use. That is anti-competitive if I have ever seen it.