Nokia gets its own “Slide to unlock” patent
Apple isn’t the only company that has received a slide-to-unlock patent anymore. Nokia has just joined that exclusive club, and Google has filed for a similar patent as well. So it looks like the patent wars can only get more interesting from this point on – at least on the software side.
The patent that Nokia has been granted recently covers an unlocking procedure that is a bit different from what Apple has already patented.
In Nokia’s view, you slide an icon across the screen to reveal at least one app icon, while the icon which you have slid across the screen expands and is eventually overlaid onto the app icon. Sliding further to an ‘unlock region’ of the device will result in the screen getting unlocked and the desired app being launched.
If that sounds quite familiar to you, it’s because it describes a similar unlocking procedure to what some Android smartphone makers are using. To be clear, ‘vanilla’ Android doesn’t have this functionality (yet?), but some phone makers have baked it into their offerings.
That of course makes us wonder whether Nokia will pursue legal action against those companies now that it has a patent on the matter. After all, Apple hasn’t been shy in using its own slide-to-unlock patent against Motorola in Germany, and we assume it will use it a lot more in the future.
What’s most interesting here is the fact that in 2011, Google has filed for a patent that’s quite similar to that which has just been granted to Nokia. And Nokia filed for its patent back in 2007.
Sure, things look different enough in Google’s filing on first glance, but upon closer inspection the general idea described there is basically the same one Nokia had: taking unlocking to the next level, by also performing an additional action (for example, launching a specific app) while unlocking a device.
For a patent to be granted (or not), many years have to pass, so we’re a long way from finding out what the USPTO thinks about Google’s claims. But this patent that Nokia has been granted makes the Mountain View company’s patent filing on the matter seem a lot more like a defensive move against its competitors than a bit of genuine innovation.