Apple has been awarded a patent covering the slide-to-unlock functionality on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
The familiar touchscreen mechanism was subject to a trademark application back in 2009 and Apple has finally been given the all clear to add this to its ever-growing army of patents.
The patent filing states: "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."
Cue the lawsuits
Slide to unlock is also a popular feature on Android and Windows Phone handsets and the next logical step will surely be in the courtrooms as Apple looks to lock-down its intellectual property.
Tellingly, the patent application also has covered all "predefined gestures" like the custom pattern input widely used on Android handsets.
It also begs the question, if software developers are unable to use slide to unlock or pattern input, then how else are we going to lock and unlock our phones? A counter action claim is likely.
The successful patent application follows this week's revelations of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs' determination to "destroy Android".
Jobs told biographer Walker Isaacson: "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.
"I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
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