Apple patent could spell trouble for Android

Don't scroll past Apple's latest patent
Don't scroll past Apple's latest patent

Apple's latest patent is quite the doozy, and could mean more legal battles to come with competing smartphones.

The patent, issued as patent #8,223,134 in the U.S., covers Apple's interface for displaying documents, lists, text messages, emails, and more on a smartphone screen.

Specifically, it concerns the method of scrolling through those documents and lists.

On an iOS device, scrolling through documents or lists causes a bar to appear on the right side of the screen which shows your location in that list. It isn't directly a scroll bar, but gives users an indication of how far they have scrolled down a document. It is that method that Apple patented.

A tech lawyer's dream

It appears to be an innocuous patent at first. However, a seemingly similar method for scrolling through lists can be found in both Android and Windows Phone operating systems.

Apple first applied for the patent in 2007 then again in 2008. The firm filed another application for the patent this past March, and it was awarded yesterday, July 17.

In 2007 smartphones were still predominantly button-based, with the iPhone setting a precedent for touch interfaces.

That precedent spread and was built upon by other companies, with this patent potentially giving Apple a way to fight back.

If Apple chooses to use the patent against Google and Microsoft, and the patent's definitions are deemed vague enough for Android and Windows Phone to infringe it, then it could become a powerful tool in stifling smartphone progress through endless litigation.

Via Patently Apple