Apple has been granted what has been described as “the mother of all software patents,” which covers a whole host of features that Apple pioneered with the iPhone. Not only is this huge for Apple in its fight against copycats, but it could have a significant affect on almost every single device that rivals the iPhone or the iPad.
Patent number 8,223,134, entitled “Portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents,” covers the user interface Apple designed for email, telephone, camera, video player, browser, widgets, search, notes, maps, and most significantly, a multitouch interface.
These are all features that have now made their way into almost every Android and Windows Phone smartphone and tablet on the market, and one Android fan believes its affects could be “swift and lethal.”
Kevin Krause over at Phandroid writes:
Apple’s latest patent should give Google and its stable of Android device manufacturers reason to worry. Granted just today, the latest addition to the Cupertino-based tech giant’s stable of intellectual property could be the mother of all smartphone software patents […]
The bad news for Android and its hardware partners is that this patent will likely become a stable of future patent infringement claims coming from Apple’s court. The effects could be swift and lethal, depending on how descriptions of user interface elements are leveraged.
As you’d expect, the news hasn’t be well received by Android users, who have argued that Apple’s plan for dominance should not include taking down all of its competitors. Instead, they believe the company should just… compete.
However, Jack Purcher from Patently Apple makes a very good point:
In 2007, Samsung, HTC, Google and all others in the industry didn’t have a smartphone with the likes of Apple’s iPhone features. They didn’t have the solutions that Apple eloquently brought to market to make a smartphone truly smart. Apple carefully and meticulously crafted a full end-to-end smartphone solution. So when the copycats and their followers whine in public and on blogs that Apple should learn to compete instead of initiate litigation – I bowl over with laughter.
Admittedly, it does appear that Apple uses its legal team to fight the opposition all too frequently. A recent report found that the Cupertino company is at the center of 60% of all major patent suits. However, Apple has made its feeling towards copycats perfectly clear, and it will do whatever it takes to prevent other companies from stealing its intellectual property.
In a recent interview with Walt Mossberg at the D10 conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Apple doesn’t want to be anyone’s design house.