German court invalidates Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent

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Apple didn't invent the Slide to Unlock gesture.
Apple didn't invent the Slide to Unlock gesture.
Photo: Jared Earle/Flickr

Swiping a finger across a smartphone screen to unlock it may soon become a universal gesture, even on devices not made by Apple, because Germany’s top civil court has decided Apple didn’t invent “slide to unlock.”

German judges ruled Tuesday that Apple’s method for unlocking the iPhone didn’t reach a high enough level of sophistication need to be awarded patent protection, according to a report from Bloomberg.

“This user-friendly display was already suggested by the state of the art,” the Karlsruhe-based court wrote. “The contested patent thus isn’t based on an invention.”

Slide to unlock has been an iOS feature since the original iPhone launched way back in 2007. Some tweaks were made to it with the release of iOS 7, but the feature has gone largely unchanged since.

Apple patented the sliding screen gesture, but a German federal court ruled in 2013 that the patent was invalid. The company appealed that decision, which has now been upheld by the country’s top court.