Apple officially patents “slide to unlocked” feature. All Android devices are liable to lawsuits

It is no news that ever since Apple identified Android as a threat to its Mobile ecosystem, Apple has been on its toes attacking OEMs who make use of Android OS on their mobile devices. The most fought patent battle has been between Apple and Samsung and it is still on going in different regions. Microsoft has also been on the attacking front suing OEMs including HTC , Samsung, LG on several patent infringement cases.

In January 2007, Apple introduced the “Slide to unlock” feature at the iPhone unveiling event as a way to ensure the phone did not get accidentally switched on in a pocket. This sleek feature has been copied by every OEM making use of Android on their smart phone collections.

The ubiquitous sliding function appeared in slightly different form on a little known phone named Neonode N1m. The finger swipe ran vertically instead of horizontally and there was no bar to push along the axis. Interestingly, a Dutch court ruled the slide to unlock was invalid because of the Neonode N1M. Apple filed the patent in 2005, 2 years before the iPhone’s unveiling, but it took 6 years to get approved. Now that this patent has gone through, the ball is certainly in Apple’s court.

This is more sad news for the Android community and really a threat to OEMs adopting Android as their platform OS of choice. To be on the safe side, most OEMs will now have to run to Microsoft’s WP7 platform for comfort.

We can only watch and see the events that will unfold in the next 3 months.