Apple loses slide-to-unlock fight with HTC in UK court

The High Court in London has ruled HTC did not infringe four of Apple's patents, including a patent on slide-to-unlock.

Apple has lost its fight with HTC here in Britain over slide-to-unlock and other patents. The High Court in London has ruled HTC did not infringe four of Apple's patents, and that slide-to-unlock is so obvious Apple has no right to claim it.

The first patent involved unlocking a device by performing a gesture on the screen, or swiping your finger across the screen to unlock your phone. The judge ruled this was an obvious innovation, so Apple had no right to claim the idea as its own intellectual property.

The judge cited previous phones and technology that used similar sliders, including the Swedish Neonode N1, which showed a padlock on the screen way back in 2004 and was unlocked with a sweep of the finger.

Then there's multi-lingual keyboards of different alphabets, and detection of multi-touch gestures. The judge ruled these patents were also invalid.

The last patent relates to that thing where you swipe to the edge of the screen and the app bounces back to show you've reached the end. The judge ruled this didn't apply to HTC phones.

In other good news for HTC , US authorities have allowed the HTC One X into the States ready to hit shop shelves, something which was by no means certain -- HTC phones arriving in the country were recently held at customs over a patent dispute with Apple.

The US ruled last December that HTC infringed on Apple's patent for 'data tapping', the feature which sees a dialler program pop up when you click a phone number in a document. The ban was lifted at the end of May, but Apple applied for an emergency injunction on the One X. Fortunately for HTC, the ban was rejected and the One X is now free to blaze a trial across the new world.

HTC isn't the only Android manufacturer bearing the brunt of Apple's legal attacks: Samsung is locked in a patent scrap spanning continents, with bans flying back and forth for assorted phones and tablets.

Today's victory for HTC is good news for Android, as slide-to-unlock is at issue in cases around the world. A German court ruled in Samsung's favour over the unlocking feature in March, but another court awarded a ban on Motorola devices over the feature.

Is HTC's victory a triumph for common sense, or is Apple entitled to fight competitors any way it can? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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