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Apple wins design patents for slide-to-unlock, original iPhone

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants design patents for the contentious user interface asset.

Illustration accompanying Apple's application for a slide-to-unlock design patent.

Apple was granted design patents today for the contentious slide-to-unlock user interface asset and the design for the original iPhone.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved Apple application No. D675,639 for "ornamental design for a display screen or portion thereof with a graphical user interface," which includes illustrations of the familiar horizontal bars with rounded corners found at the bottom of locked iOS screens since the original iPhone's debut in 2007.

Slide-to-unlock functionality has become a major sticking point with handset makers. Apple, which was granted a patent for the feature in 2011, has charged both Motorola and Samsung with violating patents related to the functionality.

Apple pressed the patent against Samsung's Galaxy Nexus in January 2012, only to discover that Google had filed a patent application in 2010 that described a manner in which users interact with a smartphone -- or PC -- to unlock the device and perform at least one command.

An Apple patent infringement lawsuit filed in Germany against Motorola over the function was backburnered last March. The judge in that case said he wanted to wait until the German Patent and Trademark Office heard Apple's case before his court continued.

Illustration accompanying Apple's design patent for the iPhone's appearance. Apple

Apple was also granted approval for design patent No. D675,612, which covers the "ornamental design of an electronic device" -- specifically the rounded corners found on the iPhone. The design feature is key to Apple lawsuits against Samsung.

A judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission, a federal agency with the power to block imports of devices found to infringe on U.S. patents, ruled last October that Samsung had violated Apple's iPhone design patent covering the look and feel of the smartphone's exterior. That ruling is currently under review, and a decision is expected next month.

(Via PatentlyApple)