Fruity cargo cult Apple has managed to convince the somewhat stressed assessors at the US patent office that it invented the ability to move stuff around on a touch screen.
The patent No. 7,966,578 is for a “portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content” which is basically anything to do with a modern smartphone.
Crucially if you use a touch-screen and can move elements about on it, at some point you have to have written a cheque for the genius of Steve Jobs.
The patent talks about how content on the screen moves when you touch the screen. You use one-finger to move an entire page around, and two-fingers might move just content within a particular region that the patent calls a frame.
The patent also covers tablets and potentially other touch-screen devices as well.
Florian Mueller, who closely monitors the present round of patent suits for his FOSS Patents blog said that this patent is far too broad.
“It covers the basic user interface concept of moving touch-screen content with multitouch gestures–not just one particular way to programmatically recognise one particular gesture for this purpose, but any or all ways to do so,” Mueller said
So this patent is such a high level that it effectively lays an exclusive claim to the problem itself, and any solutions to it. Since moving objects on a touch screen with multitouch gestures is a very essential function, everyone is going to have to pay Jobs, he said.
It is unlikely that the other makers of smartphones and tablets will be happy that Apple has this patent.