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Dutch judge says Apple's 'slide-to-unlock' patent is likely invalid

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 7:26PM EST

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Just one day after ordering a preliminary injunction blocking the sale of multiple Samsung smartphones, a Dutch judge has said that at least one patent Apple is suing the South Korean company over is probably invalid. The judge ruled on Wednesday that Samsung’s GALAXY S II, GALAXY S and GALAXY Ace smartphones infringe on Apple patents. Regarding one of the patents Apple claims Samsung is infringing, however, FOSS Patents reveals that the judge is not sold on its validity, calling the patent — which covers the “slide-to-unlock” feature on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch — “obvious.” What’s more, Swedish phone manufacturer Neonode released a Windows CE phone in Europe that featured a slide-to-unlock mechanism before Apple even filed its patent in late December 2005. The only difference between Apple’s implementation and Neonode’s is that Apple added a sliding graphic to the screen that follows the user’s finger while sliding. Neonode’s unlock mechanism did not include such a graphic, though the judge feels its addition is inconsequential in this case. “The Dutch judge concluded that the Neonode N1m already implemented the entirety of Apple’s claimed invention with only one difference remaining: Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent also claims an unlock image that moves along with the finger as the sliding gesture is performed,” Florian Mueller wrote on FOSS Patents. “But that difference didn’t convince the judge that Apple was entitled to a patent. He said that the use of an unlock image was ‘obvious’ (in Dutch he said it was ‘lying on the hand’ in terms of ‘not far to seek’).”


Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.