Apple has won a patent
for the coveted pinch-to-zoom feature. The patent application was filed in December of 2006 (patent #7,812,826).
However, the patent issued does not give Apple complete control over the pinch-to-zoom functionality, which now exists on just about every current-generation platform. Here's the section of the patent
that Engadget pointed out.
- A multitouch display detects at least two contacts.
- Those contacts perform a first gesture.
- That gesture adjusts an image in some way: magnification, orientation and rotation are specifically claimed, but the patent is broad enough to cover virtually any adjustment.
- The first set of contacts is broken.
- A second set of contacts is detected.
- The second contacts perform another gesture within a pre-determined period of time.
- The gesture continues to adjust the image in the same way.
Naturally, when they speak of contacts, they are speaking of contact with the screen. The time between step 4 and 5 is unclear. As Engadget states, this makes 5-7 somewhat murky.
You'll possibly remember that when webOS
debuted with pinch-to-zoom capability, Apple
vowed to protect its IP. However, they never sued Palm
, and many believe that is because Palm had tons of its own patents to protect itself. Whether or not this leads to anything, or turns into a set of cross-licensing agreements, remains to be seen.