To all of you who wondered if Apple indeed had the patents to back up its thinly veiled threats against Palm regarding the multi-touch feature of the iPhone and iPod Touch: it appears the answer is yes. On January 20th, 2009, Apple was awarded patent number 7,479,949
which appears to cover much of the iPhone's multi-touch user interface.
Apple's earnings conference call was January 21st, the day after the patent was awarded. Small wonder that COO Tim Cook should say the following during the call (emphasis ours):
I don't want to talk about any specific company. I'm just making a general statement that we think competition is good. It makes us all better. And we are ready to suit up and go against anyone. However, we will not stand for having our IP ripped off, and we'll use whatever weapons that we have at our disposal. I don't know that I can be clearer than that.
The patent, first noticed by World of Apple
, was awarded to several Apple executives, Wayne Westerman, one of the founders of Fingerworks, a company that Apple acquired in 2005, iPhone software chief Scott Forstall, and natch, Steve Jobs.
The patent, by the way, is no small thing; it's 358 pages long. Warm up your lawyers, Palm.