Apple’s “Slide-to-Unlock” Patent Invalidated in Germany


slide-to-unlock-patentFOSS Patents reports that the patent for Apple’s iconic “Slide-to-Unlock” gesture has been invalidated in Germany by a Federal Patent Court today on the grounds of not being inventive enough as compared to the cited prior art.

FOSS Patents reports:

Today’s decision followed a full-day hearing before a panel of five judges (including three judges with an engineering background), which Judge Vivian Sredl presided over. It can and will be appealed by Apple to the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice).


The court held that the only respect in which the claimed invention is new over the prior art — the fact that a swiping gesture for the purpose of unlocking a device — fails to meet the technicity requirement under European patent law. Software “as such” is not patentable in Europe unless it solves a technical problem with technical means. In this case, the mere fact that a sliding gesture has a visual representation was not deemed to constitute a technical innovation.

This is obviously a win for Samsung and Motorola Mobility, the two companies embroiled in a legal battle with Apple, though FOSS Patents notes that the significance of this patent was only symbolic, and that it wasn’t of great strategic importance to Apple since almost all competitors have developed workarounds.

This is the second setback to Apple on the patent front within a week, after it was discovered that key claims of the company’s patent on rubber band scrolling were invalidated by the USPTO.

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