Apple awarded patents for slide to unlock, enlarged keys

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Know what this week was missing? A good hearty discussion about patents, of course—specifically some newly awarded patents to Apple, Inc. for the iPhone’s “slide to unlock” and “virtual keyboard keys popping up when you type on them” design features.

These patents, which have the delightfully illuminating names “Animated graphical user interfaces for a display screen or portion thereof” and “Animated graphical user interface for a display screen or portion thereof” (the difference is all in the plural of “interface”), were first applied for by Apple back in July of 2007. Three years and change later, the US Patent Office officially awarded these patents to the company on Tuesday, as reported by TUAW.

Whether Android’s “draw a pattern to unlock” screen will be similar enough for Apple to get its lawyers in a tizzy remains to be seen, though I imagine the good folks at Cupertino have rather enough patent suits to keep them busy for the time being. On the bright side, whatever your feelings are on Apple (and other companies) enforcing and applying of patents, at least you can now look up the Apple engineers listed in patent D621849 and D621848 and thank them for keeping you from pressing virtual buttons while the iPhone is in your pocket, and for making those virtual buttons a little bit easier to see when you’re typing.

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