This will certainly be interesting. The US Patent Office has awarded Apple a patent on multi-touch that includes not only the mechanics of how multi-touch works, but also the gestures (such as pinch, swipe, rotate). The patent had been under review for at least two years.
Here’s the abstract from the patent:
A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.
A lot of the coverage on this is focused on what this means for Palm’s upcoming multi-touch phone, but as I read the patent (and I’m no patent attorney) it is sufficiently broad enough in its parameters that it could cover much more. Looks like some attorneys will be making some money here.
Via World of Apple