Apple's patents on its "slide to unlock" feature on its iOS devices are invalid – at least in Germany.
A German appeals court has stuck by a 2013 ruling which canceled the company's patent. According to the court, Apple's slide to unlock feature is actually pretty similar to one on a phone made by Swedish company Neonode – a year before the original iPhone even debuted.
The court said the patent isn't "based on an invention"
“This user-friendly display was already suggested by the state of the art,” said the court. “The contested patent thus isn’t based on an invention.”
The US version of the patent is still active, and has been since 2009. Here's what the patent covers, specifically:
A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device. The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture.
While some would call this an example of the overly vague patents that haunt the system, Apple has defended this patent many times.
Though in recent months, courts have seemed skeptical of it.
Image via Oyvind Solstad, Flickr Creative Commons