Covers virtually entire UI
of rectangular phones Apple won a major coup in its ongoing effort to patent everything everywhere.
Among a set of 25 patents published by the USPTO on Wednesday is US patent number 8,223,134 which covers mobile graphical user interfaces for electronic lists and documents. As is the case with most Apple patents, mainly used as cannon fodder in litigation with the competition, it is rather broad, or should we say vague.
Described as the “mother of all software patents,” the new patent covers the user interface designed by Apple for email, phone, camera, music player, browser, widgets, search, notes and even multitouch. In essence, if interpreted broadly enough, the patent seems to cover all major aspects of mobile operating systems and it could bury the competition in one fell swoop. In addition, the patent could also be used to target developers who incorporated UI elements covered by the patent in their apps.
However, the sheer scope and vagueness of the patent could be its undoing. Last week a British judge simply threw out several Apple patents, ruling that the patents covered rather obvious concepts or prior art. The fact that Apple applied for the patent in 2007 and then again in 2008 does not bode well for Cupertino, either.
Basically in the end it will come down to courts and individual judges. If they interpret the patent vaguely, it could spell trouble for Windows and Android phone makers.