On Tuesday morning, Patent #8,046,721, referred to as “slide-to-unlock,” was granted to Apple. The feature was part of the original iPhone, and Steve Jobs rolled it out to the world in January of 2007.
9TO5Mac reports there is prior art, but the USPTO found differences. In addition, it appears Apple brought a Trade Dress action in Dutch courts with respect to the design of the slide-to-unlock feature in iPhones and iPads, and a judge ruled against them in preliminary hearing.
Most of the press is focused on the effect of the granting of this patent on competitors. A close look at the claims in 721 would suggest caution; some analysts are saying Windows 8 is okay (the argument is made that a vertical slide instead of a horizontal slide somehow differentiates Windows 8) and Android probably is okay, at least with its new facial recognition system. ..others are saying the patent is likely infringed by early Androids and Windows 8 alike. Apple has not indicated which direction they will go with enforcement.