Apple gains limited patent on pinch-to-zoom

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from  Omaha, NE
| October 13, 2010

Apple pinch-to-zoom patent

Pinch-to-zoom is a pretty ubiquitous technology in smartphones nowadays, and now it's been patented by Apple.  This isn't the only patent Apple received today, or even the only one relating to multitouch, but it will likely have the biggest impact on the mobile industry.  Patent #7,812,826 was applied for on December 29, 2006 and is effective as early as December 30, 2005.  It's important to note, however, that this new pinch-to-zoom patent isn't all-encompassing.  The following actions are covered by the new patent:  a multitouch screen senses two or more contacts performing an action that alters an image; the first set of contacts is broken; another set of contacts performs another gesture within a certain period of time that adjusts the image in the same way.

As you can see, Apple doesn't have a patent on everything pinch-to-zoom, just the action of pinching once and then pinching again within a period of time.  The length of that period of time, though, is what could determine exactly how Apple is able to use this patent.  At this point, it's tough to tell exactly what they're going to use their newly-acquired license for.  Will they try to go after other handset manufacturers that use a similar technology?  Save the patent for defense when they're sued?  If I had to guess, I would say that Apple will save their new weapon until they actually get sued by some other company.  After all, just about every smartphone uses some form of pinch-to-zoom and, as I said before, it's a limited patent.  Still, this news has the potential to make waves in the wireless ocean.  Do you think this pinch-to-zoom patent is just a little ridiculous?  Will Apple begin suing all of their multitouch-using opponents?  Tell us what you think down below!

Via Engadget, Patently Apple