Will Apple’s Pinch-To-Zoom Patent Victory Create A Usability Hell?
WE TALK TO AN IP LAWYER ABOUT WHETHER APPLE REALLY CAN OWN A GESTURE THAT NOW SEEMS FOUNDATIONAL.
Pinching to zoom on touch-screen devices is such a common gesture today that it’s hard to believe Steve Jobs wowed audience members (who actually cheered and applauded for close to 20 seconds) when he first stretched his fingers against the iPhone’s glass face. Now, the interaction is used by nearly all device makers in electronics ranging from smartphones to tablets to laptop trackpads, a universal gesture for magnifying photos, maps, and webpages.
But the ubiquity of that hand gesture could soon go the way of the Macarena. In Apple’s $1 billion patent lawsuit against Samsung, which the company won last week, a jury decided that a slew of Samsung’s mobile devices had violated a number of Apple’s utility patents for interaction designs, including the pinch-to-zoom gesture. In an industry already wary of patent litigiation, the verdict could lead to significant fragmentation in the user experiences created by tech companies eager to avoid the wrath of Apple’s rabid legal squad.
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