Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple granted 'the mother of all smartphone software patents'

July 18, 2012: 7:53 AM ET

The effects could be "swift and lethal" says a pro-Android blogger

From U.S. Patent No. 8,223,134

FORTUNE -- Both sides of the smartphone wars agree that the 25 patents granted Apple (AAPL) on Tuesday contain some powerful legal weapons.

One patent in particular -- No. 8,223,134: "Portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents" -- stands out.

It encompasses the user interfaces Apple designed for blogging, e-mail, telephone, camera, video player, calendar, browser, widgets, search, notes, maps and most importantly, a multi-touch interface.

"Granted just today, the latest addition to the Cupertino-based tech giant's stable of intellectual property could be the mother of all smartphone software patents," writes Phandroid's Kevin Krause. "The effects could be swift and lethal."

Writing from the other side of the battlelines, Patently Apple's Jack Purcher doesn't hold back:

"In 2007, Samsung, HTC, Google (GOOG) and all others in the industry didn't have a smartphone with the likes of Apple's iPhone features. They didn't have the solutions that Apple eloquently brought to market to make a smartphone truly smart. Apple carefully and meticulously crafted a full end-to-end smartphone solution. So when the copycats and their followers whine in public and on blogs that Apple should learn to compete instead of initiate litigation – I bowl over with laughter."

Writing from a relatively neutral corner, Wired's Christina Bonnington quotes Tim Cook's remarks at this year's AllThingsD: "From our point of view, it's important that Apple not be the developer for the world. We can't take all of our energy and all of our care and finish the painting, then have someone else put their name on it."

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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