How Wide-Ranging Is Apple's Latest iPhone Patent?

A US patent has recently been granted to Apple that describes a multi-touch technology that could spell trouble for other smartphone manufacturers who may find themselves infringing the newly acquired patent.

The start of the abstract describing the patent reads: "A computer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display, comprises displaying a portion of page content, including a frame displaying a portion of frame content and also including other content of the page, on the touch screen display."

After PC Mag posted an article about the patent suggesting it may have a very broad reach critics quickly reacted to the news and offered counter-arguments. Detractors say that it is too early to evaluate the patent’s strength since Apple picked it up only a few days ago.

”There are many steps that need to be taken in an analysis of a patent claim before it can be said that it is infringed […]", patent attorney Jason Harrier stated in reply to PC Mag’s article.

Critics say that ”an abstract is not a patent” since the abstract of a US patent is only a sketch, whereas the protected intellectual property is only to be found in the specific claims. This confusion could make the media suggest that a patent’s influence is broader than it actually is.

And the third argument is that Apple’s claims are "very specific and very narrow". Apple has not patented a multi-touch capacitive interface for iOS, as PC Mag’s source implied, but a very specific set of gestures used to navigate around a web page on a mobile's touch screen.