Apple Awarded Patents for Multitouch, Text Censoring and More

Apple was awarded 18 patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, several relating to multitouch technology and filed before the debut of the iPhone.

Apple scored a major win when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the iPhone maker with 18 patents.

Related to various ways of interacting with mobile devices, the patents, awarded Oct. 12, were filed for on dates ranging from 2003 through 2008.

The content of the patents ranges from describing ornamental designs on the keyboard and dock, to a method for syncing three or more devices. One patent, filed in January 2008, describes the ability to block the receipt of text messages that contain objectionable content or to receive messages based on set criteria. For example, states the patent abstract, "These embodiments might ... require that a certain number of Spanish words per day be included in e-mails for a child learning Spanish."

More pertinent, however, several of the patents relate to multitouch technology-the way of navigating with finger swipes, swirls and pinches that's inherent to the iPhone experience. Apple debuted its first iPhone in June 2007, offering what was for most consumers a first interaction with multitouch technology.

One patent, filed in December 2006, is for a "portable electronic device with multitouch input" that "performs one or more operations ... based on the one or more multitouch contacts and/or motions."

Another, filed in February 2007, identifies and classifies the various ways that "intuitive hand configurations and motions [enable the] unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device."

Still another, describing multitouch sensing methods, details that they can be included in interfaces for devices such as a "desktop, tablet, notebook and handheld computers, personal digital assistants, media players, and mobile telephones."

For now it's unclear how the awarding of the patents will affect several patent-related lawsuits that Apple is currently engaged in with direct rivals Nokia, Motorola and HTC, as well as with Kodak.