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Sun 24 Feb 2008 04:01 PM

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Apple attempting to patent iPhone pinch tech

Apple patent application for pinch technology could restrict multi-touch uptake

Apple has filed a patent for the ‘pinch' function of its iPhone, which makes use of the touchscreen's ability to handle multiple simultaneous inputs, according to a report in Wired magazine.

With a host of companies such as Nokia, Dell, RIA and Synaptics all currently developing multitouch-enabled products, any patent action could seriously affect the uptake of the new technology.

Raj Abhyanker, a patent lawyer who used to write patent applications for Apple told the magazine: "If Apple's patents are granted, the company could absolutely stop others from using similar technology. They'd also be in an especially good position to stop others from including certain features. Apple could stop [their use] not only on mobile devices but also desktops."

While Apple isn't the first company to showcase multitouch screens, the iPhone is the first widely available product that uses the technology. Apple is also the first to tie the technology to specific functions, such as ‘pinching' a photo to zoom in or out.

If Apple's claims are successful, laptop manufacturers may have no choice but to entirely sidestep the more innovative uses of multitouch present in the iPhone, with each manufacturer possibly having to develop their own touch-based shortcuts for common functions.

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