Apple Wins Key Multitouch Patent

By Joseph Mandour on January 16, 2012

Patent Infringement Lawsuit California – Apple now owns an important patent directly related to the way users handle multitouch products. The patent describes how a touchscreen device recognizes touch events. Specifically, it encompasses an oscillator signal and touchscreen-equipped device circuits.

In the filing, Apple states, “In general, multi-touch panels may be able to detect multiple touches (touch events or contact points) that occur at or about the same time, and identify and track their locations.”

Steve Jobs alluded to this patent as one of the “200 plus Patents for new inventions” when he announced the original iPhone several years ago. The new patent rounds out Apple’s patent portfolio and gives it important legal ground against infringing products such as touch-screen mobile phones and tablets. Apple obtained this patent after a decision on December 19 by the U.S. International Trade Commission resulting in a ban on HTC Android handset imports because they infringe on an Apple patent for Data Detectors.

Prior to the iPhone, most touch devices worked using a single-touch stimulation using resistive touchscreens. The pressure of a stylus or finger would connect two electrically resistive sheets separated by a gap. This action created a voltage division that would be detected by a device controller to record the change. Unfortunately, resistive displays can only recognize stimulation from a single input even though many objects could be touching a screen at once.

Apple solved this problem by generating an oscillating signal circuit to record many touches at a time. A device using this technology would be able to record and power inputs from a touchscreen. However, Apple faced difficulties in making this type of circuit precise. The Apple patent provides a solution by using a technology called calibration logic circuitry to compare the oscillation’s signal to a reference signal. The patent describes a display that can sense pressure from many touches with accuracy. It can also detect near touches and recognizes them as “touch events.”

The patent states that the invention applies to a wide range of computing devices like laptops, desktops, handheld devices or tablets, including mobile phones, digital music players and video players. It could also apply to public systems like ATM machines and kiosks.

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Posted in: Patent Registration