Apple has secured the patent for the third version of slide-to-unlock patent, with patent number 8,286, 103 issued Wednesday, The Verge has reported.
Apparently, the first version of the patent was granted in 2010, the second, in 2011 and the third granted Oct.10 this year is identified to be broader than the first two.
Though the background language in Apple's recent patent claim mirrors the first two patents, two important sections were modified. New claims just require continuous movement of the unlocked image on touch-sensitive display in accordance with the movement of detected contact. Thereby, pre-defined path limitations are no longer valid.
The '103 patent broadly covers continuous moving of an image to a general unlock region on the screen to unlock the device.
The scope of the current claim rests on continuously moving an image to unlock region that has resulted in expansion of patent coverage.
The Verge also pointed out how pre-defined verbiage in the first two patents resulted in implementation of unlock feature among competitors.
With the '103 patent, competitors may consider a design tweak to avoid confrontation with Apple in the future.
Though not encouraged in other countries, the current practice is a common one in the U.S., where a patent owner can file "continuation" patent application before it is issued.
As The Verge has indicated, since Apple filed a continuing application in July before the '103 patent was issued, it is likely to continue with the practice.