MAKER OF SHINY TOYS Apple has been granted a patent for its multi-tiered IOS virtual keyboard on Iphone and Ipad devices.
The patent entitled "Method, system, and graphical user interface for selecting a soft keyboard", which is an extension of a similar soft keyboard patent originally filed in the US in October 2009, was made public today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
In the patent filing, Apple specifically describes its soft keyboard invention as relating to "user interfaces, and more particularly, to methods, systems, and graphical user interfaces for selecting a soft keyboard from a plurality of soft keyboards".
Kathleen Fox Murphy, a patent litigator at law firm Taylor Wessing told The INQUIRER that it "remains to be seen" whether the patent will be a big deal, that is, whether Apple can use the patent as a weapon in litigation against rival companies.
However, she said that the patent's older counterpart has been around for the past three years and in that time Apple hasn't prevented any other smartphone makers from using soft keyboards in their touchscreen devices.
Murphy added that there has been no equivilant application for patents made by Apple outside the US, meaning that if the Cupertino company did plan to seek injunctions, it wouldn't be able to do so outside North America.
We asked Apple about its stance on the matter but it refused to comment.
It was also revealed today that Apple was granted design patents for its Ipod Nano packaging, Ipod shuffle second generation and the firm's Upper West Side Apple Store in New York that uses Hanger Glass and posthumously credits Steve Jobs as one of the designers. µ