Apple was granted the holy grail of smartphone patents today: a patent on touch screens.
Thats like owning a patent on water in Africa.
Apple was finally granted US patent number 7966578 nearly three years after filing for it. They've been awarded control over:
[a] computer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display, [that] comprises displaying a portion of page content, including a frame displaying a portion of frame content and also including other content of the page, on the touch screen display.
Apple essentially can now sue the pants off all its competitors, which is everyone else in the mobile computing industry. HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia are all at Apple's mercy. The large settlement that Apple forked over to Nokia to license certain mobile technologies is going to look like a pitance compared to what Apple will be able to do.
In a worst case scenario Apple could eliminate capacitive touch screens from all their competitors phones, creating a shocking monopoly in the realm of touch interfaces. Or they could license out the technology, and make money off of every phone their competitors sell, and charge a premium at that.
Money may not grow on trees, but with this new patent Apple will likely run out of the trees necessary to print money before this well dries up.
Source: PC World