The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple a patent covering vertical and horizontal UI scroll bars.
Yes. Apple has a patent on scroll bars.
Patent No. 8,223,134 for “Portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents" covers the implementation of transparent and disappearing vertical scroll bars in essentially everything. These are the same bars that appear when scrolling any webpage, playlist, and any type of “digital document” that cannot be fully displayed on a screen at once.
The USPTO awarded Apple the patent only four short months after Apple’s initial filing in March. Apple created the patent in order to better utilize the small screen real estate available on mobile devices.
As portable electronic devices become more compact, and the number of functions performed by a given device increase, it has become a significant challenge to design a user interface that allows users to easily interact with a multifunction device. This challenge is particular significant for handheld portable devices, which have much smaller screens than desktop or laptop computers. — Apple
The USPTO just added a thermonuclear legal bomb to Apple’s arsenal.
Source: Apple Insider