Slide to unlock

The software patent system is totally askew.  We need to look no further to see this than the recent news that Apple was granted a patent on sliding to unlock a mobile device.  (Edit: It actually was granted back in February, but the case pinged again, and so we're all revisiting it.) It's bad enough that a governing body somewhere actually believes that you or I aren't smart enough to come to the natural conclusion on our own (that's basically what a patent means -- it's a unique idea or process), but the fact that it existed on an old Windows CE device in 2005 was totally overlooked.

I present the Neonode N1m, as reviewed by none other than Tnkgrl.

Youtube link for mobile viewing

Jump to 4:00 if you're impatient.  Now you might ask two things -- why was this patent granted, and does "prior art" really mean anything?  The first is an easy answer, the folks who granted the patent probably never heard of the Neonode N1m (but I'm sure Apple did).  You can't blame them if they didn't know, even if they should have.  The second question is a bit more tricky.  Usually, if prior art can be proven, a patent is invalidated.  Proven is a tough word that means more than one thing to different people.  It should be easy to interpret, but that's not how the legal system in the US works. 

It did work as expected in the Netherlands though, and Samsung has already brought the lowly Neonode N1m in front of the court there -- and had Apple's claims over slide to unlock determined to be "trivial and likely invalid", and the court refused to consider them.  I'm sure HTC and Motorola, who are being sued over multiple gesture patents in the US, already have this particular Youtube video bookmarked.  If this patent stands, we all should just go back to this.

The good old days

More: 9to5Mac; Fosspatents


Reader comments

Apple granted patent on slide to unlock, even though it existed 2 years before they invented it


Steve jobs died when he did just so he could beat this ruling right here to heaven.

Watch out Angels, Steve's company invented WINGS, HALO'S, THE GOSPEL, THE TRUTH.
They also invented LIGHT, but they're having a tough time sliding that one past GOD....

So this post is to demonstrate that you don't understand:

A. Apple, not the maker of this phone, and has the patent for the gesture, and
B. Apple's patent is for sweeping the screen alongside an on-screen metaphor

Did you even think before posting this or just saw the video and went into a smug rage?

I think a patent also has to be non-obvious. If Apple didn't invent slide-to-unlock, is adding an on-screen metaphor a non-obvious improvement? I don't really know what the standard is, though.

So logic is different in the Netherlands? Lets put the fanboyism to the side. The patent is obviously invalid.

Although there are some differences within the sweep gesture shown in this video and what apple has, it is the EXACT same thing that apple is suing samsung over. This gesture is what apple is suing over, even though their slide to unlock looks NOTHING like what samsung and other android platforms offer. Thats the point here. So my question to you is
"Did you even think before posting this or just saw the video and went into a smug rage?"

Please tell me your just some fanboy that is trying to make us look like fools. Are you blind man, you don't see that the person actually slides his finger across the screen? Or did Apple patent a finger and the finger slides along the screen to unlock. For heavens sakes people read, research, and make judgement. Otherwise Apple will patent your finger so you can't pick your nose anymore.

OK. We're making progress. So if MS's use of widgets predates Apple's then the OPs joke still is relevant as he made no mention of Google and instead was commenting on how Apple has a history of attempting to patent technology that already existed.

We are indeed making progress. The OP may have a point about Apple patenting tech that it did not invent. But my comment was to show that Google steals tech, and then fanboys conveniently forget that others had it first. I.e widgets, and pull down notification bars.

"Steals tech" is a strong word. I would be for invalidating all software patents and just let companies close their source if they want to protect their IP. Google doesn't go around claiming absolute rights to the motifs and mechanisms behind Android. They even open the source, for goodness sake, which essentially not only lets their competitors copy them but shows them how that particular bit of magic was accomplished.

I think it's great that Apple has finally listened to their customers and changed the way notifications work in iOS5, regardless of who did it first. There's sometimes one ideal way of doing something in software and no one company should own exclusive rights to it. Apple learned this lesson in the 80s when their ridiculous lawsuit against Microsoft was struck down. The judge rightly found in that case that there are certain elements of an interface that represents the natural evolution of computer UI and should not be subject to protection. Now, we need a strong ruling like that in the mobile world to stop these ridiculous lawsuits and get to competing product for product.

actually sir, Google was the first mobile device to use widgets, Linux was using widgets on actual computers way before apple or microsoft. Saying that google steals tech when they innovated the ability to use a widget on a handheld device sounds kind of ignorant. Especially because Google never claimed to be the creator of widgets. I feel that you are an upset apple "fanboy" lashing out in the android forums because people here, WITH ANDROID PHONES, are all "fanboys" if they boast their product, according to your logic. You really need to reevaluate what you have said, The main difference in your arguement that makes it invalid is that Apple has a tendency to claim other companies innovations and ideas as their own, where as google has not done this. Regardless of who used widgets, slide to unlock ect ect, Apple is the only company always trying to claim the idea was there own.

You may be correct in that google 'borrows' tech. But they don't sue other companies for using this same tech. BIG difference.

Your being sarcastic right? If you're not you should remember that this video is of a phone that predates that icrap devices. This would be considered high tech back in those days with a resistive touch screen as capacitive wasn't widely used. As for the camera 1MP was quite the norm for cameras on phones.

Did she seriously get her left and right mixed up, accidentally say it the right way, and then correct herself to say it wrong again?

The point is that the patent that was granted to apple is for unlocking a device on a "predefined path".The reality my friend is its not a new technology, this device had it before iphone.

This company can actually sue apple for copying this feature.Apple simply needs to grow up and innovate, I mean 6 years of going to the patent office just to patent this!

Android is slowly leaving it in the dust. Whatever the case this can easily be remedied with software update.

Jerry thanks for this video, it truly shows that apple also copies other device and invalidates Mr. Jobs statement that android stole from apple.

sorry to correct your grammer, it's validates Mr. Rot in Hell Jobs statement. Sorry about that but my hate for this company keeps getting stronger the more I read these rediculous patents this troll company creates for itself. The problem is they are patentening ideas left and right even ones that have already been implemented on phones from previous years and some predating the icraps. The only reason is because they can't innovate anymore, most smartphone companies have gone beyond what Apple might or will bring out. The only way Apple is to survive instead of competing is to sue the hell out of every other mobile maker. Just think Samsung will be coming out in a couple of years with flexible Amoled screen phones, Apple is scared of the innovation Samsung is going to market in the next few years. This is the reason why Apple wanted to see Samsungs coming products in one of their foolish lawsuits. Do you think Samsung is that dumb, they've already changed those designs and are going to market better ones in the near future. Apple is just making themselves look like a bunch of fools and a company that is losing to a fast growing market. Sooner or later this Apple name is going to be just another designer brand that only followers and wanna be's want to buy.

Now I wish a developer could make this slider for my Evo 3D just so I can say f- u- apple. What a load of crap apple is. Please come up with your own innovation for once. They are always just behind the curve, but yet the sheep flock.

You are right, Apple would claim that because apple sauce can be bought in a can they they should own the patent.

Apple isn't the problem here, the patent system is the problem. Apple is doing what everybody else (except google) does.

Exactly! When I 1st heard about Apple applying for the patent a few years ago I was shocked since my i-Mate JASJAR, running Windows Mobile 6, from back in 2006 had slide to unlock. The patent office is clearly inept!

But if you think about it, they are doing it in reaction to Apple trying to steal patents to begin with. If everyone else had patented things like the touchscreen, slide to unlock, etc in the beginning then Apple couldn't have tried to steal them. Now they have to because if they don't someone takes it from them after they invent it.

And before everyone jumps on me, I know technology companies have been applying for patents for years, however, it's obvious that they felt certain things shouldn't be patented because it would stifle technology.

Is this why ICS has that circle unlock and face recognition unlock now and HTV phones have slide down to unlock?

Don't worry, Apple will patent face recognition, feature it on the iClone 5, then sue every device running ICS or later that "stole" it.

It's called sarcasm. Get with it. He's point out the fact that iOS 5 copied Android. I came back with a retort that basically says "ICS has "borrowed" features as well so who are you to talk".


Everyone borrows from everyone else. We get that. I believe the point everyone is trying to make is that once apple borrows something, they attempt to sue and patent that same borrowed tech. Most of the things google has borrowed has been microsoft based as is evident in the licensing agreements between microsoft and various hardware manufacturers for android. Android copies this medium and makes it open source for whoever to use it. So there is a difference in the similarity that you claim.

sarcasm doesn't win debates. It's used by high school drop outs to try and seem smart and dignified. Bring higher intelligence to the table or don't come at all.


Wow. One of the dumbest things it have ever heard. Sarcasm is for college dropouts. So I guess Phil of AndroidCentral, and all the authors of the Onion are all college dropouts who can't win an argument? Sarcasm is a excellent tool for debate. And I currently attend University pursuing pre-law so I think I know a little more about winning an argument than your lame ass does.

PS. Some of our greatest minds are college dropouts. i.e Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.

Understand? Fool.

You just made the whole point for the article. Google "borrows" the technology. They don't try to steal it from the company that invented it.

Borrow (verb): Borrow or borrowing can mean: to receive (something) from somebody temporarily, expecting to return it.

So you mean to tell me Google plans on giving back all of the technology the "borrow" in android phones? Ridiculous. They steal as much as anyone else does.

Can't wait till Google decides to do something about iOS 5. I mean, there are literaly 3 Major things that Apple stole from Android for that. Notifications, OTA updates, and photo sharing. I hope google actually does something. I'm sick of reading posts about how apple is suing everyone and about android products being banned. WTF Google? Dont let that fugly fruit push you around. Terminate it, once and for all!

They have to patent stuff or people steal their IP. Oh wait Microsoft did that and Android does that so patents don't do much.

What IP did they steal? As we see here much of what Apple calls original IP is stuff that already existed. The act of going around using ideas that already exist and patenting them IS stealing.

I applied for that patent already. I was sent a cease and desist order from an apple lawyer claiming they already owned that patent

I'm really confused here.... at 4:25 after demo'ing the unlock gesture she says, "and that's very iPhone like"... didn't she just admit to copying the iPhone. Please listen to that part and tell me I'm wrong.

P.S. All this patent crap is just that crap. Serious reform needs to be done to what can and should be patented. Companies should be able to innovate and progress technology and not worry about other companies sitting on their butts sniping the competition over things that shouldn't have been patented in the first place.

True but when you steal someone idea its wrong.

Some can say what about cars, ford was the first and then chevy copied them. Its not the same thing.

Microsoft went into Apple and stole the ideas just like Google did. Its wrong!

ill answer it , hell yeah it was wrong . that was one of the things all the fan boys said they didnt need . yall all ways do that , say you dont need something until apple gets it , then its the greatest thing in the world. tell me again how you dont need widget, folders , larger screen... and all the other shit apple is lacking .

at the end of the day, iphone 6 will be what android is today. by then , who knows what android would have thought of by then.

If you listen to the first 18 seconds she says she is reviewing it because its the eve of the iPhone release and that this device is an ancestor of the iPhone. I think she is being sarcastic in saying that about the slide to unlock.

Honestly the thing that bothers me the most is that I actually think now that Jobs actually believed that he invented all of this stuff. I don't even think its them stealing ideas. I think they actually think they were the first to do all of this. I mean right here we're looking at a touch screen device while any iFool will have you believe no such thing existed before the iPhone.

They say the Apple reality distortion field centered around Steve Jobs. Since he was right in the middle, it comes as no great surprise that he believed all his own marketing hype and BS.

Myriam reviewed this phone on the night before the original iPhone launch to show that many of the ideas that were being touted as magical and all new have existed for quite a while.  This phone predates the original iPhone presentation, as well as the phone itself, by 2 years.

"at 4:25 after demo'ing the unlock gesture she says, "and that's very iPhone like"

First off, she corrects herself and says something like "...actually the other way around".

Secondly, comparing two things and saying they are similar doesn't imply the order in which they were invented. You can say Android notification is very IOS5-like or vice versa without implying which was first.

I made a custom gesture in cm7 to unlock by sweeping left to right.. i really hope i dont get sued. I cant afford it. Saving for the galaxy nexus!!!

Will this force other manufacturers to use a different locking mechanism, or can they put slide unlocks on their phones without legal repercussion?

A lot of the patented software stuff should be copyrighted only. And like other copyrightable material it is a progression. The new ideas build on the old just like in literature. Software coding is not an invention. It shouldn't be treated as one. Additionally isn't there a ruling that GUI elements that simulate real world actions are not patentable? This seems like a GUI version of opening a clasp.

is this some kind of Joke?

i dont get it? Should MS collect from IOS due to Windows Mobile having application Icons 5 years before them?


maybe because they had a phone with a power button first?
how bout patent a phone that can go on the internet?
or a phone that has a calculator built in?
what about settings? any phone that has settings option?

it always seems when people talk about Smartphones they forget that although a bit clunky, Windows Mobile had like 80% of what today's smartphones have.

Because, shockingly, neither the patent number nor the claim were included in the post...I present the actual claim 1 of patent 8,046,721 (issued Oct 25, 2011):

1. A method of unlocking a hand-held electronic device, the device including a touch-sensitive display, the method comprising: detecting a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image; continuously moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the contact while continuous contact with the touch screen is maintained, wherein the unlock image is a graphical, interactive user-interface object with which a user interacts in order to unlock the device; and unlocking the hand-held electronic device if the moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display results in movement of the unlock image from the first predefined location to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.

Apple owns what is described in this claim, not merely "slide to unlock." Each and EVERY element of this claim must be present for any infringement to occur.

Were any of you wondering why everyone seems to be using the "ring" unlock screen now? Take a gander at "a predefined unlock region." This was termed "a predefined gesture" in the initial patent (7,657,849) I didn't read the specification, but these claims require that the unlock gesture/unlock region be "predefined." Compare to Sense 3.0/Honeycomb/CM7 "rings."

I'm not a fan of Apple but thanks for posting the wording of the patent, makes the video and the article useless, also makes it easy to see that it doesn't take much to work around the patent.

I'll let the others decide. I'll be kind and assume you know that all-caps is considered rude on an Internet forum.

My bad, I'll make sure to type with my pinkies erect the next time I want to post a comment as well. To me all-caps doesn't represent "rudeness" it represents exclaiming what you are saying.

Actually you could argue that the ring's unlock area is predetermined in that it its anywhere on the screen outside of a predetermined area. Personally I like all of androids unlock gestures (vanilla, rotary, HTC sense up/down, rings) more than apple's. It looks much better. So we are left with pin, pattern, or button? Are these effecient? No. So tell me again how such a patent doesn't stifle innovation? I say an update that has the exact graphic that they have but sliding the whole lockscreen around the graphic revealing the homescreen just to mess with them.

I know this is an Android site, and most of you hate Apple, but most of you are acting as if Apple is the only company in the world to patent obvious things. Sorry to tell you guys, but Android manufacturers also patent obvious things and use them to their advantage.

It's all a lose-lose situation until the patent system is reformed.

That is key right there. It is lame of Apple to get this patent but it is clearly the fault of the garbage US patent system. It is outdated and run by fools apparently. Things need to change ASAP but I don't see that happening.

I used to take a bite out of apples as a kid and then throw them away. Maybe I should sue Apple for stealing my idea!?!?! lol

So if the laws were changed to make stealing not illegal it would be ok for someone to break into your house and take things? It's called right and wrong. If you expect the gov't to protect you from wrong doers then you are living in a fantasy world. The gov't steals from you every day with their spending of your tax dollars on crap that someone who donated to them asks for.

True the system needs reform they are way behind in catching up to technology. But about apple, there are certain things are simply basic building blocks for devices so when you try to patent such basic technology is like putting a patent on the air we breath.

How many cars out there use led tail lights? Lots of cars well if someone tried to patent led tail lights would that be fair? No, because they are basically essential to a car.

Trying to patent multi-touch and now the sliding to lock is ridiculous.

Your analogy is awful, as is your analysis of it.

If a company tried to patent taillights, you'd be right. But taillights are not unique. (that, and the law requires them, so it'd be impossible to patent them) But, when you add LED technology in, that is something that is most certainly patentable. The technology behind LED tail lamps HAS, as a matter of fact, been patented. Because the technology behind them IS unique, and IS something that required extensive engineering.

Besides the fact, what you're arguing here has nothing whatsoever to do with the slide to unlock situation.

They were unique at one time, as were steering wheels, four wheels, a grill etc. We just take them for granted now.

Because of the system most companies stockpile patents trivial or otherwise to use in self defense. They also come in handy for cross licensing deals to avoid litigation. Notice that google has not been sued for the slide to unlock but rather the hardware manufacturers. My bet is apple was hoping for a $5/ handset licensing fee to cover samsungs handset as a whole in the form of a settlement. I think they also got more than they could chew when samsung said I don't think so. Google and their bank account will eventually be brought into the mix. That is the point when apple will cave and go the way of the ipod, imac, iEtc. and retreat into the realm of the mediocre with their dwindling flock. Hopefully they can withdraw with their iphone intact and not end up paying a licensing fee to every other manufacturer they "barrowed" from.

Jerry, did you even bother to read the patent before you posted your 'analysis'?

The patent apple was granted is so incredibly narrow that any infringement would have to be completely intentional. It is specifically for an unlock method that follows a predetermined course (so any touch wiz phones are out) from left to right (ditto for HTC), and with an unlock image that responds to touch on the screen (clears any possible prior at from neonode with that one). Any infringement (or prior art) would have to incorporate every single one of those elements, and none of the competitors do, and neonode did not either.

In other words, tone down the fanboy from 11, and think before you post these things. This is not only not an example of the system being broken, but it also isn't any cause for worry.

If its so narrow..why is apple suing samsung over this same slide to unlock gesture...? IMO the slide to unlcokk gesture offered in samsung looks more like the patent in this phone...yet they arent suing samsung. They should be suing samsng, not apple, because they invented it not apple.

Motorola's stock unlocking method follows a predetermined course going from left to right with an unlock image that responds to touch doesn't it or does that last part means that once touched, it would have to say "slide to unlock"?

(Disclaimer: I'm not trying to be a jerk. It's a serious question.)

this just goes to show what having the ex vice president of the United States on your board of members does for a company. Apple beeing the second most wealthy company in the world next to Exon is now way too powerful. We all know that the government protects the oil companies and they apparently protect Apple as well. Between what is happening in Australia and Europe it makes me sick to see this. They seem to have the pattens on everything under the sun and even if they don't the courts are always ruling in their favor. The consumers are suffering for this and the wealthy are just getting wealthier..... My god they are becoming a monopoly and if huge companies like Samsung are having issues....then what are small start up companies going to do? Steve jobs preached about being a young entrepeneur and ho and also said he encouraged them to do great things....however god help them if they decided to get in the tech business.....his lawyers will just squash them like a fly. Oh and the statement about destroying Google and Android! What happened to good old healthy competition? Instead of inovating and beeting them with better products he chose to cheat and rig the game....shame on you apple...

i would make a slide lock screen that goes from right to left :p just to fuck with apple since its not copying them. I would be innovating just like they say they do :D

i would make a slide lock screen that goes from right to left :p just to fuck with apple since its not copying them. I would be innovating just like they say they do :D

It seems like these patent judges don't really know history of electronics. They see APPLE on patent documents and sign them immediately without so much as a tech review to see if it was done before.. The whole idea of patents needs to be invalidated and started over with new patent laws.

Since apple invented the internet, are they going to sue Al Gore? He stated that he, himself, invented the internet during his campaign for president.

Nevermind. I forgot apple has a patent for Al bad...

He most certainly did. He stated that he was on the commitee with the sole vote to release the internet (then only government interweb) to the general public.

“In 1974, Jobs got a job as a video game designer with Atari and then left Atari several months later to find spiritual enlightenment in India experimenting with psychedelic drugs around continents. ”

“The Apple I sold for 666.66.”

Like I said, This man sold his freakin sole to the devil. He deserved everything he got and then some. Besides…his tout that he would would spend 40 billion destroying android because it was “grand theft” is outfreakinrageous!! First off, touch screen phones were released way before the iphone…android was also released before the blessed iOS. So you freakin apple fritters tell me HOW google copied them? I think apple stole from android and should be shut down like a faulty nuclear waste site.

Android's UI before 2007:

Android after:

IMHO, Everyone gets so worked up about what features are ripped off who. And who copied who. "Good artists imitate but great artists steal." every time I hear that, it makes me cringe. Here is what T.S. Eliot said in his entirety: One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

Regardless of who copied who, I'm just glad that each iteration of either software just keeps getting better and better. As long as they keep stealing and improving it works out for me. =)

You know what I say to this? Lockscreen gestures. You need to to make a crazy squiggle in order to unlock my phone. Patent avoided

What's most amusing is all the folks that made this into an Apple vs Android thing. The opening sentence of the article makes it quite clear what the author has an issue with:

"The software patent system is totally askew."

The example he cites may not be 100% correct, but it still sufficiently illustrates his point; the software patent system in the US is fubar.

I found this offer on the internet: "Brooklyn Bridge for sale. All reasonable offers from iPhone owners will be given priority."

Are people who buy Apple products particularly credulous? Some people clearly think so.

Apple have a good design department, but their legal department seems to be MUCH bigger and better funded. I find their distortion of reality and bravado shocking. This kind of ludicrous patent application should be rejected ASAP.

As you mentioned, patents were designed to protect unique ideas and, more importantly, the _process_ by which they're done. If Apple wanted to patent the method by which they achieved slide to unlock (the underlying code, etc), I'd have no problem with that. Patenting a visual metaphor should be much harder and prior art should be exhaustively consulted. The patent should be thrown out the minute prior art is shown.
1) This patent should never have been granted in the first place.
2) The patent office needs to learn how to use Google.
3) The patent office should be granted the right to fine companies that waste their time with spurious patents (like this).
4) Apple should go back to trying to innovate, rather than litigate.

Code should be copyrighted, not patented. Process shouldn't be patentable (Slide to unlock). Actual code should be protected thoguh.

Reverse engineering shouldn't be penalized against. It's a time-honored American tradition. Otherwise, Ford has a lotta money coming their way for the assembly line...

One would actually think that in the 21st century, the patent office would actually know about the technologies/devices they are giving patents to.

Damn the whole office doesn't even have one techie/geek?!

Case of ipad vs galaxy tab 10.1 they edited the actual dimensions so that both devices look the same size! How messed up is that? Doesn't the court at least get the actual devices infront of them and then judge rather than a photo? Or at least some actual research!! If they were judging homocides n such we would see a lot of innocent people in jail LOL

The people in the system are really inapt(one would say ignorants in terms or tech n such) and apple is really capitalizing on that.

It only takes one Tech Savy judge to rule against apple. Hopefully all the other judges follow suit, because with this Apple childish behaviour the products prices will jump. Thankfully manufacturers like Samsung is staying ahead of the game, one thing I wish they do is break their ties with Apple. Once Samsung and other manufactureres stop supplying apple and supply them to other mobile companies then Apple is gone. This the only way to get back at this greedy company once and for all.


Didn't Steve Jobs say in and interview. "Good artist copy great artist steal, and Apple has been notorious for stalling great ideas"

If one of the big manufacturers had a brain, they'd buy out Neonode for a couple hundred mil, and sue Apple for this... Just sayin!

Neonode didn't patent it, so they aren't owed anything.
But they (or anyone else) can likely claim prior art, and invalidate the Apple patent. But that takes money.
The patent office does little or no searching for prior art and little searching for prior patents. They leave it to the person submitting the patent to do that legwork.
It is all about lawyers sitting in courtrooms fighting over it after the fact, proving prior art, or proving who had the patent first.
It is a system designed by lawyers, to keep lawyers on the payroll.

As much as I hate Apple and their anti-competitive ways, they technically can pull this crap. They filed for this a few years back and current patent law is first to file instead of first to invent.

First to patent gets the patent, but if you prove prior art, the patent isn't worth a thing.
The real issue is that it bogs down the system with clutter.

who cares? the iPhone was the first phone to come out with this feature that anyone actually gave a damn about. let them have their patent. my phone doesn't even slide left to right to unlock anyways (EVO 3D). plus, that device doesn't show a graphic like the iPhone has... features are stolen by tech companies all the time these days. this is nothing new people. complain more. the apple hate here is so misplaced. hate a drug company for creating a drug that kills people cuz it didnt go through a clinical trial that was long enough. dont hate a tech company that creates a pda you would rather not use. Ridiculous behavior.

You are missing the point.
The point is, the system is so clueless that Apple was even able to get this patent on something that has prior art. It is then an easy step to find a clueless judge and Apple can claim that HTC is infringing the patent. The judge then halts all HTC Android sales. This likely won't happen, because HTC would pour millions of dollars into lawyers to defend it. Money that would be better spent on R&D, not pushing paperwork.
A side issue is that all of the Apple fanboys will yet again think this stolen idea is an Apple 'invention'.

This happens all the time. The patent examiner likely wasn't aware of the prior art. Without having seen the patent, it could also be that Apple's patent is extremely narrow in order to overcome the prior art.

Patents are invalidated routinely, and if Apple tried to enforce this patent it would certainly be challenged.

I'm not fully sure where did you get that '2 years': The Apple patent was filed in December 2005 and the Neonode product was launched in March 2005 according to Wiki. An important thing to remember is that the patent system is country specific: A US court doesn't care if there was prior art in Sweden.

Since the Europe is common market now it may affect on a decision in Netherlands, but I would assume that in an US patent trial someone should prove that the Neonode product was available in the US market before December 2005 in order to invalidate the patent. I highly doubt that since the Neonode company had only a staff of 50 persons and I would be surprised if they had resources to do a global launch in 2005. Their feature was not part of the Windows CE UI, it was their own layer on top of CE called Neno.

She brought up the Iphone in the video and said the unlock gesture is very iPhone like so doesn't that mean Apple still beat them too the gesture on this device?

You know what I don't get? I understand the whole anger over the silly patent problem. And I understand being pissed at apple because of it. But I don't understand people acting like apple has never made ANYTHING of their own because of it. Apple is a huge source of innovation. Now, do I use their stuff? No, because they put training wheels on a lot of their products and I also don't have that kind of money. But that doesn't mean I'm going to pretend they never did anything because their nitpicking over a few things. That would just be stupidity on my part.

Samsung if your listening and I hope you are, please Patent this one and fast before Crapple patents it, iris unlocking. Oh wait that would be considered face unlock wouldn't it and Apple already filed a patent on people's faces. How about Apple patent this unlock feature, throw your iphone up in the air and catch it. If it drops on the ground and cracks wide open then it's unlocked.

patents being awarded to the commercial folks rather than the inventors......... nothing new, do some research on who holds the Radio Patent and why