Re: Over to you
What makes you think they have patented multi-touch?
As I said above, the scope of a patent is determined by the claims. What they have a patent for is therefore determined by reading the claims, read with the supporting specificaiton (so terms used within the claim have a meaning as defined by the specification).
In order to get a patent, Apple must have sucessfully argued that what they are claiming is:
- new, in the sense that the claimed subject matter was not made available to the public before the application date (for instance by being common general knowledge, or known or used, published etc)
- inventive, in that the person skilled in the art would not have found it obvious in the light of what was available to the public.
Note that the skilled person does not have inventive skill (since otherwise all inventions would be obvious). They are legal fiction - think of a geek who can follow explicit teaching of the prior art to combine from multiple disclosures, but it not able to bring inventiveness to bear.
Bear in mind that the USPTO does not have an infinite amount of time to go looking for prior art, and that third parties are free to submit observations to the USPTO during prosecution of the patent.
Hope that helps a little.
It's really about time the Register wrote an article to explain patents and patent prosecution, and made all of its writers read it.