Apple has patented the OS X Dock, nearly a decade after the operating system made its public debut with a new slant on the taskbar. The late arrival isn't due to a lack of initiative, however. Apple applied for the patent December 20, 1999, and it was approved by the US Patent Office only yesterday.
Apple summarizes the Dock as a “user interface for providing consolidation and access.” The patent puts a particular focus on the Dock's ability to magnify icons to a predetermined size when the cursor is near, the user's ability to rearrange icons, and the way it overlaps the desktop and active windows. Other touches such as indicating which applications are running, label tiles appearing on mouse-over, and the ability to drag and drop files into applications on the Dock are also described.