On November 17, the United States Patent & Trademark Office has granted Google a patent for Android pattern unlock.
Titled "Touch Gesture Actions From A Device's Lock Screen", the patent was filed on May 14, 2010, and it summarizes Android's trademark capability - per patent's abstract:
Embodiments enable a mobile device to execute an action analogous to a user-defined action in response to receipt of a gesture analogous to a user-defined gesture.
"In a first embodiment, a computer-implemented method executes an action on a mobile device. A lock screen view is displayed on the mobile device to prevent unauthorized and inadvertent access to the mobile device's data. While the mobile device is locked, a touch gesture having a pre-defined shape is detected on a touch screen of the mobile device independently of the initial position of the touch gesture on the touch screen."
Google explains custom gestures can be used to, say, silence the device while keeping it discretely hidden from view -- saying:
"In response to detection of the touch gesture, a particular action is executed on the mobile device while the mobile device stays locked. The particular action determined according to the pre-defined shape. In this way, detection of the touch gesture causes the particular action to execute while keeping the mobile device locked."
With this, Google has followed Apple's footsteps in getting a patent at the USPTO for the unlocking gesture for touchscreen smartphones running its Android operating system. While Apple has patented a slide to unlock gesture, Google uses a more involved pattern.
Google has also been granted another patent titled "Automatic Derivation of Analogous Touch Gestures From A User-Defined Gesture" (patent ID: 20110279384) which specifically details methods to decipher custom gestures drawn anywhere on the lock screen, regardless of their shape, size, position, etc.
"A second touch gesture is received on a touch screen of the mobile device. The second touch gesture is similar, but not identical, to the first touch gesture, and has a different orientation, size or position from the first touch gesture. In response to receipt of the second touch gesture, a second action is determined on the application of the mobile device according to a difference between the first and second touch gestures in orientation, size or position on the screen of the mobile device. Finally, the second action is initiated," read the abstract of the patent ID: 20110279384.