If you have a smartphone, you've probably used the slide-to-unlock feature to make a call or check your mail. This week, Apple (AAPL 0.00%) won the patent for that feature.
Slide-to-unlock is an elegant, useful feature, and it's been copied by many other companies. The Android software by Google (GOOG 0.00%) uses it, as does the new Windows 8 lock screen from Microsoft (MSFT 0.00%). (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
So what will happen now that Apple owns the feature? Well, it's pretty clear that any devices using it could be sued for patent infringement. Time Magazine thinks we'll see a substantial drop in the number of devices offering it from now on.