Apple secures a patent for a multitouch methodology
The US Patent Office has granted "Jobs, et al" a patent for multitouch techniques. The patent is entitled "Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics."
Heuristics is a commonly used term in computer science, and here refers to a set of loosely-defined parameters that can be applied to numerous situations, and the important thing to note here is that it's not the commands themselves being patented, rather the device and its associated GUI and methods for recognizing those commands.
"A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items."
Apple cites a number of existing patents in this filing, including (#6,597,345) the patent for a touchscreen keypad, (#5,655,094) the patent for a pop-up scroll bar, as well as several patents for scrolling and zooming via touchscreen interface.