iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S Reuters

Apple has patented its touchscreen unlock for both tablets and smartphones, meaning no other mobile operating system can use a similar system.

The application for this patent was filed in June 2009 and covers most techniques that touch screen smart phones use to unlock the device including Apple's swipe and Android's pattern entry.

The patent states: A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display.

"The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device."

This does not necessarily mean that Apple will be able to enforce the patent, the BBC spoke to Silas Brown, an intellectual property solicitor: "Often you will have situations where patents are argued through long and hard to get to registration, but when they are challenged there is a counter action to claim that the patent shouldn't have been granted."

"[Apple's] argument would be more in that direction - that this is an invention which has an effect on hardware, for example security.

"The question would go down to a technical analysis and people who are experienced and knowledgeable in respect of this particular type of technology."