We've called out the US Patent and Trademark Office before on patents that it granted to Apple
), and so it is our duty to point out when the USPTO grants a ridiculous patent to Google as well. This time, the patent is for a multitouch trackpad for use with Android. That's right, the USPTO has decided that adding official support for multitouch trackpads is a patentable idea.
Just to be clear about this, the OG Asus Transformer laptop dock had a trackpad with multitouch support and was released in April of 2011. Apple obviously has had multitouch trackpads in Macbooks before then, but this patent is specific to touchscreen devices (because that's something completely new!) Google filed this patent in Q3 of 2011 and it was granted this month. So, we must applaud the USPTO for another job well done. Prior art be damned, because this patent is very slightly different.
Anyway, despite Patently Apple's claim that this patent shows that Google is "clearly eyeing the desktop market for Android", the idea behind the patent is much more clearly to add official support for laptop docks like the one with the Transformer (and Transformer Prime, of course). The patent would add support for anyone who may want to put Android onto a laptop or netbook as well, but we would hardly say that is the aim of the patent, as it is far more likely that Google just wants to add support for devices already coming to market. The patent includes options for translating multitouch input into touchscreen actions, but also ways to use the trackpad as a virtual touchscreen.
It's pretty likely that this patent will be challenged by Apple, since the company does have a few multitouch patents already, but we'll just have to see how those play out when they happen. Either way, it's nice that the USPTO wants to keep handing out patents like this. Just remember the USPTO motto: if it's broke, keep blindly hitting it with a hammer.