Apple was granted a huge 358-page patent covering the touch screen, UI, and methods that combine to define the user interface of the iPhone.
Dating back to September of 2007 and granted last Tuesday, U.S. Patent No. 7479949 lists many inventors; notably, Apple co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs, iPhone software director Scott Forstall, and FingerWorks co-founder Wayne Westerman. (FingerWorks was responsible for gadgets with an opaque surface that could respond to gesture controls before being acquired by Apple to aid its multi-touch efforts several years ago.)
The filing is essentially a summary and overview of all the technologies that come together in the iPhone. In the patent, Apple claims coverage for the device itself, the way gestures like pinches and zooms are detected, and the software the device runs. Also mentioned are many other different details and aspects of the multi-touch user interface, such as a finger swipe, a two-thumb twist, and a method of determining which object was intended when a touch seems to cover both.