I find the whole patent administration of this country to be despicable. I mean, the things that you are permitted to patent... so many of them are too "obvious". I really don't think you should be able to patent the shape of a device, unless it is just a very unique shape never made before. A rounded corner rectangle? A grid menu display of icons that appear on a screen? The ability to "swipe" those icons off the screen like a page? I really don't think these characteristics should be patent-able. Now, perhaps the logic routine employed to manage scrolling momentum, with the "elastic" effect... YES, I can see that being patented.
Anyway, I think that if Apple wins the appeal, they'll use this as a platform to stand on and take aim at all the others, like Motorola, HTC, etc. Wasn't there an Apple suit against Android that eventually fizzled out?
Patents are supposed to be on things that are "novel" and "non-obvious." There are a lot of patents that consist of little more than "[some existing activity] on a computer." That's not novel, it's an obvious application. Rounded corners in a UI? How the hell is that novel? Apparently, Apple also has a patent on phone numbers turned into hyperlinks, which dial when clicked. Say what?? They were granted that patent in 2007, years after Palm had been doing the same thing. Yes, the patent covers other stuff, but that's part of the problem: a patent should be specific and narrow to a particular invention and its applications. If portions of a patent are invalid, then the whole patent should be invalid and unenforceable.
But the USPTO seems to have no one trained to vet this stuff. They don't know what's prior art and what isn't. And technology companies are engaged in an ever-escalating arms race to patent everything they can, either defensively or offensively (and many companies do both.) It's madness, and rather than be a driver of innovation, it creates lots of unnecessary legal costs and bogs down our court system. Ultimately, consumers and taxpayers end up footing the bill for this shit, and that's totally unacceptable.