Could Apple’s latest patent spell big trouble for competitors down the road?

Like all tech companies Apple is a giant collector of patents and they have never shown any fear in using them when they see fit, either as a basis for a lawsuit or as a threat to any of its competitors; and right now one of the biggest fights going on is between it and the many Android using companies.

This past week the company was awarded a new patent that could possible spell big trouble for Android that has to do with a method for using apps while on a phone call. The patent, No. 8,082,523, is titled “Portable electronic device with a graphical user interface supporting application switching”.

Now as broad as that may seem it applies to any method by which the phone application is displaced by something like a button or some other visible mechanism that indicates that there is a call still in progress and allows the user to return to the call.

The problem here is that this patent is broad enough that Apple could initiate lawsuits against any device that lets a user maintain a call while viewing the phone’s home screen or a screen of application icons. Now this doesn’t mean that Apple would have a open and close win in any lawsuits using this patent but when added to its growing arsenal of mobile related patents it allows Apple to gain ground on Google’s Android platform by making it more expensive for OEMs to use on their handsets.

via GigaOM