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Apple receives patent for the OS X dock

Apple has received a patent for the dock utility for launching applications in OS X. Yes, the dock has been around for the better part of a decade, but Apple applied for the patent back in 1999 and didn’t receive it until this week. The patent describes an interface for consolidating frequently used items in a "userbar." It also covers the way that items are magnified when you scroll your cursor over them.
In other words, it looks like Apple may be able to go after the makers of ObjectDock, RocketDock, sTabLauncher, Avant Window Navigator, Cairo Dock and others. Sure, those applications may not steal any code from Apple, but they’re based on the same concept.
Now, I’m not saying Apple shouldn’t have been able to patent the dock concept. I’m not going to take a position on that, one way or the other. But this is the sort of thing that can happen when it takes the US patent system 9 years to rule on a patent application.