Since the release of Mac OS X 10.0 in 2001, the Dock has been one of the most prominent features of operating system's user interface, serving as a centralized launch pad for applications and document files. Now, nearly a decade after filing for a patent on the OS X Dock, it has finally been awarded to Apple under the title “user interface for providing consolidation and access.”


Apple now has the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or otherwise employing replicas of the technology in their own products for 20 years from now – which could spell trouble for imitators such as ObjectDock, RocketDock, and others. The patent puts a particular focus on the Dock's ability to magnify icons to a predetermined size when the cursor is near, the user's ability to rearrange icons, and how it indicates which applications are running.