Mix: iPhone patent, Apple in China, ITV, iPhone clones, iTunes boots homophobes

Apple has received a patent covering messaging on portable touchscreen devices (such as the iPhone), which goes beyond SMS to cover web-based instant messaging as well. Published in March, the patent is titled “portable device for instant messaging” and includes images depicting a user interface much like that of the iPhone’s SMS application, with patent claims covering the device’s unique ability to use a contacts database to group together all messages from one person, regardless of the phone number or electronic addresses he issending the messages from.

A new Apple store-within-a-store has been unveiled at a Shanghai area Best Buy. The store-in-store, Apple’s first in mainland China, was awarded to the Xuhui Best Buy due to that location being the leading retailer of Apple products in China in 2007. According to reports, the store-within-a-store occupies a total area of about 50 sq. meters, and displays more than 60 different Apple computers, devices, and accessories.

Programming from ITV has been added to the iTunes Store in the UK. Currently available programs include “Lewis,” “Brideshead Revisited,” “Captain Scarlet,” “Goodnight Mr. Tom,” “Cold Feet,” and “The Saint.” The Store’s ITV page also suggests that more shows will be added “soon.” [via Macworld UK]

Apple has begun aggressively pursuing iPhone clone dealers, according to a TG Daily report. Simon Rimmer, managing director of UK reseller Digital Playground, said that Apple’s legal team sent it a letter threatening legal action. Apple said Digital Playground had infringed on its designs by importing, marketing, and offering cloned iPhones which gave “the same overall impression as Apple’s registered design.” Rimmer settled with Apple out of court; as a result of the agreement he must stop selling iPhone clones, send Apple his remaining stock, reveal how many he imported, offered, and sold, as well as revealing his supplier.

Faced with pressure from several Canadian gay/lesbian rights organizations including Stop Murder Music, iTunes has pulled select songs, and in some cases entire albums, from certain artists whose lyrics were said to be homophobic. “Boom Bye Bye” by Buju Banton, as well as other selections from artists T.O.K. and Elephant Man have been removed from the iTunes Store. Akim Larcher, founder of Canada-based Stop Murder Music, said “this is an historic victory for the LGBT community here in Canada and in the Caribbean. iTunes is exercising its corporate responsibility by pulling this murder music and raising the bar for other retailers and distributors to do the same.” [via Broward-Palm Beach New Times]

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