It seems as if the so far battle-of-words Apple versus Palm fight over the Pre's similarity to the iPhone has taken another twist thanks to the revelation of a patent just awarded to Apple.

US Patent Office Patent No 7479949, credited to Steve Jobs, as well as other Apple employees, seems to basically grant Apple the intellectual ownership of multi-touch functionality in mobile devices.

Multi-touch, seen in the iPhone as well as the yet-to-be-launched Palm Pre, in patent speak, describes how the device works by "detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command".

More simply put, multi-touch allows for the kind of user interface you see on the iPhone, and the Pre, where the screen will detect commands from multiple digits, used for things such as zooming into photos and web pages.

Apple's chief operating officer Tim Cook, who is standing in for Steve Jobs during his 6 month absence for health reasons, said during a conference call that the company will "not stand for having our IP [intellectual property] ripped off - and we will use any weapons that we have available. I don't think I can be any more clear than that".

Palm responded with this statement from a spokesperson: "If faced with legal action, we are confident that we have the tools necessary to defend ourselves".