Working Toward a Patent-Agnostic Open Source License
I would say that any patent that lacks hardware (chemical compound or physical device) wouldn't be valid.
Few patents target software per se. Most "software patents" actually claim (cover) computing hardware that implements some allegedly novel/non-obvious functionality. In any event, why allow someone to patent an application-specific integrated circuit that performs new function X but not a FGPA configured via a HDL that performs new function X?
The First Phone Call Was 133 Years Ago
The Patent Act of 1790 was considered a complete disaster by everyone. The "modern" US patent law was set forth in the Patent Act of 1832:
Apple Awarded Patent For iPhone Interface
Despite all the FUD in the comments, Apple has patented a very narrow set of gestures. The claims of the patent determine its scope and not anything else. Claim 1 is:
1. A computing device, comprising: a touch screen display; one or more processors; memory; and one or more programs, wherein the one or more programs are stored in the memory and configured to be executed by the one or more processors, the one or more programs including: instructions for detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display; instructions for applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device; and instructions for processing the command; wherein the one or more heuristics comprise: a vertical screen scrolling heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command rather than a two-dimensional screen translation command based on an angle of initial movement of a finger contact with respect to the touch screen display; a two-dimensional screen translation heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to the two-dimensional screen translation command rather than the one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command based on the angle of initial movement of the finger contact with respect to the touch screen display; and a next item heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.
Although silly and probably invalid, the claim is limited to a very specific method of differentiating 1D vertical scrolls from 2D panning (using an angle of finger movement). One could easily implement multi-touch--and even 1D and 2D screen translation commands--with other methods.
Apple Sued Over iPhone Browser
The patent goes back to November 1999. Good prior art would have to be published before November 1998 (your paper looks like it was published in 2001).