“This patent covers smartphones that allow a user to manipulate the display of a Web page with finger gestures using different fingers and/or combinations of fingers, so it appears broad enough to cover all modern touchscreen smartphones because they all allow you to use one finger to move the Web page left or right, and a combination of two fingers to zoom in and zoom out of the Web page,” the source said.

There are a few ways the awarding of Apple’s iPhone patent could play out in the coming days, said the source.

Apple could conceivably restrict makers of touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices from selling their products in the U.S. More likely is that Apple would reach a settlement with such competitors and start licensing its patented technology for a tidy new income stream.

If Apple does decide to play hardball and squeeze out rivals rather than set up cross-licenses, the source said, it’s entirely possible that a court could find it in the public interest to scrap the patent rather than allow a monopoly on what has become a defining interface for an entire category of consumer devices.