Patently Apple first noted Apple's NFC patent trend back in late 2009. Then the patent downpour arrived in April and May of 2010 which covered everything from embedding NFC/RFID technology into home appliances and devices right on through to the iWallet. But a European patent filing of Apple's that was published late last week provided us with a little background. It appears that Apple's work on bringing this technology to the iPhone and iPod touch actually began right after the iPhone debuted in 2007. Today's report covers this patent which discusses using a cellphone (iPhone) and Audio/Video Player (iPod touch) as both an RFID tag reader and a tag. At the heart of this patent, Apple states that "the RFID antenna could be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel could now additionally function as an RFID transponder." This is the technology that could be at the heart of Apple's future iWallet and iKey.