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USPTO tentatively invalidates Apple ‘pinch to zoom’ patent

updated 04:44 am EST, Thu December 20, 2012

US Patent Office issues preliminary invalidation of Apple patent

The USPTO has tentatively invalidated Apple's key 'pinch to zoom' patent. All 21 claims in U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915 have been preliminarily rejected pending a lengthy, multi-year review process, which will determine whether the patent application will ultimately be tossed. Samsung's lawyers have taken the news to Judge Lucy Koh, who continues to preside over the case in which Apple was awarded over $1 billion in damages.

The latest invalidation follows a similar preliminary ruling by the USPTO in October where a decision to invalidate all 20 claims of Patent No. 7,469,381, which covers Apple's 'rubber-banding' effect when scrolling, was also rendered in what is called a "first office" rejection. As with the latest ruling, it is also subject to a lengthy review process where Apple will be forced to defend its claims against accusations that the patents are either "obvious" or had been preceded by prior art.

Apple's patents have come under increased scrutiny due to a change in patent law that allows anyone who pays a filing fee of just over $17,000 to challenge a granted patent anonymously. This has led to some speculation that certain companies may have a vested interest in putting forth challenges that net preliminary rejections, even if the rejections are later overturned.

Critically, both patents at question were both asserted by Apple in its recent court case against Samsung. Although it remains a real possibility that both patent claims may ultimately be upheld, it will put pressure on Judge Koh as she reviews the Californian jury's decision to award Apple its large damages award.




By Electronista Staff
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  1. Zanziboy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-27-08

    Pinch to zoom? Rubber banding? How can these be invalidated. The previous patent concepts on these don't even come close to suggesting these UI methods.

  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-28-08

    It's California, what else do we need to say? I was amazed that Apple won the lawsuit over Samsung in the first place because that took place in California. All that "hippie" freedom has gone to their heads. Let's hope that sense will return. Apple and Jobs really went out of their way to try to make everything copasetic but it's impossible in the land of "anything goes."

  1. blahblahbber

    Banned

    Joined: 02-01-05

    Originally Posted by BobfozzView Post

    It's California, what else do we need to say? I was amazed that Apple won the lawsuit over Samsung in the first place because that took place in California. All that "hippie" freedom has gone to their heads. Let's hope that sense will return. Apple and Jobs really went out of their way to try to make everything copasetic but it's impossible in the land of "anything goes."

    That what drives up competition. This state is full of talent by itself....

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    pinch & zoom prior art...I'd like to know who preceded Apple with that on a mobile phone! It certainly wasn't Samsung!

  1. BLAZE_MkIV

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 02-23-00

    The USPTO had a very funny definition of invalidate. Basically the new investigator who probably hasn't seen the patent before thinks their is prior art. It may even be prior art his predecessor has seen. So Apple has to reexplain how that prior art isn't, just like they did last time. Samsung doesn't get to use this in court till Apple fails to convince the USPTO or the patent gets revised somehow to avoid the prior art.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    The "rubber banding" patent imitates a real-life effect (bounceback) so I guess you could say there's prior art ... :)

    The "pinch to zoom" was an entirely new concept, at least on mobile phones ... it may seem obvious NOW (just like the telephone seems obvious NOW) but it certainly wasn't then. I'm not saying I'm sure there's no prior art on "pinch to zoom" but my recollection is that it was a new concept at the time, at least in the consumer marketplace.

    After studying the matter a little, it turns out this sort of thing (tentative invalidation) happens all the time, mostly through challenges from competitors. Many of the invalidations are later reversed. So for now, we'll just have to wait and see what happens in this particular matter.

  1. chatman

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-28-12

    It's California, what else do we need to say? I was amazed that Apple won the lawsuit over Samsung in the first place because that took place in California. All that "hippie" freedom has gone to their heads. Let's hope that sense will return. Apple and Jobs really went out of their way to try to make everything copasetic but it's impossible in the land of "anything goes."

    Hey Bobfozz, the USPTO is in Washington DC, not California. And your stereotypically absurd comments about California "hippie freedom" indicates that you've probably never visited or lived in the land of the $550 red-light-camera violation.

    Remember, Steve Jobs was, at different times in his life, both a hippie and a copier.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 04-05-11

    Ruberbanding -

    Want proof of prior art?

    Just check out my good old not so ready for full finger use Windows Mobile Pocket PC.

    Bought it in... 2002

    That's; what five years of previous art...

    iKids grow up,

    Apple is (was until Steve went money crazed)
    a very unique company bud did not invent all the things you love about the iPhone.

    even Multi-touch was seen well before the iPhone on the NeoNode phone.

  1. blahblahbber

    Banned

    Joined: 02-01-05

    Originally Posted by Arne_SaknussemmView Post

    Ruberbanding -
    Want proof of prior art?
    Just check out my good old not so ready for full finger use Windows Mobile Pocket PC.
    Bought it in... 2002
    That's; what five years of previous art...
    iKids grow up,
    Apple is (was until Steve went money crazed)
    a very unique company bud did not invent all the things you love about the iPhone.
    even Multi-touch was seen well before the iPhone on the NeoNode phone.

    yuppidy yup

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