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Print 28 comment(s) - last by superstition.. on Oct 26 at 12:15 AM

Decision could play a crucial role in Apple v. Samsung

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) scored quite the coup when it in essence patented the animation of a naturally occurring phenomenon -- the transient response.  The company's so-called "rubber band" patent, describes multiple methods of making graphical actions over-stretch, then bounce back, say when scrolling or zooming.  Apple has used the patent to sue many of its rivals.

The patent -- U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381 -- played a key role as one of four technology patents asserted by Apple in its market-shaking $1.05B USD jury verdict against Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930).  But those happy days may be at end as the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled that it was invalid on grounds of lacking novelty and being obvious based on a pair of previous patents.

The first was a patent "Controlling Content Display" "invented" by Luigi Lira and AOL, Inc. in March of 2003.  That patent was filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as is numbered WO 03/081458 A1.  The Central Reexamination Division at the USPTO ruled that in light of Lira, the rubber band patent was too "obvious" and lacking in novelty ("anticipated by Lira").

The patent by Mr. Lira discusses a similar bounce, but with the mouse as the input, not the finger.

Ironically, one of Apple's own patents was used in the invalidation as well -- U.S. Patent No. 7,786,975 -- which covers "Continuous Scrolling With Acceleration".

Samsung has filed a copy of the invalidation with U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California's Judge Lucy Koh, who presided over its jury trial versus Apple.  In light of invalidation Samsung's Rule 50 ("overrule-the-jury") motion asks the federal judge to vacate the massive damages.

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Samsung is also appealing the rest of the verdict.

This may not be the end of the story, though, when it comes to the rubber band patent.  The Central Reexamination Office's ruling is non-binding -- it could reconsider it pending Apple's appeal.  Even if it does stamp it invalid, the matter then has to go to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) -- a court of sorts at the USPTO -- for a final ruling.  And even if the PTAB invalidates the patent, the ruling can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

That said, invalidations often stick, and the preliminary ruling has the potential to already mar Apple's greatest verdict against Android.

In a statement to The New York Times, Android operating system-maker Google Inc. (GOOG) gloated, "The patent office plays a critical role in ensuring that overly broad patents cannot be used to limit consumer choice. We appreciate the care the patent office has taken in re-examining dubious software claims."

Sources: Scrib, NY Times



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Too late...
By Totally on 10/24/2012 11:22:28 AM , Rating: 5
USPTO trying to save face when they are already the laughing stock of the world.




RE: Too late...
By Armageddonite on 10/24/2012 11:36:13 AM , Rating: 5
Really, they helped create this problem and they're behind in terms of cleaning it up. The patent system has been abused into a state of ridiculousness by patent trolls like Apple and others.


RE: Too late...
By max_payne on 10/24/2012 12:01:37 PM , Rating: 5
What? Have they hire someone new over there ? I mean somebody with "common sense"? That's about time. Now let see if the same guy can rule against the "round rectangle" before Apple get him fired.


RE: Too late...
By othercents on 10/24/2012 1:36:50 PM , Rating: 2
Someone decided Google "Samsung vs Apple" and looked at the Wiki.


RE: Too late...
By RufusM on 10/24/2012 2:17:31 PM , Rating: 1
The sad thing is, even if the USPTO rejects it no one will dare use it for fear of being sued out of existence by Apple.

These software patent suits sent a clear message to development houses: You now need to apply for patents for everything, no matter how trivial, so you can defend yourself in court. You can't go to a patent fight without your own patents.


RE: Too late...
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/24/2012 2:45:25 PM , Rating: 3
But if it is invalidated, what leg would Apple have to stand on?


RE: Too late...
By topkill on 10/24/2012 4:34:36 PM , Rating: 5
The problem is they don't need a leg to stand on, they just have to be willing to spend their war chest to sue you until YOU have no legs to stand on.

They're willing to fight a war of attrition because that is what monopolies do to keep their monopoly power. Apple wants to be an ongoing monopoly.


RE: Too late...
By MadMan007 on 10/24/2012 4:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
If a patent is invalidated, I don't think they can sue over it.


RE: Too late...
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/24/2012 4:58:25 PM , Rating: 2
That's my point, if they don't OWN the patent anymore because it's been invalidated, they should have NO room to sue.


RE: Too late...
By Siki on 10/25/2012 5:17:01 AM , Rating: 2
Since when have you needed a reason to sue someone? This is America! You still have to demonstrate that the law suit isn't valid and that can take some time.


RE: Too late...
By topkill on 10/24/2012 4:34:42 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is they don't need a leg to stand on, they just have to be willing to spend their war chest to sue you until YOU have no legs to stand on.

They're willing to fight a war of attrition because that is what monopolies do to keep their monopoly power. Apple wants to be an ongoing monopoly.


RE: Too late...
By Gio6518 on 10/25/2012 10:11:48 AM , Rating: 2
look like the world has woken up

quote:
Samsung scores a victory over Apple in Dutch court


http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2219612/s...

Can't really blame crApple for trying, they see the trend...losing ground in the smartphone arena....Android is getting ready to overtake them in the tablet area...


Rubber band patent is valid
By corduroygt on 10/24/2012 2:12:58 PM , Rating: 2
I believe it's a nice thing that could be patentable. However, this means Mr. Lira should have been granted the patent in 2003.




RE: Rubber band patent is valid
By MadMan007 on 10/24/2012 4:43:45 PM , Rating: 2
AOL could then sue Apple! lol


Clarifications
By Theoz on 10/24/2012 1:58:04 PM , Rating: 3
1) Most importantly, the USPTO has not invalidated anything at this time. In accordance with the reexamination procedure, they have just issued a non-final rejection and now Apple will get a chance to respond, the USPTO will consider Apple's arguments, and then we'll see if this becomes final or is appealed. Nothing is final at this time. Your headline is accurate but to say that this was an "invalidation" or that the patent is "invalidated" is inaccurate. It should be noted that the NYT article you reference also repeatedly blurs this line. The NYT story is full of inaccurate garbage about USPTO procedures which you seem to have done a good job of parsing out of your story. This is an instance where the DT rewrite certainly improved the focus of the original story.

2) It is statutorily impossible for the USPTO to "make a move" here. A third-party must file a request for reexamination and then the USPTO must act upon it. The response here is a reaction, not the USPTO making a move. The USPTO can't just decide to reopen proceedings for an already issued patent. I think this is a bit unclear given the headline.

3) It is important to note that this prior art was not in front of the USPTO previously. It was identified by an anonymous third-party requestor. In fact, this patent has already been affirmed once based on other prior art in a previous reexamination. To balance the cost and time of examination the USPTO cannot search every corner of the universe to find all relevant prior art. Thus reexaminations exist to allow for third-parties to bring arguments and prior art to light and invalidate wrongfully issued patents.

4) You mean coincidentally, not ironically.




Oh noes
By bug77 on 10/24/2012 12:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
I hope they at least mandate some compensation for the millions of man-hours Apple spent "inventing" this goodness. </sarcasm>




Get rid of corporate patents?
By superstition on 10/26/2012 12:15:08 AM , Rating: 2
Only allow individuals to patent things, and require that they license those patented things to all interested parties.

That means no free and no solely controlled patents for any corporation, even if the individuals work for that corporation.

If companies want new things to develop, they'll have to cooperate by funding a non-profit that the individuals can use to develop new things to patent. The amount of funding a corporation contributes will relate to the rate they can license the patented thing at. The more money they put toward its creation, the better the licensing deal will be.

The incentive will still be there to innovate, but corporations won't be able to troll because everyone will benefit from those innovations. Plus, individuals will not have their inventions robbed by unscrupulous businesses.

Other ideas:

Possibly provide government staff to help individuals write patents, so they don't need to be sponsored by massive corporations. Use Watson-style technology to rid the patent system of duplicates and frivolous patents, check for prior art, and such. Put some money and effort into this.




Apple on Apple action
By geddarkstorm on 10/24/2012 11:52:58 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
That said, invalidations often stick, and the preliminary ruling has the potential to already mar Apple's greatest verdict against Apple.


Ironically, with how all this suing has hurt Apple's business relations, this statement is kinda correct!




Rubber Band Dysphemism
By Adonlude on 10/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By RufusM on 10/24/2012 2:32:11 PM , Rating: 5
Sun's Star 7 system had inertial scrolling in 1992 and added rubber band animations later. There are also other examples of rubber band menu animations in various games leading up the iPhone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CsTH9S79qI&feature...

The rubber band animation is simply a "we've reached the end" animation, nothing more.

This type of patent tells everyone to start patenting every possible type of animation and visual cue or they are open to massive liability. It would also mean every developer needs to seek out the existing patents on all types of animations to be sure they are not infringing, lest they be sued.


RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By andrewaggb on 10/24/2012 2:49:10 PM , Rating: 2
exactly


RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By rdhood on 10/24/2012 5:34:34 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
It would also mean every developer needs to seek out the existing patents on all types of animations to be sure they are not infringing, lest they be sued.


Bingo. THAT is the really nasty part. I write software all day, every day. I never consider that someone else may have patented some thing that I just created or wrote. Yet, the patent office is so full of junk patents, I probably violate someone's patent everyday. How are SW engineers supposed to memorize and keep up-to-date on every software patent ever written?

On/about 1999, I built a back-to-back server system where the "outer" system talks to the internet, and communicates to the backend system via a pass-through SSL connection. A few years later, I learned that IBM had a patent on that idea... patented AFTER I built our company's system.

The thing is, the idea is so freaking obvious it boggles the mind. You want to keep people out of your intranet, yet you want to pass SSL credentials through from the internet to your intranet. So you set up one system to communicate with the internet, one to communicate with the intranet, and a piece of software to securely communicate between them.

In another case, our customers need to know all the steps my software goes through to perform certain financial transactions. The obvious answer is to log the steps for this process! The amazing thing is that someone has already patented the idea of logging steps to perform this process!

This is just two cases where, in a vacuum, I have created two OBVIOUS programs/systems to handle a situation, and later discovered that I was in violation of someone's patent... one of which I could show prior "art".

The patent system is broken.


RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By topkill on 10/24/2012 9:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
rdhood,
I'm sorry to hear that we patented that on you. I wrote some of IBM's early TCP/IP stacks and also the netbios over IP code. But I can say that we NEVER pursued those patents aggressively and only used them for defensive purposes and patent trades with others when they came after us.

I was actually running that division for IBM during the period you're talking about and I would imagine either Blakley, Stokes, Hemsath or Milman (or some combo of the above) had their names on the patent your talking about???


RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By Any14Tee on 10/25/2012 9:02:36 AM , Rating: 2
Thats good stuff rdhood & topkill, we're getting a real discussion on the problem. So refreshing, no trolling.


RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By Samus on 10/25/2012 11:12:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sun's Star 7 system had inertial scrolling in 1992 and added rubber band animations later. There are also other examples of rubber band menu animations in various games leading up the iPhone.


Wow, that video is ridiculous. 1992? That thing was waaaaay ahead of its time. Touch screen, inertia scrolling (rubber band) long press/drag drop, tap to zoom, etc. This is basically the product Windows Mobile and Palm 'copied' (I like to use "inspired by" instead) allowing Apple to copy them.

Before this video, I thought the tablet concept started with that Night Ridders newspaper tablet (1995ish) but it goes back even further than that!

Apple, DUDE, give it up, you didn't invent jack shit!


RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/25/2012 11:17:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple, DUDE, give it up, you didn't invent jack shit!
DUH!


RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By lolmuly on 10/24/2012 3:13:47 PM , Rating: 2
Let me fix that for you...

quote:
take a ... response found in many areas of nature ... and apply it to the movement of an image


Fluffing up the description of something doesn't make it any more original.


RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By tfk11 on 10/24/2012 5:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
As a software developer I assure you that the implementation of the "idea" described by the patent is anything but complex with or without damping.


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