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

Samsung scores a victory over Apple in Dutch court

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...

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