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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Rubber Band Dysphemism
By Adonlude on 10/24/2012 2:14:50 PM , Rating: -1
Patent law certainly has it's shortcomings but I think calling this the "rubber band patent" totally belittles a complex implementation of an idea that the iMasses take for granted.

Someone had the idea to take a "critically damped" response found in many areas of nature, mathmatically governed by differential equations, and apply it to the movement of an image on a digital display. Not so trivial and obvious when you hear it for what it really is huh?

But if we just feed the simpletons the "rubber band patent" dysphemism its easier to steal the fruits of other peoples innovations. The rubber band analogy isn't even correct since a rubber band is totally undamped kenetic energy once released. It's missing the damping term of the differential equation used on the iPhone.

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.

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

RE: Rubber Band Dysphemism
By rdhood on 10/24/2012 5:34:34 PM , Rating: 3
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
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
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
Apple, DUDE, give it up, you didn't invent jack shit!

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

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.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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