USPTO Makes Preliminary Move to Kill Apple's Rubber Band Patent
October 24, 2012 11:00 AM
comment(s) - last by
Decision could play a crucial role in Apple v. Samsung
Apple, Inc. (
) 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. (
). 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
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
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.
Bounce on the HTC EVO 4G
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.
a statement to
The New York Times
, Android operating system-maker Google Inc. (
) 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."
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Too late...
10/24/2012 4:42:27 PM
If a patent is invalidated, I don't think they can sue over it.
RE: Too late...
10/24/2012 4:58:25 PM
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...
10/25/2012 5:17:01 AM
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.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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