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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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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.


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