USPTO Makes Preliminary Move to Kill Apple's Rubber Band Patent
October 24, 2012 11:00 AM
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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."
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Get rid of corporate patents?
10/26/2012 12:15:08 AM
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.
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.
"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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