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  (Source: AllThingsD)
USPTO finds patent invalid after review

Not long after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hit gadget-maker Apple, Inc. (AAPL) with a painful preliminary invalidation of its "rubber-band" animation patent, the USPTO has moved another crucial Apple patent to the chopping block.

FOSS Patents on Friday announced that the USPTO had issued a preliminary ruling of invalidity regarding U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, which covers "touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics".

Awarded in 2009, Apple's lawyers had affectionately referred to it as "the Steve Jobs patent" and argued it was a key pillar of Apple's argument that the USPTO had granted it exclusive rights to produce modern smartphones.

Back in 2010, a complaint was filed regarding the patent, requesting a re-review, but the request was denied.  But Apple began to face scrutiny this last year and a half when U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) Judge Richard A. Posner, a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge who was moonlighting for the important case between Apple and Google Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Motorola, banned Apple's lawyers from calling the patent "the Steve Jobs patent".  Subsequently Judge Posner rejected Apple's request to ban Motorola handsets, rejecting the case twice with prejudice.

Steve Jobs iPad
The late Steve Jobs's prized multi-touch patent was just invalidated. [Image Source: Reuters]
The rejection, like that of the rubber-band patent is only preliminary, not final.  Steve Jobs is listed as the first author of the multi-touch patent, which was filed in April 2008.

Apple has hundreds of touch-related patents covering hardware, software, and GUI animations, much of which it in part purchased from startups.  In 2006 it brought in TPK Holding Comp., Ltd. (TPE:3673) and Optera (a small U.S. display firm) to supply the multi-touch hardware for a secret project in 2006 [Sources: 12] -- which would later be revealed as the iPhone.  To supply the software, it in 2005 bought a company called FingerWorks, which had implemented and slightly expanded on some of the multi-touch gestures published by Bill Buxton back in the 1980s.

However, the rejected patent was considered among Apple's most crucial.

Apple can at least take comfort that the USPTO has recently approved some of its other questionable filings, such as a patent on animating turning pages.

Source: FOSS Patents

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If you can't rip Apple off, invalidate their products
By MartyLK on 12/10/2012 10:49:40 AM , Rating: 1
If you can't compete against Apple by ripping it off, work to have Apple's property invalidated.

By sprockkets on 12/10/2012 11:00:28 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah, ---- those people at the USPTO, always trying to steal other people's work by granting them patents on sandwiches!

In 1999, for instance, two men received a patent for a crustless, sealed peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (The J. M. Smucker company acquired the patent and used it to sue other food makers. In 2007, after press scrutiny, federal officials canceled the patent.)

By schmandel on 12/10/2012 11:08:46 AM , Rating: 2
It's not always all about Apple. They just happen to be one of the more egregious abusers of a very broken patent system.

By drycrust3 on 12/10/2012 2:29:35 PM , Rating: 2
The problem being that decisions are made, with important consequences, assuming the patents are valid, and it will be impossible to fix the consequences of that. For example, it will have been trotted out in contract negotiations with competitors.
Other examples are companies who have designed products with user friendly displays such as those automated checkouts in supermarkets, and then later they had to either modify it or pay a licence fee to Apple.

By masamasa on 12/10/2012 11:18:23 AM , Rating: 3
USPTO is a garbage organization. They are just being forced to take out the trash!

By Any14Tee on 12/10/2012 7:19:36 PM , Rating: 1
I'm going to patent my left testicle before I lose it to Apple. Already lost the right in lawn mower accident, nuts man had to chase the dog around the park to retrieve it from its mouth.

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