Print 36 comment(s) - last by retrospooty.. on Dec 22 at 4:02 PM

  (Source: Orion Pictures)
Rejection is still preliminary, just like past rejections

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) Central Reexamination Office (CRO) has damaged Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) legal campaign against rival smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) with its third in a series of major patent rejections in recent months.

On Wednesday, the CRO ruled [PDF] that Apple's "pinch to zoom" patent -- U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915 -- was invalid [PDF].  The patent claims the invention of a number of things multi-touch related -- including being able to distinguish between single finger scrolling gestures and a plurality of multi-finger gestures, including the aforementioned pinch to zoom.

These multi-touch techniques were largely first demonstrated in the 1980s in the world of academia by groups such as Myron Krueger's team at the University of Toronto.  Professor Krueger developed and published papers on virtually equivalent pinch-to-zoom multi-touch technology almost 25 years prior to Apple producing its first multi-touch device (the iPhone). 

Early multitouch devices
Myron Krueger developed pinch-to-zoom [pictured] in the 1980s. [Image Source: Bill Buxton]

The '915 patent joins the "rubber band patent" (U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381, aka the '381 patent) and the "Steve Jobs [multi-touch] patent" (U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, aka the '949 patent) in patents that were rejected in preliminary rulings by USPTO reviewers.

All three patents will next be headed to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) -- a court of sorts at the USPTO -- for a final ruling.  Assuming the PTAB sticks to its latest decision (which is not guaranteed, but is often the case), the ruling can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit if Apple chooses.

How critical would it be if these three Apple patents were invalidated? The invalidation would eliminate two out of the three utility patents that Apple asserted in winning a $1.05B USD verdict against Samsung.  As a result the invalidations could slash hundreds of millions of dollars off the damages verdict.

One advantage Apple does have in both the '915 and '381 invalidations is that they are ex parte evaluations; meaning that Apple is the only party the USPTO is discussing the matter with.  Thus it's possible Apple could rectify the language in the patent to be less ambiguous, but in such a way to try to preserve its trial verdict against Samsung.

Also, it should be noted that while all of the patent's 21 claims were rejected, only a single claim -- Claim 8 -- was used in the Samsung case.

Sources: SBNation [The Verge] [PDF] [1], [2]

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By EasyC on 12/20/2012 2:23:56 PM , Rating: 5
The world IS about to end. I mean, the USPTO actually reviewed an Apple patent AND ruled it invalid???

I'm going to stock up on freeze dried food.

RE: Maybe
By FastEddieLB on 12/20/2012 3:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
Won't save you from C'thulhu.

RE: Maybe
By sigmatau on 12/20/2012 3:26:48 PM , Rating: 2
I thought Cartman took care of that.

RE: Maybe
By retrospooty on 12/20/2012 3:15:06 PM , Rating: 5
LOL... But not really.

I expected this. The world, when imbalanced generally oorrects itself. What surprises me is how long Apple's unfettered run of lies lasted. Glad its starting to end.

Now they can just compete. They are more than capable of competing, they just need to go back to that and try to innovate some advanced to IOS to catch up to the competition.

RE: Maybe
By retrospooty on 12/20/2012 3:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
damn I cant type.

I expected this. The world, when imbalanced generally corrects itself. What surprises me is how long Apple's unfettered run of lies lasted. Glad its starting to end.

Now they can just compete. They are more than capable of competing, they just need to go back to that and try to innovate some advances into IOS to catch up to the competition.

RE: Maybe
By villageidiotintern on 12/20/2012 7:23:42 PM , Rating: 5
I cam ytpe 103 wrods pre muniet.

RE: Maybe
By MadMan007 on 12/20/2012 6:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
The world, when imbalanced generally oorrects itself.

Unlike your spelling. Bazinga!

RE: Maybe
By retrospooty on 12/21/2012 6:01:52 AM , Rating: 2
Badinga! ;)

RE: Maybe
By stusanagain on 12/21/2012 12:13:22 PM , Rating: 2
Now they can just compete. They are more than capable of competing, they just need to go back to that and try to innovate some advanced to IOS to catch up to the competition.
If by "innovate" you mean taking documented research from an academic who was published and ignored two decades before they made it into a product, then yes, they need to "innovate".

Don't get me wrong! If Apple had not done it, I doubt anyone else would have. On the other hand, they do steal (ideas) from the best.

PS: I own (and like!) an iPod Touch, so I'm not an Apple hater. However, I'm not a fanboi either.

RE: Maybe
By Solandri on 12/21/2012 3:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
Don't get me wrong! If Apple had not done it, I doubt anyone else would have. On the other hand, they do steal (ideas) from the best.

Lots of PCs, PDAs, and MP3 players (including the iPod) had a touch interface before the iPhone. Some were even multitouch. Heck, the original Palm PDA's digitizing area could be operated with your fingernail if you wanted. The stylus was just a lot more accurate and natural, and it included a few physical buttons for navigation.

What Apple did differently was (encouraged by the success on the iPod) they took the risky step of using touch as the only interface on the iPhone. No keyboard, no stylus, no trackball or nub, just touch. They completely deserve the success they got for taking that risk. But I'd hardly call removing other interface options an innovation. Touch technology had just gotten to the point where a purely touch interface became a feasible alternative to physical buttons and navigation tools.

RE: Maybe
By vXv on 12/20/2012 5:52:28 PM , Rating: 3
They might have just hired some people with brains by accident.

I must be dreaming...
By gmyx on 12/20/2012 2:16:17 PM , Rating: 6
Somebody pinch me... I must be dreaming!

RE: I must be dreaming...
By fic2 on 12/20/2012 4:38:39 PM , Rating: 5
Can't - I don't want to infringe on Apple's pinch to wake patent.

RE: I must be dreaming...
By Motoman on 12/20/2012 5:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
[stands proud and salutes...cries a little]

RE: I must be dreaming...
By gmyx on 12/20/2012 7:19:33 PM , Rating: 2
Awesome! I agree - that would cost too much.

RE: I must be dreaming...
By Bad-Karma on 12/21/2012 9:45:01 AM , Rating: 5
Jason, is it too much to ask to have a second "6" in one article!


Good news
By wannabemedontu on 12/20/2012 1:35:43 PM , Rating: 5
It will take a lot to get these Apple fan boys to see just how much apple DIDN'T invent. I give apple all the props in the world for the slickest products but they are huge hypocrites in going after samsung. Now if we could just get all these random judges hearing these cases to adopt some of the same common sense.

RE: Good news
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/20/2012 1:36:49 PM , Rating: 2
It will take a lot to get these Apple fan boys to see just how much apple DIDN'T invent.
Will never happen...

RE: Good news
By room200 on 12/20/2012 6:21:57 PM , Rating: 2

By Dr of crap on 12/20/2012 1:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
Why not get it right the first time??

So we have a agency funded by the govt.
And just like ever other agency of the govt it wastes our money. Review a patent ONCE and then do not go back and review it! Simple!

RE: Why
By eskimospy on 12/20/2012 2:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
You get the government you pay for. The USPTO doesn't have the manpower to conduct a super thorough review of every patent like that. So they do initial review before granting and then if someone challenges it they do a deeper review.

What you are asking for would actually be a much more wasteful enterprise than what they currently do, which makes it odd that you are advocating it while complaining about government waste.

RE: Why
By vXv on 12/20/2012 5:57:59 PM , Rating: 2
Well they could do the deeper review at application time and in case the patent is nonsense fine the company / person that filed it with a huge sum (proportional to revenue / income).

After a while the trivial crap will stop getting filed.

Getting it right
By Shadowself on 12/20/2012 5:03:03 PM , Rating: 5
Let's get it correct and explain it accurately...

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act allow anyone who files and pays ~ $17,000 to demand that the USPTO reassess an issued patent. The USPTO then will decide if it will reassess the patent (which so far has been 99% of the time). (Any reader/poster here on DT could do the same.)

While the patent is being reassessed it is temporarily "invalidated". What it really means in non legal speak is that the patent is once again under review. A patent under review (being reassessed, temporarily invalidated, or whatever term you want to use) is still legally enforceable.

The patent being still legally enforceable does not invalidate the court case based upon this (and other) patents.

During the review Apple will be required to come into the USPTO and explain why Apple believes the patent is still valid. If the USPTO goes with Apple's story then the patent is reaffirmed. If the USPTO does not go with Apple's story then the patent is permanently invalidated and Apple loses all legal standing on that patent. If this happens then all lawsuits Apple has put forth based upon this patent will be dismissed almost immediately.

To sum up:
Samsung filed and paid to have the patent reviewed.
The USPTO agreed to review it.
Apple will need to justify the patent in great detail.
The patent is still legally enforceable while under review.
It may be many, many months before the USPTO makes a final ruling.

The bottom line is nothing has changed at the moment and likely won't for a long time.

Look forward to many, many more of these kinds of filings in the future to get patents "invalidated" -- at least in the eyes of the public. Expect Apple to do it to Samsung and Google and Motorola. Expect Microsoft to do it to Google and Motorola. Expect Google to do it to Apple and Microsoft. $17,000 or so is a trivial amount to these companies (it probably costs more than that just to have the lawyers draw up the paperwork). And on and on and on it goes.

About frigging time
By topkill on 12/20/2012 1:19:20 PM , Rating: 1
I'm glad to see the USPTO at least STARTING to try and apply some common sense. They have got to stop giving out patents for this kind of crap.

RE: About frigging time
By drycrust3 on 12/20/2012 2:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, there a thousands of decisions that have been made because of the issuing of those patents. No matter how hard you try, you will never ever be able to revisit all those decisions and fix them.
To give credit where credit is due, at least those patents are now being reviewed, but it would have been much better if those patents had never been issued.

Damn it pass me the humous
By Any14Tee on 12/20/2012 8:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
whenever Samsung is mentioned, we inevitably bring up the subject 'Apple'- lets all face it most of us have been entrenched and divided by contrasting views.

I'm not naive in thinking things are black and white but I do feel and hope this war is coming to an end and one would think common sense prevails. Judge Koh should ultimately be swayed by the body of opinion that Apple patented other peoples patents and abused the powers of litigation to attack its rivals.

Its clear to see real innovation lies with Samsung and the remaining ilk, including LG, Sharp or whoever one choose to name etc.
Once we start wallpapering our entire living rooms with flexi-TVs, will the kudos go to Apple for inventing round corners on rectangles, I think not.

Not Fair
By meanleech on 12/20/12, Rating: -1
RE: Not Fair
By retrospooty on 12/20/2012 4:29:29 PM , Rating: 2
Put away the crack pipe man... Its time to clear your head.

RE: Not Fair
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/20/2012 4:41:59 PM , Rating: 3
It's a new account, wonder which one it is.

RE: Not Fair
By retrospooty on 12/20/2012 5:21:33 PM , Rating: 4
Lets just call it TestMessTonTakeJack

RE: Not Fair
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/21/2012 1:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, and notice who is absent from this post so far? LOL

RE: Not Fair
By retrospooty on 12/21/2012 3:43:53 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Not Fair
By bodar on 12/20/2012 5:01:02 PM , Rating: 3
By that logic, we'd all be driving a Model T2000. Apple should be credited for implementing the capacitive touch screen but that doesn't mean they should have exclusive rights to capacitive touchscreen mobile devices.

RE: Not Fair
By jimbojimbo on 12/21/2012 1:47:35 PM , Rating: 2
That's false as well. There were capacitive touch screen devices before Apple made the iPhone but they just weren't phones.

RE: Not Fair
By sprockkets on 12/21/2012 9:40:59 PM , Rating: 2
Still not right! The first capacitive touch screen phone was the LG Prada.

RE: Not Fair
By retrospooty on 12/22/2012 4:02:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yup... Apple "invented" it afterward and the sued others for copying it LOL. Nutz that anyone beloved Apples lies but people do.

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