Another Key Apple Patent, Pinch to Zoom, is Rejected by USPTO
December 20, 2012 12:59 PM
(Source: Orion Pictures)
Rejection is still preliminary, just like past rejections
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
's (USPTO) Central Reexamination Office (CRO) has damaged Apple, Inc.'s (
) legal campaign against rival smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) with its third in a series of major patent rejections in recent months.
On Wednesday, the CRO
[PDF] that Apple's "pinch to zoom" patent --
U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915
[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
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
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.
SBNation [The Verge] [PDF] 
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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