USPTO Deals Second Strong Blow to Apple's Effort to Patent Bouncing Animations
April 4, 2013 4:19 PM
comment(s) - last by
Samsung's lawyers push for damages to be vacated amid invalidity findings
In Apple, Inc.'s (
it invented much of the technology powering smartphones
and the rest of the industry -- including Google Inc.'s (
) Android -- are
cheap imitations at best
. The company raised eyebrows when it scored a series of patents that appeared to either overlap with preexisting patented art (e.g. smartphone unlocking) or mimic natural phenomena.
I. Another Nail Goes in the Coffin
While current precedent in the U.S. patent system forbids patents on laws of nature, Apple nonetheless appeared to score a very broad patent covering all transient-response style smartphone animations. Perceived as a stretch-and-bounce, these UI animations mirror the mechanical response in real-world objects like springs.
While patenting bouncing animations might seem a bit like if Rovio tried to patent gravity in video games, Apple successfully used the patent to convince a group of Californian jurors that its archrival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) had "slavishly" copied its intellectual property. Samsung was ordered to pay a hefty
$1.05B USD for the offense
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
(USPTO) struck a blow to Apple's litigious dreams last October when it filed a First Office Action to invalidate the controversial
U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381
, citing prior art.
The Samsung Galaxy S II and dozens of other Samsung smartphones were found to infringe on the '381 "bounce" patent, but that patent has now been invalidated.
This week the office put another coffin nail in place for the '381 patent, filing a Final Office Action to kill the patent. In the filing, lead examiner Dennis Bonshock complained that Apple did not sufficiently address the concerns raised in the first invalidation filing.
USPTO Final Office Action in Samsung v. Apple
Apple's sole remaining hope to save the patent is to appeal the decision to the
Patent Trial and Appeal Board
(PTAB), a panel that reviews the office's patent decisions. This is somewhat of a long-shot. While First Office Actions are sometimes rolled back, its rarer to see a Final Office Action reversed.
PTAB decisions can be appealed to the
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
, but again reversals are extremely rare at that level.
II. '381 Patent was Key in Win Over Samsung
As Samsung was found guilty of infringing the '381 patent on 21 devices -- the Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G, Exhibit 4G, Fascinate, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Prevail, Galaxy S, Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S II (AT&T), Galaxy S II (i9100), Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi), Gem, Indulge, Infuse 4G, Mesmerize, Nexus S 4G, Replenish, and Vibrant -- the invalidation could save the Apple's rival hundreds of millions in damages.
Samsung filed notice with
Judge Lucy Koh
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
of the invalidation. Samsung's lawyers are urging Judge Koh to vacate the jury verdict, in lieu of the invalidation rulings.
The USPTO has been cleaning house invalidating a number of seemingly broad Apple patents.
U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915
which covers pinch-to-zoom/one-fingered scrolling and
U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949
covers "multitouch heuristics"
have also received
Preliminary Office Actions
from the USPTO invalidating them. The pinch-to-zoom gesture had been developed by university researchers in the 1980s (namely Myron Krueger's team at the
University of Toronto
) and widely publicized, but Apple patented it under the guise of being the first to implement it on a capacitive multi-touch device.
Myron Krueger developed pinch-to-zoom [pictured] in the 1980s. [Image Source: Bill Buxton]
The Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G, Exhibit 4G, Fascinate, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Prevail, Galaxy S, Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S II (AT&T), Galaxy S II (i9100), Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi), Gem, Indulge, Infuse 4G, Mesmerize, Nexus S 4G, Transform, and Vibrant -- 21 more Samsung devices -- infringe on the '915 patent.
III. Apple May Lose Most of Its Epic Court Win
Removing those patents, only
U.S. Patent No. 7,864,163
-- a patent on touch UI elements -- remains on the utility side. Fewer Samsung devices were found to infringe on that patent, so asuming the invalidations stick, Samsung would likely pay less than a third of its current utility-sourced damages. Samsung is also on the hook for infringing on Apple's design patents for a handful of devices.
Judge Koh has thus far only agreed to
vacate $450.5M USD of the damage total
and hold a new damages trial, on the grounds that the jury made an error in calculating damages. She has not yet agreed to reevaluate the overall jury verdict, though she did
toss out the jury's assertion
that Samsung's infringement
Judge Koh [Image Source: IB Times]
Samsung argued that it thought the patents it infringed on were invalid and Judge Koh bought that argument. Now it looks like Samsung was right -- a number of the patents are indeed invalid.
Samsung [Scribd via CNET]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
4/5/2013 1:57:16 AM
Now, time to look at the identity of the patent examiners who approved these and other similar bogus patents.
Are they still employed and if so, why?
RE: Ultimate responsibility
4/5/2013 9:31:56 AM
This is why this happens:
RE: Ultimate responsibility
4/5/2013 10:46:18 AM
First you try to be the good guy. Then you are hit by a lawsuit and have to pay millions. Next, you start patenting right and left, for "defensive purposes" (you being the good guy and everything). But then you start to lag behind in the market and Mr. Nice Guy is no more - it becomes lucrative to start suing.
On the other hand, we know USPTO gets its share from the _awarded_ patents, so I wouldn't be surprised if they took punitive actions against those individuals that reject too many patents.
"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
Apple's $1B USD Win Over Samsung Slashed by 40 Percent, App Settlement Nears
March 4, 2013, 12:12 PM
Judge Koh Deals Apple Another Blow, Says Samsung's Infringement Wasn't "Willful"
January 30, 2013, 12:40 PM
Another Key Apple Patent, Pinch to Zoom, is Rejected by USPTO
December 20, 2012, 12:59 PM
USPTO Moves "Steve Jobs" Multitouch Patent a Step Away from the Trash Can
December 10, 2012, 10:26 AM
Apple Goes for the Jugular, Asks Judge to Triple Samsung Damages to $3B
September 19, 2012, 12:24 PM
Quick Note: New "Windows" Branding for Microsoft's Smartphones is Leaked
September 15, 2014, 2:00 PM
Sony Abandons Android Upgrade Support for Year Old Xperia and 3 Others
September 15, 2014, 11:07 AM
Apple Racked Up 4 Million iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus Pre-orders Within 24 Hours
September 15, 2014, 9:54 AM
Despite Massive Failure of Apple Store Website, "Record Number" of iPhone 6 Pre-orders Received
September 12, 2014, 1:19 PM
Quick Note: Motorola Set to Release Unlocked, “Pure Edition” of Second Gen Moto X
September 12, 2014, 12:37 PM
Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One, PS4 Launches Nov 18; PC Version Lands Jan 27
September 12, 2014, 9:04 AM
Most Popular Articles
Apple Announces 4.7" iPhone 6, 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus
September 9, 2014, 1:45 PM
Apple Announces Its Smartwatch: The $349 Apple Watch
September 9, 2014, 2:09 PM
Appalling Negligence: Decade-Old Windows XPe Holes Led to Home Depot Hack
September 8, 2014, 8:58 PM
T-Mobile Launches Un-carrier 7.0, Beefs Up Wi-Fi Calling
September 11, 2014, 2:56 PM
HTC Preps Nexus 9 With Nvidia K1 64-Bit "Denver" SoC, Android L Onboard
September 10, 2014, 10:21 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information