US patent authorities reject Apple’s pinch-to-zoom patent

The United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple Inc’s key “pinch-to-zoom” patent in an initial ruling, the second setback in less than two months for the iPhone maker in its patent battle with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Apple’s shares have taken a beating recently, with investors worried about rising competition from Samsung and other mobile device makers using Google Inc’s Android platform.

Apple scored a sweeping legal victory over its South Korean competitor in August when a US jury found Samsung had copied critical features of the hugely popular iPhone and iPad and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages.


Samsung and Apple, the world’s top two smartphone makers, are locked in patent disputes in at least 10 countries as they vie to dominate the lucrative mobile market and win over customers with their latest gadgets.

The US Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday temporarily invalidated the “pinch-to-zoom” patent, which had been contested at the trial in August. The jury had ruled that Samsung had infringed six of seven Apple patents.

What’s especially interesting about the patent number 7,844,915 is that it has been used in Apple’s case against Samsung. The patent covers the ability of a programming interface to determine whether one finger initiates scrolling, or a different number of fingers perform another action.

US patent authorities reject Apple’s pinch-to-zoom patent (2)

Here’s what that claim is all about:

A machine readable storage medium storing executable program instructions which when executed cause a data processing system to perform a method comprising: receiving a user input, the user input is one or more input points applied to a touch-sensitive display that is integrated with the data processing system; creating an event object in response to the user input; determining whether the event object invokes a scroll or gesture operation by distinguishing between a single input point applied to the touch-sensitive display that is interpreted as the scroll operation and two or more input points applied to the touch-sensitive display that are interpreted as the gesture operation; issuing at least one scroll or gesture call based on invoking the scroll or gesture operation; responding to at least one scroll call, if issued, by scrolling a window having a view associated with the event object; and responding to at least one gesture call, if issued, by scaling the view associated with the event object based on receiving the two or more input points in the form of the user input.

The ruling by the USPTO is not final, and Apple will most likely appeal the decision. But all of a sudden, big bad Apple doesn’t look so big and bad anymore. Instead the fruit company is looking a bit ridiculous as they now have egg on their face over this patent. Which I still think should never have been granted in the first place. So why was the patent rejected? Well the USPTO had found prior art of the pinch to zoom patent. Which means Apple did not invent it. Not that should surprise us, we know how innovative Apple has been in the past 4 years. In fact the USPTO found that the Cupertino company copied it from others and then went and patented it. And of course we know they used this bogus patent to sue its competition. Real classy Apple.

A US judge denied on Monday Apple’s request for a permanent injunction against Samsung’s smartphones.

Samsung won a preliminary invalidation of Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent in October that had the “bounce” feature. The patent allows a user with a touch screen to bounce back to the image on the screen if the user goes beyond the edge.

When the US patent office rules against a patent, the full process involves multiple steps and can take years. It can also often be appealed in court, further tying up the process.

The ruling by the US patent office after Samsung requested an examination of the patent was included in documents filed by Samsung in a federal court in San Jose, California.

Apple’s claims were rejected on the grounds that prior patents covered the inventions. Representatives for Apple and Samsung were not immediately available for comment.

A Dutch court ruled in October that Samsung did not infringe on Apple’s patent by using certain multi-touch techniques on some of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers.

Source: TheVerge, AppleInsider, Reuters