Apple’s pinch-to-zoom patent has been temporarily invalidated in an initial ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The ruling body said that the patent should never have been awarded but for now the patent remains valid and it is expected that Apple will appeal the decision. According to Reuters the resolution of this patent dispute may take years.
Pinching a map
The pinch-to-zoom patent was heavily relied upon during Apple’s case against Samsung earlier in the year in which Apple won more than $1 billion in damages against Samsung. The USPTO examined the pinch-to-zoom patent and struck down many portions of it “on the basis that prior patents covered the same inventions” writes the WSJ.
The BBC points out that although the patent is referred to as the “pinch-to-zoom” patent it contains much more substance. The patent’s full title is List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display. It describes the way software can know how to react to single and multiple touches and gestures. In fact there are 20 methodologies covered by the patent. However all of them have now been rejected as unoriginal! In November 2010 the patent was granted by the USPTO who have now discovered the prior patents covering the same inventions.
Pinching an idea?
In October the USPTO also judged that Apple’s rubber-banding interface “bounce” effect patent was invalid. This patent’s full title is Application programming interfaces for scrolling operations.
It is thought that Samsung, with these two new judgements against Apple patent applications, will now try and press Judge Lucy Koh to reduce the $1 billion damages payment it is due to pay Apple.
The fight goes on, but as the WSJ says; “So far, few injunctions have been won and fewer have stuck”. Only HTC seems to have won a bit of legal tranquility right now after its recently announced 10 year licensing agreement with Apple.