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Apple 'pinch-to-zoom' patent invalidated by USPTO

post #1 of 75
Thread Starter 
An Apple v. Samsung court filing on Wednesday reveals that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office invalidated Apple's "pinch-to-zoom" patent, a property key to the trial as its claims were the basis of some of the $1.05 billion in damages won by the Cupertino company.

Pinch to Zoom
Illustration of pinch-to-zoom functionality as outlined by Apple's '915 patent. | Source: USPTO


Brought to the court's attention by Samsung in an effort to bolster its motion for a new trial, the USPTO decision invalidated all 20 claims of Apple's U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915 after reexamining the property. The Korean company also said in the court filing that the finding was relevant to block Apple's motion for an injunction against a number of Samsung products.

Presiding Judge Lucy Koh on Monday denied both Samsung's motion for a retrial and Apple's request for an injunction, though the decisions can be appealed at a later date.

During the Apple v. Samsung jury trial, Apple asserted Claim 8 of the '915 patent, which covers the heuristics of the "pinch-to-zoom" gesture that invokes the scaling of displayed content. The jury found all but two Samsung products brought to trial infringed on the patent.

From the '915 patent:

8. 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 USPTO's decision cited multiple cases of prior art including two U.S. patents, one international property and two Japanese filings. In October, the agency invalidated Apple's "rubber banding" or scroll bounce-back patent in a non-final Office action.

Apple and Samsung will continue their post trial hearings this week, with presiding Judge Lucy Koh expected to issue a rulings on motions from both parties including an important judgment on damages.

post #2 of 75
That shouldn't have happened. The court has already upheld the patent in a jury trial which found the patent to be valid and infringed.

I suspect Apple will challenge the USPTO's decision in court.
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post #3 of 75

What is the point of having a patent office that grants patents only to invalidate them later ? Time to put a few civil servants out to grass and save the tax payers a few dollars as the job they are doing is simply no longer valid. 

post #4 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

That shouldn't have happened. The court has already upheld the patent in a jury trial which found the patent to be valid and infringed.
 

 

The court assumes the patents to be valid otherwise the trial would take a lot longer and tons of experts on those patents will have to be involved. 

 

But in short, yes, the patent system in the US is pretty messed up. 

post #5 of 75
Wasn%u2019t pinch-zooming done on that university demo video (big table screen) prior to the iPhone%u2019s release? Apple may have been doing it too behind the scenes, but if someone else beat them to making something%u2014for sale or not%u2014then No Patent For You!

Unless I%u2019m insane and misremembering the timing, this always sounded like a wrong patent to me.

EDIT: I’m not fixing this post just because of AI’s broken system that doesn’t understand OS X’s default-enabled Unicode. Decode it at your leisure 1smile.gif
post #6 of 75
Is this the preliminary invalidation that was announced a week or 2 ago, or is this the final invalidation. This artless doesn't state this important fact.
post #7 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spacepower View Post

Is this the preliminary invalidation that was announced a week or 2 ago, or is this the final invalidation. This artless doesn't state this important fact.

 

Exactly. I don't see the USPTO going from preliminary invalidation to final decision that quickly - it usually takes many months before things are finalized.

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post #8 of 75
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Originally Posted by Banyan Bruce View Post

What is the point of having a patent office that grants patents only to invalidate them later ? Time to put a few civil servants out to grass and save the tax payers a few dollars as the job they are doing is simply no longer valid. 

 

The patent office don't have the time/resources to do a 100% exhaustive validation on every patent that crosses their doorstep. They do some basic checks and if it passes, they grant. If there was a valid reason that the patent should not have been granted it will come out when a challenge is issued. Like in this case.

post #9 of 75
@nagromme

It's not who makes it first with the patent system. It's who applies for the Patent first that matters.. doesn't matter if someone else 'invented' it.. they have to have a patent, and that patent has to apply to the product in question.. general patents for 'everything' rarely hold up.. so one for tablets/phones. One for a 'desk' are considered different markets from what I understand..
post #10 of 75

"Prior art" claimed by Hillis (U.S. patent no. 7,724,242) is very different from pinch to zoom.

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post #11 of 75

Sounds like Google's been spending a lot on "lunches" for PTO employees.

post #12 of 75
This story is idiotic! Look at the document included in the story: this is about an office action!! The patent has not been invalidated!!!!! This is a re-examination, and this patent has been previously re-examined and upheld. Examinations almost always begin by the examiner rejecting all claims. I hope some investors that get fooled by this story sue the pants off AppleInsider!
post #13 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spacepower View Post

Is this the preliminary invalidation that was announced a week or 2 ago, or is this the final invalidation. This artless doesn't state this important fact.

The conclusion in the actual invalidation document (linked in article) states something like the next phase is final. My legalese isn't good enough to really say what it means. 

post #14 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by patpatpat View Post

The conclusion in the actual invalidation document (linked in article) states something like the next phase is final. My legalese isn't good enough to really say what it means. 

 

It also says responses must be submitted within 60 days.

 

Why would you need to allow submissions if it's a final action?

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post #15 of 75
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Originally Posted by patpatpat View Post

The conclusion in the actual invalidation document (linked in article) states something like the next phase is final. My legalese isn't good enough to really say what it means. 

I've been through a zillion examinations. The first office action is almost always a rejection of all claims. The first action is non-final. The second action, if no claims are changed, is listed as final. But if you change anything in a claim in response, then you're back to non-final. This can go on ad infinitum. There is no limit.
post #16 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by NormM View Post


I've been through a zillion examinations. The first office action is almost always a rejection of all claims. The first action is non-final. The second action, if no claims are changed, is listed as final. But if you change anything in a claim in response, then you're back to non-final. This can go on ad infinitum. There is no limit.

If you change something in a claim than what happens to any legal action that was based on the original (now different) claim. Surely that becomes invalidated too.

post #17 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrayven View Post

@nagromme
It's not who makes it first with the patent system. It's who applies for the Patent first that matters.. doesn't matter if someone else 'invented' it.. they have to have a patent, and that patent has to apply to the product in question.. general patents for 'everything' rarely hold up.. so one for tablets/phones. One for a 'desk' are considered different markets from what I understand..

 

I see what you mean about desks vs. phones.

 

Apple HAD to patent this if it was patentable, or someone else could copy the iPhone, then sue Apple for things like this!

 

I hope Apple licenses it out on livable terms, at least.

post #18 of 75
Have AI jumped the gun here?

"The invalidation of the patent would cause considerable consternation for Apple when it comes to its $1.049 billion infringement win over Samsung — so much so that the Samsung brought the decision to the attention of Judge Lucy Koh in a court filing today — but that critical step of invalidating the patent hasn't actually happened yet"

http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/19/3785788/another-apple-patent-rejected-by-us-patent-office-but-its-not-invalid-yet
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post #19 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by patpatpat View Post

If you change something in a claim than what happens to any legal action that was based on the original (now different) claim. Surely that becomes invalidated too.

I've never been involved in litigation, just in writing patents.  If a patent claim is changed that is the basis of ongoing litigation, I assume the court would have to decide whether or not the changes made matter to the case.

 

But even without changing anything, the examination process is long and this is just the first step, and doesn't really tell us anything about the final outcome.  After the initial two examinations there can be requests for continued examination, and appeals of an individual examiner's decisions, etc.  The presumption at this point would still have to be that all claims of the patent will be upheld.

post #20 of 75
Kiss and make up already like HTC did. Patent system is messed up. If this is invalidated then the prior suit will definitely have grounds for an appeal. The USPTO has gone and truly messed this up. At the end of the day, we the consumer will pay.
post #21 of 75

It's safe to say pinch-to-zoom had been demonstrated publicly ever before Apple used it in a product, and very likely before they even filed such a patent, so it's fair that it was invalidated.

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post #22 of 75

deleted


Edited by MacRulez - 3/15/13 at 10:00am
post #23 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

It's safe to say pinch-to-zoom had been demonstrated publicly ever before Apple used it in a product, and very likely before they even filed such a patent, so it's fair that it was invalidated.
Safe to say by whom? Where are your sources?

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post #24 of 75
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Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post


Safe to say by whom? Where are your sources?

 

Clicking on the link at the end of this article takes you to Samsung's filing with the ex-parte re-examination included. According to the re-examination, many of the claims were rejected due to US Patent No. 7,724,242 granted to Hillis. Following is a NY Times article from 2005 discussing his prototype for a tabletop digital map that utilized the concepts of "pinch to zoom". It was demonstrated to the government and a large convention of cartographers.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/30/technology/30hillis.html?pagewanted=all


Edited by e_veritas - 12/19/12 at 4:39pm
post #25 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banyan Bruce View Post

What is the point of having a patent office that grants patents only to invalidate them later ? Time to put a few civil servants out to grass and save the tax payers a few dollars as the job they are doing is simply no longer valid. 

If you understood patent law, you would know this makes perfect sense.  The law says a court has to presume a patent is valid.  Invalidity requires "clear and convincing evidence."  The PTO NEVER invalidates a patent.  The patent office examines that patent and applies the novelty and obviousness standards (35 USC 102 and 103).  They can and often do have different outcomes.  And any person knowledgable in patents would agree that the standards should be different (for reasons that would be too hard to explain in a blog). 


Edited by ash471 - 12/19/12 at 5:27pm
post #26 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


What invalid patent? Nothing has been invalidated.

 

Umm...did you even read the article before jumping in on the conversation? Actually, how about just the title; "Apple 'pinch-to-zoom' patent invalidated by USPTO".

 

Maybe you are simply trying to argue semantics along the lines of "the USPTO doesn't 'invalidate' patents, they only rejects claims"???

post #27 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


What invalid patent? Nothing has been invalidated.

Good call Rogifan.  I'm glad to see there is at least one other person that understands patent law.  Reexamination is not invalidation.  Anyone that knows anything about patent examination can tell you that an office action rejecting the claims is expected and is not predictive of the outcome of the reexamination. 

 

For those of you that think this patent has been invalidated, I'll give you a football analogy.  It's like an opposing football team being the first to score in a football game.  While scoring by the opposing team is what eventually causes one to lose the game, the first score of the game is hardly an indication of the outcome of the game.  This is especially true for patents where the patent office has the first possession and can say almost anything they want. The court should just ignore this office action.  The only thing a court can do with a first office action in a reexam is stay a pending action.  


Edited by ash471 - 12/19/12 at 5:13pm
post #28 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by e_veritas View Post

 

Umm...did you even read the article before jumping in on the conversation? Actually, how about just the title; "Apple 'pinch-to-zoom' patent invalidated by USPTO".

 

Maybe you are simply trying to argue semantics along the lines of "the USPTO doesn't 'invalidate' patents, they only rejects claims"???

ummm did you read the brief.  It says the claims of the patent have been rejected in a reexamination proceeding under 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103.  That is not invalidity.  Invalidity is a defense to infringement and is defined in 35 U.S.C. 282.  The patent office does not ever invalidate patents because the invalidity statute does not apply to proceedings before the patent office. 

post #29 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by e_veritas View Post

 

Clicking on the link at the end of this article takes you to Samsung's filing with the ex-parte re-examination included. According to the re-examination, many of the claims were rejected due to US Patent No. 7,724,242 granted to Hillis. Following is a NY Times article from 2005 discussing his prototype for a tabletop digital map that utilized the concepts of "pinch to zoom". It was demonstrated to the government and a large convention of cartographers.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/30/technology/30hillis.html?pagewanted=all

hmmmm, the new york times publication can be used as prior art in a reexamination proceeding, but I don't think the discussion at the conference can be a basis for the rejection. Ex parte reexamination is only based on patents and printed publications (See MPEP 2258 and 37 C.F.R. 1.552)

 

This does illustrate why we have many different procedures and why the patent office can't be expected to find everything.  How in the hell would an Examiner know if someone showed a device to someone at a conference.  No one should expect the patent office to have access to this information and vetting that kind of activity is best handled in a court proceeding where evidence can be introduced and people cross-examined.  The patent office doesn't do stuff like that (at least not very much of it).

 

If you ever have the chance to go to the patent office and prosecute a patent, you'll understand why.  An examiner has a small office with a computer desk and two chairs.  He or she writes 5 page rejections or 1 page notices of allowances. In some cases they have to file a reply brief to an appeal.  You can schedule to talk to them for one hour each non-final office action.  They are not judges. They do not have court rooms, and they have no practical means for receiving or vetting the type of evidence that a court does.  


Edited by ash471 - 12/19/12 at 5:21pm
post #30 of 75

Last summer, The Verge had an article on why this particular patent wasn't that big a deal.

 

 

It concluded with :

 

Quote:

So why this persistent myth about Apple' and pinch-to-zoom? A large part of it is because patents are hard for non-lawyers to read and understand, and it's far easier to use a shorthand that obscures important details. Apple's case against Samsung was designed for the jury to recognize interface elements, and that made it particularly easy to slip up: you can fairly call 7,469,381 "the bounceback scrolling," and 7,864,163 "tap-to-zoom," so the lazy slide into calling '915 "pinch-to-zoom" was almost inevitable. It's the media totally blowing the Obama BlackBerry story all over again.

And Apple almost certainly likes the confusion: there's no more distinctive multitouch gesture than pinch-to-zoom, and it's great for Apple if everyone thinks it's patented. Steve Jobs standing on stage doing an exaggerated pinch-to-zoom with his hands right before saying multitouch was patented wasn't some coincidence. It was a master salesman at work — and his work seems to have been extremely effective.

- The Verge

post #31 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by NormM View Post

This story is idiotic! Look at the document included in the story: this is about an office action!! The patent has not been invalidated!!!!! This is a re-examination, and this patent has been previously re-examined and upheld. Examinations almost always begin by the examiner rejecting all claims. I hope some investors that get fooled by this story sue the pants off AppleInsider!


Agree completely. These are the kind of half baked stories that lead to AAPL volatility. Like supply chain problems that do not exist. Like lack of interest by Chinese. C'mon try harder AI.

post #32 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeeJay2012 View Post


Agree completely. These are the kind of half baked stories that lead to AAPL volatility. Like supply chain problems that do not exist. Like lack of interest by Chinese. C'mon try harder AI.
Business Insider already has a story up about this patent being invalidated. But it's not just AI. MacRumors has a post up as well. Of course that site is dominated by Google lovers these days so I'm sure they just throw it up to get more hits on their site. lol.gif
post #33 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

 

I see what you mean about desks vs. phones.

 

Apple HAD to patent this if it was patentable, or someone else could copy the iPhone, then sue Apple for things like this!

 

I hope Apple licenses it out on livable terms, at least.

What?  Apple didn't have to patent this.  If all they wanted was to prevent people from patenting it, it could have just released its product (i.e., made it public).  Secondly a person copying the iPad can't sue Apple unless they themselves obtain a patent.  If they are copying, they can't get a patent because the invention would already be public, else how could they copy it?  Your argument is illogical on its face.

 

Apple should patent anything novel and non-obvious and they should stop everyone from making or using the invention if the damn well please.  Why does it not occur to other people that Samsung should take the infringing feature out of its products.  No one has a gun pointed at Samsung's head forcing it to sell products with infringing features.  Prior to the filing of the patent Samsung was selling phones without the infringing features.  Why can't they do that now?

 

Everyone wants Apple to show them the way and then just copy for free.  It isn't fair.  Apple took all the risk and spent the time developing the product.  Do you not remember when the iPad was released?  Apple stock dropped in price and everyone said it was just a stupid big iPod touch.  Now that Apple has proved them wrong, they all want to copy.  Nice....

 

Apple should have patented more stuff and be suing the shit out of everyone.  It is bull shit to say that the tablet market already existed via Microsoft.  If Samsung wants to make a tablet like the one's Microsoft partners were selling, it is free to do so.  Those devices won't be infringing Apple's patents.  It is disingenuous to say that the pre-iPad tablets are the same as iPad for purposes of patentability when Samsung isn't willing to sell them.  If they were equivalent devices, Samsung would just sell those rather than risk infringing Apple's patents. The fact that everyone wants a device like an iPad and won't buy the old Microsoft style is a sure sign that they are different, novel, and non-obvious.  

post #34 of 75

So Apple creates something, submits it to the patent office, the patent office grants Apple a patent, Samsung uses the patent in their copycat product, Apple sues Samsung for patent violation, they go to court, and a jury sides with Apple and now the US Patent office now says that the patent for which they granted is not valid.

 

Hmmm.  OK.

 

So, what am i missing here?

post #35 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Sounds like Google's been spending a lot on "lunches" for PTO employees.

This absolutely false.  No patent lawyer would ever try to improperly influence a patent examiner.  You cannot even talk to an examiner unless you schedule an appointment and put an interview summary in record saying what was discussed. Going to lunch is beyond preposterous.  Both the patent attorney and the examiner would get fired for offering/taking free lunches where there is a pending case between the two.  

 

There is a lot of corruption in the world, but U.S. Federal judges and quasi-judges like patent examiners are anything but corrupt.  Some of them may be stupid and/or stubborn, but they are not corrupt.

post #36 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

So Apple creates something, submits it to the patent office, the patent office grants Apple a patent, Samsung uses the patent in their copycat product, Apple sues Samsung for patent violation, they go to court, and a jury sides with Apple and now the US Patent office now says that the patent for which they granted is not valid.

 

Hmmm.  OK.

 

So, what am i missing here?

Actually it makes perfect sense.  See post 28.  The patent office and the courts have different standards.  The different standards sometimes lead to different outcomes.  There are good reasons for having different standards, but the explanation is complicated.

post #37 of 75
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

So, what am i missing here?

 

The sense that God gave slime mold. But that's probably understandable from different branches of government coming together. HEYO!

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post #38 of 75
"Apple 'pinch-to-zoom' patent invalidated by USPTO"

This is totally wrong. The patent like any other one hasn't been invalidated. The USPTO has just issued a tentative of invalidation that probably won't succeed totally (i.e., all patent claims being invalidated) as Apple has all right to respond to that. Right now these are ex parte reexaminations triggered by a request which were filed anonymously. And by anonymously we all know that at least one of those anonymous parties is Google. On top of that, in the case at hand, some of the rejections are based on rather doubtful theories.

So if we look at all of this, we've got Apple to successfully patent ideas that have changed the mobile industry and allowed competitors like Samsung and Google to ride on these successful innovations and ideas (that none of them have never implemented before) to considerably enrich themselves. And "successful" is key here as no one care of unsuccessful patents whether they are valid or not.

Now that Apple has decided to protect its investments, "anonymous" companies have decided to lobby the USPTO agains Apple's patents so that they can continue to use innovations that they did not first deploy to real products.
post #39 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by drobforever View Post

 

The court assumes the patents to be valid otherwise the trial would take a lot longer and tons of experts on those patents will have to be involved. 

 

But in short, yes, the patent system in the US is pretty messed up. 

In what way is it messed up?  It works great.  Last time I checked, the US has the most robust entrepreneurial environment in the world. The purpose of the patent system is to encourage entrepreneurs.  If anything I think what is messed up is how the media castigates the patent system when it has no clue how the system works.  How can people who know so little about the system think they know whether it is messed up?  

 

There is a lot of ranting and raving about how much patents impede technology.  If you take a step back I think you see it is absolutely preposterous to say patents impede technology. I mean Really?  What technology has been impeded in the U.S. because of patents?  There are disputes about how to divide up the money generated by technology, but there is nothing impeding the technology.  In fact, the US has the most robust patent system in the world and we are bursting at the seems with technology.  The facts just don't support the idea that patents impede technology.

 

I know correlation is not causation, but you have to admit it is pretty curious that there is a 100% correlation between the strength of the patent system and innovation.  Even within the US, the income levels and innovativeness of states are correlated with issuance of patents.  Do you want to know the countries with the worst patent protection?  It isn't China.  It is venezuela, middle eastern countries, and Africa.  Their patent systems are horrible to non-existent. Curiously these countries also have no innovation.  

 

Even if you think the correlation is not the cause, why would you risk mucking up the patent system?  At a minimum, the correlation proves the patent system doesn't hurt.  If you hinder our patent system you run a huge risk of finding out that the patent system really was the cause of our success.  We've had a strong patent system since the founding of our country.  It really bothers me when people mouth off about how our system is messed up.  I truly believe that you are disparaging the very system that has provided you with the standard of living that you have.  In the last 10 years the tech world has converted to a bunch of ignorant ingrates.

post #40 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ash471 View Post

The patent office does not ever invalidate patents because the invalidity statute does not apply to proceedings before the patent office. 

 

I am well aware of this fact. However, at this point, you are merely arguing semantics. While the USPTO never claims a patent to be invalid legally, a complete rejection of ALL claims pretty much makes it worthless. Most people would interpret this as the adjective 'invalid', synonymous with 'worthless'. You however, are trying to suggest this isn't the case because you are only considering the legal phrasing for 'invalid'. This is what I was suggesting in my original post.

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