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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 79
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 79


    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. 

  • Reply 3 of 79
    Maybe Apple should have applied the patent for a mobile device only. Before the iPhone, the only thing that did this was the surface table.
  • Reply 4 of 79

    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. 

  • Reply 5 of 79
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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 :)
  • Reply 6 of 79
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 79

    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.

  • Reply 8 of 79

    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. 



     


    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.

  • Reply 9 of 79
    @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..
  • Reply 10 of 79
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member


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

  • Reply 11 of 79


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

  • Reply 12 of 79
    normmnormm Posts: 545member
    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. [B]Examinations almost always begin by the examiner rejecting all claims.[/B] I hope some investors that get fooled by this story sue the pants off AppleInsider!
  • Reply 13 of 79

    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. 

  • Reply 14 of 79

    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?

  • Reply 15 of 79
    normmnormm Posts: 545member
    patpatpat wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 79

    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.

  • Reply 17 of 79
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member

    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.

  • Reply 18 of 79
    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
  • Reply 19 of 79
    normmnormm Posts: 545member

    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.

  • Reply 20 of 79
    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.
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