USPTO Rules Pinch-To-Zoom Patent Invalid

News just hit that a key Apple patent—patent ‘915 the “pinch-to-zoom” patent—has just been ruled invalid by the U.S. Patent Office. This story is developing and we’ll keep updating.

Here are the key parts from the CNET story:

A key patent used by Apple against Samsung in its multibillion dollar courtroom brawl earlier this year has been invalidated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. All 20 claims of U.S. patent number 7,844,915 — also known as the “pinch-to-zoom” patent — were invalidated by the USPTO today, following a reexamination.

Samsung pointed this out in an afternoon filing to U.S. District Court judge Lucy Koh, noting that it was “relevant” given the company’s effort for a retrial, as well as Apple’s attempt at an injunction — both of which were shot down in court orders earlier this week.

The ‘915 patent covers technology that can distinguish whether a user is scrolling with one finger versus using several touch points at once for a “pinch-to-zoom” action. Apple accused a swath of Samsung devices for infringing on a particular claim of the patent, which today was rendered invalidated.

At this time we don’t know if this is a USPTO preliminary ruling (as we saw earlier this month) or a final ruling. If final, then Apple’s case against Samsung just got a whole lot more interesting…and messy.

We’ll update as we learn more.

AppleInsider has posted the entire filing:

Pinch to Zoom Patent Invalidated

Update: From The Verge, this is a preliminary ruling, just like the Steve Jobs patent. So, nothing is invalid yet:

It’s the same situation that we saw with Apple’s bounce-back patent. The whole discussion is part of an ex parte reexamination; that means Apple is the only other party talking to the USPTO about the patent, and it will still have an opportunity to fight for keeping the patent valid or to amend its language so that it will stay relevant in the Samsung case. It’s also important to note that while 21 individual claims within the patent were rejected, only one — Claim 8 — was used in the trial, providing Apple a very specific target when working with the Patent Office


Scales of Justice by mikecogh from Flickr.

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