A German court has invalidated an Apple patent for photo management after Motorola and Samsung, the opposition in the case, presented as prior art a video of Apple’s own Steve Jobs unveiling the original iPhone in January 2007.
As Florian Mueller over at FOSS Patents notes, there’s a small but important difference between the U.S. and European patent law: The U.S. law allows for a 12-month grace period between publicly showing an invention and filing a patent for it, but there’s no such provision in the Europe. So even though Steve Jobs showed an Apple invention on stage in January 2007, his video was seen as prior art as it predated the actual filing date of August 2007.
The patent in question specifically dealt with the bounce back rubber-banding effect when reaching the end of a list of photos. Although the patent has a narrow scope, Apple had won an injunction against both Samsung and Motorola over it.
During the iPhone introduction keynote, Jobs said “boy have we patented it!” referring to the extraordinary inventions they had shown on stage like the revolutionary multitouch interface, but that video itself killed one of Apple’s patent in Europe. The relevant part is at around 33:40 in this video:
Apple will try to appeal this decision in the Federal Court of Justice.