U.S Patent Office rejects ‘pinch to zoom’ patent

The anchor of last summer’s landmark Apple v. Samsung patent trial has been rejected by the U.S Patent Office upon appeal from Samsung.

 U.S Patent Office rejects pinch to zoom patent

Almost a year after Apple was awarded an enormous prize by a jury because of patent infringements by Samsung, Apple’s case against Samsung has been slowly coming apart by after multiple appeals.

Samsung’s biggest coup against Apple came sometime last week, when the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled that patent no. 7,844,915, the “pinch to zoom” patent, had been ruled invalid. The patent covers the ability of the phone’s hardware to differentiate between one finger scrolling or tapping and two finger zooming. Samsung’s counsel notified the court of this sometime between 1-2 AM Sunday morning.

At the end of Apple v. Samsung last summer, the jury found that 21 of the 24 Samsung smartphones and tablets on trial had infringed upon this patent. Apple also claimed that this ’915 patent was the most commercially valuable out of all the patents on trial demanding a per-unit royalty of $3.10 compared to a royalty $2.02 for the other multitouch patents. In many ways, it anchored Apple’s case against Samsung on the multitouch front as it was the most commercially valuable patent and, as some believed, most durable.

Last December, patent blogger Florian Mueller wrote that the ‘915 patent was the patent most likely to survive scrutiny by the USPTO.

“Of the three Apple multitouch software patents that have given rise to tentative rejections in the form of first Office action, I believe the ’915 patent is most likely to have some surviving claims when all is said and done,” he wrote.

Apple has two months to appeal this decision.

A retrial to re-examine damages is scheduled for November.

A second Apple v. Samsung trial is set to begin on March 5, 2014 as both sides have accused that their respective next-generation smartphones and tablets infringe upon a whole range of patents.

Source: FOSS Patents

Sam Reynolds is a Canadian technology journalist based in Taipei. His interest is the intersection between politics, business and technology.