A win came for Samsung last night as the United States Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated all 20 claims of Apple’s US Patent No 7,479,949. Patent number 7,479,949 covered the bounce-back scrolling effect that Apple uses on its devices and it was one of the big patents that Samsung was held to have infringed in its early Galaxy devices. One of the biggest problems with the US patent system is its reliance on inexperienced juries to determine patent validity, rather than having the validity determined by an expert judge. Juries don’t understand patent law, and the jury in the Apple v Samsung case apparently ignored evidence of prior art, because it was ‘bogging [them] down’.

The USPTO has re-examined patent 7,479,949 and has found a number of examples of prior art that anticipate its claims, including one prior patent from Apple itself. As I’ve discussed previously, patents can only be granted for things that are new and inventive, and the existing patents effectively disclose Apple’s ‘invention’, with the USPTO deciding that patent 7,479,949 did not include an inventive step over what was already in the prior art base.

Of course Apple will appeal this ruling, but it is likely that the examiner’s decision will be upheld. If nothing else, it’ll reduce the damages that Samsung owes, and should give them some ammunition to have the whole matter re-tried or dismissed. Patents!

[Edit]: Android Police have a brilliant article that discusses the decision (and the patents) in lots of detail.

Source(s): Forbes, and Android Police
  • dazweeja

    Next stop – invalidate Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent (already existed on Neonode N1m in 2005) and then pinch-to-zoom (MERL DiamondTouch and Jeff Han’s work).

    • James Finnigan

      Interestingly, Apple actually does not have a patent on pinch-to-zoom. If you’re interested, I’d recommend giving this article a read: http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/30/3279628/apple-pinch-to-zoom-patent-myth

      • dazweeja

        That’s an interesting article but it still looks like that patent applies to pinch-to-zoom, right? Basically scrolling on a single touch input or “scaling the view associated with the event object based on receiving the two or more input points in the form of the user input”. That second part sounds like pinch-to-zoom to me.

  • Al

    That would be good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.johnson.338658 Dan Johnson

    Imagine the flurry around samsung’s round table of lawyers. Wonder if Samsung could sue Apple over this get a massive payout. Can’t help but be very happy for samsung.

    • http://twitter.com/WebbyHRT Andrew Webb

      Not with an American Jury

    • Dejavu

      Only non-adapting cry-babies, take rival companies to court.

      I doubt any 7″ droid maker will see the iPad Mini taken off shelves.

  • Anonymous

    You got the patent # wrong. 7479949 has never been declared invalid. It is at issue in two law suits (Apple vs. HTC and Apple vs. Motorola). The “rubberbanding patent” you’re referring to is 7,469,381