Today, Apple won an injunction against Motorola over the use of the “overscroll bounce” feature in Motorola’s photo album. Overscroll bounce is the inertia-based elastic bounce-back effect Apple pioneered on the iPhone to let a user know when they have reached the end of a list. While the feature has been largely removed from Android phones since version 2.3 (Gingerbread), it remained in some custom UI apps, like Motorola’s picture album.
Whether an imitation of physics (the elastic bounce back) should be patentable probably depends on how inclusive you feel patent law should be (or in some cases, which platform you are a fan of…), but there’s little doubt that Apple used this first in smartphones.
The fix probably won’t be too difficult; in Ice Cream Sandwich Google introduced two new methods of dealing with overscroll, one of them specifically designed for media galleries. Seen in the Galaxy Nexus, the effect involves a panel of images all turning on their vertical axis when you reach the end of the list. It’s similar to the effect seen on the ICS home screen when you get to the last screen, and is an intuitive alternative to Apple’s patent.
We imagine Motorola may choose to implement that solution, as with photos it is probably preferable to the “puff of colored smoke” effect that Android uses at the end of lists. Motorola also pulled out a more limited victory in the case, as Apple was unable to win on the “zoomed out” complaint against the photo album, which we presume refers to the cover-flow like motion that Motorola uses in their version of the photo album.
In short, this is mostly good for Apple, although it’s unlikely to lead to a substantial change in anyone’s market position, and Apple couldn’t score on their coverflow patent. After a while you have to wonder if any of these companies really think they’re getting a return on the money they are investing in litigation, but we suppose that until some sort of cross-licensing agreement can be reached this will go on interminably.
source: FOSS Patents