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Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent invalidated by USPTO

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent invalidated by USPTO
It might just be patent 7,844,915, but most smartphone users know it as "pinch-to-zoom." When Apple launched the Apple iPhone in 2007, the gesture became instantly associated with the device. Other manufacturers were a little frightened to use "pinch-to-zoom," so much so that when the Motorola DROID launched in November 2009, it did not offer the gesture on the browser. Meanwhile, the overseas version of the phone, the Motorola MILESTONE, did allow for "pinch-to-zoom" throughout the handset including the browser. The functionality was finally brought to the DROID browser with a software update. As early as February 2009, speculation was that Apple had asked Google to keep multitouch off of Android models.

Pinch-to-zoom on the Apple iPhone

Pinch-to-zoom on the Apple iPhone

All of the reasons stated back then for the lack of multitouch on Android, like Andy Rubin's hatred for two-handed operations, or Apple asking Google to pretty-please keep it off Android, seem like fairy tales today. What has changed? The fierceness of the rivalry between Apple and Android manufacturers is now so intense that a cross-eyed look ends up in a lawsuit. Let's keep it real. What kept multitouch and "pinch-to-zoom" off Android phones at first, was the fear of a lawsuit. And while some Android manufacturers settled with Apple, like HTC, the patent was one of many that Apple accused Samsung of infringing on in the patent trial that ended in August with a $1.05 billion verdict in Apple's favor.

Some good news for Samsung came down from the USPTO on Wednesday when the agency invalidated Apple's "pinch-to-zoom" patent after re-examination found previous patents on record. This is the second major Apple patent ruled invalid (first was the rubber banding or bounce scroll) and Samsung says it supports its request for a new trial. Judge Lucy Koh, who presided over the patent trial, recently refused Apple's request for a ban on certain Samsung devices, saying that the specific product is no longer for sale, or no longer infringes on an Apple patent due to a software update. She also refused to go along with a request by Samsung for a new trial based on what Sammy claims were improper and inappropriate actions by jury foreman Velvin Hogan. Samsung believes that Hogan failed to tell the court certain things that might have led Samsung's legal team to challenge him more forcefully during jury selection.

But that is all water under the bridge with this new ruling by the USPTO. The ruling could put some teeth in Samsung's request for a new, lower damages amount and might even help the Korean based tech titan earn a new trial.

source: WSJ

66 Comments
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posted on 19 Dec 2012, 18:51 40

1. techguy22 (Posts: 226; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


hahahah keep them coming !!!!

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:09 21

18. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 4601; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


Good news! :)
And I think that USPTO should review all Apple patents, I'm pretty sure that they would find even more invalid patents not only '949 patent (a.k.a. "Steve Jobs patent") or this "pinch-to-zoom" patent...

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 21:08

35. Nadr1212 (Posts: 741; Member since: 22 Sep 2012)


All I wanna know is if Apple will patent pinch zooming or not,
so I can SMACK THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 00:14 3

48. MeoCao (unregistered)


I guess Apple spent a lot of money on the old USPTO boss, now that dumbass is gone and it's payback time for Apple.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:20 23

19. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5282; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Not a good day for Apple. I wonder if HTC should sue Apple for malicious prosecution?

Now we just need local + web search invalidated.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:40

27. Cynipap999 (banned) (Posts: 138; Member since: 15 Nov 2012)


Web search???
How can they search the web if they're on wifi, what if the router breaks?

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:52

30. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5282; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Huh? If the router breaks, no web search result is presented.

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 01:27

54. vishu9 (Posts: 247; Member since: 03 Mar 2011)


Absolutely! I hope it happens soon! I use local search through the search bar pretty frequently, and that's the reason I am scared to move to anything above ICS 4.0.3

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:32 7

24. -box- (Posts: 3566; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


YES!!!

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 21:14 4

37. MeoCao (unregistered)


haha, good news comes thick and fast

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 18:55 13

2. wendygarett (unregistered)


It's about time to invalidate lol...
this tech patents should only available for about 2 years enough...

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:00 24

4. Zero0 (Posts: 561; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


No.

This shouldn't have received a patent at all. For most technologies, the current lengths aren't too bad.

I'd argue that patents are hardly the worst that IP has to offer. Copyrights are practically eternal. The patent system wouldn't be bad if they didn't grant patents to ridiculously broad or obvious "technologies."

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:00 2

17. wendygarett (unregistered)


The 1st iPhone release at 2007 and this patent invalid at 2009

does this hurt much? And Google release 1st nexus at 2010... Therefore 2 years patent doesn't hurt much for Google dude...

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:27 8

21. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5282; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


You are confusing invalid patents with the protection period for valid patents. A valid patent deserves a period of exclusivity as a way to incentivise the investment needed to invent an innovation. If there was only a 2 year exclusivity period, most medical treatments wouldn't be available, because no one would drop the $2+ Billion most new drugs require to bring a drug to market.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:31 4

23. wendygarett (unregistered)


Medical are different with tech imo...

the reason I say 2 years is because to avoid anti-competition happened... The world is boring if all people using Apple products lol

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:36 4

26. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5282; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Do you think the $ would have dropped to invent the transistor if patent protection were not available? You are confusing patent protection with invalid patents. Invalid patents should get no protection.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 21:10 2

36. wendygarett (unregistered)


Maybe I should learn more on patent, forgive me Mr Doug, I'm just a kids, but I'm appreciate your conversation :)

thanks!!!!

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 18:56 18

3. Scientist (Posts: 17; Member since: 22 Oct 2012)


ROTTEN APPLE

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 21:07 5

34. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 5639; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


POISON APPLE

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:02 34

5. gwuhua1984 (Posts: 1237; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


Next... rectangular designs!

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:30 8

13. sorcio46 (Posts: 392; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)


Ahahah I hope that :D

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:56 11

14. Cynipap999 (banned) (Posts: 138; Member since: 15 Nov 2012)


Never will happen, Apple invented the rectangle and the circle. Just look at the Home button on iPhone/iPad/iTouch, it's perfectly round and perfectly placed within that lovely rectangle in just the right spot.

I never understood why Apple needed a patent on "pinch-to-zoom", the iPhone has always had a teeny-tiny screen so there's not really anything to pinch and not much to zoom.

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 00:17

49. jroc74 (Posts: 3978; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


edit.....

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:03 13

6. tedkord (Posts: 3920; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


In my best Freddie Mercury impersonation: "Another one bites the dust. And another one gone. And another one gone. Another bites the dust."

Now, back to serious conversation. It's about time the USPTO started looking at all the prior art and obviousness/broadness of Apple's patents, and began invalidating them. Long overdue, in fact.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:03 15

7. mahmoodh (Posts: 17; Member since: 10 Nov 2012)


hopefully the USPTO invalidates more of apple's stupid patents like rectangles with rounded corners and other BS.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:07 26

8. Izzy_V (Posts: 216; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


Watch apple try and sue the patent office.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:59 4

16. XPERIA-KNIGHT (Posts: 2384; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)


LOL....good one

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:09 8

9. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)


Wait if Apple patents Pinch to Zoom, Why is my LG phone having that feature?

Apple your patents fail?

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:10 4

10. theBankRobber (Posts: 642; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)


I think its already late for this overturn of a patent. Since HTC settled and Samsung was hung out in the court room, the damage for this false patent has already been done.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:25 4

12. xtremesv (Posts: 180; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)


Maybe poor HTC that made a pact with the devil but Samsung hasn't settled down just yet as they are appealing the dubious trial outcome.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:13 15

11. putes (Posts: 37; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


Looks like the USPTO finally woke up and stopped the automated rubber stamp machine they had working for anything Apple sent to them.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 19:57 9

15. pongkie (Posts: 492; Member since: 20 Aug 2011)


great news for us consumers

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:21 1

20. azafirster (Posts: 41; Member since: 01 May 2012)


Some good news for Samsung came down from the USPTO on Wednesday when the agency invalidated Apple's "pinch-to-zoom" patent after re-examination found previous patents on record. >>> so who does that patent belong to????

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:40 2

28. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5282; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


How about no one? If someone developed pinch-to-zoom but didn't apply for a patent, that doesn't mean that Apple can then file for a patent on pinch-to-zoom. Which is why Apple's patent got invalidated.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 23:04 1

40. JC557 (Posts: 702; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)


several companies had a hand in developing pinch to zoom, the usual was Xerox. Xerox was developing a lot of useful items that were too early for their time.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 23:11 3

41. tedkord (Posts: 3920; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


They certainly developed some useful ones for Steve Jobs to steal take inspiration from.

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 00:19 1

50. JC557 (Posts: 702; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)


But here's some more:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmmxVA5xhuo#t=4m30s

http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html

(was introduced to this by someone on Anandtech).

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:30 5

22. joseg81 (Posts: 154; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)


uspto should really do better work n not let stuff like this slip thru the cracks. glad they finally got their head out of their a$$es.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:35 4

25. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 5639; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


APPLE BEING TOO DAMN GREEDY with pinch to ZOOM they think THEY INVENTED EVERYTHING was created by Microsoft in the first place U CAN'T BAN ANYONE not to use this technology. Even some cars have built in touch screens that USES PINCH TO ZOOM. and its bout damn time USPTO realize this PATENT WAS DUMB

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:43

29. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5282; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


The patent was ruled not valid. That is quite different from dumb. Dumb generally means not unique.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:53 2

31. ray77 (Posts: 121; Member since: 17 Nov 2012)


A OTHER LOSE FOR APPLE AN KEEP ROLLING ON!!!!

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 20:56 6

32. AnnDroid (Posts: 51; Member since: 02 Aug 2011)


OOOOHHHH! This is the best Christmas present!!!!!

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 21:06 1

33. ray77 (Posts: 121; Member since: 17 Nov 2012)


YES INDEED

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 22:16 1

38. speckledapple (Posts: 877; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Good.

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 22:40 2

39. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 5639; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


N how bout stopping Apple to force HTC for fees on pinch to zoom

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 23:12 1

42. ilia1986 (unregistered)


Justice prevails once again. :D

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 23:26

43. raunak (Posts: 490; Member since: 12 Oct 2011)


i think you mean feb 2010 for the update

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 23:36

44. raunak (Posts: 490; Member since: 12 Oct 2011)


oh sorry my mistake. i thought you meant that the phone released in nov 2009 and got update in feb 2009 lol

posted on 19 Dec 2012, 23:50

45. kanagadeepan (Posts: 590; Member since: 24 Jan 2012)


Waiting List is:-

Rectangle design with rounded Corners...
Slide to Unlock...
Local and Universal Search...
Action based on link, say on clicking a phone number in SMS, options show as call/SMS/Skype/Save, etc...

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 00:10 1

46. networkdood (Posts: 5518; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


APPLE lost even more money on that 1 billion dollar...maybe they the judge will have mercy on them and let them take 100 million for APPLE.

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 00:12

47. jroc74 (Posts: 3978; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I'm actually surprised at this one. This is one I always said they can have it. Wow....

Hmmmmm....that billion dollar settlement.......is gonna be smaller n smaller. It has to be. 3 major patents invalidated?

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 00:21 1

51. Tsepz_GP (Posts: 664; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)


Unlucky Apple :)

The rest of their patents should also be reevaluated.

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 00:35 2

52. JunkCreek (Posts: 379; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


Myz, it is invalidated, where are you?

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 01:19 2

53. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5282; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Hanging out at Starbucks trying to avoid your question.

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 01:32 1

55. hanapupu (Posts: 13; Member since: 03 Dec 2012)


oh boy! it is good news for apple to end 2012 :D love it

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 01:37

56. gallitoking (Posts: 4630; Member since: 17 May 2011)


this is a disgrace.. is not Apple's fault that the USTPO has it's flaws... isntead of putting so many Android carppy devices they should focus on something that Android has been playing catch up... customer service... I wil stop there need to write my letter of discontent.. to the f' USTPO..

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 02:42 1

57. jroc74 (Posts: 3978; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Not trying to be funny....but I really have no idea what this post means.

All I can really tell is you're mad that it doesnt favor Apple...

posted on 20 Dec 2012, 03:02 1

59. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 616; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


Can't even begin to pretend I understood anything in that statement other than you're mad Apple got their BS patent invalidated because it already existed. You might want to come up for air before you get chrones when you have to rush to the surface to avoid going down with that sinking ship.
Beginning to wonder what the hell took so long to render this patent invalid, seriously aren't all these patents in a computer somewhere so you can reference them instantaneously?
At least the USPTO is now reviewing patents that are used in lawsuits at the moment, since they are sporting such large sums of money and would be a grave error on their part to allow monies to exchange hands and they we at fault in it. Heck they should review all of Apple's patents awarded from 2000 till the present, for obvious reasons...these guys filed way too many patents for a company who hasn't really done anything relatively new in the tech space. Everyone else should have their patent wording be made more concise and not broad as possible you know the way Apple likes to make their wording.

posted on 21 Dec 2012, 01:50 1

66. tedkord (Posts: 3920; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Imagine how that letter to the USPTO is going to read. Can you see them standing around the letter scratching their heads.

And this guy claims to have a career in broadcasting. I can only assume it's for a non English broadcaster.

posted on 21 Dec 2012, 01:47 1

65. tedkord (Posts: 3920; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


I agree. Once Apple steals someone else's idea, it should be theirs alone. Only Apple can steal.

Now, back to the real world. It's about time the USPTO actually did their jobs and kept patents limited only to new, unique and unobvious inventions, not old inventions with the words "on a smartphone" tacked on to the end.

Next, they need to look into whether or not Apple actually invented rectangles with round edges. I think they may find a case or two of prior art there. (LG Prada)

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