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USPTO gets one right! Rejects Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent claim

Posted: , by Michael H.

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USPTO gets one right! Rejects Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent claim
We don't often say many good things about the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), because we don't think the office does much good in the world of software patents. Frankly, we're not sure software patents should exist at all, because they are often little more than logical conclusions, or digitized versions of physical objects; and, they don't seem to lead to much other than wasted court fees. Still, as much as we criticize, we do need to point out when the USPTO gets one right, and the USPTO has rejected Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent claim.

The patent for pinch-to-zoom was filed in 2007, and awarded to Apple in 2010. It covered how software would distinguish between the scrolling movement of one finger and two-fingers gestures like pinch-to-zoom on a touchscreen; and, the patent has been a big part of Apple's $1 billion win over Samsung in court. So, this new ruling could have a significant impact on Samsung's appeal bid. 

The USPTO had issued a preliminary ruling in December 2012 that the patent claims were invalid; and, today in a "final office action", all 21 claims by Apple were rejected for either being anticipated by previous patents or for being unpatentable. Looks like it only takes the USPTO 6 years to work through a patent to figure out it's a logical conclusion. We're sure that will help the office work through the huge backlog of patents it has on its hands. 

45 Comments
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posted on 29 Jul 2013, 11:51 33

1. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3013; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Tsk tsk...Apple can't pinch exclusively anymore.
Had it coming!!!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 11:52 26

2. Diego! (Posts: 507; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)


About time! You suck that punch, Apple! Sammy, your move!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 11:52 13

3. Bootutu (Posts: 189; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


Wonderful news! a lot more to follow, most notably the notification center

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 11:54 31

4. ZeroCide (Posts: 696; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)


WOW!!! There are people at the USPTO not being paid off by Apple!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 11:55 5

6. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 3754; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


That was never a valid claim.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:00 28

7. tedkord (Posts: 4969; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Actually, all 21 claims were never valid.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:06 6

11. ZeroCide (Posts: 696; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)


It doesn't have to be a vaild claim for it to be true. There are quite a few total BS patents that Apple filed that were approved. Seems like someone at the USPTO was getting paid off.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 15:37 5

26. SellPhones82 (Posts: 521; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)


Like the invention of the round-cornered rectangle? Where would we be today if Apple had not graced us with that wonderful shape?! Someones kids are getting a real good College education somewhere.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:51 1

18. donfem (Posts: 552; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


If it was never valid, why was it filed? Why was it apprved initially?

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 20:52

40. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6588; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


YES. now hopefully they would DROP OTHER LAW SUITS from Apple so we can get back making good technology

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 11:54 1

5. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 3754; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


So is taking away something apple did unique a pity gesture from the uspto?

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:01 25

8. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3013; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Are you for real?
The only unique thing Apple did was turn a fruit into a machine.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:02 31

9. tedkord (Posts: 4969; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


No, it's the correct conclusion, as pinch to zoom is not only obvious, it was demonstrated by others before the iPhone launched our the patent application was submitted.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 19:49 1

37. OnlyiPhone (unregistered)


No it wasn't pinch to zoom is only capable on capacitive touch screens and its mo secret apple made capacitive screens popular and was the first to have pinch to zoom... I don't agree patenting a shape but different processes of your phone if you do it first patent it google should've patented the notification tray they pretty much invented that

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 02:03

42. tedkord (Posts: 4969; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


First, Apple was not the first to have a capacitive screen. The Prada had one before it. Second, pinch to zoom was absolutely demonstrated before the iPhone. Microsoft was using it on their Surface table computer well before the iPhone.

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 06:12

45. OnlyiPhone (unregistered)


If you read what I said I said iPhone made capacitive screens popular I never said they were first.... And they were the first smartphone with pinch to zoom.....what sells more a table computer or an iPhone I believe an iPhone

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 03:04

43. Just.Me (Posts: 23; Member since: 24 Apr 2013)


Didn't samsung make the screens for apple. So, If im correct, apple only made pinch to zoom popular thanks to samsungs screen technology. Then again, I could be wrong

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 03:34

44. TylerGrunter (Posts: 1005; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


There were previous implementations of zooming using two points in screens using visual input instead of capactity screens.
That makes the pinch to zoom in a capacity screen nothing more than a logical evolution of the pinch to zoom using visual recognition.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:05

10. Bootutu (Posts: 189; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


You are weird...Goosebumps!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:07 9

12. Zeus.k (unregistered)


Now if they could look into some of more pathetic patents by Apple and could get them all rights. Anyway good job done by uspto.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:20 5

13. PhoneCritic (Posts: 360; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


Is it correct to say Samsung Just won its appeal and Judge Lucy will have no recourse but to throw out the 1 billion dollar verdict and consider the case closed as no patent is being violated? Or were there any other claims that Apple had against Samsung/Google?

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:56

20. stealthd (Posts: 969; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


No. One patent being invalidated didn't throw out the rest of the patents and trademarks Samsung was found to have violated.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 13:13

21. PhoneCritic (Posts: 360; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


Thank you. Do you know what other patents that were claimed to be violated?

As far as I recall it had to do with the overall design on some older models and the bounce back feature which I heard ( don't know if this is true) was rectified by a update that corrected the said violation.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 14:00 1

25. tedkord (Posts: 4969; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


It helps Samsung. Also, the rubber banding patent was initially invalidated, and to save it Apple had to redo the claims, and Samsung filed for a retrial on that patent based on the products not violating the new claim.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:27 6

14. jove39 (Posts: 1307; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


That's good...in touch enabled devices pinch-to-zoom is very obvious gesture so right move by USPTO.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:39 5

15. MartyK (Posts: 716; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)


WHAT??????????????...
they use common sense and their eyes!!..yay!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:44

16. alpinejason (Posts: 262; Member since: 06 Sep 2011)


They did it first but who knows if it is good to patent anyhow

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 18:07 3

30. tedkord (Posts: 4969; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


They didn't do it first. There are YouTube videos of researchers using pinch to zoom a full year before the iPhone or the patent filing.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:48

17. good2great (Posts: 1039; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


wow what a biased article title. come on PA continue to divide your readers. smh

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 12:53 9

19. donfem (Posts: 552; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


What's your point? Article states the nullification of an invalid claim...So?

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 15:39

28. Commentator (Posts: 2436; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


In saying "USPTO gets one right," the article implies that the USPTO has made incorrect decisions before, placing the authority of their power in question. It would appear then that the author is biased against the USPTO in that he disagrees with some of their past decisions.

Good thing we live in a country where skepticism of authority is a God-given tradition. 'Murrica!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 18:11 1

31. tedkord (Posts: 4969; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


It's not biased to expect the USPTO to only pass and uphold patents that meet the definition of patentable - novel, non obvious and useful. Pinch to zoom only met one of the three.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 13:35 8

24. blazee (Posts: 284; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


What's so biased in this article? I think Michael is just happy like most are, that uspto is finally revising some bogus patents which are used to monopolize the market

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 13:29 5

22. darkkjedii (Posts: 11988; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Good, this should come standard on smartphones, without the legal hassles.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 13:33 1

23. yoavst (Posts: 17; Member since: 29 Jul 2013)


New patent for apple - air

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 15:39

27. W.P._Android_in_that_Order (Posts: 206; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)


Good news!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 17:51 1

29. -box- (Posts: 3823; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Yay! Now just kill the rounded corners, slide-to-unlock, and their other goofy junk patents.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 19:04

32. Mr-Robert (banned) (Posts: 23; Member since: 27 Jul 2013)


Well said they dont deserve any patents. Banned Apple when applying for any patents. A R&D company focuses on progresing and modyfing a product already produced by other companys!
Get lost Apple.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 19:30

33. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1244; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


I don't see how iPhone users can view this website on safari. Time to go back to my Note 2.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 19:35

35. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1244; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


That's better!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 19:36

36. Mr-Robert (banned) (Posts: 23; Member since: 27 Jul 2013)


They never care or are bothered! What they care is that they have an Apple device, and it's made by Steve Jobs. They believe him as a GOD! Lmao!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 19:34

34. shutslar (Posts: 3; Member since: 06 Jun 2013)


If you want a good explanation of this and other Apple/Samsung cases check out Groklaw,net. PJ and team has case information as well as some explanations about the law and technologies. They do a great job of making this understandable to us common folks and the media At this time they have 735 different posts about the various Apple/Samsung cases. Posts are usually made as soon as the information is available. I have been following these case from the beginning. I've been reading Groklaw.net since the site was created to follow the SCO litigation against Novel and the rest of the world (a decade ago). It is a great resource.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 19:54 1

38. OnlyiPhone (unregistered)


Every time phone arena has a post about anything involving apple people don't like apple I honestly wonder if everybody genuinely doesn't like apple or are just hopping on the hate apple bandwagon.... Terrible smh...I understand an opinion but damn every post every single post........

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 20:51

39. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6588; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


THANKS GOD!!! now get rid of those other patents for once they did something RIGHT

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 01:28

41. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2694; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


I think the touch gesture is also included in 21s list. So Apple please do not try to patent such obvious features.

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