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

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.

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



1. techguy22

Posts: 227; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

hahahah keep them coming !!!!

18. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 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...

35. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

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

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.

19. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 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.

27. Cynipap999

Posts: 138; Member since: Nov 15, 2012

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

30. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

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

54. vishu9

Posts: 252; Member since: Mar 03, 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

24. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012


37. MeoCao unregistered

haha, good news comes thick and fast

2. wendygarett unregistered

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

4. Zero0

Posts: 592; Member since: Jul 05, 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."

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...

21. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 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.

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

26. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 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.

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!!!!

3. Scientist

Posts: 19; Member since: Oct 22, 2012


34. InspectorGadget80 unregistered


5. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Next... rectangular designs!

13. sorcio46

Posts: 435; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

Ahahah I hope that :D

14. Cynipap999

Posts: 138; Member since: Nov 15, 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.

49. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010


6. tedkord

Posts: 17296; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

7. mahmoodh

Posts: 17; Member since: Nov 10, 2012

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

8. Izzy_V

Posts: 216; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

Watch apple try and sue the patent office.

16. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

LOL....good one

9. Raymond_htc

Posts: 430; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

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

10. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 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.

12. xtremesv

Posts: 299; Member since: Oct 21, 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.

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