Court of Appeals ruling means Apple gets another shot at a valid patent for pinch-to-zoom

Back on January 9th 2007, during the introduction of the Apple iPhone, Steve Jobs also unveiled muli-touch. "We have invented a new technology called multi-touch that is phenomenal," Jobs said. "It works like magic. You don't need a stylus. It's far more accurate than any touch display that's ever been shipped. It ignores unintended touches. It's super smart. You can do multi-finger gestures on it, and boy have we patented it."

But that didn't seem to matter in December 2012 after the USPTO invalidated the '915 patent associated with multi-touch and its features such as pinch-to-zoom. Two months earlier, the '381 patent that included rubber banding or the bounce scroll effect was also ruled invalid. However, there is now a chance that Apple will get another shot at protecting pinch-to-zoom thanks to a ruling that came down today from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The appellate court said that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board had made an error in interpreting two key phrases too widely. The court said that Apple was right on one phrase, rubberbanding, but was wrong on the phrase scroll or gesture limitation. The case has been remanded to the Patent Board.

As far back as February 2009, the lack of multi-touch features on Android was blamed on a rumored request made to Google by Apple not to include any multi-touch capabilities on the OS even though Android did support multi-touch itself. Later that year and early next, both the Motorola DROID and Nexus One launched in the states without the feature, while the overseas version of the DROID (the Motorola MILESTONE) and the HTC DROID ERIS both supported it. Eventually, multi-touch and pinch-to-zoom became commonplace on all Android handsets.

By 2012, Google already had a workaround for the '915 pinch-to-zoom patent. Apple's patent covered a precise method of using pinch-to-zoom, which used one finger as an anchor, while the other finger would create the zooming. In the Android build known as JellyBean, Google's pinch-to-zoom was completely different as it allowed both fingers to move apart to zoom. This slight difference was noted by a Google spokesmen who said, "Apple's '915 patent claims a very specific software implementation, and the implementation is different in Jelly Bean." 

There is no indication when the Patent Board will convene to discuss Apple's request to validate its '915 patent.

source: SeekingAlpha (1), (2)



1. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

If Apple gets patent for something like this in 2017, this will be crazy and would suck for us android users.

24. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

patenting gesture is plain stupid.. and my ancient laptop (from 2004-2005) already have pinch to zoom, using synaptic touchpad

35. AlikMalix unregistered

Everyone patenting gestures from flick to flint and Apple is the only bad guy in your book?

39. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

Even though this tech was showcased in the 90s called "digital desk" on youtube. Just because it was placed on the iphone doesn't mean noone else would have come up with using it on the phone. Heck, the company that was responsible for it on the iphone probably wasn't the only one that had the tech.

2. darkkjedii

Posts: 31253; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You gotta be kidding me. Let this shizzle go.

3. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

They just won't be able to sell any pre-jelly bean phones

4. darkkjedii

Posts: 31253; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Why can't it just die though man.

14. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Speaking of dying, here is something I read today... Off-topic, but in line with it with people not letting go of old things: I thought it would have been the highest sold Samsung phone ever the Galaxy S4. Missed it by one model. I can't believe what I read!

21. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

The S5 was a kick a$$ phone

22. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

I agree but so many people said it sucked. It never let me down. People can say it was laggy but mine wasn't , it did maybe slow down very little and I mean very little.. But maybe that because I don't put much on my phone's.

32. crzykiller

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 03, 2015

That's because you haven't held a fast phone... I had the S5 and boy was that a laggy mess on the stock software even after Lollipop. It was microstutter central. It was still the best phone though... Indestructible, water resistant, amazing camera for the time, great battery life, good software after root and custom ROM.

11. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

How many devices you think are being sold that pre-date JellyBean?

40. cheetah2k

Posts: 2266; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

This is Apple..... they have 246Bn iSheep money to spend on this sh*t

5. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Are they allowed to retroactively patent like this? Surely not

6. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1074; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Well "Pinch-to-zoom" was patented, however their patent referred to using 1 finger as an anchor and sliding the other away to zoom. Google's version of pinch to zoom worked with the fingers both moving away from each other. However it would be wrong if Apple can manage to retroactively change the patent to include both methods, giving them the authority to sue Google for billions.... Sounds up their alley though

7. fyah_king unregistered

The pinch to zoom with both fingers are a lot better than Apple's idea.

34. AlikMalix unregistered

I think it was the other way around if I remember.

36. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

I want to point out that 'anchor -> move finger' and 'two fingers moving away from eachother' generally works the same, and google's latest also works with anchor-> move finger. But the fact that they could patent this at all when it wasn't even something they created.., was developed around 1985 last I checked.

8. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

This patent troll is stupid. I wonder If the HTC Ocean concept is real this should be a no problem. HTC should patent the technology.

9. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1575; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

I can't think of a single touch capable OS that doesn't have pinch to zoom. It's a basic and natural gesture to enlarge something.

10. toukale

Posts: 641; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Hate to see this thing still going onion 2017. Apple deserves all the credits in the world, they figured it out. Everyone in mobile is using their templates. As a result they were insanely rewarded financially still do. Someone needs to move us beyond the Apple template. It will not come from Google, since there are no incentives to even try. Why change the status quo when you are the current winner.

13. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Apple deserves credit for what? Apple did not invent multi-touch capabilities. Apple popularized it, but certainly did not invent it. They may have made their own concept, but the invention was around long before them. US Patents require they be novel and non-obvious. Apple has never invented a single technology. Not even FireWire. FireWire was an improved concept of an available technology called SCSI. Everyone knows this except one group of people. So if someone made for example a 2-point multi-touch capability, someone going and making it 4-point, would not be non-obvious or novel, because there is a previous invention. The USPTO isn't even following its own rules for patents. Apple can patent their own concept of how they achieve their concept, byt they cannot patent the whole tech as their own. "In computing, multi-touch is technology that enables a surface (a trackpad or touchscreen) to recognize the presence of more than one[1][2] or more than two[3] points of contact with the surface. The origins of multitouch began at CERN, MIT, University of Toronto, Carnegie Mellon University and Bell Labs. The term "multi-touch" was popularized in 2007 by Apple, though it was in use as early as 1985.[4] This plural-point awareness may be used to implement additional functionality, such as pinch to zoom or to activate certain subroutines attached to predefined gestures." Popularizing something doesn't make it yours. Apple popularized the Graphical User Interface, but it wasn't theirs and they got a rude awakening when they tried to sue Microsoft over it...THEY LOST!

19. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

@techiexp1969 everything in Apple is s**t yet you bought one like a moron. What a bulls**t spewing hypocrite.

37. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Not really no, history tells us that what mentioned above is true, Apple did not create it, this is objective, factual history.

38. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Again you keep liking your own comments. You're a dumb... f*ck. I can buy whatever I want. It's more you money. I nevertheless said I didn't like the IPhone or any other apple product. I said with th money they have they should be far better.

12. SleeperOne

Posts: 370; Member since: Feb 25, 2017

Good to see Apple continuing their blatantly anticompetitive patent trolling.

15. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

How can they patent stuff already done?

41. cheetah2k

Posts: 2266; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Because apple... trolls... hard....

16. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Apple did it first? Apple stole it as usual. And afterwards called it their innovation. As SJ said, great artists steal....

17. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

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