Jelly Bean already works around Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent

Jelly Bean already works around Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent
Well, there’s a whole lot of interesting mobile patent news today. On top of fact that Samsung is lying in wait to spring a legal trap if Apple launches an LTE iPhone this fall, while Apple and Google’s CEOs are holding cease-fire meetings on a regular basis, it turns out that Google has quietly implemented a new type of pinch to zoom in Jelly Bean that doesn’t violate Apple’s so-called ‘915 “pinch to zoom” patent.

The key here is that Apple’s patent isn’t actually on the idea of pinching your screen to zoom – that would be a classic idea of trying to patent an idea, and would be thrown out (it may be thrown out anyways once the prior art plays a bigger role in subsequent legal action). Instead, the ‘915 patent is on a specific way to translate the movements to a zoom, and for some else’s implementation to infringe they have to copy all parts of the patent.

The key part, as pointed out by The Verge’s Nilay Patel, can be found in one of the key elements of the patent:

Notice the part in bold? That sentence restricts Apple’s patent to implementations where one finger is an anchor and the movement of the other one is what the device uses to create the zoom animation. Allow both fingers to move apart to perform the zoom maneuver and Apple’s patent is not infringed.

Apple is no dummy – their patent was written this way for a reason; first, you can’t patent the concept of pinching to zoom. Second, it’s a great way to simplify the motion so the CPU does the minimal amount of work possible, since anchoring the calculation at the first touch means that the mobile device only has to calculate the path that the second finger travels. But CPUs are much more powerful in 2012, and it turns out that it’s not really hard to have a phone or tablet calculate vectors for both (or multiple) fingers and create a zoom effect from that motion.

Of course Google doesn’t employ many dummies either, and their engineers have apparently already figured this out and implemented such a dual-finger-moving zoom in Jelly Bean. This is easiest to see if you have a JB-equipped Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 7 next to an iPhone or an iPad, but if you open up Chrome on Android 4.1 and zoom, it definitely reacts in terms of both positioning and zoom to movement by either finger, or both (or you can vary which one is moving during the pinch process). You can also initiate a pan while zooming.

There isn’t much chance this was accidental, especially since a Google spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that "Apple's '915 patent claims a very specific software implementation, and the implementation is different in Jelly Bean."

Samsung’s loss to Apple may seem like the end of the world to some Android fans. As we’ve written, Samsung may gain several wins on appeal if their lawyers put on a better showing. But Apple’s patents have restrictions as well (or else they would certainly be thrown out, as may indeed happen to some of them), and once you pay close attention to those limitations, a team of clever engineers can usually achieve the same or similar effect without infringing on a valid patent. So rest assured, you will be able to pinch to zoom in all future versions of Android.

Although this raises an intriguing question: did Google file for a patent on their implementation of pinch to zoom? And if so, do they plan to simply license it out (and would Apple respond by then licensing theirs out, rather than concede this revenue source to Google?). Time will tell we suppose.

source: The Verge



1. dr_fajardo12

Posts: 134; Member since: Aug 26, 2012

mmm i think this will be very funny

35. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

In the end, after all is said and done, Apple will be found to have gamed the USPTO and most (more than 50%) of their patents will be found to be invalid. You heard it first on PA.

65. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

And I advise all to read the full Verge article. For folks that used to be called Apple fanboys.....they actually called out Apple on this one.

2. asdfasdfasdf123

Posts: 11; Member since: Mar 26, 2012

You go Google!

56. Non_Sequitur

Posts: 1111; Member since: Mar 16, 2012

Yep! And this just shows something about a rule, law, contract, etc... There's always a loophole. For everything. Anyway, I'm just glad that Apple can't sue for something ridiculous like this that is in Windows Phones as well as Androids.

66. eyad_996

Posts: 29; Member since: Jul 10, 2012

It is a silly thing to sue about! It's like suing them for the volume rocker buttons on the side of a phone, stuff like that don't go under the name "innovation", it's like common-sense! In face Windows 7 also uses pinch to zoom for picture zooming, offcourse only if you have a touch screen of some kind.

3. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

I saw the post on the verge today, It had interesting stuff

4. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

not many android fans think its the end of the world becaue of samsungs loss.. most of us see it it as a time to hit apple back and MUCH harder

15. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

I agree - I could care less if APPLE won - jury did not seem too bright and like the judge, rushed over everything to jump to a conclusion. It will get overturned or downgraded.

17. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the only people that care that apple won are the itrolls that cant see past their nose. The expectation is overturn/reduction in some way shape or form. No reasonable person thinks that apple should have won such a lopsided victory, not even other patent lawyers that were interviewed pre/post trial.

24. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

because Apple did win... and until it gets overturned did win plain and simple..

31. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

they didnt win until the judgment is FINAL, gallito. It is not FINAL yet. There is a difference. The jury's decision was a hard guideline for the judge to make her FINAL ruling on, but she does not have to abide by it, and most people dont think she will. So technically all they have won at this point.. was... an end to the court case.. for now.

46. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

al the headlines around the we says that Apple won if you want o spin it,.. go ahead I am talking in the present not the future and here Apple won unless you can prove me otherwise.. which you wont..

64. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Headlines....vs the procedures, rules of the courts... Yea....the headlines matter more. :/ They did win the case. But this isnt over yet. Appeals n all. Ya know...procedures of the courts.

67. Non_Sequitur

Posts: 1111; Member since: Mar 16, 2012

go away pleeeeeease pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease

41. MeoCao unregistered

I think Apple lost big time with their law suits. Apple now becomes a company using their petty patents to bully competitors and not a company of innovation.

36. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Sammy's legal team f*cked up. Time to play the appeal according to how Google played Oracle v. Google - can we all say invalidity? Fortunately the appeal process is about the law, not jury nullification.

5. MeoCao unregistered

This is great news, I was afraid that Apple would prevent other from using pinch to zoom. I think Google is different from Apple and will use the possible pinch to zoom patent only to protect themselves and their allies and not make money from it.

37. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Apple goal is to prevent copying, not to make money from the patents.

40. MeoCao unregistered

Are you serious, Apple offered pinch to zoom license to SS for some 2-3 bucks per phone from their own admission.

42. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Well maybe I'm wrong but I thought Apple usually attempts to ban devices until they get the feature removed entirely.

43. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

And then when the feature is removed or modified so it doesn't infringe, as verified by government officials, Apple attempts to ban it again, claiming that the device still infringes! :D

44. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

That's a little off topic from what MeoCao and I are talking about but okay sure.

45. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

It's a snarky comment. Read it as if I'm saying it gleefully. And it's actually a little on topic; you're both right and wrong. Apple has been wielding its patents in an attempt to drive Android out of the market, all because Steve Jobs didn't think anyone else could possibly come up with the idea for a mobile operating system that uses a touchscreen for its main UI without copying Apple. It's also a way to abuse government power in order to try to gain an unfair market advantage. For a company so obviously and historically obsessed with control, this is nowhere near to being a surprise.

72. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Yeah you're a little on topic and not a little off topic, my bad (you realize that's worse right?). But anyway, you're basically saying the same thing I did with more detail. It seems like you're agreeing with me more than you are with MeoCao because he's suggesting that licensing features is Apple's primary goal. Snarky? Yes. Did it answer our dispute? No. Sounded kinda ranty...

60. willard12 unregistered

They're not achieving their goal and they have themselves to blame. They copied the LG prada which won the iF design award in Sep 2006, pull down notification, answer a call with a message. According to the trial....they copied pinch to zoom from Mitsubishi . The jury foreman, who patented tivo though he didnt invent it, doesnt like the whole prior art thing either. In fact once again, I don't think you can name a single thing actually invented by Apple. Entertain just 1....until then, I'll take apple's word as honest when they say they've been shameless about stealing good ideas. Hopefully, they don't steal any 4g technology.

6. tiara6918

Posts: 2263; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

Apple and their products, they will always sue if someone else made it identical or similar to theirs(even though in reality it isn't but they're fooling everyone with every move they make). Apple is going way overboard...Jb show what you have against ios!

7. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

In just like isnt a big deal. I predict Apple will start patenting all variations of their patents in the near future... I recommended press 2 corners and zoom for Android. Google, hop on that.

8. emdot82

Posts: 14; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

apple always have a problem with android taking ideas from them but just look at the new IOS6 every New feature they added android had it for years

9. Nookie4u

Posts: 133; Member since: Aug 13, 2012

When you stop an idiot, they won't go further anymore. but if you stop a genius, they'll always find a way to work around it. so it only pushes them to make things even better. Google did a great job.

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