U.S. Patent Office overturns Apple design patent possibly saving Samsung half a billion dollars
Last week, Samsung's request for an appeal to be heard en banc by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals was denied. But it might not matter after the USPTO's decision. Even though Apple relied on the patent, known as D'677, to protect the design of the OG Apple iPhone, it was actually submitted in November 2008. That was well after the January 5th, 2007 date that Apple considered to be the starting date of D'677. Apple could do this because it relied on two previous patents that had been filed, including one from January 2007. Because the iPhone design that Apple claimed was illegally used by Samsung was not included in the two previous filings, the USPTO is saying that D'667 "is not entitled to benefit of the (earlier) filing date."
As a result of this ruling, some prior art (from Samsung, LG and even Apple) can now be claimed which invalidates D'667 on the grounds of what would be called "obviousness." No doubt Samsung will bring this matter up in court as it attempts to have the judge toss the remaining $548 million awarded to Apple.
source: Scribd, FOSSPatents via AndroidPolice