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

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. 

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45 Comments

1. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

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

2. Diego!

Posts: 877; Member since: Jun 15, 2009

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

3. Bootutu

Posts: 228; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

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

4. ZeroCide

Posts: 816; Member since: Jan 09, 2013

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

6. Mxyzptlk unregistered

That was never a valid claim.

7. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Actually, all 21 claims were never valid.

11. ZeroCide

Posts: 816; Member since: Jan 09, 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.

26. SellPhones82

Posts: 569; Member since: Dec 11, 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.

18. donfem

Posts: 708; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

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

40. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

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

5. Mxyzptlk unregistered

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

8. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

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

9. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

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

42. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

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

43. Just.Me

Posts: 23; Member since: Apr 24, 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

44. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 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.

10. Bootutu

Posts: 228; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

You are weird...Goosebumps!

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.

13. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1360; Member since: Oct 05, 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?

20. stealthd unregistered

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

21. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1360; Member since: Oct 05, 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.

25. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

14. jove39

Posts: 2148; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

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

15. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

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

16. alpinejason

Posts: 262; Member since: Sep 06, 2011

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

30. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

17. good2great

Posts: 1042; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

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

19. donfem

Posts: 708; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

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

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