It looks like Apple may not be able to patent the “pinch-to-zoom” functionality after all.
Today the United States Patent Office (USPTO) rejected the “US 7,844,915″ patent, otherwise known as the “pinch-to-zoom” patent. This is significant because this particular patent was a key piece of the pie in Apple’s $1.049 billion infringement win over Samsung back in August.
The patent, although called “pinch-to-zoom”, technically only speaks to the ability of a programming interface to determine whether one finger initiates scrolling, or a different number of fingers performs some other action.
This latest setback is one of several patent rejections received by Apple in the past few months. It’s important to note that this does not mean the patent is now invalid. According to the Wall Street Journal:
The agency declared invalid the entirety of Apple’s patent on Wednesday, according to a document issued by the patent office that was filed by Samsung in federal court in San Jose, Calif. The document lists portions of the patent that were struck down on reexamination, on the basis that prior patents covered the same inventions.
The latest rejection came after a reexamination, meaning that Apple will still have the opportunity to fight to keep the patent valid, or at the very least amend the wording of it, in order to keep it relevant in the Samsung case.
Samsung, on the other hand, is hoping this latest development will lead to a new trial. But the critical step of formally invalidating the patent has yet to occur. Still, this isn’t good news for Apple.
Anyone else find this extremely confusing? How is it that a patent can be granted, only to be subsequently invalidated based on “further reexamination”? I don’t get it! But, that’s probably why I’m not a patent lawyer.
Time will tell how this all ends up playing out. We’ll be sure to keep you posted!