Apple continued to see erosion of its previously successful claims of patent infringement against Samsung after the US Patent Office rejected Apple patent claims included in the “pinch to zoom” patent. U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915 (the 915 patent) was one of the patents included in Apple’s big lawsuit against Samsung last year in which Apple was initially awarded $1.05 Billion in damages. The 915 patent included 21 claims, all of which were rejected by the USPTO which determined the claims were anticipated by previous patents or unpatentable.
The patent covered the ability to differentiate between scrolling gestures that use two fingers versus pinch-to-zoom gestures on a touchscreen. According to the USPTO, claim 8 could have been anticipated in Patent number 7,724,242 which was awarded to Daniel W. Hillis and Bran Ferren. In the jury trial last year, the jury found specifically that 21 of 24 Samsung devices infringed on claim 8.
This is not the first patent claim that was used by Apple in the lawsuit against Samsung that has subsequently been ruled invalid by the USPTO. In April, the Patent Office finally issued a partial rejection of patent no. 7,469,381 (the 381 patent) which is commonly referred to as the “bounce back” patent. That patent described a method of making a list or document appear to bounce off an imaginary boundary of a touchscreen when the end is reached. The USPTO ruled several claims invalid, notably claim 19. The jury had determined 21 Samsung products infringed claim 19 and damages were awarded for 18 of the products, although some of those awards have since been vacated by the court pending a new trial.
Apple has two months to respond to the USPTO decision. However, like the 381 patent, Apple will likely keep other options open as well, like the possibility of appealing to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, the U.S. Court of Appeals, or even the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Meanwhile, Samsung has been busy filing documents with the court in San Jose and will likely argue any damages from either of these two patents should be significantly reduced if not vacated altogether.