Bad News Samsung, USPTO Validates Apple Rubberband Patent

Google, and by extension Samsung, were dealt yet another harsh blow when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that all 20 claims in the "Steve Jobs patent" were valid. The patent was anonymously challenged and was initially ruled invalid, but in the end the USPTO found that Apple's touch screen-related patent was, in fact, valid, which shoots a big hole into the arguments that the companies aren't infringing on iPhone and iPad-related patents with Android device designs.

Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents stated,

As we speak, the Steve Jobs patent is even stronger than it was before someone (presumably Samsung and Google) challenged it anonymously. On September 4, 2013, the USPTO issued a reexamination certificate confirming the patentability of all 20 claims because the prior art neither anticipated this invention nor renders it obvious. This outcome is a major strategic win for Apple, a massive setback for Samsung and Google, and a potential threat to other Android device makers.

The patent in question, 7,479,949, described in part the bounce back effect users see when they scroll to the end of a page. Apple used the patent to force Samsung to change the visual feedback its Android device users saw when they reached the bottom of a screen.

Samsung had been trying to use the preliminary ruling from last fall to its advantage, but that strategy has now fallen apart. Since Apple has been targeting the Android platform through Samsung and Motorola, the ruling is bad news for Google since the Internet search giant is the company that created the mobile operating system.

USPTO says Apple's USPTO says Apple's "Steve Jobs" patent is valid

For Samsung, the ruling adds an extra sting since the company must now make sure that it works around the patent as part of an injunction that went into effect several days ago. Samsung has already made changes to its smartphones and tablets to help work around the product ban, but the injunction and USPTO affirmation of Apple's patent validity are issues in the company's ongoing legal fight.

Despite Apple's USPTO victory, there isn't much chance, however, that Samsung will change its tactics. So far, Samsung has continued to release tablets and smartphones that may very well infringe on Apple's patents, and at a pace that the court system can't keep up with. By the time the devices end up in a case, Samsung has most likely moved on to new models.

For Apple, the ruling means that no one was able to satisfactorily show that its patented interface elements were built on prior art, and it can continue to use the patent in its infringement fights with other companies.