Bad News Samsung, USPTO Validates Apple Rubberband Patent

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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.

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This is a big tactical win for Apple and a sticky issue for Google, Samsung, and potentially other Android device makers. That said, we aren't expecting to see any serious changes in the way Samsung does business because its copy-now-courtroom-later game plan seems to be suiting it just fine.

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John Dingler, artist

Well, yes, we can see that copyist Samsung, and other patent trolls, is relying on the slowness of the court system to profit financially as it infringes knowingly on the IPs belonging to true innovators. By this method, it’s gaming the current, inadequate system.

Shame that the court system is in virtual cahoots with the infringer.


I don’t get how USPTO gives someone a patent, then invalidates it, then invalidates their invalidation:

Is that a new idea?
USPTO: “I guess so”
  Then “Oh, wait.”
  Finally: “No, it’s a valid patent.”

Is the USPTO mostly run by lazy 11-year old twits? Under infrequent adult supervision? Or am I missing something? And the courts are virtually useless in protecting US intellectual property.  [/rant]


I may get struck off, but I see a certain prolific Florian basher hasn’t posted a rant yet.

Back on topic, I wonder why Apple or any aggrieved patent holder has to specify a particular handset as infringing a patent (valid or otherwise).
Can’t Apple specify the OS involved rather than the hardware ?


USPTO seems to follow the path of least resistance. They’ll deny a patent just cause it’s easier to deny it then to pass it, unless you make it more of a hassle to keep denying it.

When the hassle to deny a patent is greater than to grant a patent, they grant the patent and just assume the courts will figure it out on their own.

If you then hassle them enough about the approved patent, they’ll go ahead and overturn the patent. And then if whoever filed the patent can cause more of hassle to over turn their patent then to just let it stand, they let it stand.

Basically, whoever files the most motions, in the least amount of time, wins.


“Apple specify the OS involved rather than the hardware ?”

Yes, but then they’d be going up against everyone in the Handset Alliance, not just a single company, including Google, the single company Apple has avoided confronting.


furbies: The OS cannot infringe on a patent by itself. You have to actually build a machine to infringe on a patent. Of course it can be that a phone without an OS feature doesn’t infringe on a patent, and with the OS feature it infringes. In that case, installing the OS creates the infringing phone. But legally, the OS isn’t infringing, only the combination of phone + OS.

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