German Court Delays Ruling on Apple Over-Scroll Patent

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Apple Over Scroll Rubber Band Patent

Apple’s lawsuit against Google’s Motorola Mobility in Germany was postponed by the court Thursday, delaying a ruling on whether Motorola’s products infringe on Apple’s over-scroll bounce (rubber-banding) patent, according to FOSS Patents. The delay in judgment could cause ripples across Apple’s other patent litigation around the world, where the same patent is in dispute.

The Munich I Regional Court, which has been the venue for Apple’s and Microsoft’s patent litigation against Motorola Mobility in Germany, made the decision to delay today’s ruling on the over-scroll patent following a new filing related to the patent by the higher appeals court, the Munich Higher Regional Court. That court late last month affirmed a lower court’s denial of Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung on the same over-scroll patent.

A preliminary injunction is not always the final decision on an issue, but it does help to streamline the issues as the parties move on to the main proceedings. FOSS Patents’s Florian Mueller summarizes the legal topic well:

A decision on a motion for a preliminary injunction (even if it’s made by an appeals court) is, by definition, not final. It’s based on an assessment of the plaintiff’s chances of prevailing at the end of the main proceeding. Decisions on preliminary injunction motions (including the related appeals) are made on the fast track, and final decisions are made at the end of full-blown main proceedings.

However, one of the three judges just left the Munich I Regional Court, thereby preventing it from deliberating and making a decision on the new filing related to the higher court’s decision. The ruling has therefore been postponed until at least September 13, so that, once a new judge arrives, all three judges can evaluate the new filing in light of the higher court’s decision.

While other courts around the world are not always obliged to follow the rulings of courts in other nations or international jurisdictions, courts in South Korea and the United States, also hearing patent claims involving Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and Microsoft, have been keeping a close eye on developments among these companies in Germany.

Today’s delay on the over-scroll patent judgment will likely cause delays in Apple’s other litigation where the patent is also at issue. Judge Koh, presiding over Apple’s litigation against Samsung in California, for example, deemed that Samsung likely infringed on the patent but had thus far denied injunctive relief for equitable reasons as the court awaited rulings on the patent from other jurisdictions.

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Of all these patent lawsuits going on, this seems to be the one that shows most clearly that its more about payback than trying to protect Apple’s R&D investments as they claim. Overscroll rubberband effect?  Are you serious


Serious as a train wreck.

It’s these little things that make the difference. Without this effect how you you tell the difference between scrolling that wasn’t working and oh, yea I’m at the end. Remember, there are no scroll bars to indicate relative position. Oh way, there are, I believe those phantom scroll-bar thumbs are also patented.

This rubber-band effect keeps the interface alive and makes it seem, dare I say it, “snappy”. So Apple figures this out, keeps a consistent background so you get used to seeing it and know that you’re at the top or bottom of the scroll range. They tweak it, test it, get feedback and tune it up, it takes a lot of time, but Apple it about not releasing it until it’s exactly right, or at least what they think is exactly right.

They realize that this really gives the user great feedback and a feeling of response, so they write up a patent. The USPTO grants that patent. (These are not inexpensive…)

Then, they release the product and guess what? People love it! Great! All that hard work and now Apple gets to enjoy the monopoly granted by the United States for 20 years.

Can you build a hand-held device without it? Sure, but it really makes a difference in usability. So it gets ripped off. Like right away.

They don’t have to think it up, try it out, tweak it, test it, get feedback, hell, the sales of the iPhone are all the feedback they need.

Now Apple could just say what they heck, but then why did they pay all those lawyers all that money to get the patent if they won’t enforce it? And the law says Apple must enforce it or it will go away.

So Apple tries to get Samsung to license it, but they refuse and here we are.

This is NOT a small thing. It is NOT about payback. It’s about protecting the intellectual property that took a long time to develop and sets a product apart.

The patent system is there to encourage innovation because it something is inventive, then the inventor gets more than first mover advantage, they get a monopoly. But if they don’t protect it, they’re just wasting money.


The over-scroll is one very clever method of giving users feedback that they have reached the end of the scrollable area. Before Apple invented it, nobody had figured out how to do it. Motorola, Samsung and others are free to either invent a different method for providing this feedback, or to pay license fees to Apple, or to do without it. Mr. or Mrs. Stilep could come up with a clever idea for such feedback and post it on Macobserver. That would most likely constitute a publication, which would be prior art for anyone trying to get a patent in this area, so everybody would then have a patent free feedback method. Obviously not Apple’s method, but a different and possibly better one.

If Motorola or Samsung come up with a better way, they should patent it, and either not allow Apple to use it, or charge license fees. Apple would have to pay up, or Apple users would be the only ones with the oldfashioned “over-scroll” feedback.

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