USPTO invalidates Apple’s “rubber-band” patent for the moment

Apple and Samsung have been battling atop the smartphone mountain for a very long time, and it seems Samsung’s light-saber has gotten itself a very nice modification. One of the biggest patents Apple had in its repertoire to gain a victory over Samsung that would see the latter paying over $1 billion in fees and damages is the “rubber-banding” patent.

This patent described the function in a smartphone that would make a list “bounce” back when you try and scroll past the end of it. It’s something Samsung has done since the Galaxy S, and it looks like the OEM could end up in the clear in regards to that one.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has tentatively invalidated the patent (which is patent #7,469,381) and it would appear Samsung will make no delay in acting on this news. Specifically, claim 19 was considered to be invalid on two separate counts of prior art.

Apple will need to produce a case for themselves showing that the functions described in the patent weren’t already implemented and in use in other products before the patent was granted.

As you’d expect, Samsung has already notified Judge Koh of the USPTO’s decision, and pending a reversal of today’s actions it could have major implications on the final $1 billion ruling Samsung was dreading to pay.

In fact, it’s believed that this patent added to the damages more than any other claim Apple made. That’s not to say Samsung’s damages are going to be reduced to mere pocket change should Apple fail to provide the USPTO with proper evidence (and this may not even make much of a difference at all), but we’d have a hard time believing this doesn’t change the landscape of this case a little bit.

Be sure to remember that as of the time of this writing this patent does not affect more recent Samsung devices either way. The rubber-banding functionality has been removed from its smartphones in favor of the standard Android “glow” that occurs when you hit the end of a list or page.

And even if Samsung would be allowed to implement this feature following a ruling that Apple’s patent is invalid in this case I think I speak for many when I say that the glow effect is much nicer than the often-whacky bouncing, and that Samsung should stick to the former.

Proceedings in this particular development are ongoing and we won’t know if Apple can produce substantial evidence to combat this determination before too long, but you better believe we’re keeping an eye on this one so keep it tuned for the latest. [via FoSSPatents, thanks JDog!]

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  • Fuzzypaw

    Maybe next they’ll overturn “slide to unlock” and “rectangle with rounded corners”! We can dream, right?

    • moises1204

      rectangle with rounded corners, that is i given it will get invalidated too is only matter of time, i like to know the moron that approve it in the first place!!

      • http://twitter.com/mjwhirly Matthew Woehrle

        That moron would be me :-)….there i was sitting at my desk in the patent office when the request came across my desk, and I sat there in amazement for a few hours, it was such a technologically advancement in this field, seriously it would of taken years for any other company to think of a rectangle with round corners, its just plain genius :-P

        • http://profiles.google.com/kdsandeep Sandeep Deshpande

          good one, but I think you are mistaken, that is me, I wanted to go to the restroom quick and quickly approved it to save time.

          • Jdog25

            DAMN YOUUUUUUUU!

          • http://www.facebook.com/AGx07 Chris Brown-Demoreno

            Maybe that’s how it got granted. Cuz I got that same patent on my desk and shredded it, cuz I’m lazy. I suppose they just see how many toss it and how many approve it and the majority wins.

          • ari_free

            So that’s why I thought this patent was full of sh–

        • moises1204

          man had me peeing my pants from laughing hard.

  • Juan Carlos Contreras

    Great new for Samsung on a day Apple has a release event for the new iPad Mini.

  • bmg314

    Wow. The USPTO is the last place I expected to see a victory come from for Sammy/Android. Hopefully we will see more…

    • camelsnot

      Chances are they are under a microscope now and need to show they aren’t taking handouts or being biased towards Apple by providing unmitigated fast-tracked patents.

  • user311

    Great, now do something about the BS “flat rectangular device with rounded corners patent”

  • vx117

    Justice is finally served. Now time to invalidate all the other patents that apple has that they didn’t invent.

  • Unorthodox
    • peanutsrevenge

      Brilliant, absolutely BRILLIANT

      Laughed My Arse OFF!

  • redandblack1287

    SWEET VICTORY

  • ratnok

    I prefer the bounce-back to the blue glow. It just “feels better.” The patent should be invalidated. Everyone should be able to use bounce-back. Next up “rounded corners” and “slide to unlock.” Apple didn’t invent any of this, and wasn’t the first to use them in mobile devices.

    • ari_free

      I think Android should be as distinctive as possible but consumers should be able to choose what features work best for them.

      • AMbro86

        Yeah I don’t like when Android OEMs look too much like iPhone clones. But basic functionality items should be industry standard.

    • TC789

      You forgot turning a phone number into a hyperlink… that BS patent needs to be invalidated too. If you type a website address into an email it becomes a hyperlink, its just logical a phone number should become a hyperlink on device capable of dialing it.

      • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

        Couldn’t agree any more. I don’t like how mobile has its own set of patents just because it’s mobile. It’s all computing, and Apple shouldn’t get exclusive rights to these types of things just because they did it first (arguable) on a phone.

      • AMbro86

        Yeah that one is ridiculous as well. It seems Apple is just patenting things they implement, not thing they invent, just so they can be a pain in the butt to the rest of the industry.

    • GBGamer

      I do prefer the glow, but I think you should be able to choose. And I agree, Apple is just ridiculously litigious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rehpyc Sean Kalas

    “Apple will need to produce a case for themselves showing that the functions described in the patent weren’t already implemented and in use in other products before the patent was granted.”

    I think you mean “before the patent was filed.” Patents take a long time to be granted, thus the protection from when they were filed.

  • Jameslepable

    This should over rule the entire apple v Samsung case. The jury decided that the was no prior art but then the pros re-examined it and found it to be invalid. This to me proves that either the jury was swayed to side with Apple (damn you foreman) or that they are not qualified /compitant enough to decide a billion dollar patient case. Such a large sum of money should not he decided by the layman. They should be decided by a panel of experts in the field.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671310356 Nicholas Kaioken Caljean

      isn’t it supposed to be a jury of your peers anyway? how is an average joe a peer to someone who works in tech?…I guess they were trying to avoid bias, but found it in the process

      • AMbro86

        I don’t think it was the “average Joe” that was the problem with the Apple v. Samsung jury, it was that Velvin Hogan convinced the rest of the jury to swing his way and convict Samsung. Hogan is an electrical engineer, hardly an average Joe, but he made up his mind about who was guilty and then used his position as a “knowledgeable” person to convince his fellow jurors that Samsung not only infringed, but that they infringed to the tune of $1+ Billion. I guess you could say that because no one else was an engineer on the panel that it lead to that outcome, but more than anything I think the verdict would have been extremely different had Hogan not been on the jury.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

          Didn’t the jury even admit to jacking up the fee?

          • AMbro86

            Basically, the jury was only supposed to award DAMAGES, actual monetary loss to Apple, not punish Samsung for infringing. Judge Koh could have tripled the damages if the infringement was willful, thus handing down the punishment. And even when asked this in an interview Hogan said they didn’t “punish” Samsung but that they wanted to “do more than a slap on the wrist” and make them “pay” for infringement…well if that’s not a punishment then I don’t know what is.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671310356 Nicholas Kaioken Caljean

          well said. I actually didn’t know that little tidbit about Hogan, but seriously why was there only 1 electrical engineer. and as an electrical engineer he should have some knowledge of how patents are supposed to work and should have called it the right way, but i guess he must have been an iSheep.

          Also I guess part of it was that Koh told them not to question the validity of the patents (which is inherently the problem) and just whether or not said patents were infringed upon. the appeal should be sweet.

          • AMbro86

            Well Hogan is a patent holder himself and he was involved in a lawsuit about patents that involved himself as well…oh and not to mention that he had a dispute with Seagate who is owned by none other than Samsung…so while I don’t think Hogan being an Apple fanboy had anything to do with the award I do think there was an obvious bias against Samsung from the beginning. That’s actually a big part of Samsung’s argument now to get the case tossed is that Hogan had ulterior motives, or at the very least a bias, that made him sway the jury’s opinion.

            If Hogan knew what was good for himself he shouldn’t have granted all those interviews, it didn’t help his image and it put him in public spotlight where every little thing is scrutinized. He should have hid under a rock until the whole thing was over. At this point I say he brought it all on himself. 15 minutes of fame and getting interviews isn’t worth losing your reputation and credibility as a professional.

            The patents are certainly a big issue, and with the ones Apple commands it’s hard to see how the smartphone industry would be made of anything but the iPhone and BlackBerrys if they were legit. But design patents? It was a joke that Samsung was deemed actually infringing, especially considering far worse blatant copying done by other companies. But on the other hand Samsung did try too hard to be iPhone-like (I don’t deny that part, I thought their first Galaxy phone was way too Apple-like and that’s why I didn’t buy one) and they are just now seeing the folly of that quest. But even so, I don’t think their “copying” was to an illegal degree, just in a really sad pathetic kind of way.

            Ultimately anyway the “damages” awarded were outrageous in the extreme and I applauded Judge Koh for telling Apple they had to release specifics on their iPhone profits in order to get any monetary award. That would be the real telling item, just how much did Samsung cause Apple to lose on profits? And that’s why Apple doesn’t want to release their financial documents, because the documents will show that instead of a loss Apple has probably been seeing gains in profit (at the expense of RIM no doubt) after all Apple has been selling a record number of iPhones every time they bring out a new one. A look at the smartphone market over time shows Apple and Android growing, while BlackBerry is declining and Symbian is declining. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math on that. So Apple rightly should have to actually prove that they lost market share to Samsung and their profits were hurt.

      • peanutsrevenge

        To me it’s not the money that was the important part of it, but the repercussions through the tech world and potentially beyond.

      • Jameslepable

        I suppose the original idea for jury of peers was that if they picked 12 random people that they wouldn’t know each other and/or try and side on a case. This is alright in general crime I suppose. Not perfect obviously. But when it’s 12 laymen that don’t know enough about patients how can they honestly judge if something is covered by prior art. This case highlights the fact that one man (foreman) can sway the jury in someone’s favour because he was the most “qualified”. If the jury was experts and someone started saying stuff like “its only prior art if it is on the same chipset and os” (paraphrasing) then the experts would call bs and move on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

    This really is News… The USPTO is actually doing its job for once…. Amazing.

    • https://sites.google.com/site/barry99705/ barry99705

      Probably be the last time they do their job though.

  • Jdog25

    Everyone in the Patent Office needs to get fired. They approved this and it still might cost a company hundreds of millions just because someone wasn’t doing their job right. What else might get invalidated if they look at it again?

  • Jdog25

    Here is a picture of the Bounce Back aka Rubber Band Effect:

  • Rdfry

    Good Apple shouldn’t be allowed to have any patents.

  • Public Law

    USPTO finally realized how ridiculous of their approved patents?

  • No_Nickname90

    Its so over for Apple. I cannot wait to see them post that Samsung didn’t copy them on their page.

  • AMbro86

    The most ridiculous part is that the USPTO didn’t investigate this BEFORE granting the patent? It seems they issue patents at break neck speed for Apple these days. But better late than never, I’m glad Apple is finally officially getting called on their BS.

  • Ahhk

    Oh, snap!

    (pun intended)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

    Left on the list to invalidate…

    Swipe to unlock…
    Universal Search….
    Design Patents….
    Number to Hyperlink

    there is just so many…

  • peanutsrevenge

    Agreed, I prefer the glow aswell.

  • camelsnot

    Sammy should add that “feature” as an option you turn on/off as opposed to the glow. call it iBand, just to piss Apple off.

  • lrohenaz

    I am looking forward to seeing more articles like this one. Turns out there are some others that may just end up being invalidated as well?
    http://patents.stackexchange.com/questions/394/could-apples-recent-patents-be-based-on-prior-art