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Apple’s infamous multi-touch patent in the early stages of being invalidated by USPTO?

Whoa, this bombshell of news is sure to wake a few of you night-shifters up. The infamous “Steve Jobs patent,” aka the one where Apple has the right to call multi-touch technology theirs, looks like it could be invalidated by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Florian Mueller of FoSS Patents reports today.

All 20 claims of US patent #7,479,949 were said to be tentatively invalidated first Office action. As of this moment the patent still stands, but should Apple fail in the appeals process and other legal proceedings to get the courts to see things their way then this broad patent could very well be shut down.

The patent defines a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics,” and is one of several key patents Apple owns that allows them to retain so much leverage in the patent landscape.  It’s even more important than the rubber-banding patent that was also temporarily invalidated just a couple of months ago.

It’s important to remember that courts will give Apple a fair chance to prove that these patents are valid. These will happen in natural court proceedings, many of which being cases that are already ongoing. Should Apple present a case persuasive enough then Apple will continue on merrily with perhaps the most powerful patent in mobile computing.

Whatever happens, you should also note that we are at least a few months outside of a final decision either way. Apple will exhaust all of the appeals processes available if it has to go that far so don’t expect pressure on its lawsuit targets to be alleviated overnight.

Still, this is a very significant development that has us on the edge of our seats to see what might happen next. Will you jump for joy if Apple is ever told that they can no longer hold the industry hostage with this particular patent?




  • Matt Poulsen

    The Patents are presumed valid, meaning the burden is not on Apple to prove that they are valid. Rather the burden is on the opposition to prove they are invalid.

    • bmg314

      Done either way. Stick a fork in it, Apple, because whether it be sooner or later, you’re toast.

    • Sam Keaser

      Oh, hey, invalidation!

      • DavidVarghese

        It really does piss me off when Steve Jobs calls Android a “stolen product” when Apple blatantly copied this multi-touch and gesture technology (pretty much exactly) and used it on their iPhone 3G as claimed to have invented multi-touch. The iPhone 3G was even released 2 years after this TED conference!
        Time for the USPTO to review all of Apple’s patents and invalidate stupid crap like rounded rectangles.

        • https://plus.google.com/u/0/102459879410215087128/posts Tyler Gustoff Moore

          Though the iPhone ’2G’, original iPhone did get released just the following year and was announced in January of ’07. I’m not arguing against your other points(I actually agree with them, generally), but the 3G was the second gen iPhone and at least to my knowledge didn’t incorporate any more multi-touch technology than the original

  • user311

    Great, now the uspto needs to invalidate rounded corners!

  • Michael Thompson

    Awesome.
    The chickens are coming home to roost.

  • tdigenti

    what are the arguments that would invalidate these patents?

    • bmg314

      I’m sure there are more than this, but how about starting with the fact that Apple didn’t freaking invent it?

    • learning2livelyf

      For Starters, Mitsubishi had a Multi-User, Multi-Touch machine working in 2001. Follow this link for more info…
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-touch

    • Doan

      I like how people vote you down for trying to obtain information.

  • Guest

    patent this patent that… Google is mostly open source…. when will they patent that?

  • Crimsonshadow774

    Please be the start of the end of this shitty Patent System.

    • dephyre

      One can only hope.

  • No_Nickname90

    How can they patent multi-touch? Weren’t there infinite amount of devices that had multi-touch before? They probably worded it differently. Grr!!

    • abc

      I don’t think there was “infinite amount of devices that had multi-touch before.” If there was, maybe you can name a couple?

  • James Earley

    Apple are the most arrogant company on earth. The bigger problem though is surely that the USPTO were stupid enough to award them the patent in the first place?

  • http://twitter.com/inguatu ingua2

    easy to prove that other companies like Perceptive Pixel who I worked with before helped create some of these multitouch standards used today. Dr. Han is brilliant… CNN and other companies used his large touch panels on the air. Over the past year they were purchased by Microsoft for Surface.

  • Alec Smith

    The patents were far more valid when they filed them than they are now, the patent offices more very slowly so by the time the patent gets reviewed everyone else is already using it.

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

    This should be fun..

  • Rdfry

    Time to invalidate Apple. They suck .

  • warcaster

    They need to hurry before Samsung has to pay that $1 billion – otherwise it would be pretty pointless.

  • Todd

    I still think it hilarious (and sad, really) that Apple has become exactly what they accused MS of being not so long ago.

    • czechm8

      That is all I think about every time Apple tries to squeeze out the competition. Most of the newly converted Apple sheep don’t even know this was their mantra back in the early days. How sadly ironic!

  • pyx

    stop paying attention to that hack florian Mueller….. if we all ignore him, maybe he’ll go away

  • Jeff

    Apple copied the Etch-a-Sketch. It has rounded corners and uses multi-touch technology. It existed many decades before Apple was even a company. Shame on you Apple.

    • http://www.colossaldamage.com/ SuperMarino

      Umm… the Etch-a-Sketch had 2 knobs you had to turn to move the magnet/cursor/whatever.. There was no touching of the screen involved.

  • Jeff

    OMG someone took me seriously.

  • Andrea Radnitz

    like Kim said I’m shocked that a mom able to make $8093 in 4 weeks on the computer. did you see this site jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • tBs_Battousai

    Apple will be OK, they are just in the process of inventing something called “the television”, can’t wait to see what a wonder it will be….