Oct 23rd, 2012 publishUpdated   Dec 5th, 2012, 7:19 pm

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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