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?