Setback for Apple’s “Pinch to Zoom” Patent Claims against Samsung

Los Angeles Intellectual PropertyOrange County – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office dealt a blow to Apple, Inc. in a patent reexamination this week, essentially ruling its “pinch to zoom” technology patent invalid. This patent served as a foundation for the ruling in the hotly contested case from 2012, Apple v. Samsung. In a jury trial last year, Apple was awarded $1.05 billion in damages based on Samsung’s infringement of Apple’s patent. Apple successfully argued that Samsung had infringed on some of the technology invented by Apple for the iPhone in its own smartphones, including the Galaxy series.

The patent at issue is titled “Application programming interfaces for scrolling operations” and was granted U.S. Patent number 7,844,915.  This patent claimed the innovation of the two finger touch.  Apple utilized innovative technology to program a two finger touch to zoom in on an image as a separate function than a one finger touch, which moves the page up or down.

While the examining attorney did not invalidate the entire patent, 21 significant claims were thrown out.  This renders the patent virtually unenforceable.

This decision is a major win for Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. in its pending legal battles against Apple.  Samsung filed the patent decision on Sunday in Federal Court in the Northern District of California, where Apple v. Samsung was decided.  The company argued that this patent rejection should greatly reduce the total damages that Samsung owes its smart phone competitor.

This case demonstrates the tumultuousness of the legal fight between these two electronics giants.  Last month, Apple was notified that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office upheld the provisions of its patent for “overswipe rebound.”  This is the effect on the iPhone that allows the user to scroll down the page past its ending point and upon release the page will bounce back to its end point.  This decision strengthened Apple’s standing in its fight over payment of damages by Samsung.

The California case is just one of many legal battles the two companies are engaged in around the world.   While Apple was successful in its case in the U.S., Samsung was deemed the victor in similar cases in South Korea, Japan, and the U.K.  Litigation is still pending in dozens of countries worldwide.




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