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USPTO Calls Apple's "Rubber Banding" Patent Invalid

By - Source: FossPatents | B 16 comments

Samsung has informed Judge Koh that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has deemed Apple's "rubber-banding" patent invalid in a non-final Office action.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has reportedly declared all twenty claims in Apple's "rubber-banding" patent invalid in a non-final Office action. This patent was one of several used in Apple's California patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung over the summer.

The South Korean company informed Judge Koh about the invalidation in a filing late Monday night.

It's currently unknown as to who requested the re-examination of the patent, and the identity wasn't disclosed when the request was submitted during the spring. Samsung is, naturally, at the top of the suspect list, followed by HTC, which is also under attack by Apple based on the same patent. Google also has an interest given that the lawsuits center around its mobile operating system, Android.

The patent in question, "List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display," describes what happens when iOS users reach the end of a scrolling list or pane, among other things. Users see the screen somewhat "bounce" as if its connected to the device with rubber bands.

However, Apple isn't the only device maker to use this animation -- Samsung's TouchWiz interface is just one other that uses it. But Samsung removed the bounce animation anyway, replacing the elasticity with a "blue glow," which flares up when the user reaches the end – similar to what Google did in Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" (though it was more a pumpkin color). But the workaround couldn't be submitted as evidence to the jury due to sanctions for litigation misconduct, thus Samsung was made liable for damages.

As it stands now, the patent in question hasn't been fully deemed as invalid by the USPTO – the new declaration is merely a "first-glance verdict" sparked by the re-examination request.

"Apple's rubber-banding (overscroll-bounce) patent is still going to go through a lengthy process before it may or may not be invalidated," said IP analyst Florian Mueller. "There can be more than one non-final Office action. Even a 'final Office action' is not final at all."

Mueller points out that Apple has many patents in play against Android, and it doesn't matter if one or several patents are rendered invalid – the company just needs enough to ensure product differentiation. However, this particular patent is a signature element of iOS, and Apple is expected to appeal against the USPTO decision at all costs.

Meanwhile, as Mueller stated, the patent itself will go through a lengthy process to determine if its truly invalid or not.

"It can be reconsidered by the Central Reexamination Division itself, and the last decision by that division can be appealed to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI), which is like an USPTO-internal appeals court," he said. "Remands by the BPAI to the Central Reexamination Division cause further delay."

Once the USPTO is done with it, the decision can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. What's more, a Federal Circuit decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court which really doesn't deal will many patent validity cases.

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Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    Bloob , October 24, 2012 5:50 PM
    Things like this should not be patentable!
    I could see one implementation of it being patentable, but the idea itself certainly should not be.
  • 20 Hide
    hate machine , October 24, 2012 5:47 PM
    Ut Oh! Hey look an Apple article not posted by Zak Islam.
  • 20 Hide
    bllue , October 24, 2012 5:56 PM
    Apple is the cancer of the patent world
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    hate machine , October 24, 2012 5:47 PM
    Ut Oh! Hey look an Apple article not posted by Zak Islam.
  • 21 Hide
    Bloob , October 24, 2012 5:50 PM
    Things like this should not be patentable!
    I could see one implementation of it being patentable, but the idea itself certainly should not be.
  • 20 Hide
    bllue , October 24, 2012 5:56 PM
    Apple is the cancer of the patent world
  • 11 Hide
    house70 , October 24, 2012 6:13 PM
    A ray of light through the iCloud...
  • 16 Hide
    LukeCWM , October 24, 2012 6:27 PM
    house70A ray of light through the iCloud...


    The lands are darkening, and a shadow is growing in the East. There is evil in Mordor that does not sleep... Oh wait, that's West. Must be the iCloud. =]
  • 6 Hide
    murzar , October 24, 2012 7:09 PM
    From what I read.. most of Apple's case revolved around this and the rounded corners design.

    The more I read about this case, the more angry I get.
  • 9 Hide
    overlandpark4me , October 24, 2012 7:35 PM
    Coming soon, Apple sues for their power on feature.
  • 3 Hide
    scottiemedic , October 24, 2012 8:22 PM
    The more patent lawsuit cases I read, the more I dislike my iPhone being made by such pettiness in companies...
  • 7 Hide
    svdb , October 24, 2012 8:33 PM
    In some European countries software (features) cannot be patented because it is believed that otherwise a competitor would not be able to propose a similar feature that is implemented better. They only allow the source code to be protected by copy-right to prevent straight theft.
  • -6 Hide
    f-14 , October 24, 2012 8:38 PM
    this whole lawsuit seems pretty ridiculous in itself and for once i have to agree with apple, the whole bounce thing, vs microsofts stop and androids color flare up.

    one thing i am famous for saying it there's a hundred ways to do something and still get the same outcome!
    fighting over how the result happens in terminating a page seems as ridiculous as the twix commercial of flow vs cascade as can be seen here.
    TWIX - "Ideologies" Commercial - Extended Version
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xr6LkOU6oT4
  • 4 Hide
    overlandpark4me , October 24, 2012 8:40 PM
    What I find humorous is how that company goes around and trumpets how green they are, markets to tree huggers, the Aber Fitch crowd, etc. and the like, but ships the jobs to China. Low paying jobs, suicides, and beatings by guards, just to name a few. What they are doing is charging more for a product with the false impression it is better built because it is an "Apple", when in fact is is coming out of the same factories everything else comes out of. For what they charge, they could have had them assembled in the US, garnered some good PR, and moved on. Instead, they are just as full of hypocrisy as everyone else, but charge more. I'm having deja,deja,deja,............................
  • 7 Hide
    svdb , October 24, 2012 9:00 PM
    "Even a 'final Office action' is not final at all." Is it because people working in the patent office don't understand English or because they have no sense of logic? :) 
  • 2 Hide
    SAL-e , October 24, 2012 9:10 PM
    Quote:
    "Apple's rubber-banding (overscroll-bounce) patent is still going to go through a lengthy process before it may or may not be invalidated," said IP analyst Florian Mueller. "There can be more than one non-final Office action. Even a 'final Office action' is not final at all."

    Stop quoting Florian Mueller and his (Anti)FOSSpatents blog. He's not an expert, he's not a lawyer or even paralegal, or analyst of any kind. HE'S A PAID SHILL, WHO ONLY SPREADS FUD.
  • 4 Hide
    sykozis , October 24, 2012 9:21 PM
    svdb"Even a 'final Office action' is not final at all." Is it because people working in the patent office don't understand English or because they have no sense of logic?

    Yes....
  • 4 Hide
    Solandri , October 24, 2012 9:37 PM
    BloobThings like this should not be patentable!I could see one implementation of it being patentable, but the idea itself certainly should not be.

    It's called overshoot - a fundamental behavior of a second order linear system. Tune such a system so it's slightly underdamped and you get exactly this behavior.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overshoot_%28signal%29
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Second_order_under-damped_response.svg&page=1

    It's blindingly obvious to any engineer who's ever taken a control systems course. There is absolutely no way this patent ever should have been granted. The only reason it hadn't been implemented in UIs before was because we didn't have enough spare CPU/GPU power until recently to splurge on animated frills like it.

    Mimicking real-life behaviors on a computer should not be patentable, period. You can patent a way to implement that behavior if it's sufficiently complex or innovative (e.g. Apple's method of quickly creating rounded rectangles on the original Mac), but there is no innovation in simply carrying over an idea from the real world onto a computer.
  • 2 Hide
    pliskin1 , October 25, 2012 12:21 AM
    My dumbphone uses this, wonder why Pantech never got sued for this bounce scrolling feature.