A new chapter in the seemingly endless saga of lawsuits between Samsung and Apple might begin anew as the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) junked Apple's claim to the "pinch to zoom" patent. The patent is one of those brought by Apple in a lawsuit against Samsung last year, suggesting possible repercussions on the case.
U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915, also known as the 915 patent, describes a method in distinguishing two-finger scrolling from pinch-to-zoom gesture on a touch screen. The USPTO declared that this could have been anticipated in US Patent No. 7,724,242 related to using touch gestures on a touch-sensitive display which was awarded to W. Daniel Hillis and Bran Ferren. The jury found 21 out of 24 of Samsung's devices infringed on this patent.
This is not the first time the patent rug has been pulled from under Apple. Late last year, the USPTO also declared US Patent No. 7,469,381 as invalid. This patent describes the "rubber band" or bouncing effect that a list or document shows when scrolling past the end. This was claim 19 in Apple's lawsuit, under which the jury also found 21 infringing Samsung products.
Apple may have technically won the lawsuit, but it has been a bittersweet victory at best. At the start of this year, presiding judge Lucy Koh accepted Samsung's claims that their infringement was not willful. She later then reduced the $1.05 billion awarded to Apple in damages to $600 million, claiming that the jury miscalculated the $450.5 million part of damages. The two will be back in court in November to determine the actual amount to be awarded.