Apple's key claim in 'rubber band' patent rejected

Apple's key claim in 'rubber band' patent rejected

Summary: Could USPTO's patent invalidation change the Apple V. Samsung case post-trial?


A new statement detailing the rejection of a key patent claim has the potential to alter proceedings in the Apple V. Samsung case.


Samsung recently filed a notice with the Northern District of California court, where Judge Lucy Koh is presiding over the long battle between the South Korean firm and Apple. The tech giants have been embroiled within a high-profile case that revolves around the alleged infringement of design and function patents.

Originally, Apple was awarded $1.05 billion in damages as the court ruled Samsung infringed on a number of Apple-owned patents. However, this compensation award was later overturned by Judge Koh, who went above the jury's award and instead lowered the figure to $450.5 million.

Apple has asked to proceed with a fresh trial against 14 Samsung products, whereas Samsung wants to place the case on hold as a result of the revised decision. However, the iPad and iPhone maker also believes that allowing the case to go through the normal appeals route would only result in "a remand without a substantive decision."

As noted by FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller, these types of post-trial proceedings have also included a re-examination of U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381, which includes Apple's 'rubber band' touchscreen feature, otherwise known as the "overscroll bounce." This feature on Apple products means that the iOS interface detects when the bottom of a scrollable page has been reached, and is able to bounce back.

As requested by an anonymous party, the patent was put under scrutiny last year by the Central Reexamination Unit. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has rejected a number of claims on the patent as invalid, including claim 19, which has been leveraged against a number of Samsung products and was considered valid by the court's jury only two months previously.

The re-examination has resulted in confirmations of claims 14, 17 and 18, but the important claim, which has now been rejected as a "finality," could have repercussions for the trial. According to Mueller, Apple has two months to formulate a response to the claim rejection. The findings can still be reconsidered, and appeals can be made to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a type of devision in USPTO, in order to prove claim 19 is valid.

This would support the jury's prior verdict.

PTAB can make the final decision in terms of USPTO's involvement, but the matter will also be considered by the Central Reexamination Unit. It could take years before an absolute, final decision is made, which is another factor Koh has to consider while hearing each sides' views on the prospect of a fresh trial.

However, as these proceedings go ahead, Samsung can also use the USPTO findings in court. As damages were originally rewarded based on products rather than patents, a new trial would become necessary if the invalidity of the patent claim is upheld -- as there's no way to predict how the financial awards would have been changed if the patent hadn't been considered.

13-04-01 Samsung Statement Re '381 (Rubber-banding) Final Office Action by Florian_Muelle_439

Patents may be a sore spot for many firms today, but they are also necessary when developing new, innovative technologies. Recently, Apple filed a new patent -- application 20130076612 -- that details a potential future design for smartphones that utilizes the 'excess' space on today's mobile gadgets. The smartphone design suggests that flexible display technology could be used to allow information to be displayed not only on a central panel, but it could also show content on sides or the back. Combined with touchscreen technology, the design would also mean future smartphones may not require buttons.

Topics: Apple, iPhone, Patents, Samsung

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  • Oh darn

    Apple patents obvious things? No Way!!
  • Patents that should

    I don't see how Apple wasn't given this patent... not sure if they were the first, but definitely they popularised it, and it's a neat feature that really does improve the user experience. Everyone else is just waiting to cash in on the nuances Apple provides.

    Round corners -- OK, that's a stupid one. But this rubber band thing is genuine and was first used on the mac.
    • First come best dressed

      Unfortunately for Apple it's not "most popular, best dressed". If somebody else thought of it first then Apple is out of luck. Let's see the shoe on the other foot if somebody else gets a head start in the market with something Apple has patented - do you think they will lie down and give up?
  • Apple is goind down with its cousin M$

    Tha axis of evil software just had another atempt to take control of the patent system:
    But the FOSS community have prevailed!
    LlNUX Geek
    • Trolling or Unobservant

      Note the date of the article you linked.
    • Really now?

      How have they "prevailed"? Perhaps Samsung and Google paid off Judge Koh? After all isn't that what you Linux fanbois and ihaters accused Apple of doing?

      Oh and BTW the date of the publication you linked to - April 1st aka April Fool's Day... IOW you were the fool - again.
  • The problem is still

    ... the US patent office handing out patents for obvious (stupidly obvious) things.
    • Certain idiots on ZDNet still insist nothing wrong with patent office

      They are under the mistaken impression that every patent that is submitted is examined for validity and only then it is approved. They believe that when apple gets a patent, that's it, its done, apple now owns everything and anything related to that patent.


      apple has lost so many patents recently because the throw hundreds of patents at the patent office just to see which ones stick. This is a bullying tactic because apple has so much more money to spend on legal fees that they bully everyone else away. They didn't count on Samsung.

      A HUGE KUDOS to Samsung. Thank you Samsung for being innovative and for being strong enough to stand up to the apple bully. apple could learn a lot about real innovation from Samsung.
      • Oh Toddy!

        You do, of course, realize that Samsung files for more patents, and is granted more patents, than Apple. Wouldn't that make Samsung the bully by your definition?

        Certain idiots such as yourself are under the mistaken impression that Samsung patents are innovation, yet Apple's are not. You are sooo twisted!
        • Yes, patents with substantial merit.

          Samsung actually MAKES a lot of electronic products, it doesn't just get Foxconn to assemble them in China. How many Apple patents actually represent invention rather than just flinging mud to see if it sticks?
          I'll grant Apple a few worthy ideas but their business is about taking the mundane or under-developed ideas of others and popularising them. They're damn good at it, obviously from their bank balance, but they are not a company that deals in the sort of research and development that the patent system was intended to protect.
          • And look at what goes on in Samsung's assembly plants.

            Forced overtime, child labor violations - why they should be shut down immediately! Oh wait, because it's not Apple it's okay. It's just fine for Samsung to use child labor and have it's workers worked forced overtime with nary a whisper of protest but when Apple hires an independent 3rd party to audit their subcontractors and find violations people protested then! Called for Steve Job's head as I recall it. And yet when Sansung does it you sheep say nothing. Cue the double standards!
          • I don't think this conversation was about assembly plants

            Did I miss something? This somehow shifted from the merits of original ideas to assembly plants... I think Todd has a point. Samsung patents are generally well researched and original. Apple patents are, in general, common ideas undeserving of a patent. "Rubber banding", "Slide to unlock", really? These are obvious communication mechanisms and human gestures. Take a look at Samsung patents... things like display technologies, electronic components, chip designs, manufacturing techniques, etc. These are things worth protecting from competitors. Also consider the attitudes of the companies on patents. Apple is aggressive and overbearing, while Samsung has a policy of only being defensive. Todd is right about Apple being a bully. Apple has breached business common courtesy and decided to be an ass. Broke the seal; so to speak. Now, patent litigation is through the roof and companies are being forced to be on the offense. Meanwhile lawyers are pocketing the profits, and the cost is passed on to you and me, the customer. It's bad for everyone.
          • What a load of nonsense

            Care to post a single citation to back up this spurious claim? It is quite clear from your list of supposed patents that you merely made them up based on a survey of the fields Samsung works in rather than based on actual patents. If you had actually looked at Samsung's patent portfolio, you would have found a large number of trade dress patents, EXACTLY what you decry Apple for filing. Likewise, your characterization of Apple's patents.
            But let's look a bit more in detail. You claim rubber banding is common, and a "human gesture". Please provide citations for where this occurred prior to Apple's patent. As to it being a human gesture, you realize that this is a UI presentation element, right, not a human gesture. The human gesture is not patented, it is what is displayed on the screen that is.
            You are also grossly misinformed about Apple's litigiousness relative to other OEMs. In fact, Samsung is hardly the innocent party here. But you don't care about facts, you simply post from memes you read online, from a preexisting agenda, facts be damned.
          • Facts be damned

            Please, take a look at Samsung's patent portfolio... then take a look at their litigation strategy. Their trade dress patents are for defense, essentially purchased freedom from trolls. Samsung isn't an aggressor on these types of patents. They aren't proactively going after anyone. Microsoft has the same strategy. The majority of their patent portfolio is for protection against litigation. They're there to ensure that people are free to develop software without fear of being sued.

            As far as "rubber banding" goes, please read closer... rubber banding is an obvious communication mechanism and "slide to unlock" is a human gesture. But that isn't my point. This doesn't change the fact that Apple is being an ass and using their trade dress patents offensively. I did notice that you neglected to mention the "slide to unlock" part of my argument.

            Also, I didn't say that Samsung is innocent all around, but in this case, they are clearly the victim. Apple's Moby Dick, as it were. Apple stirred the pot, not Samsung. "Rounded corners" really? It's a trashy way to do business.

            Apple be damned.
          • Again, a load of nonsense

            Yes, facts be damned. Go ahead, take a look at Samsung's patent portfolio. Simply stating something online does not make it so. Samsung's suit against the iPhone 5 defensive?!? Give me a break. You clearly are just writing things that support your argument without bothering to check if they are true or not.
            As for rubber banding, if it were so clear, others would have been doing it prior to the iPhone. They weren't. It is only obvious in retrospect. Nor is it a "communication mechanism". Rubbish. Name one instantiation of it. As for slide to unlock, there are any number of "obvious" human gestures. Samsung chose not to use them. Nor was the suit just about "slide to unlock" which you'd have known if you had bothered to research the suit. It is a trade dress issue, and Samsung copied EVERYTHING, down to the graphics, to the point that even Google warned them they were treading on thin ice. Samsung could have made a vertical slide shaped like a power button. They didn't. They could have made a horizontal slide in the middle of the screen in the form of a circuit breaker. They didn't. Instead, they copied the Apple mechanism down to almost the pixel level, placing it in exactly the same screen location. It was a clear trade dress theft.
            As for using it offensively, going after someone after they release a device that uses that feature is BY DEFINITION not offensive!
            Samsung the victim?!? Please. Again, before the phones even came out, Google took one look at them and warned them. And in the suit re: the Galaxy tab, the judge had the two tablets held side by side and even Samsung's OWN attorneys could not tell them apart, from only TEN FEET AWAY!!!
            You can't get more blatant that that.
            And Moby Dick? Um, you might want to try actually reading Melville before you make literary allusions! There was a reason Ahab had a peg leg, for crying out loud!!!

            And again, please, tell me what Coke would do if some other company put out a cola in a bottle with the same "rounded corners" as a coke bottle. (No need to guess, it has already happened. Spoiler alert: Coke sued.)
          • One key question

            From ten feet away anyone could confuse a Dell with an HP. From ten feet away one could confuse Nike shoes from Reebok shoes. From ten feet away one could confuse a Frisbee from a generic flying disc. From ten feet away one could confuse a Coke and Pepsi. This isn't an argument. The real question is: Do you know or have ever heard of anyone purchasing a Galaxy Tab and thought they had an iPad?
          • P.S.

            And to your point, the Coke bottle is distinctive and associated with the Coke brand. Look around you... do you see anything that looks like a Coke bottle that isn't a Coke? Now look again... Do you see anything around you with rounded corners? I can see at least ten things with rounded corners. (Laptop bag, keyboard, laptop screen, mouse, credit card, trash can, playing cards, etc.) This is my point.
          • And Apple?

            You want to thorw the mud at Samsung, how about putting money where your mouth is and listing Apple's substantive patents?
            You're clearly one of the most rabid Apple apologists on this forum so you should have the knowledge to back up your assertions.
            And read the article - somebody actually beat Apple to the rubber band, that's the whole reason Claim 19 was rejected. So there's your citation (and see below for your misreading of the slide to lock which is a separate issue).
  • "Patents ... are also necessary when developing new, innovative technologi"

    Says who?

    An increasing amount of economic research is saying quite the opposite.
    • Speculation and theoriszing is not research