U.S. agency rejects Apple 'pinch-to-zoom' patent in initial ruling

Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:06pm IST

A child looks at an iPad mini at the Apple Store during Black Friday in San Francisco, California, November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/Files

A child looks at an iPad mini at the Apple Store during Black Friday in San Francisco, California, November 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

REUTERS - U.S. patent authorities rejected Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) key "pinch-to-zoom" patent in an initial ruling, the second setback in less than two months for the iPhone maker in its patent battle with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS).

Apple's shares have taken a beating recently, with investors worried about rising competition from Samsung and other mobile device makers using Google Inc's (GOOG.O) Android platform.

Apple scored a sweeping legal victory over its South Korean competitor in August when a U.S. jury found Samsung had copied critical features of the hugely popular iPhone and iPad and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages.

Samsung and Apple, the world's top two smartphone makers, are locked in patent disputes in at least 10 countries as they vie to dominate the lucrative mobile market and win over customers with their latest gadgets.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday temporarily invalidated the "pinch-to-zoom" patent, which had been contested at the trial in August. The jury had ruled that Samsung had infringed six of seven Apple patents.

The "pinch-to-zoom" feature distinguishes between single-touch and multitouch gestures on a mobile device screen and allows the user to zoom in or out by moving two fingers apart or closer together while touching the display.

A U.S. judge denied on Monday Apple's request for a permanent injunction against Samsung's smartphones.

Samsung won a preliminary invalidation of Apple's "rubber-banding" patent in October that had the "bounce" feature. The patent allows a user with a touch screen to bounce back to the image on the screen if the user goes beyond the edge.

When the U.S. patent office rules against a patent, the full process involves multiple steps and can take years. It can also often be appealed in court, further tying up the process.

The ruling by the U.S. patent office after Samsung requested an examination of the patent was included in documents filed by Samsung in a federal court in San Jose, California.

Apple's claims were rejected on the grounds that prior patents covered the inventions.

Representatives for Apple and Samsung were not immediately available for comment.

A Dutch court ruled in October that Samsung did not infringe on Apple's patent by using certain multi-touch techniques on some of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers.

(Reporting by Balaji Sridharan and Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Don Sebastian)

FILED UNDER:

TECH WRAP

Photo

Exclusive - Obama sharply criticizes China's plans for new technology rules

Barack Obama sharply criticized China's plans for new rules on U.S. tech companies, urging Beijing to change the policy if it wants to do business with the United States and saying he had raised it with President Xi Jinping.  Full Article 

Reuters Showcase

Indian Healthcare

Indian Healthcare

Exclusive - Payment delays dent India's flagship health, AIDS programmes  Full Article 

India-Pakistan Ties

India-Pakistan Ties

Indian, Pakistani foreign secretaries to meet in Islamabad.  Full Article 

Jaitley Speaks

Jaitley Speaks

India needs sustained GDP growth of 9-10 percent - Jaitley.  Full Article 

Obama Interview

Obama Interview

Exclusive - Nemtsov killing sign of worsening climate in Russia: Obama.  Full Article 

Environment Concerns

Environment Concerns

Deforestation could shift monsoons, leaving India high and dry.  Full Article 

Forbes Rich List

Forbes Rich List

Bill Gates tops Forbes rich list, Michael Jordan joins.  Full Article 

New Tour

New Tour

Pop icon Madonna announces dates for 'Rebel Heart' tour.  Full Article 

Lathmar Holi

In Pics: Lathmar Holi

Images of "Lathmar Holi" at Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh.  Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage