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US Patent Office Invalidates Apple's "Rubber Banding" Patent 213

Posted by timothy
from the kill-software-patents dept.
bhagwad writes "The patent that was the cause of so much grief to Samsung in the recently concluded trial with Apple has been tentatively invalidated by the USPTO. The challenge was filed anonymously, but it obviously could have been filed by any smartphone manufacturer. Will this have an effect on further proceedings in the case or perhaps more importantly on the inevitable appeal?"
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US Patent Office Invalidates Apple's "Rubber Banding" Patent

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  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by RenderSeven (938535) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:04PM (#41741231)
    Signs of life from the USPTO
    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Funny)

      by jkrise (535370) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:21PM (#41741517) Journal

      This is what the rascal Florian Mueller has to say: Apple's rubber-banding (overscroll-bounce) patent is still going to go through a lengthy proces before it may or may not be invalidated. There can be more than one non-final Office action by the Central Reexamination Division. Even a "final Office action" is not final at all. It can be reconsidered by the Central Reexamination Division itself, and the last decision by that division can be appealed to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which used to be called the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) until recently and is like an USPTO-internal appeals court. Remands by the PTAB to the Central Reexamination Division cause further delay. When the USPTO is done with the patent, its decision can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. And theoretically, a Federal Circuit decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court, which doesn't hear many patent validity cases (but does take a look at important issues from time to time).

      Apple has many patents in play against Android. It doesn't matter in a strategic sense if some of them, or even many of them, get invalidated. It just needs to enforce enough of them to ensure product differentiation. The '381 patent covers a signature element of the iOS touchscreen user interface, and Apple is going to fight hard to keep it alive. But at the end of the day it's just one of many patents-in-suit.

      Someone needs to whip this scoundrel a 1000 lashes on his bare buttocks until he understands what shit he is spouting as a so-called 'expert' on patents.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is what the rascal Florian Mueller has to say:

        I stopped reading there, anything Florian Mueller has to say is irrelevant.

      • by shugah (881805)
        While I generally disregard FloMo as a paid shill, he is right that the patent invalidation process is long and far from predictable. However, I expect that on this particular patent (and additionally on the multi-heuristic search patent) prior art and obviousness will prevail. These are rubbish patents.
      • by HiThere (15173)

        You wrong him. He does understand. He just doesn't care as long as he gets paid.

        P.S.: Most of what it was reported that he said (by the parent) was correct, even though the weighing he gave to the various pieces is readily disputable. I'm sorry that it's unpleasant, but it's true. The USPTO is a *huge* obstacle to anyone who wants to innovate, even if they have deep pockets. If they don't ... when the trolls decide to notice you you've got to either find a buyer with deep pockets or die.

        That said, AFA

    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:34PM (#41741713) Journal

      And rather too late. Apple clearly knows that it's idiotic patents won't hold up in the long run. What counts is that a competitor was hamstrung for some period of time. The object of the game isn't to ban products; Apple knows perfectly well that sooner or later the bulk of its patents are going to be rejected. The point is to cripple competition just long enough to release its own products.

      • Yes and no. Samsung hasnt been all that hampered and they've both landed a few blows. Until that $1000000000 check clears I wouldnt say Samsung has been actually hampered, and who can say how much all the press has helped (or maybe hurt). Perhaps Apple was foolish to go after Samsung first, rather than a smaller also-ran player just to build up some case law against a less-capable and less-funded legal team?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Damned if you do... damned if you don't.

          If they go after the small fries, it will be years down the road before the will affect their main competitor (Samsung, at this point). During that time S3, Note2, etc will be "stealing" customers from Apple.

          On the flip side, they go after the big-boy first to stop the leak while it's small, but have a bigger fight on their hands.

          I think they saw what happened last time (Mac vs PC), saw weapons they could use (Patents) and went with it. In one respect, it makes sense.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          That would be the strategy if the goal was a slow win of money from Android. Apple genuinely believes Android infringed and their primary goal was to force Android to start forking their look and feel design away from Apple. That's likely been achieved as the systems are forking more and there is less copying.

          • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @01:53PM (#41742807)

            Apple genuinely believes Android infringed...

            Apple does not genuinely believe anything except that it must defend its margins by fair means or foul.

          • Oh give me a break. Apple is a for-profit company. That means it will use whatever tools are its disposal to disadvantage competition. This whole notion that Apple is trying to help the industry be more innovative, that somehow it is being pragmatic in its lawsuits based on very dubious patents that are very unlikely with withstand scrutiny (as is now happening), is total bunk. The very fact that Apple must certainly know how iffy these patents are belies your claim. The whole purpose is to slow adoption of

          • by HiThere (15173)

            Apple is a corporation. Corporations do not have beliefs. Steve Jobs believed that Android stole their look and feel from Apple. (Or possible he believed that it stole something else, it's hard to be certain.) Apple accomodated Jobs belief. Perhaps the current CEO also believes that. Perhaps he's just being loyal to the memory of Jobs. It's hard to tell.

            Their lawyers probably don't believe that anything was stolen. The engineers probably don't believe that anything was stolen. In these cases though

            • by jbolden (176878)

              Apple is a corporation. Corporations do not have beliefs

              I disagree. Human societies depend on a tremendous amount of shared culture to function. Corporations are highly organized human societies.

              As for the rest regarding the lawyers. I don't know what council thinks. That being said, behavior changes belief so I'd tend to think that more likely than not having argued this case and thought about it deeply their beliefs have come into alignment with Job's beliefs.

              As for lawyer ethics, I'd like to see gr

        • Perhaps Apple was foolish to go after Samsung first

          Apple actually went after HTC first. They went after Samsung second (but before the HTC case was resolved.)

        • Re:Finally (Score:4, Interesting)

          by shugah (881805) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @02:56PM (#41743617)
          By refusing to negotiate and pursuing a litigation strategy on the FRAND patents, Apple is leaving themselves open to a far more damaging counter offensive. On the core telecom patents that define the 3G and 4G (LTE) wireless network standards, Samsung is a middle weight contributor of IP. The heavyweights of the LTE IP are LG, Qualcomm, Intel (via InterDigital), Motorola (Google) and Nokia. Additional core telecom IP portfolios are held by Ericsson, RIM, Huawei Corp and HTC.

          Qualcomm, Ericsson, RIM, Intel, Huawei and Nokia are unlikely to join any IP counter offensive against Apple because they don't sell smartphone handsets, license technology to both sides or benefit from suppressing Android (Nokia/RIM). But LG, Motorola (Google) and HTC have a vested interest in defending Android and between them have substantial IP portfolios. It's important to note that these companies can not refuse to license their Standard Essential Patents, however Apple has so far refused to negotiate and has pursued a litigation strategy. Apple is not totally without ammunition in the telcomm patents; they were part of the coalition that purchased Nortel's IP, but most of the Nortel portfolio was already cross licensed to other standards contributors so are more useful for defensive purposes. Cross license agreements do not however protect Apple from having to negotiate FRAND license fees with the appropriate patent holders. If they refuse to negotiate, injunctions are in the future.
      • by shugah (881805)
        This is a 2-way street. I'd imagine Samsung is going after an injunction on the FRAND patents in time to hit the iPhone 5 for the Christmas shopping season.
        • by MrDoh! (71235)
          Very likely, but will they be in place for 2012 xmas shopping season? These things tend to drag on forever.
          • by shugah (881805)
            This is true, but if the Android handset makers play their cards right, they can hit Apple with serial injunctions. Samsung, then Motorola, then LG, then HTC ...
    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zordak (123132) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @02:04PM (#41742943) Homepage Journal

      Signs of life from the USPTO

      This rejection means nothing. Something like 90% of first office actions are rejections. That's just how the USPTO does business, and it's how they've done business for a long time. Even a "final" rejection isn't final. It just means you have to pay more money to keep arguing with the examiner. And you can keep doing that for as long as you're willing to continue paying the fee to go "one more round."

      This is a very run-of-the-mill rejection. The court will probably just ignore it. Until the patent is for-real-finally rejected by the patent office (meaning it's been more than six months since the examiner issued an office action and Apple hasn't responded), the patent is strongly presumed to be valid.

      This ends the educational portion of today's episode of Slashdot. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled trolling, flame-baiting, karma-whoring, and Microsoft-bashing.

  • Wooo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WillRobinson (159226) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:05PM (#41741245) Journal

    Seen this on terminals long ago think they were zerox, while it didnt bounce it did behave like it had weight an friction. Oh I forgot "On a Cell Phone"

  • Hate it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:05PM (#41741255)

    The annoying thing about it is, rubber banding works sometimes, but not always.
    The rule seems to be that rubber banding is activated only when the display contains scrollable content.
    They should make it behave the same way, regardless of whether the content is scrollable.
    Geez... it really gets me irritated, such basic UI concept and they can't even get it right.

    • by berj (754323)

      I'm confused. Why would there be scrolling semantics when there is no scrolling? Do you want to see scroll bars when there's no scrolling content too?

      • Re:Hate it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuperMooCow (2739821) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:22PM (#41741527)

        I think what he's saying is that if there was a rubber band effect, it would confirm that the device accepted his scrolling command but also show him that it's not supposed to scroll.

      • by narcc (412956)

        That might not be too bad. How else would you know that there was scrolling content short of an impotent attempt to scroll? (Thinking of those scroll bars that only appear while you're scrolling, but are otherwise not visible.)

        I'm sure that there's a better way. The point is that it's not completely ridiculous.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      It's like any other gesture. It works when you know exactly what to do in exactly the right context. But unless you know what to do in what context, forget it.
    • In it's web browser...try to scroll on a non-scrollable webpage, and the whole screen shifts up somewhat then snaps back into place when you lift your finger.

    • FireFox on my Android tablet does this bounce-back thing when I zoom out too far or scroll beyond the edge of the page and then take my finger(s) off the screen. I really hate it. I can't find an option to turn the fucking bounce thing off.
    • by richlv (778496)

      never used an iphone, but n9 does it exactly like you want ;)

  • Same ol' stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:06PM (#41741265)

    Why can't this crap happening DURING the trial?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why can't it happen BEFORE the trial is a much better question.

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      Less drama and headlines for the media.

  • Will this have an effect on further proceedings in the case or perhaps more importantly on the inevitable appeal?

    Yes.

  • by P-niiice (1703362) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:08PM (#41741301)
    Why can't the Patent Office do their jobs when reviewing these Bs patents the first time?
    • by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:13PM (#41741379) Homepage Journal
      Because the USPO is paid for by fees.
      • Additionally I remember reading an article where some guy, an 'activist' judge or similar decided that he wanted the USPO to behave in a stamp-and-approve manner and let the courts sort out any fall-out, disputes etc, after the fact. He and others convinced a whole slew of other people and the USPO became the anti-competitive malign tumour in the body of innovation and competition that it is today, feeding lawyers and their families and paying for their second homes and yachts, while legitimate businesses

      • by HiThere (15173)

        That's not totally true. The USPTO was famous for bad patents even before Regan arranged for them to be a "self supporting" part of the government. And while it's true that there was a quick uptick in nearly anything being patentable, and in people who rejected patent applications getting poor performance evaluations, it wasn't as dramatic as you are implying. There are other reasons. (Like not being specialists in all the areas in which they are required to evaluate patents. As the number and speciali

        • Focusing on the root causes, that there is insufficient funds to do the job correctly, and that the US is using IP to cover over a shortage of production is to be able to solve the problem, to wave your hands at the weeds and vent, is to do nothing effective. It is a great deal easier to fix than you are implying.
    • by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @01:25PM (#41742459) Journal

      Chances are that it was rejected the first time. And the second time. And the third time...

      You see, when Apple doesn't get a patent approved, they just change a few words and keep trying. Take for example the '604 patent. It was rejected twice in 2007, three times in 2008, once in 2009, twice in 2010 and once in 2011. (source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/08/technology/patent-wars-among-tech-giants-can-stifle-competition.html?_r=0&pagewanted=all [nytimes.com] )

      Finally it got approved (tenth time is the charm!).

      • Chances are that it was rejected the first time.

        Well, actually, it was largely approved the first time, in an earlier patent that Apple filed (which was only granted after this one was filed), that's one of the reasons many of the claims in this patent are being rejected.

  • About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@NOspam.comcast.net> on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:12PM (#41741355)

    The patent situation has gotten completely out of control. What was once the very capitalist means to inspire and reward creativity is now the very anti-capitalist means to stifle competition and commit lawfare.

    The patent system need to be reformed as badly as any government run bureaucracy ever has. It's not just in the US either, these problems are epidemic on a world wide scale. When lawyers become more important in product development than engineers you know the system has reached a crisis point.

    • by mspohr (589790)

      I don't think that patents were ever about "inspiring creativity". They were always about protecting your "invention" from competition.
      I really don't think patents serve any socially useful purpose. They are just create monopolies on ideas which are exploited by corporations. The result is that the consumer has less choice and higher costs (and companies higher profits).
      Anything that can be copied just by looking at it is "obvious" by definition and shouldn't be eligible for a patent. Things such as indu

      • by Rytr23 (704409)
        They also protect people from corporations. See the small time inventor that comes up with some novel household product, they put in the work to get it made, work on marketing etc. then they get a meeting with say, Home Depot or Lowes to see if they would sell the object. Home Depot and Lowes look it over carefully, let their designers take a look..then decide, "no thanks, have a nice day" A month later they are selling the exact same thing, killing this persons idea and dream. If that person doesn't ha
        • by mspohr (589790)

          This is a nice theory but history has shown that it rarely works this way.
          Usually what happens is that "large corporation" copies the idea and tells the inventor to take a hike. Small inventor doesn't have money to sue so takes a hike.
          The only time you see patent trials are when two large companies are battling it out. Small inventors usually get screwed if they can't sell out to large corporation.

      • I don't think that patents were ever about "inspiring creativity". They were always about protecting your "invention" from competition.

        Unless we're talking about inventions created by the likes of Mother Theresa, those two are often one in the same.

        Why should I waste time inventing something, if I can't make money off of it? Nothing wrong with altruism, but I've got a household to feed.

        I really don't think patents serve any socially useful purpose. They are just create monopolies on ideas which are exploited by corporations. The result is that the consumer has less choice and higher costs (and companies higher profits).

        Then you don't understand the true purpose of patents (not that I blame you; there's been a lot of intentional obfuscation of that topic over recent years); I'll give an example:

        My dad is an inventor. He designs accessories for various types of "toy" t

    • The USPTO, with these bogus patents, is basically creating value out of nothing. I think the reason the gov't won't touch patent reform with a 10 foot pole is that the US economy doesn't produce anything anymore, and the destruction of this bogus value is the destruction of one of the only things the US produces anymore. Its like they think we can hoodwink the world into believing there's a significant value to 1-click and a stupid rubber band GUI effect. Yes, there's some value to these, but right now i

      • by Shagg (99693)

        More like the corporate lobbyists with their truck loads of cash are telling the government not to touch patent reform with a 10 foot pole.

  • So, of course, the USPTO is going to pay for Samsung's lawyer fees, right? ....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:18PM (#41741451)

    Look in HCI this stuff has been done since forever. Academics got really interested in touch technologies in the early 2000s. They've been used spring decay to make "nicer" and more natural interfaces ever since.

    Many patents out there are IP theft. They are stealing from public institutions and patenting technology that has been developed in academia.

    • by manaway (53637)

      Many patents out there are IP theft. They are stealing from public institutions and patenting technology that has been developed in academia.

      Not really IP theft because there is no such thing. Ideas are not property. Instead it's a business method based on a lawful falsehood. Let the public pay the costs of developing new ideas, including in universities. A private business then pays for fictional but legal "ownership" of the idea. Then the private business make the profits. In a fair world, the business would give profits back to the public via taxes. In the US part of the world, businesses spend some of the profits on lobbying for reduced taxe

  • Prior Art from Apple (Score:4, Informative)

    by mkraft (200694) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @12:58PM (#41742021)

    What the linked article doesn't mention, but this one does [arstechnica.com] is that one of the prior art patents that invalidates the "rubber band" patent is owned by the same Apple employee that owns the "rubber band" patent.

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      Look, there are examples done in Macromedia Flash that basically used the same concept. Albeit, maybe reversed. But still, enough of a similar concept to prove that there was NO invention at play.

  • That's a key word there...

    No point in getting excited about this yet.

    Who knows how long it will be, if ever, that they actually follow through with it?

  • So now they get no Google maps renewal guaranteed, no screens from Samsung for any products, no licensing for anything Samsung owns, serious 4G LTE patent problems, everyone else in the entire industry hates them and it actively trying to destroy them, and they don't even get their 1 billion in all likelihood. Wow, great business strategy there, Apple.

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