The fight between Samsung and Apple appeared to be over when Samsung was told to pay up for infringing on a number of Apple’s patents after a lengthy litigation battle. However, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion about an “ex parte re-exam,” filed against Apple’s patent by an anonymous party.
The re-exam claimed that US Patent No. 7,844,915 should never have been issued at all. The reason for this being so significant is due to this being one of the main patents that gave Apple their big win against Samsung. The ‘915 patent was described in a general way as the “pinch to zoom” patent, but its claims describe a way of distinguishing between one-touch and two-touch operations.
The original exam was from 2013 when the US Patent and Trademark Office’s reexamination unit rejected all claims of Apple’s ‘915 patent. A patent appeal board then upheld the cancellation, leaving Apple to turn to the Federal Circuit, which has ultimate jurisdiction. However, on Friday, a panel of Federal Circuit judges sided with the patent office on some of the claims but revived three others.
The judges found that the Board was correct about the “scroll and gesture limitation” part of the patent, which was properly rejected. But it had a different definition of the “rubberbanding” limitation.
The reason this decision is so difficult/confusing is because a different Apple patent, the ‘381 patent, (which is generally referred to as the “rubberbanding” or “bounce-back” patent) crosses over with the ‘915 patent in question. The ‘915 patent also describes some elements of rubberbanding. When you pull down content on an iPhone, the phone takes a particular action—typically refreshing the page—if you pull past a certain point. The content then snaps back up, like a rubber band.
Federal Circuit judges who considered the matter, though, said the Board improperly looked at all types of “rubberbanding.” The judges gave weight to Apple’s point that the earlier Lira patent “teaches that the screen should ‘snap’ to the next region of content” and achieved “the opposite effect from rubberbanding.” Because the board should have limited its definition of rubberbanding to “sliding content backwards,” the judges revived claims 2, 9, and 16 of the patent, remanding it for further consideration
Although this is just one piece of the seemingly never-ending Apple v. Samsung conflict, it is a significant one—the ‘915 patent was one of a few non-design patents that Apple won significant damages for.
Story from Ars Technica