The United States Patent and Trademark Office is F***ed up, there’s no two ways around it. Companies are receiving patents for things that shouldn’t have been patented, and it’s not just Apple who’s guilty of abusing it. That being said, Apple did have a patent granted that probably shouldn’t have been and it’s a patent it used heavily in their trial against Samsung, the rubber-banding patent.
For those of you unfamiliar with the “Rubber-Banding” effect, it’s when a user of an iPhone scrolls to the top or bottom of a screen, be it a website, menu or something else, and when the user reaches the end, instead of stopping abruptly, the page is animated in a way where it springs or “rubber bands” back. During the now infamous trial with Samsung, Apple used this one key claim regarding this patent to prove that the Korean smartphone maker copied their products, but Samsung tried to prove that prior art should make Apple’s patent invalid, however it didn’t work.
An interested and anonymous third party (*cough* Google *cough*) then challenged the USPTO decision, claiming the patent was invalid, again due to prior art, only this time it worked. The USPTO has now reversed their decision on the patent, including 20 claims, one of which was that crucial to being awarding that unprecedented $1 billion verdict.
One thing to keep in mind, is that this decision is not final, however it may affect Judge Lucy Koh’s decision as it pertains to Samsung’s motion to overturn the jury’s verdict, due to the patents being invalid. If it does, it doesn’t mean that Apple loses everything it won, as there were several other patents that were violated including trade dress patents. Apple may or may not get the full $1 billion or more, but they could also get much less. This is one we’ll have to watch closely.
And here we all though this mess was starting to finally clear up, convenient how this news arrives on the day Apple is expected to reveal their smaller iPad… coincidence?