Rumor has it United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has preliminarily ruled Apple’s ‘Steve Jobs’ patent as invalid upon reexamination. You might be wondering, what in the world is a Steve Jobs patent?
Its actual name is US Patent #7,479,949 which lays claim over technology related to “[t]ouch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics.” In layman terms, this is one of the critical multitouch patents that cover actions like zoom, swipe, and moving around on documents or page. The reason for it being called the Steve Jobs patent is because Steve Jobs himself is cited as one of its inventors, along with many other Apple engineers. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s much easier to say too.
This is considered to be a massive patent concerning the iPhone and iPad, as it basically describes multitouch — how iOS responds to scrolling a document vertically and in different directions, differentiating swiping through image to image as opposed to scrolling around the image itself, etc. One might argue that these, along with the bounce back effect, are what have defined the iPhone’s polished feel over the years.
It is also notable that Apple has asserted this patent several times against its rivals, Samsung, HTC, and Motorola, in court or the ITC. So the loss of this patent would be a huge blow to Apple’s litigation efforts.
One crucial thing to note is that this is simply a preliminarily step by the USPTO, and it hasn’t even been officially announced yet. However, even though the decision ruling this patent as invalid is far from final, it’s going to be quite tough for Apple to overturn the decision as it was deemed invalid in its “entirety”; in other words, all 20 claims of the patent are invalid. This could potentially be a crucial blow against Apple as the importance of this patent is quite obvious — they’ve asserted it in virtually all their major legal battles, as I just mentioned.
[via Ars Technica]