Dec 20 U.S. patent authorities rejected Apple
Inc's 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
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 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
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.