US patent office rejects claims of Apple ‘pinch to zoom’ patent

“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected claims of an Apple patent that figures prominently in a patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung Electronics, according to documents filed by the South Korean company in a U.S. federal court,” John Ribeiro reports for IDG News Service.

“The 21 claims of the patent were rejected by the USPTO in a ‘final office action,’ as they were anticipated by previous patents or unpatentable. Known as the “pinch-to-zoom” patent, it covers the ability to distinguish between the scrolling movement of one finger and two-fingers gestures like pinch-to-zoom on a touch-screen to activate certain functions,” Ribeiro reports. “Apple has up to two months to respond to the USPTO decision. In a filing in April after USPTO rejected multiple claims of another patent in a similar final office action, Apple said it had further options, including appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and seeking judicial review.”

Ribeiro reports, “The USPTO rejected in April multiple claims of another patent that figured in the lawsuit, known as “overscroll bounce” patent. Apple, however, said in a filing that the reexamination is not finished, and it is entitled to file a response to the action which may result in a withdrawal of the rejection or certification of the claims under reexamination.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s “final,” but not really final, and that’s our final answer.

Florian Müller reports for FOSS Patents, “I put ‘final’ in quotes and said ‘not really final’ in the headline because one can easily get confused by the terminology in U.S. patent reexaminations. Most of the time that you hear about ‘final’ in connection with a reexamination, the way to look at it is a famous Churchill quote: ‘Victory is never final, defeat is never fatal, courage is all that matters.’ And courage is not in short supply at Apple and Samsung.”

Müller reports, “In this case, the ‘final’ Office action is merely the second decision in a process that would take years (until mid-2017 or later) unless Apple successfully defends the patent before all appeals have been exhausted.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Huge win for Apple at USPTO: Key claims of rubber-banding patent confirmed – June 13, 2013
Apple to Samsung: Our U.S. multi-touch patents won’t be truly invalidated until mid-2017 or later, if ever – April 17, 2013
USPTO tentatively – and likely temporarily – declares Apple’s ‘pinch-to-zoom’ patent invalid – December 20, 2012


  1. My favorite part is none of these patents matter because Samsung can just keep profiting off of Apple’s IP without any consequence.

    Apple would have made more money at this point if they just put a FRAND stamp on every patent 😛

  2. Something is very broken. The go to action for every competitor is just disregard I P. copy fast and count on U S courts dragging it out until the tech is old and irrelevant. Why spend on R & D?

        1. That would seem to be the essence of Apples problems.

          The only good is that the competitors are copying the best UI design around. If they invented their own then phones would all have menu systems like Japanese cameras. If only Apple would design just one camera for everyone to copy. Then maybe one ham radio.

  3. The sad thing is that the US government is essentially doing an enormous wealth transfer from the US to south korea by not respecting and enforcing US IP. Google is also a primary party to this and that is why I consider Google to be a traitor to my country.

      1. and I am really surprised as I have always felt that the US was if anything very patriotic to the point of arrogance in protecting US technology and interests. Maybe its just Apple they don’t like, or are just blind to the the consequences for the bigger picture. Bit like pre war when the West didn’t take those funny little Japanese as being capable of taking on the Western military. Or maybe just scared to upset our new prospective Masters. So weirdly shortsighted.

        1. That’s the problem. Most of the people in powerful positions who use the language of patriotism really mean “loyalty to those who funnel money my way” (or they use it to dupe those who really do have loyalty to a given nation-state into supporting them). Apple hasn’t given enough money to politicians to be treated as an entity to which they should be loyal, so they get punished.

          It’s a LOT easier to understand US politics if you look at campaign donations as the legalalized-bribery purchasing of elected officials. It also explains why most of the things that get true bipartisan support are those that help banks and other big corporations. Every now and then the people make enough of a fuss that a majority acts on something else, but even then the politicians usually throw in a bone or two to corporate donors in the form of a pork amendment.

      2. “We don’t want to offend anyone as the USA goes more and more into bankruptcy.”
        How true that seems to be was recently brought home to me here in the UK. Every July, the Royal International Air Tattoo takes place at a US air base in Gloucestershire. It’s the biggest of its type in the world, and governments from all over the world send the best examples of their air power, and top aerobatic teams.
        Except for this year, where the USAF was conspicuous by its absence, due to the need to save money due to the national debt.
        Even former Soviet republics managed to send a couple of aircraft, but the mighty USA couldn’t even manage a couple of C130’s, compared to the year I was there when a B2 Spirit flew all the way from its base, across the Atlantic, landed, briefly, then took off and flew all the way back.
        Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

        1. The reason the US Air Force didn’t participate is because of the asinine budget sequester that Congress allowed to take effect, which resulted in across the board budget cuts… no selective cuts… for all departments of the government. It has nothing at all to do with debt. This sequester process was actually part of the prior agreement with Congress to raise the debt ceiling (money already spent) as a tool (incentive) to force Congress to come up with a budget agreement… or else the sequester would kick in automatically. Of course, our do-nothing Congress did exactly that, so the sequester kicked in.

          It’s a straight line budget cut, so for example, a department looking at a 10-15% budget cut is unable to decide where to make the cuts, they have to be across the board. So, If you have a $100,000 budget for conventions/travel, now it’s $90,000, and everything else, even vital stuff gets cut the same amount, and managers can’t just choose to cut 100% from non-critical budget items to save more critical areas from cuts… sorry, the sequester won’t allow that. That’s why it wasn’t really supposed to happen and was intended as a “cliff” that nobody wanted to really go over. Congress played a game of chicken with itself, and lost.

          The Air Force could have cut many things selectively without touching combat operations/training/Blue Angels/etc. but had no choice with the required “across the board” cuts. So, since they had to actually cut into muscle and not just the fat, they decided that air shows were sort of less important than saving some of that operational money for other things…

          As far as the US budget deficit, it has been dropping on an annual basis very rapidly the last several years, and slowing the growth of the national debt you mentioned. The US (unless Congress decides to commit hari kiri… always a possibility…) can always raise money because it has always made good on it’s promises to repay it’s bonds and treasury bills. The world knows this, despite all the doom and gloom headlines.

          If a big investor or foreign government wants to feel more secure about their money in a world full of war and uncertainty, they invest in the US. Nothing has changed about that in an unstable world. Where else would you put it? Europe? The middle east? China? Africa? Be honest with yourself now.

          It’s nowhere as doomsday as “the sky is falling” sensationalists who want to drag us back to the 1850s would have you believe. We’ll be fine here in the good old USA, because in the end, the smart people win. It may take awhile, but it’s just a historical fact.

  4. I’m surprised at the anti-patent attitude of many Americans today. In the Apple vs. Samsung case, it became clear that many people feel that way. Last week, I was reading an article about a new material developed by Swedish scientists, and one of the commenters immediately said something to the effect that he sure hoped they wouldn’t be able to patent it. Really? Scientists and engineers shouldn’t be allowed to make money exclusively off the fruits of their labor for some period of time? If that’s the case, why bother trying to create anything new or advanced? Because it’s your hobby? I don’t think so.

    1. It’s the whole Google hippie “Everything belongs to everyone” mind state. These people don’t think anybody should patent anything and believe profits are evil. We should all “collaborate” and “share ideas” in one big circle jerk apparently. We can see the results of that disposition in the Android app landscape.

    2. Jonas Salk, after perfecting his poliomyelitis vaccine, ensured his discovery wouldn’t be limited by the greed of pharmaceutical companies by their gouging on its sale. He accomplished this by putting this miracle into public domain, virtually ending this scourge on countless young lives. I’m confident in saying “I’m pretty sure Salk is in heaven right now.” I hope this answers your question, “…why bother trying to create anything new or advanced?”

    1. Very good question, though South Korea seems to be muscling in quite well now. Really cant get my head around the weird concept of on the one hand supporting national champions arrogantly trying to patent Basmati rice while refusing to protect others own innovations. This doesn’t bode well for the future.

  5. Those of us who watched early demonstrations of touch screen technology invented and perfected as part of university research know perfectly well that Apple did NOT invent ‘pinch to zoom’. I’m extremely surprised Apple even bothered to try to patent it.

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