Apple gets mixed rulings in Firstface ‘Home button’ patent dispute

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Monday upheld two Firstface patents that Apple had challenged, but affirmed Apple’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board win invalidating parts of a fingerprint-authentication patent owned by Korean patent owner Firstface Co Ltd.

Apple iPhone Home button
Apple iPhone Home button

Blake Brittain for Reuters:

U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Chen wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel rejecting Apple’s claims that the two valid patents were obvious based on earlier disclosures, but agreeing with Apple that a third patent was obvious.

Chen, joined by Circuit Judges Timothy Dyk and Richard Linn, affirmed that parts of one of the Firstface patents were invalid as obvious.

Firstface argued that the PTAB shouldn’t have decided that an ordinary artisan would have been motivated to combine two earlier patent applications cited by Apple to create Firstface’s “activation button.”

But Chen said the board correctly found a “clear linkage” between the two prior art references, which both disclosed authenticating a user while waking or powering on a device, that would have inspired an ordinary artisan to combine them.

In its appeal, Apple said the board misconstrued parts of two other “activation button” patents that it had unsuccessfully argued were obvious.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, we’ll have to wait to see how this shakes out (ultimate victory for Apple or licensing agreement settlement) as it wends its way through the molasses-slow system.

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