Apple’s 381 “bounce back” patent could be deemed invalid

by: Mike AndriciAugust 16, 2012

As most smartphone enthusiasts know, the Apple vs Samsung trial (you can call it a patent war if you want) has been under way for more then two weeks now. There have been loads of interesting stuff to report, such as the leaked Samsung rejected trial material, or the Apple and Samsung sales figures that have surfaced, but it’s safe to say that, until yesterday, few things that really matter were discussed in these two weeks.

Fortunately for those of us that are more interested in anticipating the final decision, yesterday marked a turning point in Apple vs Samsung patent litigation. In short, Samsung basically tore apart Apple’s ‘381 patent, one oftenly referred to as the “bounce back patent”.

This was all done by one Samsung’s expert witnesses, Dr. Andries van Dam, a faculty member at Brown University. Van Dam has proven (or so it seems, we’ll have to wait for a final decision to be sure) that Apple’s ‘381 patent should be deemed invalid, since there are two previously released devices that showcase the same technology that Apple has been granted a patent for.

The first piece of tech with a feature similar to Apple’s bounce back patent is the “Tablecloth” app for a projection-based touchscreen surface called the DiamondTouch Table. Released back in 2001, the Tablecloth app shows a blank space if the user scrolls beyond the actual content. Obviously enough, Apple lawyers have turned on the defence and have tried to question weather the DiamondTouch Table is an actual touchscreen device. In addition, Apple’s lawyers have also mentioned that the Tablecloth app returns the user to the original place before scrolling. Both of these claims have been contradicted by van Dam, who has based his affirmations on the actual wording inside the patent.

The second prior art that can deem Apple’s bounce back patent invalid is called LaunchTile, a user interface for mobile devices. The way LaunchTile works is by dividing the screen into four sections, each containing a different app. Users can swipe back an forth through the tiles to reveal other apps. What’s interesting is that when a user swipes from screen to screen, if his fingers did not pass a certain threshold, the previous tile would snap back, much like a reverse Applesque bounce back if you will. While Apple lawyers were quick to claim that LaunchTile did not display any off-screen information, van Dam has skilfully pointed out that the next tile, the one users did not scroll enough to actually switch to, is actually the off-screen information.

In this new light, the jury might decide that Apple has been granted a patent for a technology that was already used. Twice! If that will be the case, Samsung will have one less allegedly infringed patent to worry about.

Now that the narration is over, let me ask you a simple question, one that you can answer to in the comment section below: isn’t it a bit stupid that the two biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world are spending heaps of money on lawyers and days after days in courts to fight over a minor thing such as the scrolling bounce back? If you pardon the exaggeration, the next thing Apple is going to do is claim that they have invented the colour black…

  • Girish Verma

    It is pretty stupid..but who started this..I see Samsung as only fighting back. I have no respect for Apple has a company. I owned an iPhone about 2 yrs ago and sold for Android and love the power / customization factor that you get with Android phones. iPhone is too closed…yes iPhone 5 will sell like the end its an individual choice but what Apple is doing isn’t good for its image and they just sound like cry babies.

    • Jenny Koh

      my sentiments exactly! that’s why i never want an apple product, no matter how many people tell me that they are good. i just don’t believe in supporting such a selfish company!

    • dmac

      The closed system is exactly why the iphone works better than Android. When you control every aspect of the system you know it will work as intended. Can’t say that about Android. I know more people that switched from iPhone to droid and switched back after realizing how shortsighted their original decision was.

      • troll

        That is just opinion based on conjecture. Why does someone return to what they know? Because they know it. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with Android I know the complete opposite, people who moved to iphones cause all the treny hipsters are getting them then return to android with complaints about how annoying itunes is, how it breaks their linux based routers and networked printers, or how they can not type on it and/or see it. BUT hey that’s just opinions. Some people do not have linux based routers that puke on the itunes installed bonjour networking handler. Or do not even have a network. Choices.

        Shortsighted is being such a closed mind that anything outside your comfort zone is wrong and evil.

  • Until this case i had next to no knowledge of the kinds of technology based patents that are granted to companies, i can’t help but feel that the some of these patents granted to Apple border on the ridiculous. Obviously Apple feel threatened by the outstanding products Samsung have been able to produce..welcome to the free market Apple, take it on the chin and do better. I’ve never been a fan of Apple because they assume their users are idiots, now i have another reason to not buy their products, i sincerely hope this case goes Samsung’s way and sets a precedent.

  • tangcla

    Let’s all argue who had the first rectangle.

  • Barnie

    The fundamental problem is the patent office that gives out patents for the most obvious, non-original work. Go research “A method of swing on a swing is disclosed, in which a user positioned on
    a standard swing suspended by two chains from a substantially
    horizontal tree branch induces side to side motion by pulling
    alternately on one chain and then the other.”

    Issued April 9, 2002, and granting, among other things, a patent for:

    A method of swinging on a swing, the method comprising the steps of:
    a) suspending a seat for supporting a user between only two chains that are hung from a tree branch;b) positioning a user on the seat so that the user is facing a direction perpendicular to the tree branch;c)
    having the user pull alternately on one chain to induce movement of the
    user and the swing toward one side, and then on the other chain to
    induce movement of the user and the swing toward the other side; andd) repeating step c) to create side-to-side swinging motion, relative to the user, that is parallel to the tree branch.

    This is our patent office. A bunch of rubber-stamp imbeciles.

    (after all the publicity, the office later revoked the patent, but they can’t change the fact that they granted it in the first place)

  • dmac

    Samsung admitted they needed to copy the iPhone to be competitive. How do you protect innovation in design if the competition can just copy without all the R&D costs? The only legal recourse is patent violations.

    • Car company have been doing it for 100 years….explain that?

    • Marvin Nakajima

      Copying is always an inferior or at best at par with the ‘original’. I find it hard to argue that Samsung has not expanded on anything they are accused of ‘copying’. Progress in the sciences has always been built on findings/work done by others in the past. Apple itself has used ideas other companies have found successful. Others scoffed when Apple brought out the first iPhone. Apple showed disdain for styluses and 7″ form factors. In the first Apple proved successful as did others with the latter. Both groups learned from the other and now seriously consider the idea they thought little of in the past.

    • Patrick Grimbergen

      As far as i have learned till now Samsung put a legal team on the design of the s3 to venture it doesn’t look like the iPhone.

      Where the s1 was just a square phone, it is now more of an oval and the button is now a stripe in stead of a square.

      But probably Apple will claim it looks to much like the iPhone 5 (wicht is not out yet)

  • greenegg

    Iwould have thought it more likely that they might make such a claim about white… ;-)

  • walloftext

    Yes, it is stupid but MUST be done when corporations cannot follow a set of morals of what is right and wrong. It must be done to show the flaws in the system we have now where companies can milk startups or other smaller companies for patent rights and nickle and dime them to death to avoid competition. No one sees this whole buy out thing as not working, probably never will until the economy crashes beyond rescue.

    Look at it this, why do other countries like Japan still have small industry, The wheel effect. Where many small companies exists in concert with each other to produce product. Many many small factories (2~10 employees exist all over Tokyo) Producing parts at reasonable prices and in high quality. Instead we have mega corps sucking up all the small guys or stomping them out and just raising the costs to produce product and destroying jobs and making it too expensive to produce thing locally. Instead companies like Apple ship all the majority of work to China or other countries. In the end they jack up the costs over and over and lower the quality each time. Yeah maybe Im getting to political and expanding on opinion. But it still must be done to show how wrong companies can get. And only way to make change is to stir the pot, since government wont do anything unless the rot is brought to the surface.

    Apple will sue for colour, hell they sue everyone else who even attempts to use an “apple” in their logo. Google it some of the logos are so far from the offical apple logo it is a joke. I consider this no more than suing for the colour black. I do not know why everyone is so shocked by this patent trolling of late. Apple has pulled this BS for the last 20years.

  • ashok

    it just comes to making all money from a single device or making same money from a number of devices. The margin for apple is like 50% of the device price. Even after selling only 18% of phones the profit share is close to 60% of the world share for apple. That means one is paying a lot more than is required for apple products. On top of that you cannot tincker with it. So apple is trying to safe guard its future market rather than innovate or reduce the price. Apple has been terribly slow in catching up to the hardware standards for phones and tablets.

  • Apple Fan


    Next up for the chopping block will be the S3. FUCK ANDROIDS!!!!!!