After recently invalidating Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is back at it with another similar ruling. While not final, the new USPTO verdict says that Apple’s “Steve Jobs” multi-touch patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949) has also been invalidated.
This Office action was filed on December 3, and in case the ruling will stand, and the patent will be deemed invalid, then Samsung and Motorola will have one less patent to think about in their legal spats with Apple.
The “Steve Jobs” patent – which has 20 claims, all rejected by this recent USPTO action – was already found to be infringing by Samsung and Motorola in different conflicts with Apple.
In an ITC case between Apple and Samsung, the “Steve Jobs” patent was found to be infringing by Samsung in addition to three other patents.
As for Motorola, the company was found to be infringing the same patent by Judge Posner earlier this year, in a case that was then dismissed with prejudice. However, the judge found “only some minor potential infringement on Motorola’s part that he decided would not warrant injunctive relief even if Apple prevailed on whatever little was left of its related claims.”
Apple can still challenge USPTO’s recent findings in these two non-final patent invalidations, and a final ruling in each case will come at some point later down the road.
However, considering that the Office is saying at this time that neither the “rubber banding” nor the “Steve Jobs” patents are valid, companies like Samsung and Motorola are likely to use such arguments in courts in future confrontations with the iPhone maker.