The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reexamining another Apple patent – the third one by our count – and this time around we’re looking at the “pinch to zoom” patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915), a weapon that was successfully used by the iPhone maker in its first U.S. case against Samsung.

The Office found all 21 claims of the patent invalid, although the ruling is not final, as Apple can fight the decision. CNET reports:

In the Patent Office’s re-examination decision, the organization said all 21 claims of the patent were invalid based on claims from other patents, including one from the U.S. and one from Japan.

Similarly, the Office is also looking at Apple’s “Steve Jobs” (U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949) and “rubber-banding” (U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381) patents, which have also been used in legal disputes with Android OEMs.

Getting back to “pinch to zoom,” we’ll notice that Samsung remarked the Office’s action on the ‘915 patent in a recent filing in handed to Judge Lucy Koh presiding over this first Apple vs Samsung case. In it, Samsung argued “it was ‘relevant’ given the company’s effort for a retrial.”

The ‘915 is definitely an important asset for Apple, with 21 out of the 24 Samsung products part of the trial being found to infringe on Apple’s patented “pinch to zoom” technology. In case you forgot, the jury decided to award Apple $1.05 billion of Samsung’s cash, with the verdict being recently upheld by Judge Koh.

We’ll be back with more news from the patent wars once we have them, especially since things are going to get even more complicated with all this potential patent invalidations.

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