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December 19, 2012

Apple's Patent on 'Pinch-to-Zoom' Feature Invalidated

By Robbie Pleasant, TMCnet Contributor

Apple (News - Alert) is known for fiercely defending its patents, to the point of online mockery. In this case, however, it looks like it’s not holding on to one, as the USPTO has invalidated its patent on the “pinch-to-zoom” feature.

The feature in question is pretty simple. On a touch screen, one can zoom in or out by making a pinching motion on the screen. It’s commonly used in iPads, iPhones, and other such Apple products, but now it seems it won’t be the only one with the rights for it.

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Apple made 20 claims of patent infringement for this feature, which is listed under US Patent No. 7,844,915. When Samsung (News - Alert) attempted to bring about a new trial for its ever-continuing struggle against Apple, the court re-examined the patent and property. Apple, of course, requested an injunction against various Samsung products, but Judge Lucy Koh denied both the motion for a retrial and the injunction request.

For its decision, the USPTO cited a variety of other features and filings that were made to do the same as the “pinch-to-zoom,” thus taking away Apple’s sole claim to it. While this may not necessarily turn the tide in favor of Samsung, it’s certainly not a bad sign, as all but two of its products were found to infringe on the patent being invalidated.

It’s unlikely that Apple will let this go without a fight, but it still has other accusations against Samsung, most notably the shape of devices and the slide-to-unlock feature, so this is far from over yet. Apple and Samsung will continue their post-trial hearings, before Judge Lucy Koh issues her ruling on motions from both parties and a judgment on damages. Nothing is finalized quite yet, but it’s no small step either.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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