It seems Apple isn't making many friends over at the patent examiner's office lately - yet another high-profile patent used by the company in litigation has been deemed wholly invalid on a preliminary basis.
The patent in question is often called the "pinch-to-zoom" patent, because that's basically what it patents - a pinch gesture to zoom in on content on a display. This patent had been used successfully by Apple during the first Samsung lawsuit, with numerous (all but two) Samsung devices found to infringe it. The claim (#8) involved in the suit, below (heavily redacted, reformatted):
determining whether the event object invokes a scroll or gesture operation by distinguishing between a single input point applied to the touch-sensitive display that is interpreted as the scroll operation and two or more input points applied to the touch-sensitive display that are interpreted as the gesture operation;
issuing at least one scroll or gesture call based on invoking the scroll or gesture operation;
responding to at least one scroll call, if issued, by scrolling a window having a view associated with the event object;
and responding to at least one gesture call, if issued, by scaling the view associated with the event object based on receiving the two or more input points in the form of the user input.
Get on the edge of your seats, everybody - it's patent time again. Today, the USPTO handed down what's called a preliminary invalidation finding on a rather infamous Apple software patent regarding touchscreen heuristics. This patent was known as the "Steve Jobs patent," as its first listed author is the late Apple cofounder (let's keep the Jobs insults to a minimum in the comments, please). This comes after the preliminary invalidation of Apple's also-infamous "rubber-banding" patent back in October.
This patent here is pretty basic, and I'm going to break down the three elements of the primary claim. First, here's the relevant claim language (excerpted and modified in spacing):
...a vertical screen scrolling heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command rather than a two-dimensional screen translation command based on an angle of initial movement of a finger contact with respect to the touch screen display;
a two-dimensional screen translation heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to the two-dimensional screen translation command rather than the one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command based on the angle of initial movement of the finger contact with respect to the touch screen display;
and a next item heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.