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.

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