Apple’s ‘Pinch To Zoom’ Patent Dismissed By The USPTO


Apple’s “pinch to zoom” patent, which features prominently in a patent dispute against Samsung, has been dismissed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. According to documents filed by Samsung in a U.S. federal court, all 21 claims of the patent have been rejected in a “final office action.”

Apple’s patent covers a gesture first introduced on the iPhone that allows users to zoom into web pages, photos, documents, and more by “pinching” the display with their thumb and forefinger. Some of the claims the Cupertino company made in the patent had been covered by previous patents, while others were simply ineligible, the USPTO found.

Apple now has two months to respond to the decision, and the outcome could have a significant impact on Apple’s ongoing legal battles with Samsung all over the world.

Claim eight of the pinch to zoom patent, which covers the iPhone’s ability to determine single and multiple touch inputs to distinguish between a scroll and a gesture, was involved in Apple’s landmark win against Samsung last August, which saw the company awarded $1.05 billion in damages.

21 of the 24 Samsung Galaxy devices Apple targeted were found guilty of infringing that patent, according to the filing Samsung made on Sunday, but the USPTO has found that the claim was already covered in U.S. patent number 7,724,242, which was awarded to Daniel W. Hillis and Bran Ferren.

“Hillis teaches distinguishing the number of contact points and determining whether the event object matches a gesture pattern,” wrote the USPTO in its decision.

This isn’t the first time the USPTO has found an Apple patent invalid. Back in April, it also rejected multiple claims in Apple’s “rubber banding” patent, which covers an iOS scroll feature that causes pages to bounce back when the users scrolls past the end of a page.