One of Apple’s most prized software patents is commonly referred to as simply “the Steve Jobs patent.” The late CEO himself is listed as one of the key inventors in the patent’s documentation, and it was also referred to as “the iPhone patent” when it was approved back in 2009.
Apple has been using this famous patent in courtrooms to sue the likes of Samsung and Google’s Motorola, but now the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has entirely invalidated the patent until further examination.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reports:
This week, the USPTO issued a first Office action rejecting all 20 claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 on a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics”, which has been referred to by many people, including Apple’s own lawyers, as “the Steve Jobs patent”.
Interestingly, the USPTO recently invalidated another one of Apple’s key iPhone software patents that deals with “rubber-banding,” the bouncing effect that happens when you scroll up and down in an iOS app.
While losing the rubber-banding patent is certainly unfortunate for Apple, losing Steve Jobs’s most prominent patent would be even more devastating, according to Mueller.
The USPTO still has to reexamine the patent and make sure Apple doesn’t deserve it. Mueller notes that “a complete rejection of all claims of a given patent is potentially more devastating than one affecting only some claims.”