US patent office declares key Apple patent invalid

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”.

This isn’t a final decision, but it’s certainly an important one for Apple.

  • Hope this is a trend and not a blip.

    • Extra Bland

      Can’t wait for all of Google/Motorola and Samsung’s patents to get invalidated too!

      • Oh you thought I was gleeful ’cause it was Apple? Wrong. I hope all of these frivolous patents are nixed. Some are true innovations but others, like this, need to go.

        Love the name too. 😀 Welcome to the family.

  • Downward Spiral

    So a former Google lawyer becomes head of the US patent office and a few weeks later they start invalidating Apple’s multi-touch patents. Coincidence?

  • chjode

    I’ve seen this widely reported over the last 24 hours, but no one has covered why the patent was invalidated. Is there a lot of prior art for all 20 claims?

    • Techpm

      The content of the action itself is not know.

      Actually I’m not even sure how this is known since first Office Actions are supposed to be addressed to applicants only, giving them time to respond before a final decision is made.

      Seems there’s a leak in the system somewhere.

      • chjode

        Perhaps the same folks who have been driving down Apple’s stock price.

        • Techpm

          The source everyone seems to be quoting on this is FOSSPatents’s Florian Mueller (even Groklaw, who HATE Mueller with a passion). Not sure how he got access to the action, perhaps one of his employers holds that answer.

          Publicly he hasn’t had that many, only Oracle and Microsoft, so take a wild guess.

  • Such bullshit.

  • Techpm

    Interesting that the patent had already been re-examined in 2010 due to a request by a member of the public (in this case an “ex parte re-examination”) at which point it was found that:

    “As a result of the reexamination, it has been determined that the patentability of claim 11 is confirmed”

    Just shows nothing is really “confirmed” when it comes to patents.

  • normm

    This is meaningless. Patent examiners routinely reject all claims in the first office action of an examination, citing somewhat related art. This forces the applicant, in their response, to educate the examiner about the subtleties of the differences from prior art, and of the claim language used to bring out these differences.