Key patent in Apple suit invalidated

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Key patent in Apple suit invalidated


The U.S. government-run patent office Wednesday rejected 21 claims about Apple’s “pinch to zoom” patent, which the iPhone maker is suing Samsung for stealing.

As a result, patent No. 7,844,915 was tentatively invalidated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after a re-examination based on claims from other patent holders, including one from the U.S. and one from Japan.

The preliminary decision was publicly revealed after Samsung pointed it out in a filing to U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh Wednesday, claiming the technology was not “original enough to merit a patent.”

The patent is one of six key Apple patents that a jury in Koh’s California court ruled in August that Samsung violated. The jury awarded Apple a fine of $1.05 billion, which can be adjusted up or down by Koh.

The patent covers technology that is able to distinguish between whether a user is scrolling with one finger or whether he or she is using several touch points at a time for an action dubbed pinch-to-zoom.

Samsung hopes the Wednesday court filing will bolster its argument for a fresh trial or to have the amount of damages reduced.

Earlier this week, Koh shot down Apple’s request for an injunction against 26 Samsung smartphones and tablet PCs, rivals of the iPhone and iPad.

Separately, Samsung Electronics said yesterday it will invest $3.9 billion in its plant in Austin, Texas, to meet growing demand for 12-inch semiconductors used in mobile devices.

“Our local unit, Samsung Austin Semiconductor, has completed a consultation on expanding its production line with the state authorities,” said Samsung in a regulatory filing.

It said the expansion is aimed at dealing with robust demand for smartphones and tablet PCs which need the high-tech systems on chips to operate.

System semiconductors refer to integrating all components of a computer or other electronic system onto a single integrated circuit.

By Seo Ji-eun, Yonhap []

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