California - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has preliminarily invalidated Apple Inc.'s patent for its iPhone "rubber banding" feature, a key factor in the $1 billion patent infringement jury verdict against Samsung Electronics Co. earlier this year.
The PTO declared all 20 claims of U.S. Patent No, 7,469,381 to be invalid, according to a copy of the reexamination decision Samsung gave to the Northern District of California court overseeing the case late on Monday.
The office relied primarily on two pieces of prior art, including a previous Apple patent for "continuous scrolling list with acceleration."
The rubber banding patent, entitled "List scrolling and document translation, scaling and rotation on a touch-screen display," covers a method of detecting movement on a touch screen and rolling the display forward or backward when the end of the available display is reached.
The European Patent Office is already pursuing its own review of the European equivalent of the U.S. rubber banding patent, at the request of Samsung and others. Apple won a sales injunction against Google Inc.'s Motorola Mobility LLC in a German court earlier this year on the basis of the European patent.
The PTO's decision is not final or binding, but could provide the impetus for Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California to at least partially grant Samsung's motion to set aside the jury verdict.
Samsung filed motions for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial earlier in October, and the companies sparred last week over whether such relief was warranted due to Samsung's allegations of juror misconduct.
Samsung has accused jury foreman Velvin Hogan of lying about his past involvement in litigation and past ties to Samsung's law firm, saying he failed to answer truthfully during the voir dire portion of jury selection.
"Samsung fails to meet the high bar to obtain judgment or new trial on any claim," Apple said Friday. "Samsung also falls far short of showing the 'grossly excessive or monstrous' damages 'clearly not supported by the evidence, or based only on speculation or guesswork' required to disturb the jury's award."