Back in December last year, an anonymous company challenged Apple, claiming that its huge “Steve Jobs patent” was invalid. The 360+ page patent – originally from September 2006 – covered an extensive list of features, technologies and designs found inside the original iPhone. Steven P. Jobs is the first person listed as inventor along with Scott Forstall and a host of other Apple employees.
Following a full reexamination by the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office), each of the 20 claims have been confirmed as patentable. Now that it has the seal of approval from the USPTO, Apple’s position to defend those patents is a lot stronger. As noted by FOSS Patents:
As we speak, the Steve Jobs patent is even stronger than it was before someone (presumably Samsung and Google) challenged it anonymously. On September 4, 2013, the USPTO issued a reexamination certificate confirming the patentability of all 20 claims because the prior art neither anticipated this invention nor renders it obvious.
In other words. The iPhone wasn’t the “logical next step” in the evolution of smartphones. It completely changed the game.
It’s not the first time an Apple patent has had its validity questioned. The famous “rubber-banding” patent was also challenged, and was also confirmed to be patentable following a reexamination. Undoubtedly, this challenging is being done by a company like Google or Samsung who used many of the iPhone’s patented features (multitouch/rubber-banding/design) in some of their early products. A successful challenge of these patents would see them being able to use them as much as they wanted without the threat of a lawsuit from Cupertino.
The big story waiting to come to a conclusion is the Samsung vs. Apple case still ongoing. Late last summer, Apple was awarded $1 billion in damages for Samsung’s shameless copying of a number of patents. Following further investigation at least $400 million of that was wiped off to be recalculated. A “final” court case is said to be planned for next month, 15 months after the $1 billion decision was made.