USPTO Junks Apple's "Rubber Band" Patent Claim

Samsung could owe Apple even less money in damages, over the latter's successful patent infringement lawsuit last year; following a US patents and trademarks office (USPTO) decision. Last October, the USPTO issued a First Office Action, which tentatively rejected Apple's claims to the '381 patent, after a federal judge in California deemed it valid, and prosecuted Samsung for patent infringement. On Monday (01/04), the federal body filed its Final Office Action, rejecting Apple's claims. Samsung can now use the decision to move the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which reviews USPTO's decisions.

Among the 20 patents Apple alleged Samsung of infringing, '381 covers what has come to be known as the "rubber band effect," a user-interface element in which the end of a webpage, list, zoomed-in image, or menu being scrolled, is indicated with the screen "bouncing back." A host of Samsung products, including Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G, Exhibit 4G, Fascinate, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Prevail, Galaxy S, Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S II (AT&T), Galaxy S II (i9100), Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi), Gem, Indulge, Infuse 4G, Mesmerize, Nexus S 4G, Replenish, and Vibrant; were dragged into Apple's case.

In August 2012, Apple successfully sued Samsung to stake $1.05 billion in damages over this particular patent. Last month (March 2013), Judge Lucy Koh of the US District Court of Northern California, where the case was heard, reduced Samsung's damage liability to $450.5 million, and ordered a recalculation of the damages. With this latest development, Samsung could effectively reduce the liability to zero.