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Oh Sure, Now The Patent Office Realizes Apple's 'Rubberbanding' Patent Is Both Obvious And Not New

from the a-bit-late dept

We've expressed concerns in the past about the crappy job that the USPTO does in approving patents, when it's clear that, the majority of times that the USPTO is asked to go back and double check its work, it is forced to admit it was wrong. This happens quite frequently in high profile patents used in lawsuits as well. And while some judges are willing to wait for the USPTO to admit its errors, too often the courts just rush through, assuming that the patent must be perfectly valid. Given all that, it's worth noting that the USPTO has now issued a non-final rejection of all claims in Apple's infamously ridiculous "rubberbanding" patent, over the ability for a page to "bounce back" if you scroll to the edge. The key claim in the patent was rejected for failing both standards for patentability. That is, the court found it to be both obvious and not new. Of course, if they had asked anyone who knew anything about programming, they could have told you that ages ago.

It is important, of course, to note that this is a "non-final" rejection -- and even "final rejections" often are not really "final." Apple can, and will, go back to the USPTO and plead its case, and it's not uncommon for "non-final" rejections to go back in the other direction eventually. Of course, all that really does show is how arbitrary and silly the patent system is, in which we award many millions of dollars to patent holders based on the whims of a small group of patent examiners who can't keep their story straight. Either way, this patent was one of the ones that the jury had ruled Samsung infringed upon, so the judge in the case may need to revisit that part of the ruling.

Filed Under: obviousness, patents, rubberbanding
Companies: apple, samsung

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    Flix (profile), 23 Oct 2012 @ 7:17pm

    I don't know if the patent was new or not; I'm actually curious to see the prior art. But my intuition as someone "skilled in the trade" is that the concept is definitely NOT obvious.

    Do you remember how things worked pre-iPhone? It would actually be hard to imagine because there was no such thing as natural-direction, touch&grab scrolling (or maybe there was) but the rubberband effect is, in my opinion, a nifty little user interface innovation that greatly improves usability.

    If it were so obvious, how come we never saw it anywhere else, for example in desktop web browsers?

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