Apple holds a ton of patents, and it’s been referencing dozens of them in the regular legal disputes it finds itself in with other smartphone manufacturers. One of the patents it’s taken a special shine to has been the so-called “Steve Jobs patent”. This one came up this past summer in Apple’s big case against Samsung, when the judge specifically forbid Apple from referring to Steve Jobs in reference to the patent, just to try avoid manipulating the jury’s emotions. There’s now a chance that Apple could lose the patent altogether, as the Patent Office has taken the first steps towards having the patent declared invalid.
US patent 7,479,949 concerns a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics”, and describes certain iOS UI elements, like the rubber-band effect you see when scrolling to the end of a list. The USPTO has now issued what’s called a “first Office action” ruling that all claims made in the patent should be declared invalid.
This is just the first step towards a final action being made, and Apple could very well end up keeping the patent. For the moment, though, its fate is very much up in the air.
Source: FOSS Patents