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apple samsung 1The USPTO may just have made a billion-dollar decision. Or at least several hundred million.

Ever scrolled to the bottom of a long page on your iPhone, then watched the page lift up from the bottom of the screen and then bounce back? Apple patented that rubber-banding effect, and it was reportedly one of Steve Jobs’ favorite things about the iPhone, since it adds verisimilitude, making what is virtual act as if it is real.

That specific iPhone behavior was one of the issues in Apple’s billion-dollar courtroom victory over Samsung, seven months ago. Now, that patent is on shaky ground, and so is Apple’s legal win — or at least part of the proceeds of that win.

According to a recent Samsung court filing, Apple patent 7,469,381 patent has been invalidated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a statement called a “Final Office Action:”

This Final Office Action by the USPTO is relevant because it finally rejects multiple claims of the ‘381 patent …

This final rejection includes claim 19, which is the only claim of the ‘381 patent at issue in this action. The jury found at trial that 21 accused Samsung products infringed claim 19 of the ‘381 patent.

Claim 19, along with 18, comprise the bounce-back portion of this patent — the ability of the iPhone to show a surface “beneath” a document when the end of the document is reached and then bounce the document back over it.

Apple’s original billion-dollar victory, of course, was reduced by Justice Koh a month ago to $450 million. And a new trial is expected to determine the final value of the judgement. With Samsung arguing that one of Apple’s key patents has now been ruled invalid, the amount could go down yet again. Both companies are, of course, posturing, with Apple claiming in late 2012 that the billion dollar settlement was $700 too little. Originally, Apple had requested $2.5 billion in compensation.

According to Samsung, the USPTO rejected the patent on March 29 of this year. Apple is likely to appeal the ruling.

The never-ending trial of the smartphone giants continues …

Image credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat


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