Apple's glorious "pinch and zoom" patent just got invalidated. Only a company with the deep pockets of Samsung could pursue the fight all the way to "invalidation", and even after paying Apple about $1 billion awarded by an incompetent jury.Something is profoundly wrong. Ask yourself how many smaller companies have been put out of business by similar Apple tactics? The irony is that consumers have been bamboozled into believing that Apple is the great innovator on account of these cons. Was Jobs brilliant at seeing value in other people's ideas and make something of it with brilliant repackaging? Yes absolutely, all the way back to the mid 80's when he ripped off Xerox PARC's mouse, icons and windows UI (Gates and others that saw exactly the same stuff, could also have done the same, but did not "get it" for a few years longer than Jobs). Unfortunately Apple's deep pockets also allowed it to become a destructive IP bully for which all consumers pay a price. Small startup innovators cannot defend, they just get put out of business. The optimist in me likes to think "all cons come to an end", to wit some companies like GM sold junk and lost shareholders value for years but eventually came to their deserved end (unfortunately we also bailed it out and now taxpayers are losing 1/2 their investment thanks to Treasury's decision to unload the stock - but that's another story).
This time it's the so-called "pinch and zoom" patent getting rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and this is a big deal since that patent was one that Apple used to achieve that huge $1 billion verdict against Samsung in a California kangaroo court last summer.
Now what happens? Does the court in California go back and subtract all the damages that the jury awarded to Apple based on this patent that Apple should never have been granted?
Apple took a big victory lap after that ruling but it's looking like maybe it popped the champagne too early.
The ruling by the USPTO is not final, and no doubt Apple will appeal the decision, but suddenly Apple isn't looking so powerful. In fact, it is looking a bit, well, ridiculous. (And that's the kind word for it.)
The patent was struck down because the USPTO found prior art. Meaning Apple didn't actually invent the stuff it claimed to have invented. It copied it from others, then went and got a patent on it anyway, and then used that bogus patent to sue rivals.
Worse yet for Apple, this new ruling from the USPTO comes just two weeks after the USPTO smacked down another of Apple's patents, one that related to multitouch and was known as the "Steve Jobs" patent.
I wrote at the time that Apple's "thermonuclear patent war" was a farce. Now that farce seems even sillier.