Apple photo patent declared invalid as it had already been shown... by Apple

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Jamie Rigg
September 27th, 2013
Apple photo patent declared invalid as it had already been shown... by Apple

It's not often that events of a patent tiff transcend the humdrum noise we're all too used to, but the most recent judgement of a Munich court has declared an Apple patent invalid based on prior art from, well, Apple. As Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents explains, Cupertino has racked up a couple of decisions going against both Samsung and Motorola based on a patent for "portable electronic device[s] for photo management," which describes a bounce-back aka rubber-banding effect specifically within the iOS photo gallery app. Now, Apple's lawmen successfully argued the UI feature was different from previous concepts presented by AOL and Microsoft (which could benefit Cook & Co greatly in other cases, Mueller says). However, there was one piece of prior art they couldn't dispute: the feature in question being shown off by Steve Jobs at the OG iPhone keynote back in January 2007. (We've embedded video of the keynote below, but you'll need to jump to 32:40 to catch the gallery bounce-back bit.)

You see, even though the rubber-banding feature was demonstrated by Apple, on an Apple device, it still counts as prior art that invalidates its own patent -- in Europe at least. That's because documents describing the feature weren't filed until June 2007, almost six months after Jobs took to the stage. A similar, first-to-file situation is now part of the US system, of course, ever since the America Invents Act was signed into law in 2011. As the first-generation iPhone keynote came years before that, however, it's unlikely to hold any weight in future US court decisions. Well, you can't win 'em all Apple, especially when you're up against yourself.

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