Samsung Challenges Apple Pinch-to-Zoom Patent With 2001 Tech

Samsung Challenges Apple Pinch-to-Zoom Patent With 2001 Tech

As the courtroom battles continue, Samsung yesterday went for Apple by arguing that several iOS-wide UI features were actually developed well before the iPhone came into existence.

The Verge is reporting that, in particular, Samsung pointed to the DiamondTouch device — developed in 2001 at the Mitsubishi Electronic Research Laboratory — which included predecessors of both pinch-to-zoom and Apple’s bounce-back effect. The device, available in the MERL lounge for anyone to use, saw images snap back into place, rather like they do in iOS, and featured an application called Fractal Zoom, which allowed users to manipulate and zoom in on images using multiple finger gestures.

While the main thrust of Samsung’s argument was that staff from Cupertino had seen the technology — even given a demonstration at one point — later questioning revealed that many of the software developments came late in the life of the device, and certainly some time after 2003.

Elsewhere, the bounce-back patent was also challenged on prior-art grounds. The LaunchTile system, brainchild of Benjamin Bederson, was developed in 2004 and allowed users to navigate through an interface of tiles by sweeping back and forth. But it also had a built-in feature that caused the image on the screen to snap-back when a user failed to reach a certain threshold.

Apple can likely dismiss the prior-art assault easily, because in reality, it’s actually an inverse of its own bounce-back patent. The best Samsung can hope for with this kind of evidence is to make the jury sceptical about Apple’s originality — but it’s going to have to wheel out some bigger guns if it hopes to win. [Verge]