The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has tentatively invalidated one of seven patents cited by Apple in its lawsuit against Samsung Electronics in August. In the landmark trial, the jury found the Korean electronics firm infringed those patents and ordered it to pay US$1.05 billion in compensation.
If the tentative decision becomes final, Samsung will be in a better position in the main hearing scheduled for December.
"In a non-final office action, the USPTO has declared all 20 claims of Apple's rubber-banding patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381) invalid," U.S. blog Foss Patents reported Tuesday. The "rubber-band" effect refers to the bouncing animation that takes place when a user scrolls past the end of a page on a touchscreen.
The Northern District Court of California is expected to pass a final ruling in December based on the jury verdict of August.
The court will decide in December how to assess damages in the rubber-banding patent case.
It remains to be seen what final action the USPTO will take pending an appeal by Apple.