Patent Office Rejects Apple Claim of Samsung Infringement

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Samsung Electronic has filed a document with the trial court citing a recent ruling from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that the court’s decision released in May that the company had infringed on a patent held by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was based on a patent that the USPTO has now rejected.

Because it is not possible to infringe on an invalid patent claim, the USPTO’s decision would seem to void the May decision and the $119 million payment from Samsung that the court awarded to Apple. The patent claim in question was the autocomplete function identified as claim 18 of patent claim 8,074,172 (or the so-called ‘172 patent). Samsung filed the USPTO decision with the court so that the court would be aware of the patent office’s ruling.

The $119 million award was far less than the $2 billion Apple sought from Samsung and very likely led to the truce between Apple and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and, in some countries not including the U.S., a truce between Apple and Samsung. It could be that Apple will continue to appeal the USPTO, and ultimately the court, in an effort to achieve at least a moral victory. Or the company could simply say it disagrees with the patent office ruling but that it’s time to move on.

It’s pretty clear which path the late Steve Jobs would have taken. Here’s his famous statement on Android and Google:

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

And Jobs had no intention of settling, telling then Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I don’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”

Apple still doesn’t need the money, but it also doesn’t need the distraction.

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