Just a few weeks ago, the USPTO made a preliminary ruling that Apple's multi-touch "rubber-banding" patent was likely invalid. Late yesterday, they made another ruling that Apple's "pinch-to-zoom" patent is also invalid. This could have huge ramifications for the previous IP property trial between Samsung and Apple that awarded Apple with $1.05 Billion dollars in damages. Here's a quote with some of the important details,

During the Apple v. Samsung jury trial, Apple asserted Claim 8 of the '915 patent, which covers the heuristics of the "pinch-to-zoom" gesture that invokes the scaling of displayed content. The jury found all but two Samsung products brought to trial infringed on the patent.

From the '915 patent:
8. A machine readable storage medium storing executable program instructions which when executed cause a data processing system to perform a method comprising: receiving a user input, the user input is one or more input points applied to a touch-sensitive display that is integrated with the data processing system; creating an event object in response to the user input; determining whether the event object invokes a scroll or gesture operation by distinguishing between a single input point applied to the touch-sensitive display that is interpreted as the scroll operation and two or more input points applied to the touch-sensitive display that are interpreted as the gesture operation; issuing at least one scroll or gesture call based on invoking the scroll or gesture operation; responding to at least one scroll call, if issued, by scrolling a window having a view associated with the event object; and responding to at least one gesture call, if issued, by scaling the view associated with the event object based on receiving the two or more input points in the form of the user input.

The USPTO's decision cited multiple cases of prior art including two U.S. patents, one international property and two Japanese filings. In October, the agency invalidated Apple's "rubber banding" or scroll bounce-back patent in a non-final Office action.
For the last couple of weeks we have seen Apple score some minor victories in their patent wars with other companies including both Samsung and Motorola. This new development could be a huge set-back for Apple, and could potentially undermine a lot of their court "strategy." Let's just cross our fingers that it induces them to consider working out a settlement so they can get focused on innovating instead of litigating.

Source: AppleInsider