Earlier this month, the United States Patent Office made a non-final ruling that one of Apple’s design patents for the original iPhone is invalid within Apple’s long-running lawsuit against Samsung, according to a report from FOSS Patents. This particular patent, as seen in the drawings above, references the overall design of the original iPhone launched in 2007. It is known as the “D’677” patent in court proceedings and legal documents. FOSS explains the reasoning behind the invalidation:
The problem the D’677 patent faces here is that the USPTO has determined (for now) that this patent “is not entitled to benefit of the filing date” of two previous Apple design patent applications because the design at issue was not disclosed in those earlier applications. As a result, certain prior art is eligible now, and against the background of that additional prior art, the USPTO believes the patent shouldn’t have been granted.
One reason for the invalidation at this point in the proceedings is that this particular patent was not disclosed by Apple in earlier patent applications, according to FOSS Patents. Additionally, as the report notes, this patent was already deemed by the USPTO to not be valid on four occasions due to comparisons with patents from LG and Sharp.
As Apple initially won the lawsuit in late 2014 against Samsung for iPhone design patents, and as Samsung’s latest appeal in the case was actually rejected just last week, it does not appear that this new patent invalidation will affect Apple’s odds of collecting over half a billion dollars from Samsung in patent infringement penalties. According to today’s report, it invalidation could only come into play if the “Supreme Court [becomes] interested in looking into this issue now and [overrules] the Federal Circuit.”