The United States Patent and Trademark Office has tentatively rejected certain aspects of a patent Apple holds regarding translucent images. This could potentially impact Apple’s ongoing legal struggles with rival Samsung.
Samsung on Friday notified the United States International Trade Commission of the USPTO’s preliminary decision, according to FOSS Patents. The patent in question — U.S. Patent No. RE41,922, covering a “Method and apparatus for providing translucent images on a computer display” — saw its claims 29-30 and 33-35 rejected on a tentative basis.
The decision is a “First Office Action,” the first move from the USPTO that could result in the invalidation of a patent. The USPTO found that parts of Apple’s patent were anticipated or obvious in view of U.S. Patent No, 5,581,243, which covers a “Method and apparatus for displaying simulated keyboards on touch-sensitive displays,” as well as admitted prior art.
The action is not binding, and the USPTO may change its mind in the process of the patent reevaluation.
The rejection resulted from an anonymous request, filed in December 2012, for a reevaluation of the ‘922 patent. The request pointed to five examples of prior art, which included three U.S., and two Japanese patents.
The ITC had ruled in April of this year that Samsung had infringed RE41,922 with the text selection feature in its Android browser, and with the translucent buttons of the Android photo gallery. Samsung is hoping the recent decision by the USPTO may influence the ITC’s final ruling, scheduled for this summer.