Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Apple's Touchscreen Patent - Google Requesting Ex Parte Reexamination?

Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents suggests that Apple's U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, Touch Screen Device, Method, And Graphical User Interface for Determining Commands by Applying Heuristics (the '949 patent) "probably scares the living daylights out of Google's Android Team."

Very funny, but I am having difficulty imagining Google's Android team quaking in fear over the '949 patent after its patent victory in Oracle v. Google.

At the same, Florian may be right that Google is the real party behind the request for ex parte reexamination (Enter 90/012,308 in PTO PAIR for the papers) of the '949 patent filed on May 24, 2012. Here are a few reasons the speculation may be correct:

1. In Oracle v. Google, Google used reexamination to eliminate five of seven Oracle patents from trial.

2. Google must continue to protect the Android ecosystem (e.g., the handset manufacturers). This summer Motorola (now Google) and Samsung, the leading Android handset manufacturer must defend themselves against the '949 patent, which relates to how to interpret user swipes on a touchscreen into computer commands. It would be extremely beneficial to attack the '949 patent before the parties go to trial.

3. Although  the ‘949 patent is currently the subject of an ITC investigation, Certain Electronic Digital Media Devices and in federal district court litigation Apple v. Motorola, Google may be reluctant to directly attack Apple's patent due to exposure it may have on other Apple patents. This goes to why ex parte reexamination rather than inter partes reexamination was requested.

4. Perhaps the weakest point is the Bryan Cave law firm that filed the request for ex parte reexamination has recently represented Google on another IP matter.

Yes, the inferences and scant evidence highlight we don't know who is the real party in interest for ex parte reexamination.

Copyright © 2012 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.