Apple Granted 51 New Patents, Touchscreen Image Resizing Likely to Be Most Controversial

By Tracey E. Schelmetic December 17, 2013

Using a touch screen to resize an object? As of this week, the patent for that technology belongs to Apple. The tech giant has been granted 51 new patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week. The patents cover multiple technologies, from the use of proximity sensors in iDevices and 3D-mapping to Apple's "Expose" and more.

But it’s the touch screen resizing of objects, such as digital images, video, text, icons and other graphics inside drawing and presentation applications, word processing and spreadsheets, that is likely to be the patent that is likely to be the most eyebrow raising. Apple, no stranger to patent infringement lawsuits, may be keeping its teams of lawyers even busier than usual with this development.

“With Apple being involved in so many patent infringement cases with Samsung of late for key features covering the iPhone, it's possible that Apple's latest patent win for resizing objects could come into play in the future,” writes Patently Apple, which announced the new series of patents. “While the method may seem ‘obvious’ today, it wasn't back in time when iDevices first introduced it.”

As many other devices enable the use of the touch screen to resize objects, it’s very probable that Apple will bump heads with other smartphone makers over the patent.

Apple says it credits Jay Capela, Charles Migos, William Thimbleby and Christopher Weeldreyer as the inventors of the resizing patent, which was originally filed in 2010 and published today (Tuesday, December 17) by the USPTO.  Other patents granted to Apple today include a proximity detector in handheld device; forming a stereoscopic image using range map; landmark identification using metadata and user interface for an application (Apple's Keynote App).

Apple remains embroiled in a number of patent lawsuits, most notably with Samsung. In the two companies’ continuing patent war, a federal jury in California awarded Apple $290 million in damages last month, ruling that Samsung copied the iPhone and iPad. This is on top of the $1 billion in damages already awarded to Apple from Samsung last year. Samsung has said it will appeal the November verdict and has even raised accusations of “racial bias” in the lawsuits.

“Independently, new trial is warranted under Rule 59 because Apple’s appeals to prejudice against race, ethnicity, and nationality, which have no places in American courtrooms, rendered the trial unfair to Samsung…Apple’s insidious “American-us versus foreign them” theme permeated the trial,” Samsung’s motion for a retrial read.

The touch-screen object resizing patent is unlikely to improve the relationship between the two companies. 

Edited by Blaise McNamee

TechZone360 Contributor

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