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Thursday, December 20, 2012, 06:50 am PT (09:50 am ET)

Increase in Apple patent invalidations stems from 2011 law

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, passed in 2011, is the cause of a recent increase in Apple-patent invalidations by the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

Leahy


This week, Apple’s "pinch to zoom" patent — viewed as a key property in its patent-infringement lawsuit against Samsung— was invalidated by the USPTO, which cited prior art. The decision came two weeks after another patent related to "touchscreen heuristics" was also invalidated.

The USPTO also invalidated
As noted by Fortune on Thursday, anyone can anonymously request that the USPTO reopen a previously approved patent case with a $17,750 filing fee. In addition, the 2011 law makes it more difficult for the USPTO to deny the request.

Apple's string of patent invalidations have benefited Samsung, which is involved in ongoing patent litigation with Apple, and has also been ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion in an infringement suit in California. The Leahy-Smith Act has given companies an easier patent challenging process, which has led to more inventions being found invalid by the USPTO.

The Leahy-Smith Act was passed by Congress last year to "bring substantial changes changes to the U.S. patents system."