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Jeff Han's multitouch demo makes a courtroom appearance as Samsung argues patent validity

Jeff Han's multitouch demo makes a courtroom appearance as Samsung argues patent validity


Jeff Han's 2006 multitouch demo made a brief appearance today as one of Samsung's witnesses argued against the validity of two Apple utility patents.

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Samsung's been taking on the validity of Apple's utility patents today, and it just showed Jeff Han's 2006 multitouch demo to help do it. Stephen Gray testified for Samsung, explaining his findings that two of Apple's utility patents — which cover tap-to-zoom and multitouch functionality — aren't valid because software and patents containing the same features already existed.

Apple's multitouch patent describes a way for a system to differentiate between different types of touch input — a single finger for scrolling, and two fingers for zooming and scaling, for example. Gray showed the 1998 "Nomura" Japanese patent, which explains a similar system, and called back to the DiamondTouch Fractal Zoom application, which allows users to expand images with two-finger gestures. Samsung's attorney then played another example of multitouch computing that existed prior to the iPhone: Jeff Han's multitouch demo given at a 2006 TED event. All were examples, he said, that rendered Apple's patent invalid.

Apple's tap-to-zoom patent came under fire next, with Samsung using yet another previously-existing patent and the LaunchTile user interface as ammunition. LaunchTile is a tile-based interface that provides three levels of what it calls "semantic zooming": an overall view of all available tiles, a split-screen quadrant display that fits four tiles onto the screen, and then a drilled-down, single-screen application view. Gray argued that moving from the quadrant view to the application view provided essentially the same functionality as tap-to-zoom. Apple attorney Michael Jacobs, however, drew a clear distinction between LaunchTile and the iOS feature. If the jury decided that magnification wasn't the same as LaunchTile's app view, Jacobs asked, would Gray's invalidity claims fall apart? Gray said that he would leave that for the jury to decide.

Samsung will continue its case tomorrow, and with Judge Koh having mandated both sides wrap up their evidence this week, it's going to be a fast-paced couple of days. We'll be there to keep updated.