In a victory for its competitors the USPTO has invalidated Apple’s patent claim for a popular ‘pinch to zoom’ feature found on its iPhone and iPad devices. The USPTO will now undergo a lengthy review process for all 21 claims filed under U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915.

If the USPTO finds its preliminary rejections to be correct all claims to the patent will be tossed.

Apple's 'Pinch To Zoom' Patent

The rejection could spell good news for Samsung, U.S. Patent No. 7,844,915 was one of the major patent violations used to sue Samsung in the company’s landmark $1.1 billion lawsuit. Samsung lawyers have already approached judge Lucy Koh with the rejection notice.

For several years Apple relentlessly attacked its components in what some analysts called a blatant attempt to stifle competition. Recently Apple’s relentless pursuit of patent claims has turned against the company. In October the USPTO invalidated 20 claims for Patent No. 7,469,381, technology known as “rubber-banding.” That particular piece of tech occurs when a user scrolls down a page. Rubber-banding is currently being investigated and Apple must prove that the technology is not “obvious” or used in prior works.

The rubber-banding patent was also used against Samsung and allowed Apple to be awarded $1 billion. Samsung has appealed Judge Lucy Koh’s original $1.1 billion decision and in light of new evidence there may be no choice but to overturn part of the damages award.

Apple's 'Pinch To Zoom' Patent

In the meantime, patent battles are hardly over, a consortium of buyers that includes Facebook, Google and Apple just purchased the Kodak patent portfolio for $525 million. Company’s have recently banned together to purchase patent portfolios in order to protect their own interests well into the future. Courts have also been more likely to issue FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) licenses for commonly used patents. FRAND requires company’s to charge a fair price for use of patents that are required for today’s technologies.

[Images via TUAW & techit]