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Post-'pinch'? Apple Patent-Case Could Point to New Digital Age For Smartphones

By Washington Post

August 29, 2012

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The future of smartphone development has been muddled with Apple's recent court win against Samsung in a patent infringement case involving the "pinch to zoom" and other key smartphone features.

Analysts expect handset manufacturers might avoid features that could potentially infringe on Apple patents in future products. This could significantly impede the direction toward universal consumer acceptance that the pinch feature appeared to be enjoying. 

The decision has spurred searches for possible gestural substitutes for the pinch, while also raising issues about whether patenting the way humans interact with their devices is permissible once those interactions become standardized.

Samsung is likely to file an appeal that, if it goes to court, would judge the validity of such patents. However, smartphone application developer Ken Yarmosh says Samsung could develop other interactive features such as zoom buttons or apps for automatic Web page optimization. Other experts project a cooling of competition between smartphone sellers if the jury reward in the Apple case surpasses the patents' market value. Analysts note the average smartphone relies on about 250,000 patented technologies. "Any time a patent covers what becomes a de facto industry standard, you have problems," says Santa Clara University professor Brian J. Love.

From Washington Post 
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 

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