Apple-Samsung Legal Battle in Australia Raises Question if Pinch-to-Zoom, Slide-to-Unlock Features Can be Patented

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 28, 2013 3:37 PM EST

The lawyer of Samsung questioned on Wednesday if the technological features of devices that describe human-to-computer interaction could be the subject of a patent.

Richard Cobden, the Samsung counsel, identified to a two-judge panel the features such as pinch-to-zoom and slide-to-lock as design principles that he insisted are not grounds for a patent and claim exclusivity.

The argument was made in the ongoing lawsuit between Samsung and Apple, one of the several ongoing litigations between the two tech giants which have been battling over patent infringements and sales across courts and store shelves.

He stressed that the gestures which Apple patented are more of a fine art since what could be beautiful to one person may be ugly to another.

"Patents are not granted for the reason that something is beautiful or elegant. The attractiveness of a feature is subjective," Appleinsider.com quoted Mr Cobden.

The South Korean tech giant sought to invalidate Apple's patents in the lawsuit it filed with the Australian Commission of Patents. The lawyer warned that by allowing Apple to keep the patents, the American firm would likely threaten other players in the market with patent lawsuits if they manufacture gadgets with similar human-to-computer features.

A previous Apple court victory gave rise to rumours that Samsung paid the damage in 5 cent coins aboard 30 trucks.

Apple's standard patent lapses in 2028 but its innovation patents would expire earlier in 2016.

The two judges hearing the lawsuit are Justice Annabelle Bennett and Justice David Yates. Ms Bennett is the original judge, but she suggested having a second judge in July 2012, which makes the case unique since only one judge sits on lawsuits.

Even if Apple wins the lawsuit, the battle for sales is on Samsung's side which has gained the upperhand in sales of smartphones while Apple'share prices have plummeted by as much as 37 per cent since September 2012 due to device glitches, missed deadlines and high prices.

In their U.S. litigation, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh told the lawyers of the two tech firms to narrow their patent infringement lawsuit which is scheduled for trial in 2014.

The Apple lawsuit covered six more Samsung products, including the Galaxy Note II.

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