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Apple's touch-screen patent upheld by US Patent Office

So-called Steve Jobs patent reaffirmed after the Patent Office invalidated all 20 claims in the patent last December.

One of Apple's broad patents covering touch-screen technology has been upheld by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a decision that could have a serious impact on cases involving Google and Samsung.

After invalidating US Patent No. 7,479,949 last December, the office issued a re-examination certificate (see below) reaffirming all 20 claims included in the patent, according to a filing last month spotted by Foss Patents. The patent, referred to by many as "the Steve Jobs patent," covers a "touch-screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics."

Apple filed for the patent in April 2008, listing Apple's co-founder as the chief inventor along with 24 other people. The Patent Office granted the patent just nine months later.

Apple has engaged in a patent war with Google and other handset makers that use the Android operating system. The '949 patent was one of three patents used against Motorola Mobility -- now owned by Google -- in a 2011 patent suit that was tossed out of court last November. The US International Trade Commission, a federal agency with the power to enforce bans on products shipping to the US, ruled in August that Samsung had infringed on the patent, leading to a ban on some of its older products.

It was the second such Apple patent to be deemed completely invalid following a re-examination by the Patent Office. The office issued a similar decision last October for an Apple patent covering the company's rubber-banding bounce effect. However, in that case, the office rejected 17 of 20 claims of Apple's '381 patent, which was a key component in last year's landmark patent lawsuit decision between Apple and Samsung.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. PT to correct outcome of '381 patent examination.

949 reexam by CNET News