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Apple 'pinch-to-zoom' patent on shaky ground, report says

Macworld reports that Samsung is asking a federal judge to throw out the patent-infringement case due to the patent office's recent decision to reject all 21 claims.

Apple's embattled "pinch-to-zoom" patent has apparently been tossed out by federal patent authorities, if a new report is correct.

Samsung Electronics on Sunday filed a petition in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, requesting that all alleged infringement against Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent -- Patent No. 7,844,915 -- be tossed out, according to Macworld, which obtained a copy of the documents. Samsung cited a recent decision on the part of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to reject all 21 claims in the patent through a "final office action," according to Macworld.

Apple's '915 patent describes a method by which users can bring their fingers together and separate them to create a zoom-in or zoom-out effect. In the ongoing legal battle over patent infringement, Apple charged Samsung with violating claims made in the '915 patent. A jury last August awarded Apple with $1.05 billion in damages and cited 21 of 24 Samsung products that allegedly violated the pinch-to-zoom.

In December, the USPTO analyzed the patent again and decided to reject all 21 claims upon reexamination. Apple was able to combat the decision, but if Macworld's report is correct, that effort apparently didn't go so well.

However, in examining the USPTO site, CNET discovered that the patent is still listed and doesn't show any recent "legal events" that confirm the final office action. Whether that's the USPTO taking extra time to update the listing or something else is unknown at this point.

Regardless, Samsung's filing aims at eliminating all claims made against its products through the use of the patent. If the judge accepts that, it's likely that the company's damages -- which are currently subject to change pending a retrial and other orders -- would be reduced.

CNET has contacted both Apple and Samsung for comment on the Macworld report. We will update this story when we have more information.