Even from beyond the grave, Steve Jobs is dispelling business wisdom.
A German court has invalidated an Apple patent because of "prior art" — a video of the late entrepreneur in January 2007 demonstrating technology described in an August 2007 patent.
The issue is rooted in one simple difference between US and international patent law: in the pre-America Invents Act days, US residents were offered a 12-month grace period to file their inventions, during which no published or public content would be considered prior art.
But that extension was not available in Europe, where an inventor's own public demonstrations — like Jobs' keynote speech — could be held against their own patent if conducted before filing an application.
As Jobs giddily unveiled the iPhone photo gallery's famed bounce-back effect in January 2007, he promised at the time, "Boy have we patented it." But, as it turns out, the patent wasn't filed until seven months later — unacceptable by Europe's strict rules.
The past finally caught up with the Cupertino-based firm when the Munich-based Bundespatentgericht (Federal Patent Court of Germany) came knocking last week. According to the Foss Patents blog, the court declared Apple iPhone patent EP2059868 ("portable electronic device for photo management," a.k.a. the bounce-back effect) invalid within the country.
In America, the US Patent Office twice rejected the validity of Apple's "bounce back" patent, most recently in April. As a result, Samsung requested a re-trial on the bounce-back patent issue in a patent case that landed Apple a $1.05 billion (£650 million) victory. Several weeks ago, a California judge rejected that request, but Samsung will get a new trial on several other patents.
Check out Jobs's keynote speech in the video above; the relevant photo app mention occurs around the 33 minute mark.