On August 5, 2015, the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a non-final action in the reexamination of U.S. Design Patent No. 618,677, an iPhone-related design patent. The '677 patent is one of three Apple Inc. smartphone design patents that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has been ordered to pay $548 million for infringing.
The patent, which covers the rectangular shape and appearance of the iPhone, has been tentativily determined unpatentable based on four different prior art references. The USPTO has determined that the '677 patent is not entitled tot he filing date of earlier Apple design patents, which it had been mistakenly given during examination. The USPTO has determined that the '677 design is not supported by the earlier filings. As a result, more prior art can be used against the patent, including Apple's own designs.
The Oblon team has also successfully challenged another key iPhone-related design patent no. 618,688, which is of similar scope and was also asserted in the Samsung dispute at the International Trade Commission (ITC).