The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has said that Apple's Pinch-To-Zoom patent should not have been awarded, and that it is "under review"

Patent No. 7,844,915, referred to as the ’915 patent, covers document scrolling. The patent sat at the heart of Apple's recent successful lawsuit against rival phone manufacturer Samsung, and the decision could mean that Apple receives less damages from Samsung.

In August a jury announced that Samsung should pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages for infringing on Apple's patent. Samsung will be keen to use this ruling to push for a lower fine.

The patent remains valid for the time being, but this is the second time in three months that the USPTO has placed one of Apple's patents under review. In October the patent office placed the "rubber band" interface effect (whereby lists bounce and snap back into place) also under review.

Wired notes that many patents that go under review are upheld, and it may not be the entirety of a patent that Apple loses, just certain aspects of it.

Apple has become increasingly active in taking out patents to cover its technology. How much effect this is having on its rivals is debatable, however. As Jared Newman reported the other day "Although many pundits predicted that Apple's jury trial victory would dramatically alter the smartphone market, those predictions haven't panned out."

Apple Pinch to Zoom patent

Apple's pinch to zoom patent