Apple's patent on pinching to zoom, a key issue in its battle against Samsung, has reportedly been declared 'invalid' by the US Patent Office, who claim that the patent should never have been granted.
The rejection comes as a blow to Apple's 1 billion dollar lawsuit against rival Samsung, and is the second such occurrence in just a few months.
The 'pinch to zoom' feature is one of six patents that Samsung was found to have infringed earlier this year, and formed a key feature of Apple's iPhone as well as all subsequent smartphones, The Telegraph reports.
According to the paper, the feature allows users to zoom in and out of almost anything on a smartphone screen simply by moving two fingers together or apart. Apple's claims were rejected on the grounds that prior patents covered the inventions.
The US Patent Office ruling was revealed in court documents filed by Samsung in San Jose, where the two technology giants are battling over the patent infringement claims, the paper said.
Apple, however, is likely to appeal the ruling so the patent is still technically in force, the paper added.
Earlier, the US Patent Office also threw out Apple's "bounce" feature, also known as "rubber-banding", which governs the visual effect to indicate when a user has hit the bottom of a web page, the paper concluded.