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Apple's "pinch-to-zoom" patent should not have been awarded, according to a preliminary ruling by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The innovation was at one of six patents at the heart of a recent lawsuit between the iPhone-maker and Samsung.
For now the patent remains valid and Apple is expected to appeal.
However, it could ultimately mean that a judge reduces the amount of damages that Samsung has to pay.
Apple's Pinch-to-Zoom Patent Under Review By US Patent and Trademark Office [bbc.co.uk]