) -- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has announced a decision that may ultimately deal a huge blow to


(AAPL) - Get Report

and could turn out to be redemption and a big win for



As reported by

Foss Patents

, the USPTO has tentatively invalidated Apple's "rubber-banding" patent, the one which was a major factor in the California jury's decision to award $1.5 billion in damages to Apple. Rubber-banding is a screen scrolling effect that shows users that they've navigated to the end of a screen. It's also known as overscroll bounce.

The patent in question

, number 7,469,381, and especially claim 19 has been deemed invalid in two ways -- either of which could be enough to overturn the August 24 verdict and judgment award.

Claim 19

was rejected for what was termed a "lack of novelty." That means Apple would have to get the patent office or appeals court to rule its version of rubber-banding was new despite documents which prove an earlier existence and that their invention is sufficient to justify their patent.

According to Foss, while the USPTO's non-final decision is not binding, there is a possibility that Judge Koh will be persuaded by this to grant Samsung's overrule-the-jury motion to the extent it relates to that specific patent. Samsung has reportedly sent a copy of the USPTO's ruling to the judge for consideration.

Samsung has already provided a workaround for this specific patent claim but might add back the rubber-banding feature in the United States if the patent is ultimately invalidated.

If the patent invalidation becomes permanent, the move could effect the outcome of similar Apple suits against



Motorola Mobility

, a division of


(GOOG) - Get Report


--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.