The news: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has declared a huge Apple multi-touch-screen patent - the so-called "Steve Jobs patent" - to be invalid. As CNET adds, this is the second Apple patent to get a smackdown. The previous one was about Apple's "rubber band" effect. Neither ruling is final, but still.
The best analysis: Groklaw, which has been doing amazing coverage of Apple's legal war, writes: "If you want to know why people now hate Apple for its legal swashbuckling, this is Exhibit A."
The conclusion: This whole notion of Steve Jobs launching his "thermonuclear war" on Android is a farce. A sham. A joke. It has been from the start.
Apple Keeps Failing
Apple's claims have been knocked down all over the world. In England a court was so appalled by Apple's claims that it ordered Apple to run ads explaining that Samsung had not, in fact, copied Apple.
Apple appealed, and lost, so the public shaming went forward. Apple brazenly snubbed its nose at the court by creating an ad that taunted Samsung even more. So the court made Apple do it again, and get it right this time.
Yes, Apple won a big case in California. But that too could unravel since the jury appears to have made numerous mistakes. Samsung wants the verdict set aside. The judge is now urging Apple and Samsung to make peace.
Apple, The Knight In Shining (Bogus) Armor
What's especially rich is the way Apple keeps trying to act like this is some noble quest, that the fights aren't about money but rather are about principles and "values," as Tim Cook wrote in a letter to Apple employees after the big win against Samsung last summer.
Now it appears that Apple applied for and received a bunch of lame (and apparently in some cases bogus) patents, then used them to launch a cynical war that it hoped would slow the progress of Android.
Apple is using lawyers and courtrooms to do two things:
First, Apple is using lawsuits as a form of marketing, a way to generate headlines and smear rivals as copycats, while depicting Apple -- pure, noble Apple -- as the font of knowledge from which all innovation flows.
Second, Apple figures it can outspend its rivals and beat them into submission with bogus claims, tie them up with expensive litigation and distract them.
This is not what courts are for. Nor is it what patents are for. This is despicable behavior.
The Plan Has Backfired
What's worse, it hasn't worked. Android now has 75% share in smartphones, versus 15% for Apple. Android is also chipping away in tablets, where Apple's share has dropped to 52%.
Steve Jobs's big "thermonuclear war" has backfired in every way. Apple is the one that has become distracted, while Google keeps chugging away.
Apple had hoped to come out of this looking like a hero. But now, as another of its patents gets struck down, Apple instead looks like a bully -- and a ridiculous, toothless one at that.