The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed Apple Inc's Patent Trial. The Appeal Board has invalidated parts of a fingerprint-authentication patent owned by Korean patent owner Firstface Co Ltd. However, it also upheld two other Firstface patents that Apple had challenged.

Reuters reported that US Circuit Judge Raymond Chen wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel rejecting Apple's claims that the two valid patents were obvious based on earlier disclosures, but agreeing with Apple that a third patent was obvious.

In 2018, Firstface sued Apple and Samsung in San Francisco federal court for infringing the three patents with "home buttons" or "home keys" that wake devices and use fingerprints to authenticate users simultaneously.

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Judge Chen, joined by Circuit Judges Timothy Dyk and Richard Linn, affirmed that parts of one of the Firstface patents were invalid as obvious.

Meanwhile, Firstface argued that the PTAB should not have decided that an ordinary artisan would have been motivated to combine two earlier patent applications cited by Apple to create Firstface's "activation button."

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However, Chen said that the board found a "clear linkage" between the two prior art references, which both disclosed authenticating a user while waking or powering on a device.

Apple, in its appeal said that the board misconstrued parts of two other "activation button" patents that it had unsuccessfully argued were obvious.

Chen also rejected Apple's argument that "perform" had to mean "initiate" to avoid improperly "reading out" a hands-free function – like Apple's Siri – that Firstface had disclosed in the patents as a way that the technology would be used.