One of the patents Apple successfully defended against Samsung recently is one on the pinch gesture to zoom using a multitouch interface. It has been pointed out that, given multitouch, this gesture is about the most obvious imaginable to accomplish a zoom, and you shouldn't be able to patent such obvious things. Pointed out too that Apple didn't patent a particular implementation, but the very idea of a pinch zoom, which is like patenting the notion of a steering wheel. And that if implementation-free ideas are to be granted patents, movies like Minority Report exhibited the idea well before Apple.
But here's something else:
An NYU professor working on human computer interfaces demoed every touch technology Apple would market (plus a lot more) at an extremely prominent technology conference. That talk is from February 2006, and was widely circulated at the time because of how exciting and cool the technology and its applications were. Apple filed its patent application in December 2006. Nor is it like Han was the only person at the time working on such things.
Apparently Samsung actually brought up the Jeff Han video in court, but for some reason this wasn't deemed a decisive consideration. Much is said about how the patent system is broken in terms of trivial things being patented, like obvious gestures. And that's all correct, or that's how it seems to me at any rate. Here though, it sounds like the bigger problem is prior art and invalidation of patents for that reason. How on earth did Apple win this patent to begin with, and why didn't the court quash that patent when contested?