Category: Trademarks/Patents – Filed / Issued

Apple Granted Patent for New Dock Connector

Apple has been awarded a patent application for what looks like an improved version of the current Dock connector featured on all of Apple’s current iOS devices.

The patent win revealed by Patently Apple shows that Apple has won “a patent for an all-new Hybrid DisplayPort/USB 3.0 high speed connector.” The patent reveals that the connector would be used on iOS devices but also hints at spreading through all of Apple’s hardware.

Patently Apple covers the patent application in some detail, also offering some speculation about how Apple might use the connector and how it could change over time. In particular the patent details a number of different connector configurations; “connectors 300 and 350 could provide support for USB 3.0 (USB3) and legacy USB 2.0 (USB2). In one embodiment, the connectors include two USB2 contacts, four USB3 contacts, and a USB power and a ground contact.”

Apple also outlines how the new Dock connector will have a reduced height design by removing a number of elements featured in the current Dock connector design.

The patent which was originally filed in late 2008 does not mention Apple’s new Thunderbolt technology which debuted earlier this year in Apple’s MacBook Pro models.

Apple Scoops iPad Trademark From Fujitsu

Late last week Apple acquired the iPad trademark from Fujitsu. The iPad trademark was applied for by Fujitsu in 2003 but was declared abandoned by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in early 2009, only to be re-opened by Fujitsu the following June.

Apple was assigned the trademark on March 17, 2010 under serial number 76497338.

No details are available of communications or exchanges between Apple and Fujitsu, whether Apple purchased the trademark or was assigned it remains speculation.

View full trademark docket (PDF).

iPhone Becomes Registered Trademark of Apple

iPhone 3GS

iPhone 3GS | Image courtesy of Apple

Apple has been officially awarded the “IPHONE” trademark in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under number 3,746,840 covering International Classes 9, 28 and 38.

Of interest from the award which covers both the name and logo is that the trademark includes classes 9, 28 and 38. The most interesting of the three being class 28 which covers “Handheld unit for playing electronic games.”

View the full patent certificate here, awarded on February 9, 2010.

Apple Awarded Multi-Touch Patent

According to the US Patent Office Apple was awarded patent number 7,479,949 on January 20, 2009. The patent which was filed on April 11, 2008 covers multi-touch and all associated gestures such as pinch, swipe and rotation.

The patent is titled:

Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics

The initial patent abstract is as follows:

A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.

Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall are just some of the names listed in the inventors list

Multi-touch Patent

“Podmaps” Patent Reveals Interest in Mapping

A filing made by Apple in January 2007 shows that the company may have interest in merging visual maps and spoken directions.

The mix of a visual map and spoken directions would be assembled together to create a “Podmap”, which could then be transferred to an iPod or iPhone.

“In this regard, the application server can reply to the client program to notify the client that the requested podmap is now available from the podmap RSS server. The client program can then interact with the podmap RSS server to retrieve the requested podmap,” Apple said.

“In any event, once the requested podmap is resident at the client or the portable media device, the podmap is able to be played on such devices. Due to their support of media playback, the client and the portable media device can also be referred to as media playback devices. When being played, the podmap presents to the user of the device the voice directions and the corresponding images so that the user is able to successfully navigate from the start location to the destination location. It is particularly useful to play on the portable media device because it can be easily carried or transferred by the user.”

Patents: Portable Computer Docking Station, Ever Changing Keyboard

Integrated monitor and docking stationPatent Link

A patent application submitted in 2006 has been published for the first time revealing that Apple could be working on a docking system for portable computers. The dock itself closely resembles the look of the current iMac.

A docking station is disclosed. The docking station includes a display and a housing configured to hold the display in a manner that exposes a viewing surface of the display to view. The housing defines a docking area configured to receive a portable computer; The docking area is at least partly obscured by the display when viewed from the viewing surface side of the display at an angle substantially orthogonal to the viewing surface.

Traditionally a portable computer docking station requires a separate external monitor to be connected (e.g., by cable) to the docking station when a display other than the integrated display of the portable computer is desired to be used with the docking station. Often a significant amount of desk space is required for placement of this docking station and separate display. Attempts have been made to conserve the required amount of desk space by allowing the external display to be stacked on top of the docking station. However, the stacked combination still occupies a large amount of space and is cumbersome to move and transport. Therefore there exists a need for a docking station and display combination that is configured in a more efficient form.

Dynamically Controlled Keyboard

Another published patent application filed in March 2007 shows off Apple’s potential plans to offer a dynamically changing keyboard using OLED (organic light emitting diodes) on each key.

Optimus keyboardOptimus keyboard

The project appears very similar to that of the Optimus keyboard, which is widely publicised but yet to begin shipping.

The patent writes:

Methods and apparatus, including computer program products, implementing and using techniques for providing a computer peripheral including one or more keys. Each key has several light emitting diodes disposed on a face of the key. Each of the light emitting diodes can switch on or off in response to a data signal received from an application specific integrated circuit dedicated to the key. A corresponding key and manufacturing method, as well as a computer system including one or more such keys are also described.

In Brief: Fujitsu, Hitachi Quit Micro Hard-Drive Business; Icon Wiggle in Patent; Final Cut Meeting Holds Answers

Fujitsu, Hitachi Quit Micro Hard-Drive Business, Icon Wiggle in Patent

A report from Reuters notes that an increasing shift to flash-based storage has forced Fujitsu and Hitachi out of the ultra-small rotating hard drive business.

Both Fujitsu and Hitachi had supplied micro hard-drives for Apple’s iPod in the past but even Apple has begun moving across to flash-based storage with the iPod classic being the last remaining hard-drive based iPod.

Toshiba continues to make micro hard-drives.

Icon Wiggle in Patent has noted that the recent icon wiggle seen in the recent videos of iPhone Firmware 1.1.3 are reminiscent of that in a recently published patent.

The patent filing for a reconfigurable touchscreen interface notes in detail the wiggle of the icons when a user selects them.

The patent does include some details of the ability to “toss” icons which appears to have not made it to the iPhone in firmware update 1.1.3.

Final Cut Meeting Holds Answers

AppleInsider writes that a collection of Final Cut Pro user groups will hold a meeting at Macworld Expo later this month.

According to the rumour site Apple will have a surprise for the attending guests.

The meeting which will take place on January 16th; the day following Steve Jobs’ anticipated Keynote will feature “something super secret” from Apple.

Apple Developing Solution for Mini-CD Slot Load Problems

Apple has developed an idea of reducing shipping and packaging costs by selling software on smaller discs which could then be used in slot-loading optical drives built for standard 12 cm CDs and DVDs a new patent filing reveals.

The filing which was made in May 2006 but only revealed last Thursday explains that conventional rotating memory storage discs such as CDs and DVDs are currently produced in standard 12 cm and reduced diameter 8 cm configurations.

However slot loading drives live those used on the MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac mini and iMac are incapable of taking advantage of the smaller medium.

“In such situations it would be advantageous to use a reduced diameter (lower storage capacity) disc,” the filing explained. “Such advantages include reduced shipping costs, reduced production costs, etc.”

The solution appears to be an adapter capable of folding half that can hold the 8cm discs and allow them to be placed into a slot loading drive.

Diagram of compactable memory disc adapterDiagram of compactable memory disc adapter

“However, this solution does nothing to reduce shipping costs since the rigid adapter (with its larger footprint) must be shipped with the reduced diameter disc and therefore a standard sized shipping container must be used to accommodate both the rigid adapter and reduced diameter disc,” writes the patent author. “What is needed is a cost effective method and apparatus for shipping reduced diameter discs that assures the end user will be able to use the reduced diameter disc in a slot drive designed exclusively for a standard diameter disc.”

The invention is currently dubbed a “compactable memory disc adapter” that can be shipped in a compact form and expanded by the customer once extracted from the retail packaging.

Apple Attempting to Trademark “Multi-Touch”

Apple appears to be making moves across the globe to trademark the term “multi-touch.”

Multi-touch is the famous technology that brought us the iPhone and Apple has made recent explorations into multi-touch mice as seen in a patent filings.

Apple has filed for the term in a Far East Intellectual Property Office as well as with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Both with an application date of June 30.

The following is a description of the term “multi-touch” from the trademark application;

IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Handheld mobile digital electronic devices with electronic mail, digital data transmission, audio player, video player, handheld computer, personal digital assistant, electronic organizer, electronic notepad, telephone, computer gaming, and camera functions, and computer software for use with such devices

Apple Files Patent for Multi-Touch Mouse

A patent application filed by Apple in March 2006 shows that the company may well be looking into other uses for multi-touch technology.

Apple lists the following as some of the claims for the filing;

1. A configurable mouse with an extended sensing surface, which provides the mouse a customizable, programmable or adaptable way of generating inputs, the mouse including an arbitrarily shaped grippable member having a 3D shape, a position detection mechanism that detects the movement of the mouse along a surface, a multipoint touch detection mechanism that detects one or more objects that are contacting or in close proximity to a substantially large portion of the grippable member, and a controller for processing signals generated by the position detection mechanism and multipoint touch detection mechanism.

2. The configurable mouse as recited in claim 1 wherein the grippable member includes no fixed input areas.

3. The configurable mouse as recited in claim 1 wherein the grippable member is formed from a single member with a full continuous surface, which defines the front, sides, back and top surfaces of the mouse.

In another embodiment the touch sensitive mouse would use a built-in light source and an “optically transmissive surface” to trace finger positions.

Gestures can also be used to invoke and manipulate virtual control interfaces, such as volume knobs, switches, sliders, handles, knobs, doors, and other widgets that may be created to facilitate human interaction with the computing system.