Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

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Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

Postposted on Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:17 pm

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Re: Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

Postposted on Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:54 pm

Technically, it's a "portable display device" in the form of a round-cornered rectangle with certain other distinctive contour lines, but given how similar the patented design profile is to the original Microsoft Tablet PC c.a. 2002, I think Apple may have finally tripped over some rather blatant prior art.
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Re: Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

Postposted on Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:47 pm

This is a design patent. Not a utility patent.

Design patents are very specific and are very hard to infringe upon (unless the item in question is a blatant knock-off -eg that Chinese company that tried to sell an iPhone 5 look-a-like before the iPhone 5 was released). The process of awarding design patents does involve verification of prior art, but unless the prior art is virtually identical (and not just similar) they are not relevant. This would make older tablet attempts from HP and Microsoft from the early 2000s not very relevant as prior art, even though they do share sort of similar designs with iPads, etc. Because of this, even though Apple was awarded this particular design patent, I'm not sure how well it will help them in court cases against companies with similar looking products - ie, Samsung, etc). So this is likely mostly much ado about nothing. All biases aside, this is likely why Apple lost the UK Samsung Galaxy Tablet cases. All the judge had to do was acknowledge that the Samsung Galaxy Tab was not identical to the design patent(s) held for the iPad. Which they did.

The California ruling was (I think) based on both design and utility patents. To me, utility patents are much more problematic in this field as they can be exploited much more easily (and this is where the USPTO needs reform the most). Utility patents are based on functionality (ie, drop-down notificaiton tab, swipe to unlock, etc). It is much more ambiguous to determine which prior functionality across multiple different platforms and operating systems are relevant...
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Re: Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

Postposted on Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:56 pm

Take a look here:

http://4mahmood-gallery.blogspot.com/20 ... chive.html

Scroll down about four images or so to "Microsoft Tablet PC (2002)", then scroll down a couple more to "Apple's iPad (2010)".
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Re: Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

Postposted on Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:35 pm

ludi wrote:Take a look here:

http://4mahmood-gallery.blogspot.com/20 ... chive.html

Scroll down about four images or so to "Microsoft Tablet PC (2002)", then scroll down a couple more to "Apple's iPad (2010)".


[nitpicking] The "Microsoft Tablet PC (2002)" is shown running Windows 7, so methinks it's not a good image of what was released in 2002. [/nitpicking]
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Re: Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

Postposted on Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:25 pm

Not nitpicking at all. That picture in the link ludi provided is obviously a fake - or at least miss labelled.

The thing has a (maybe slightly photoshoped) HDMI port. HDMI ports didn't really exist in 2002.

It looks like a mildly photoshoped version of the Netbook Navigator Nav 10T Windows 7 tablet (look at the second picture, the side and ports are identical). More likely it is a picture of a generic Asian Windows 7 tablet that is similar to the Nav 10T... Either way, fake.

This is what an MS tablet looked like in 2002

That aside, I am unable to review the design patent in question. If it is indeed for something as general as "rounded corners on a rectangular mobile device" then I suppose I agree it is interesting that it was awarded. However, I doubt such a patent would have much chance standing up in court. Particularly since other companies have been making rounded corner mobile devices for the past few years...
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Re: Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

Postposted on Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:05 pm

Good points...I couldn't recall any of the XP tablets being that thin although FWIW there were about three or four mainstream designs IIRC, not just the one shown in the Ballmer demo. HP had one with rounded corners but it also had a swivel keyboard underneath (scroll down):

http://arstechnica.com/information-tech ... ight-work/
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Re: Apple Finally Patents the Round-Cornered Rectangle

Postposted on Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:46 pm

The photo in that link about what an MS tablet looked like in 2002 is inaccurate.

That model came out in 2005, IIRC. It's a ThinkPad X41 Tablet.

Here's what an MS tablet looked like in 2003: http://diazr.com/wp-content/uploads/200 ... tablet.jpg

Yup, it's a roundrect with a screen.
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