‘Steve Jobs’ iPhone patent used against Samsung/Motorola invalidated by US patent office, could affect lawsuits

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In October, as pointed out in Samsung filings with U.S. District Lucy Koh, we told you that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a non-final decision that declared 20 claims related to Apple’s rubber-banding patent invalid. While Samsung and Apple were back in court yesterday regarding post-trial motions, today FossPatents reported (via MacRumors) the USPTO has issued another non-final ruling declaring yet another Apple multitouch patent invalid.

This time it’s a touchscreen patent, commonly called “the Steve Jobs patent,” that courts previously deemed valid in cases against Samsung and Motorola in the past:

This week, the USPTO issued a first Office action rejecting all 20 claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 on a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics”, which has been referred to by many people, including Apple’s own lawyers, as “the Steve Jobs patent”.

The touchscreen heuristics ‘949 patent has also been asserted against Motorola. Judge Posner declared large parts of the patent invalid and identified only some minor potential infringement on Motorola’s part that he decided would not warrant injunctive relief even if Apple prevailed on whatever little was left of its related claims. Read more

Apple takes a cue from users, invents packaging that doubles as iPhone/iPad dock

A number of Apple patents and applications have been published today, one of which details an interesting new design for the packaging of iOS devices that would also double as a stand or dock of sorts. The patent application was originally filed in May 2011, but it was published today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple. The image above is pretty self-explanatory, showing iPod nano-like packaging with a removable lid and base that transform into a dock or stand for the device. It appears the dock would act as a permanent solution, with the image above showing room to accommodate a charging cable as well as small parts to hold the device snugly in place.

This is actually something we’ve seen before. Although many iPhone and iPad users have no problem dropping a decent amount of money on a dock, there are no shortage of users who have come up with innovative ways to turn the current iPhone and iPad packaging into a dock and or stand for free. Below is a video, courtesy of GottaBeMobile, showing an iPad mini box being transformed into a free docking station with very little effort: Read more

Future MacBooks could have this surround sound speaker system

According to an Apple patent application published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple, Apple is working to implement audio transducers in combination with multiple speakers to enable surround sound configurations on MacBook-like devices. Apple’s focus of the patent appears to be improving audio in mobile devices as speakers decrease in size to accommodate smaller and thinner form factors.

As detailed in the image to the right, one embodiment of the invention shows the use of several speakers and an audio transducer integrated into the bezel and enclosure of a MacBook. These configurations would allow, for example, the speakers embedded next to the display to handle high range frequencies, while the lower speakers would handle mid-range and the audio transducer the low-range. Additional speaker enclosures could be added to enable 3.1 or 4.1 surround sound configurations. Apple also stated the audio transducer could provide both low and mid-range frequencies, “essentially performing as a “subtweeter” for frequency ranges from 20-500 Hz and 500-1500 Hz. The report explained:

 
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Apple working on advanced 3D cameras with object and gesture recognition

This is not the first time an Apple patent has surfaced relating to three-dimensional camera technologies. A previous patent highlighted advanced 3D object recognition and verification. A new patent—published today by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple—shows Apple is continuing to work on 3D camera technologies that could land in future iOS devices. Apple’s patent described a 3D imagining camera that uses advanced microlenses, depth-detection, chrominance, and luminance sensors. The camera could recognize facial expressions and gestures while creating 3D models of scanned objects. PatentlyApple explained:

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Apple researching universal remote that customizes UIs intelligently

This is not the first time we have received hints that Apple is working on an innovative universal remote control for controlling TV and video content. In January, we told you that Apple was researching a touchscreen remote with adaptable user interfaces. The invention would essentially allow button layouts stored in the cloud or in a device (such as a TV) to be wirelessly and seamlessly beamed to the controller’s UI. The concept would alleviate the “table full of remotes” scenario Steve Jobs described at D8.

Today, a new patent application published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple gives us even more insight into what Apple’s universal remote concept could become. In the newly discovered patent application, Apple details a remote that is capable of displaying customized controls for various devices by simply taking a picture of the device. Apple would send the picture to iCloud, analyze it, and beam a UI or button layout to the remote that works for your TV. PatentlyApple explained:

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