United States Patent and Trademark Office Stories December 10, 2015

AAPL: 116.17

0.55

While Apple didn’t make any claims about water-resistance when it launched the iPhone 6s/Plus, submersion tests showed that the company has clearly been working hard in this area – with the new phones still working after a full hour underwater. But water will always get in through ports like the Lightning and headphone sockets, and a new patent application by Apple suggests that it may have a way to fix this …

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United States Patent and Trademark Office Stories September 3, 2015

AAPL: 110.37

-1.97

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has today published a patent application from Apple for a fuel cell system designed to allow a MacBook to operate without external power “for days or even weeks.” The patent was published shortly after a British company rumored to be working with Apple managed to fit a fuel cell battery into an iPhone 6, powering it for a week at a time. We first reported on that project last summer.

While the patent refers only to a ‘portable computing device,’ both the text and diagrams specifically reference MagSafe, giving a clear indication that a MacBook is the device in question (even if Apple may be moving away from the system) …  expand full story

United States Patent and Trademark Office Stories January 15, 2015

Apple patent shows spring-loaded pop-up home button that doubles as a gaming joystick

An Apple patent spotted by Patently Apple shows a spring-loaded pop-up iPhone home button that acts as gaming joystick when in the raised position. Or, in patent language:

An electronic device includes a surface and a multi-function input device. The multi-function input device is operable in at least a first mode and a second mode. In the first mode, an input portion of the multi-function input device is flush with the surface or recessed in the surface and is operable to receive z axis press input data. In the second mode, the input portion is positioned proud of the surface (i.e., project from the surface) and is operable to receive x axis input data and/or y axis input data. The input portion may also be operable to receive z axis input data in the second mode. In one example, the multi-function input device may have a button mode and a joystick mode.

It’s a fun idea, for sure, but personally I think Apple is more likely to head in the opposite direction over time: to find ways of losing a physical home button and turning it into either a touch-only device, perhaps eventually embedding it into the screen in order to lose the extended bezel at the bottom of the device. Bluetooth gaming controllers, especially with improvements, may better serve serious gamers, regardless.

Are you a gamer who’d love to see this? Or would you rather see Apple working to lose the bezel? As ever, let us know in comments.

United States Patent and Trademark Office Stories January 14, 2015

Market goes crazy over spurious Apple action camera patent, GoPro shares take a dive

We’ve cautioned many times that Apple patents a huge number of inventions that will never see the light of day. Last year alone, the company was awarded 2,566 ‘utility’ patents–those covering actual technologies, rather than mere designs. The fact that Apple has patented something tells us absolutely nothing about its future product line.

But that didn’t stop traders going crazy yesterday over a patent awarded for a GoPro-like action camera: GoPro shares fell as much as 15% as panicking traders dumped the stock. The ‘thinking’ was that if Apple was entering the action camera market, GoPro was doomed. The slump was so dramatic that it even tripped a Nasdaq safeguard at one point, reports MarketWatch.

It’s even more absurd in this case: not only is the patent one of thousands of things that Apple probably won’t do, it isn’t even an Apple patent in the first place–it was, as Fortune notes in passing, just one of a number of patents acquired by Apple from Kodak.

Yep, if Apple really were moving into a new market, established players would indeed be sweating. But there is precisely zero evidence that Apple has any plans to move into GoPro’s territory.

That’s not to say competition isn’t heating up in the space however. HTC introduced the Re late last year ($99-199) as an iOS and Android connected camera and many others have been joining in starting at much lower prices.

United States Patent and Trademark Office Stories August 28, 2014

Apple successfully patents iconic glass cube design of Fifth Avenue store in NYC

A few weeks after Apple was granted a European trademark on the key design elements of its retail stores, the company has been awarded a U.S. patent on the iconic glass cube design of its Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan. Steve Jobs is one of those credited as an inventor.

Patently Apple reports that Apple also applied for a trademark for the design back in 2010, but no decision has yet been made on that.

Apple was granted a patent for the similarly iconic glass cylinder design for its Shanghai store back in 2012.

Apple has been renewing the interior design of its stores around the world, and creating a new organizational structure as Angela Ahrendts focuses on further international expansion. It is reportedly working on the largest Apple Store in the world in Dubai.

United States Patent and Trademark Office Stories August 8, 2014

In a new twist to the second Apple vs Samsung patent trial, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected the specific part of Apple’s auto-correct patent that Samsung was said to have infringed, reports FOSS Patents. This effectively means that Samsung was ruled to have infringed a patent that is no longer valid.

The trial found that Samsung infringed three of the five patents Apple claimed, including a specific element of its auto-correct patent which described a particular method of offering corrections or completions. Samsung had unsuccessfully argued at trial that this approach had been used by others before Apple, and therefore could not be patented. The court rejected this argument, but the USPTO has now agreed with Samsung …  expand full story

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