The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of eight newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group include an important win for Apple's iDVD - an app within their iLife suite, another for a universal USB connector, yet another for a MacBook construction method and finally a minor design win for a dock insert.
Granted Patent: iDVD
Apple's patent generally relates to all things iDVD – an application within their iLife software suite which accompanies all new Apple desktop and notebook computers. With iDVD, you could create your own DVD in less time than it takes to watch one, states Apple's. With iDVD you could automatically create DVD projects in minutes; customize your DVD project any way you want and be able to share your DVD to watch on TV, a Mac or PC. For more information view this temporary link.
Apple credits Ralf Weber and Thomas Alsina (France) as the inventors of granted patent 7,636,889, originally filed in Q1 2006.
Granted Patent: MacBook Enclosure
Apple's patent generally relates to enclosures for use in their MacBook. Although current enclosure designs work well, in many instances it would be desirable to provide enclosures that are thinner, lighter, stronger and aesthetically more pleasing than current enclosure designs.
One aspect of the enclosure pertains to enclosure parts that are structurally bonded together to form a singular composite structure. In one embodiment, structural glue is used to bond at least two unique parts together. Another aspect of the enclosure pertains to enclosure parts that are electrically bonded together to form a singular integrated conductive member. In one embodiment, conductive paste is used to bond at least two unique parts together. The improved enclosure is particularly useful in portable computing devices such as laptop computers.
Apple credits Michael Kriege, Dan Hong, John DiFonzo, Stephen Zadesky, David Lynch, David Lundgren and Nick Merz as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,636,244, originally filed in Q4, 2006. It's unknown whether or not Apple's new Unibody MacBook designs employ such methods.
Granted Patent: Type A USB Receptacle with Plug Detection
Apple's invention relates in general to connectors and connector systems for electronic devices, and in particular to universal serial bus connectors and methods of operation of the same.
Patent Background: USB uses directional connectivity wherein one type of connection (mating pair of plug and receptacle) is used to connect to an upstream host device and a different type of connection is used to connect to a downstream peripheral device. A host, according to the USB specification, may include a 'Series A' receptacle that only connects to a 'Series A' plug, while a peripheral device may include a 'Series B' receptacle that only connects to a 'Series B' plug. The connection between such host and peripheral device is thus made by a USB cable with a 'Series A' plug at one end and a 'Series B' plug at the other. Other peripheral devices, such as a memory stick, may be equipped with a 'Series A' plug in which case direct connection between the peripheral device and the host can be made without a cable. USB also envisions that the host acts as the source of power.
This directional connectivity as well as the power distribution requirement as defined by the USB specification places certain limitations on the interconnectivity of electronic systems using the Series A/Series B connectors. For example, an electronic device that may be able to act as a host in one mode of operation and as a peripheral device in another mode of operation cannot, by definition, use the same Series A port in both modes of operation. While USB has defined a separate interface, called On-The-Go (OTG), for dual role devices (i.e., devices that can be configured to operate either as a host device or a peripheral device), the USB OTG specification requires different connectors (Mini-A, Mini-B and Mini-A/B) that do not mate with the Series A and Series B connectors.
Therefore, dual role electronic devices that need a 'Series A' port must also provide an additional connection port to enable them to connect to a host when operating as a peripheral device.
Apple's Solution: Various embodiments of the invention include a modified 'Series A' universal serial bus (USB) receptacle connector that is compatible with a standard USB 'Series A' plug connector, and that can be operated either as a host port or a peripheral port. According to one embodiment, the modified USB 'Series A' receptacle may include a mechanism such as an additional pin or a switch to detect the insertion of a standard USB 'Series A' plug. Upon detection of a plug, an algorithm may allow the system in which the modified 'Series A' receptacle resides to determine whether it is to operate in host mode or peripheral mode.
Accordingly, in one embodiment, the invention includes a modified USB 'Series A' receptacle connector including a metallic housing, an extension plate disposed inside the metallic housing and spaced away from inside walls of the metallic housing, a plurality of receptacle contact pins disposed on a first side of the extension plate and configured to mate with a corresponding plurality of plug contact pins in a standard USB 'Series A' plug connector, the plurality of receptacle contact pins including a power pin, a ground pin, and two data pins, and a plug detector that is configured to detect an insertion of the standard USB Series A plug connector into the modified USB 'Series A' receptacle connector while power is withheld from the power pin of the receptacle connector.
Apple's FIG. 2A above, illustrates a more detailed front and perspective view of the modified USB 'Series A' receptacle 210, according to one embodiment of the invention.
Apple credits Alex Crumlin, Aaron Leiba and David Ferguson as the inventors of granted patent 7,635,280, originally filed in Q3 2008.
Industrial Design Win: Dock Insert
Apple credits Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer as the inventors of Granted Patent D606,518, originally filed in Q2 2009.
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