The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 19 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group include five industrial design patents relating to the iPhone, iPod touch and iPod nano. Among the standard granted patents, we see that Apple has finally picked up two iMovie related patents that date all the way back to the year 2000 – as well as one for the iTunes interface and two for LCD related technologies. Yet the one that is likely the most important for Apple today is a major motion, gesturing and touch related patent that covers all of Apple's iOS related devices that will certainly provide Apple with a larger sledgehammer going into any law suit current or future.
Granted Design Patent: iPod nano 2009
Apple credits Jody Akana, Bartley Andre, Jeremy Bataillou, 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 D622,696, originally filed in Q3 2009.
Apple has also won industrial design patents for the iPhone under D622,720, the iPhone "Cover" under D622,716 and the iPod touch under D622,718. Apple has already won patents for the iPhone and iPod touch earlier this year.
Granted Patent: A Major Motion, Gesturing, Touch Patent
Apple's patent states that the motion, gesturing and touch related patent covers a handheld computer, a tablet computer, a personal digital assistant, a cellular telephone and/or a combination of two or more of these items. That's what was stated back in 2005, two years prior to the iPhone's arrival. The patent therefore, clearly covers all iOS related devices such as the iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and future related products like an iMac Touch.
Apple's abstract states that "movement of a point of contact by a user of a touch-sensitive display is determined. In response to the movement, a list of items on the touch-sensitive display is scrolled through. The scroll through is accelerated in response to an accelerated movement of the point of contact. The scroll through and acceleration of the scroll through may be in accordance with a simulation of a physical device having friction."
This is without a doubt a major cornerstone touch related patent that will assist Apple in any lawsuit relating to touch and gesturing and is too deep a patent to cover in a granted patent report. For more details, refer to granted patent 7,786,975 which was originally filed in Q4 2005 by Apple's heavy hitters Bas Ording, Scott Forstall, Greg Christie, Stephen Lemay and Imran Chaudhri.
Granted Patent: iOS Display Related Technology
Apple has been granted a patent titled "Reducing Errors in Data by Dynamically Calibrating Trigger Point Thresholds," which covers methods, systems, computer readable media and means for reducing errors in data caused by noise – related to LCDs.
Despite the numerous advantages of LCDs, data transmitted to and from LCDs often contain errors. Many of the errors are a result of noise generated by current flowing through the electrodes and pixels of the LCD. These problems are exacerbated when LCDs are used in portable electrical devices such as Apple's iPod and iPhone. More specifically, there tends to be a further increase in the noise in data transmission due to varying environmental factors (e.g., varying temperature, humidity, etc.) that can affect the flow of current in the LCD. Errors in data transmitted in a portable electrical device may adversely affect the performance of the electrical device. For example, the error may affect the electrical device's ability to present images on an LCD display.
A traditional approach to reducing errors in data transmitted between components of a handheld electrical device involves compensating for bit biasing. A major disadvantage of this approach is that it doesn't account for noise that exists in the data transmission. This noise could grossly distort the trigger point threshold, potentially rendering it too high or too low.
Apple's invention solves these and other problems by reducing errors in data transmitted in an electrical device using dynamic trigger point threshold calibration of the data transmitted between the components of the device.
Apple credits Wei Yao, Wei Chen, and Kapil Sakariya as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,786,755 originally filed in Q3 2008.
Apple has also won another deep LCD technology patent relating to "Exposure adjustment of an image using G+/G- curve" under granted patent 7,787,000. Apple's abstract states that "an improved exposure adjustment technique for brightening and darkening an image on a display using a modified Gamma-like (G+) function is disclosed. Two pertinent characteristics of this technique include the fact that the slope of the G+ function is not infinite at the origin, where "origin" corresponds to black pixels, and the slope near the origin, where corresponding to pixels are relatively dark, is lower than the slope of a conventional Gamma-like function." Geekdom rules!
Granted Patents: iMovie Related Patents
Years ago, filmmakers shot vast quantities of film footage and then edited it into final form by physical cutting and splicing clips (sequences of frames) together in a labor-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive process. Today, however, computers have dramatically changed the process of film editing because nonlinear editing (NLE) applications represent the clips in digital form and allow the clips to be virtually cut and spliced together. These applications are called nonlinear because no physical tape or film is involved in the editing process, so the user may jump immediately to the desired clip without physically rewinding or fast-forwarding tape or film.
Nonlinear editing applications often represent clips via a clip view, a timeline view, or both a clip view and a timeline view. The clip view represents each clip with an icon called a slide, which contains the first frame of the clip, and all the slides have the same size. The clip view is generally used to re-arrange the order of the clips, to delete clips, and to insert clips. In contrast, the timeline view represents each clip with an icon called a band, which contains the first frame of each respective clip, and the bands have sizes proportional to the time of the clip when played. The timeline view is generally used to lay down audio, to synchronize the audio with the video, and to work with the clips based on their length.
A problem occurs when switching between the clip view and the timeline view in that the switch is visually jarring and disorienting, and the users lose their place within the clips. Although this problem has been described in the context of a clip view and a timeline view, the problem also occurs when switching between views of any type of data.
Apple's Main Claim 1: A method comprising: displaying a portion of a clip in a visible region onscreen, the portion displayed in the visible region being less than the clip in its entirety such that the portion includes all of the clip that is visible, the clip uniquely identified from other clips by a thumbnail, the thumbnail being unique and different from the clip; and displaying the thumbnail at a visible location onscreen in a region having a center between two boundaries, displaying the thumbnail including automatically positioning the thumbnail at the visible location to indicate a position of the clip such that the indicated position of the clip is directly related to the position of the portion of the clip in the visible region relative to the entirety of the clip; and moving the thumbnail relative to the center to indicate an extent to which the clip extends past the visible region as the display of the clip onscreen changes.
While this granted patent has taken a little longer than usual to get final approval, it's a significant win for Apple's iMovie iLife App. Apple credits Austin Shoemaker as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,788,605 originally filed in Q2 2003.
Apple has also been granted patent 7,786,999 for yet another iMove related patent titled " Edit display during rendering operations." This patent invented by Glen Reid was first applied for in the year 2000. As they say, better late than never. This particular Apple patent generally relates to methods for manipulating a time-based stream of information using a processing system, and more particularly to methods for displaying the time based stream of information during rendering of edits to produce a presentation.
Other Granted Patents (GP) Published Today
GP - 7,788,582 – "Techniques and graphical user interfaces for improved media item searching." This important Apple patent covers the iTunes interface.
Abstract: Improved techniques and graphical user interfaces that assist users in searching through a group of media items are disclosed. According to one aspect, a search assistant (e.g., search bar) can be graphically presented to a user to assist the user in selecting search criteria. In one embodiment, the search assistant can be automatically presented when a search process is being considered by a user. In another embodiment, the search assistant can be context sensitive so as to adapt to different types of media items.
GP - 7,788,656 - System for reducing the number of programs necessary to render an image
Abstract: Disclosed is as system for reducing memory and computational requirements of graphics operations. The system provides techniques for combining otherwise individual operations to apply filters to images. The combined filter emerging from the combination spares the processor time and the creation of an entire intermediary image. The system further provides for application of these techniques in many contexts including where the operations are fragment programs in for a programmable GPU.
GP - 7,788,248 - Immediate search feedback
Abstract: Providing immediate search feedback is disclosed. Search input is received within a search field of a web browser application. Based on characteristics of the search input, a determination is made whether to automatically submit a query to a search engine. In one aspect, the query is automatically submitted to the search engine. The query is based on the received first search input. Results are displayed within the web browser application, the results web page returned from the query submitted to the search engine.
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