There was a little secret divulged by Apple's CEO Steve Jobs at this year's Wall Street Journal D8 conference, hosted and produced by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. It was that Apple had actually designed and created a tablet device first and then shelved it in favor of going to market with the iPhone first. Well, today the US Patent and Trademark Office officially published one of Apple's classic tablet and handheld patents first filed in 2005. It didn't look like much at the time and the naysayers said that Apple would never ever bring a tablet of any kind to market because of the failed Newton and Tablet PC. Today we celebrate Apple's vision and courage of conviction for bringing us the Revolutionary iPhone.
Granted Patent: The original iPhone
I always get a kick out of naysayers who look at a patent figure and say "that doesn't look like something Apple would design." I can't even begin to tell you how many times that I've heard these kinds of silly, if not ignorant comments over the years pertaining to patent graphics. Patent graphics are presented for the purpose of conveying a concept and Apple's Classic iPhone Patent Figure FIG. 10 shown below is one to remember for the history books. It sure didn't look like a sexy cellphone when this patent figure was first publically published by the US Patent and Trademark Office sometime between 2005 and 2006 – but it ended up being the patent figure that would kick start the smart device revolution.
Patent Figure 10: the Original iPhone Figure
Some of the Original Patent Verbiage Associated with Original iPhone
"It should be noted that in embodiments associated with being hand held, the portable electronic device described above may correspond to any consumer related electronic product configured for handheld use. By way of example, the portable electronic device may correspond to tablet PCs, PDAs, media players (music, images, and video), game players, telephones, cellular phones, mobile radios, cameras, GPS modules, remote controls, and/or the like.
In order to generate user inputs, the hand held electronic device 100 may include a touch screen 106 that is a transparent input panel positioned in front of the display 104. The touch screen 106 generates input signals when an object such as a finger (or stylus) is moved across the surface of the touch screen 106 (e.g., linearly, radially, rotary, etc.), from an object holding a particular position on the touch screen 106 and/or by a finger tapping on the touch screen 106. In most cases, touch screens allow a user to make selections and initiate movements in a GUI by simply touching the display screen via a finger. For example, a user may make a selection by pointing directly to a graphical object displayed on the display screen. The graphical object may for example correspond to an on-screen button for performing specific actions in the hand held electronic device 100. In general, the touch screen 106 recognizes the touch and position of the touch on the display 104 and a controller of the hand held electronic device 100 interprets the touch and thereafter performs an action based on the touch event. There are several types of touch screen technologies including resistive, capacitive, infrared and surface acoustic wave.
In accordance with one embodiment, the touchscreen is a multitouch sensing device that has the ability to sense multiple points of contact (or near contact) at the same time and report the multiple touches to the controller of the handheld electronic device. That is, the touchscreen is capable of simultaneously sensing multiple touch inputs. This type of sensing device is sometimes referred to as a multipoint touch sensing device (e.g., multipoint touchscreen).
In one implementation, the touch screen 106 is a multipoint capacitive touch screen that is divided into several independent and spatially distinct sensing points, nodes or regions that are positioned throughout the touch screen. The sensing points, which are typically hidden from view (transparent), are dispersed about the touch screen with each sensing point representing a different position on the surface of the touch screen (or touch screen plane). The sensing points may be positioned in a grid or a pixel array where each pixilated sensing point is capable of generating a signal."
The Original Tablet Patent Graphic
Some of the Original Patent Verbiage Associated with Original Tablet, Now the iPad
"In another embodiment, the hand held electronic device 100 is a "two-handed" hand held electronic device 100. The housing is therefore sized and dimension to fit into two hands, and the touch sensitive surface is configured to receive inputs from the various fingers of the both hands. The two handed hand held electronic device may for example correspond to a tablet PC or game player.
As shown in FIGS. 14 and 15, the "two-handed" hand electronic device in the form of a tablet PC is sized and shaped for comfortable placement into both of the user's hands. Each hand essentially cups the sides of the device 100, with one hand gripping the device on one side and the other hand gripping the device on the opposite side. Alternatively, the user is also able to hold the device in one hand while inputting into the device with the opposite hand. Although the shape of the tablet PC may be widely varied, it should be pointed out that the general size including height, width and thickness of a tablet pc is typically "page sized".
The size of the tablet pc may be widely varied. The size may be based on such factors as display size, display format, etc. By way of example, the tablet pc may have a height of about 12 inches, a width of about 8.5 inches and a thickness of about 1 inch (or less).
It should be emphasized that page sized is not as transportable as pocket sized. However, by being page sized the device can include increased functionality that is not capable in smaller devices. Furthermore, page sized devices typically must be used by two hands and therefore they are not as convenient to use when on the go.
As shown in FIG. 14, the "two-handed" hand held electronic device 140 may be configured with two touch regions 142A and 142B on the back surface of the device 100 opposite the display 104. The touch regions 142 are located in the vicinity of where the various fingers are placed to hold the device. The first touch region 142A is located on the left back surface in the region where the left hand and more particularly the left fingers are placed to hold the device 140, and the second touch region 142B is located on the right back surface in the region where the right hand and more particularly the right fingers are placed to hold the device 140. Each of the touch regions 142 may be formed by one or more touch sensing devices (or zones if using the touch sensitive housing). For example, the touch regions 142 may include one large touch sensing device (or zones) or several smaller touch sensing devices (or zones). The touch regions may be implemented by touch panels and/or touch sensitive housings.
In the illustrated embodiment, the left touch region 142A is provided by one large touch surface while the right touch region 142B is broken up into smaller touch surfaces such as for example touch buttons 144. Like the "one-handed" device mentioned above, the fingers may be tapped, pressed, or slid across the touch surface in order to generate inputs. In some cases, gestures may be performed. Furthermore, the fingers may select the touch buttons in order to generate button inputs. The "two-handed" hand held electronic device also includes a touch screen 146 disposed over a display 148. The touch screen 146 provides another way to input into the hand held electronic device. As shown in FIG. 15, the user simply moves their thumb over the display 148 in order to generate inputs. The thumb may be tapped, pressed, or slid across the touch screen 146 in order to generate inputs. In some cases, gestures may be performed." Let it be said that we're still awaiting the backside controls for the iPad which were envisioned in this patent.
To review the entirety of this classic granted patent, see patent 7,800,592. The inventors of this classic patent are listed as Duncan Kerr, Steve Hotelling and Brian Huppi. The patent was originally filed in Q2 2005.
Granted Design Patents: 3G/3GS iPhone
Apple has won a design patent for the iPhone 3G/3GS. While the filing date is noted as being Q3 2009 – which would definitively make this design for the iPhone 3GS, there are other original design patent documents being cited in the patent which date back to April 2008, which would place the timing at two months prior to the release of the iPhone 3G. The design win is for the external design and both the 3G and 3GS shared a common outer shell dimensionally.
Apple credits CEO Steve Jobs, Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, 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 D624,072.
Granted Patent: Music Icon
Apple has been granted a patent for their Music Icon which is found on all of their iOS touch based media players. The music icon activates the user's on-device iTunes library.
Apple credits Imran Chaudhri as the sole inventor of Granted Patent D624,090, originally filed in Q4 2009.
Other Granted Patents (GP) Published Today
Two of the more important minor granted patents published today include the following: The first is GP - 7,800,618 for "Method and Apparatus for Providing an Animated Representation of a Reorder Operation." This oddly named patent relates to Apple's iChat, instant messaging system. They describe it as a GUI for displaying an exchange of messages during an instant messaging session, and more particularly, to a method and apparatus for graphically communicating a reorder operation by animating movement of data items, such as names, contained in a list. The second is GP - 7,800,617 for "Compare Mode for Variable Number of Images." This patent appears to relate to iPhoto for both the desktop and touch related iOS devices. The proof that it relates to touch based devices as well is derived from a secondary patent that is referenced in this patent (7,561,157) which is from the same inventors. The secondary patent's claim number 16 clearly states: "input from a light pen, and input from a touch screen."
Other granted patents that were published today include the following: GP - 7,800,520 for Method and System for Entropy Coding; GP - 7,802,099 for Method and Apparatus for Establishing a secure connection; GP - 7,800,519 for Method and apparatus for compressing and decompressing data; and Apple was also provided a granted patent for connector assemblies associated with their now defunct iPhone Bluetooth headset under 7,798,831.
Yet other granted patents published today include, GP - 7,801,906 for System and Method for Storing and Retrieving Filenames and Files in Computer Memory; GP - 7,802,196 for Method and Apparatus to accelerate scrolling for buffered windows; and GP - 7,802,120 for Methods and apparatuses for Dynamic Power Control.
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