The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 12 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. Some of the minor patents issued today covered Time Machine, which may come in handy in Apple's current patent infringement case, and a design patent which relates to Apple's Mail app. Yet the notables within today's group of granted patents include strategically important iPhone/Multi-Touch patents which will definitely add to Apple's smartphone war chest.
Granted Design Patents: Mail Icon, Bluetooth Headset +
Apple has been granted three design patents this morning. The first design win relates to Apple Mail. Specifically, the cool "Airplane Send Icon" is the focus of this patent which credits CEO Steve Jobs and Bas Ording as the inventors. The second design win is for their now defunct Bluetooth Headset which Apple may resurrect in a future product.
Apple describes their third design patent as "a user interface for a computer display with a large, lower rectangle that conveys the impression of a translucent/transparent surface and a small, upper rectangle that does not convey the impression of a translucent/transparent surface."
Granted Patent: Multi-Touch Input Discrimination
Apple's granted patent is about multi-touch. Specifically it's about intelligent input rejection and operational mode transitions. Apple's patent states that "For a hand-held multi-touch touch-surface device that may be put into a pocket, purse, or held against the head (e.g., portable music player, portable video player, personal digital assistant or mobile phone), detecting when the device is being clasped on the way into or out of the pocket, against the body, or against the head is very useful for: input rejection (ensuring that touch-surface input signals generated as a result of these actions are not mistaken for normal finger/stylus touches); operational mode transitions (e.g., dimming the device's backlight, putting the device to sleep and waking the device from a low-power state); and, for mobile telephones, answering calls (e.g., when the device is brought near, but not necessarily touching the head) and/or terminating calls (e.g., when the unit is placed into a pocket or purse)."
Apple's patent FIG. 1 shows, in flowchart form, a multi-touch processing methodology In patent FIG. 2 we see a flowchart form, a patch irregularity calculation; In patent FIG. 5 we see a plot of empirically determined data illustrating a patch irregularity measure's ability to discriminate between ear contacts and other touch-surface contacts (e.g., fingertips, thumbs and cheeks); and FIG. 7 shows us a block diagram form of a touch-surface device.
Apple's First Claim: A method to discriminate input sources to a touch-surface device, comprising: obtaining a proximity image; segmenting the proximity image to identify a plurality of patches; determining a minor axis radius value for each of the plurality of patches; identifying one of the plurality of patches as being associated with a large object if the minor axis radius value of the patch is above a first specified threshold; and using the identified patch to control an operation of a touch-surface device.
Apple credits Wayne Westerman as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,855,718 originally filed in Q1 2007.
Granted Patent: User Interface for Positioning an Insertion Marker in a Touch Screen Display
Apple has been granted a patent that generally relates to user interfaces, and more particularly, to a method, system, and user interface for positioning an insertion marker in a touch-sensitive display.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 shown below illustrates a process flow (300) for positioning an insertion marker via an insertion marker placement aid. An insertion marker is displayed on a touch screen (302) in an application that includes text entry, such as a memo pad, email, or short message service (SMS) application. In some embodiments, the insertion marker is displayed in a first area (for example, display tray 214 of FIG.3) that also includes text entered by the user via a keyboard (for example, keyboard 210 of FIG.3) that is located in a second area. A contact on the touch screen, formed by a finger, is detected (304 and 404).
Apple credits Scott Forstall, Senior Vice President of iPhone Software and his team members Bas Ording, Marcel Van Os, Kenneth Kocienda, Richard Williamson; Bas (San Francisco, CA), Van Os; Marcel (San Francisco, CA), Kocienda; Kenneth (Sunnyvale, CA) and Williamson; Richard as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,856,605 originally filed in Q4 2006 or a little under three months prior to the iPhone's introduction.
Granted Patent: Time Machine
Apple has been granted yet another patent for Time Machine and specifically for a "User Interface for Backup Management." Last week Apple was granted two other Time Machine related patents "Navigation of Electronic Backups" and "Conflict Resolution in Recovery of Electronic Data." It was noted in our October report that Apple is being sued for alleged patent infringement by Mirror Worlds. They claim that Spotlight, Time Machine and Cover Flow infringe their patents. Apple's latest string of related patents may come into play during their trial.
Apple's First Claim: A computer program product tangibly embodied in a computer readable storage medium, the computer program product including instructions that, when executed, generate on a display device a graphical user interface, the graphical user interface comprising: a view display area for presenting a current view, where the current view provides a representation of a window in a current state, where the window is distinct from the graphical user interface; a prior state display area for presenting a prior state of the current view including one or more representations of the window as it existed at times in the past, the prior state of the current view including one or more first representations of the window, where each first representation shows a past state of the window; and an input control for initiating a restoration of the window associated with the current view to a state associated with one of the first representations.
Apple credits Scott Forstall, Senior Vice President of iPhone Software and team members Pavel Cisler, Mike Matas, Gregory Christie, Mike Matas, Marcel Van Os, Kevin Tiene and Gene Ragan as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,856,424 originally filed in Q3 2006.
Other Granted Patents Published Today
One: Scene Change Identification During Encoding of Compressed Video: Apple's invention generally relates to scene change detection and bit rate control in video encoding, and more particularly, to scene change identification and bit rate control during the encoding of compressed video images; Two: Another Video Related Patent: Apple's invention addresses methods for determining the number of unidirectional and bi-directional frames to be encoded for a video sequence and a method for detecting scene cuts in the video sequence; Three: Mail Related: Apple's patent generally relates to message filtering. More particularly, this invention relates to email filtering using latent semantic analysis; and Four: The original 2005 iPod Shuffle patent.
In Other Apple News
Apple Trademarks: Apple has filed for "Express Lane" and "VoicePass" in China. Both trademarks relate to Apple Support. Both trademarks were filed under International Classifications 37 and 42. The trademarks were originally filed in Trinidad and Tobago in mid 2010. Apple Abandons POD: In the Canadian Trademark Database we see that Apple Abandoned their efforts to trademark the word "POD" on December 08, 2010.
Apple Sued: Great Northern Insurance Co. vs. Apple Inc: The legal complaint filed against Apple states that a MagSafe adapter ignited combustible materials within the residence of Eric and Penelope Marziali, causing a fire. After a detailed investigation of the cause of the fire, the fire marshal for the Town of Glastonbury, Connecticut, concluded that the origin of the accidental fire appeared to be associated with the external system components of the laptop (MacBook Pro). Great Northern Insurance Company paid out $75,000 to the Marziali's and is seeking to recover these costs from Apple. The case came to light in documents found in December, though the original filing with the Connecticut District Court was made on November 19, 2010 (Case 3:2010cv01826).
There have been other patent infringement lawsuits filed against Apple in the last 30 days. There were two filed by Affinity Labs of Texas, which are tied into a legal case that began in Q1 2010. Another was filed yesterday by Multimedia Patent Trust. It's a complicated suit with a lot of baggage. Yet for our legally minded fans that might be interested in reading up on this case, we'll point you to Foss Patents - who present a long but thorough breakdown of this new lawsuit.
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