The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of eighteen newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. While our report covers a wide range of patents, the main one reveals yet another piece of the telephonic MacBook Puzzle. Today's granted patent represents Apple's seventh patent win on this future product front since September 2010. This particular patent snuck through the application system and just popped up on us as being granted. The second focus of our report today rests with the latest US patent statics for 2011 that proves Apple's critics dead wrong once again. When will they ever learn?
Apple Wins another Piece of the Telephonic MacBook Puzzle
Apple has received their seventh Granted Patent relating to their future Telephonic MacBook. The focus of this particular patent is about another antenna structure. According to Apple, the antenna may use a cavity-backed configuration in which conductive cavity walls are placed in the vicinity of an antenna feed structure formed from an antenna probe.
The antenna structures in a future MacBook (patent point 10) may be used to handle any suitable communications bands of interest. For example, antennas and wireless communications circuitry in circuitry 32B of the telephonic MacBook, shown below in Patent FIG. 1, may be used to handle cellular telephone communications in one or more frequency bands and data communications in one or more communications bands.
The telephonic MacBook may include one or more antennas and one or more cavity-backed antennas that could be coupled to wireless communications circuitry (e.g., radio-frequency transceiver circuits) in input-output circuitry 32B using coaxial cables, microstrip transmission lines, or other suitable transmission lines such as transmission line 34.
The antennas in a future telephonic MacBook may be implemented using any suitable antenna configuration such as a cavity antenna, a monopole antenna, a dipole antenna, a patch antenna, an inverted-F antenna, an L-shaped antenna, a planar inverted-F antenna (PIFA), a slot antenna, a helical antenna, a hybrid antenna including two or more of these antenna structures, or any other suitable antenna structures.
Possible Cellular Antenna Locations on a MacBook
Because the antenna could be used to convey signals in and out of a housing that has a gap of only about 0.2 mm (as an example), the antenna could be used in portions of the telephonic MacBook in which larger and more visible structures would not be acceptable.
In general, the antenna may be used to convey signals through any suitable opening in housing 12. Examples of gaps in which the antenna may be used include gaps formed between mating housing portions (e.g., a lid and base, a cover and lid, a cover and base, etc.) and gaps in a single housing portion (e.g., a gap formed in a lid, a gap formed in a base housing structure, a gap formed in a housing sidewall, etc.). Illustrative locations at which gaps such as these may be formed in housing 12 of a future telephonic MacBook and which may therefore serve as suitable locations for mounting the cavity antenna include lower edge locations such as locations 36 and 38 shown in patent FIG. 2 below.
Cavity Antenna and Fin
An illustrative dielectric support structure for antenna 44 is shown in the perspective view of Apple's patent FIG. 9. The cavity antenna may be implemented by forming conductive cavity walls over a dielectric support structure. As shown in patent FIG. 9, dielectric support structure 74 may have a portion that forms fin 28 and a portion that forms body 46 for the antenna.
Coaxial cable 34 may be cradled along a recessed portion in the rear of dielectric support structure 74. The cable may have a conductive outer braid conductor and a center conductor or other suitable conductive lines. The outer conductor may serve as a ground conductor and may be coupled to planar ground structures in the antenna. A conductive member such as pin 76 may be used to route the center conductor of the cable on the back side of the fin to a positive antenna terminal and associated resonating element structures on the front side of fin 28.
An advantage of using a solid dielectric in forming some or all of dielectric support structure 74 is that this type of arrangement may help prevent intrusion of dust, liquids, or other foreign matter into portions of antenna cavity 62.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 is a perspective view of antenna 44 of FIG. 9 as viewed from the rear of dielectric support structure 74. The support structure may be covered with conductive structures such as metal layers which may include patterned copper traces or other metal structures.
Apple's patent FIG. 12 is a rear view of the antenna showing how coaxial cable may have a center conductor such as center conductor 88 that passes through a hole in dielectric support structure and thereby connects to the antenna terminal on the front of the fin.
Apple's First Patent Claim: An electronic device cavity antenna comprising: conductive cavity walls; an inverted-F antenna probe that serves as a feed for the cavity antenna; and a dielectric support structure on which the conductive cavity walls are formed, wherein the dielectric support structure has at least one fold. Apple's Third Patent Claim states that the cavity antenna defined in claim 1 wherein the dielectric support structure comprises a fin on which the inverted-F antenna probe is formed.
To review Apple's other twenty-one patent claims and invention detailing, see granted patent 8,102,321. Apple credits Bing Chiang and Gregory Springer as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q1 2009.
Apple Wins Patents for Bento and MacBook's Brilliant Backlighting System
Apple has also been granted a patent for their brilliant LED backlighting system found in MacBooks, which according to the patent, delivers "highly uniform color." In patent figure 2 shown below we're able to see an enlarged detail of the MacBook display panel which includes a removable light strip which most of us never knew was there. That's just the kind of detail finishing we've come to expect from Sir Jony Ive and his band of Crazy Ones.
Apple has also been granted a patent for FileMaker's Bento application. Bento differs significantly from Apple's flagship product, FileMaker Pro, in that it relies heavily on templates and integration with other applications. By default, Bento's data sources include Apple's Address Book and iCal applications, and it could modify them directly.
Final Patent Round-Up
Over and above the granted patents that were specifically reported on today, we present you with links to all of the other granted patents in our Final Patent Round-Up as follows:
Apple has been granted two additional patents relating to antennas today, but this time they relate to the iPhone; The first is found under patent 8,102,318 for "Inverted-F antenna with bandwidth enhancement for electronic devices," and the second is found under patent 8,102,319 for "Hybrid antennas for electronic devices."
Last Thursday we posted a report titled "Apple introduces us to Siri, the Killer Patent" where we pointed to an interesting 1987 video presentation concerning the concept of a future intelligent assistant. Today, Apple was granted a 2003 patent on speech synthesis illustrating their long history of research in this field.
In our Rapid Fire Finale, Apple has won a design patent for their iOS Notes icon; patent RE43,144 is for System for predicting and managing network performance by managing and monitoring resource utilization and connection of network ; patent 8,104,048 is for Browsing or searching user interfaces and other aspects; patent 8,104,034 is for Purpose domain for in-kernel virtual machine for low overhead startup and low resource usage; patent 8,103,951 is for Dynamic schema creation; patent 8,103,893 is for Thermal management of devices by suspension of offline diagnostic activities; patent 8,103,793 is for Method and system for updating playlists; patent 8,103,287 is for Methods and apparatus for resolving wireless signal components; patent 8,103,272 is for Techniques for database updates; patent 8,103,097 is for Color invariant image representation method and apparatus; patent 8,102,931 is for Method and device for operating a precoded MIMO system; patent 8,102,728 is for Cache optimizations using multiple threshold voltage transistors; patent 8,102,365 is for Remote control systems that can distinguish stray light sources; and finally, 8,101,859 is for "Metal retaining features for handheld electronic device casing" (for iPod).
One More Thing: The Critics get it Wrong Again
Throughout 2011, Apple was hammered by uneducated babblers with their vitriolic criticism about how Apple was patenting everything under the sun and that they were screwing up the whole patent system. Well, here are some facts to once again demonstrate that the babbler's arguments are baseless:
For 2011, IBM was the top patent producer for the nineteenth year running. For 2011 alone, Big Blue racked up a stunning 6,180 patent or almost ten times what Apple produced. While Apple moved up in the rankings, they were only able to hit the thirty-ninth spot on this list with a mere 676 patents.
How did some of Apple's copycats fair on this list? Well, Samsung came in second with 4,894 patents and Microsoft came sixth with 2,301.
And for the record, China became the world's top patent filer in 2011, surpassing the United States and Japan as it steps up innovation to improve its intellectual property rights track record.
So it's pretty clear that Apple's puny patent count isn't going to take over the world anytime soon nor ruin the technological landscape in any way. No, that's only happening in the minds of the lazy loud mouths that hold on to myths and crazed ideas fed to them by Apple's competitors. The patent facts of 2011 speak for themselves in black and white – whether they like it or not.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.