The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 23 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our second granted patent report of the day we once again focus on a single major patent relating to Apple's all important Multi-Touch technology that allows iDevices to be thinner, brighter and require less power. We close out our report with a look at industrial design wins out of China and a list of seven additional utility patents covering such things as the assembly of an iPod and managing "to do" items or "notes" on iOS devices.
Apple Wins a Major Granted Patent for an Integrated Multi-Touch Screen
Apple has received a major Granted Patent that relates to displays including display pixel stackups, and more particularly to touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup of a display. More importantly, the patent also covers aspects of Apple's Multi-Touch technology. This could very well end up being a major patent that Apple's legal team could take advantage of in future litigation.
Apple states that overlaying a display with a touch sensor panel can have drawbacks, such as added weight and thickness, additional power required to drive the touch sensor panel, and decreased brightness of the display.
Apple's solution to this problem relates to touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup of a display, such as an LCD display. Circuit elements in the display pixel stackups can be grouped together to form touch sensing circuitry that senses a touch on or near the display.
According to Apple, touch sensing circuitry can include, for example, touch signal lines, such as drive lines and sense lines, grounding regions, and other circuitry. An integrated touch screen can include multi-function circuit elements that can form part of the display circuitry designed to operate as circuitry of the display system to generate an image on the display, and can also form part of the touch sensing circuitry of a touch sensing system that senses one or more touches on or near the display.
Furthermore, the multi-function circuit elements can be, for example, capacitors in display pixels of an LCD that can be configured to operate as storage capacitors/electrodes, common electrodes, conductive wires/pathways, etc., of the display circuitry in the display system, and that may also be configured to operate as circuit elements of the touch sensing circuitry. In this way, for example, in some embodiments a display with integrated touch sensing capability may be manufactured using fewer parts and/or processing steps, and the display itself may be thinner, brighter, and require less power.
Due to the importance of Multi-Touch patents, we're presenting you with more patent figures and detailing of Apple's technology below than is customary for a granted patent report.
Patent Examples: Multi-Function Circuit Elements & Computing System
In Apple's patent FIG. 1D shown below, touch screen 153 includes display pixels 155 that include multi-function circuit elements. FIG. 1D shows a magnified view of one display pixel 155, which includes multi-function circuit elements 157, 159, and 161 that can operate as part of a display system controlled by a display system controller 170 and can operate as part of the touch sensing circuitry of a touch sensing system controlled by a touch sensing system controller 180.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 shown above is a block diagram of an example computing system 200 which could be a mobile telephone, digital media player, personal computer, or any mobile or non-mobile computing device that includes a touch screen. The computing system can include a touch sensing system including one or more touch processors 202, peripherals 204, a touch controller 206, and touch sensing circuitry.
Patent Examples: Detailing of Display Pixels & Touch Sensing Circuitry
Apple's patent FIG. 6 shows us more detailing of display pixels and other structures of the touch screen. Display pixels (515 and 517) can each include a common electrode and three display pixel electrodes covering red, green and blue sub-pixels that provide color data to the sub-pixels when the sub-pixels' transistors are switched on by a voltage applied across a gate line during the display phase of the touch screen.
Apple's Patent FIG. 10 FIG. 10 shows partial circuit diagrams of some of the touch sensing circuitry within display pixels in a drive region 1001 and a sense region 1003 of an example touch screen.
Patent Examples: Multi-Function Display pixels & Touch Pixel Layout
Apple's patent FIG. 13A shows us an example configuration of multi-function display pixels grouped into regions that function in the touch sensing system during a touch phase of a touch screen; Patent FIG. 22-1 illustrates an example touch pixel layout that can include example touch pixels such as those shown in FIG. 21A below.
Patent Examples: Layout of Display Pixels & Drive Tunnel
Apple's patent FIG. 21A illustrates an example layout of display pixels for one example touch pixel; patent FIG. 21B is a magnified view of a portion of FIG. 21A illustrating an example drive tunnel
Apple credits Steven Hotelling, Marduke Yousefpor, Shih Chang and John Zhong as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q3 2009 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. For more detailing, see granted patent 8,217,913.
Apple Wins 3 Design Patents Relating to iCloud
Late last week Apple was granted 3 design patents for their iCloud logo in Hong Kong China under numbers 1102211. 2M001 to 2M003. Apple applied for the designs in October 2011. The designs are now protected until August 2016.
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:
8,218,347 Stacked memory device having a scalable bandwidth interface
8,218,306 Assembly of a handheld electronic device
8,218,790 Techniques for customizing control of volume level in device playback
8,219,157 Electronic device with shared multiband antenna and antenna diversity circuitry
8,219,580 Dynamic management of multiple persistent data stores
8,219,920 Methods and systems for managing to do items or notes or electronic messages
8,219,880 Combined single error correction/device kill detection code
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.
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