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March 2010

Body Area Networks: Apple, Sensor Strips & the iPhone

Eric Topol is a leading cardiologist who has embraced the study of genomics and the latest advances in technology to treat chronic disease. In one of his recent presentations, Dr. Topol points to the iPhone's growing importance and connection to the next wave of medical technology relating to the "Body Area Network." One of the key components of this new dimension in medical technology is that of the sensor strip, an invention that Apple gained a granted patent for only four months ago. This focused report takes a peek at Dr. Topol's presentation in respect to Apple's patent and at how other medical facilities are adopting the iPhone as a crucial tool for their Cardiologists and Neurosurgeons on the go. According to the leading Chief of Medicine at Toronto's Mount Sinai hospital – "The iPhone is the Future of Health Care." With Apple's newly granted patent now in place – that statement may very well prove true.


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Apple Industrial Design Wins: MacBook Pro/Air Keyboard Layouts

On March 30, 2010, the US Patent and Trademark Office officially published three newly granted design patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group cover Apple's MacBook Pro & Air keyboard layouts.

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Apple Wins Major iPad Patents Prior to April 3 Launch!

Just prior to Apple's debut of the iPad in January, they were granted a major patent for a Proximity Detector for Tablets. Today, history appears to want to repeat itself by granting Apple major patents just five days prior to the official iPad launch. This patent is a whopper being that it covers accelerometers specifically in tune with multiple applications relating to games, maps, 3D Surround Sound speakers and more. Apple's second major win is for utilizing multiple broadband antennas for the iPhone and iPad 3G. Someone in Cupertino is smiling this morning – that's for sure.

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Fujitsu Assigns their Entire Interest in iPad to Apple

A recent document from the USPTO shows that Apple has been assigned the trademark for iPad prior to the official April 3, 2010 launch of this revolutionary product. Although Apple may have been granted the iPad trademark over time, the clock was ticking down. Apple purchased the trademark on March 17, 2010.

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Apple Working on Unique Speaker-Phone Feature for iPhone

It would appear that one of Apple's R&D teams have been assigned with the project of coming up with new ways to utilize the iPhone's built-in camera beyond simply taking photos. Last month we were clued into an innovative concept that will help users control their incoming calls and voicemail by simply swiping their finger over the external camera lens. It detailed rewinding and fast forwarding voicemail in addition to enhancing one handed navigation of web pages, documents or your iTunes library – by once again, swiping the camera lens in different swiping motion combinations. In today's patent, we're presented with the idea that we'll be able to train the iPhone (or perhaps a future iPad) to automatically turn the speaker-phone mode on under specific conditions like when you're driving a vehicle or busy working on your computer. The camera is trained to understand both lighting conditions and your common surroundings so as to know when your speaker phone should or could be activated. If you're a busy executive, then this may be the answer you've been looking for. For now however, it's simply an R&D project.

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Solar Powered MacBooks May be in our Future

This is definitely the year of the environment at Apple.Beyond their initial push,Apple's patents began to reflect their new position. On January 14, we presented Apple's Smart-Home Energy Management Dashboard System and then a week later we reported that Apple Thinks Green Again with Solar Cell Panels for Media Players. Well, Apple is at it again - and this time they're focusing on a light harness that could be an accessory that magnetically attaches to the backside of a future Macbook or could be engineered right into the Macbook using a translucent component. This way when you're outside enjoying the sun at a park or by your tent side, you'll be able to draw power from the sun and cut down on draining your battery. Apple is also considering using solar cells. It may look a bit goofy in the patent, but we all know that the finished product will be slick: That's for sure!

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Apple Registers 3 iPhone Icon Designs in China

1b - Cover - iPhone iCons 
Apple has registered three iPhone icons covering Voice Memos and the Compass in Maps and Compass in China under numbers 0902220.7M001 to 7M003 on March 5, 2010. The icons will be covered until October 2014.


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Apple Patent May Shed Light on Recent Protective Film Ban

1 cover - retardation film 
Who amongst us knew that Apple had a secret retardation solution for their media players? Surely not I. But there it is in black and white, a granted patent for one of Apple's super secrets of how their display stays so crisp under the most demanding of circumstances. In case you didn't know, Apple's Engineering Team responsible for display and touch technology is as fanatical about their craft as Jonathan Ive is about Industrial Design. Two of the senior display engineer's on this team include Cheng Chen who has a PhD in Liquid crystal physics/optics and is behind Apple's upcoming iPad as is John Zhong who won an honorary award in 2009 from The Society for Information Display (SID) for his exceptional contributions to display technology. Today's granted patent presents us with a basic overview of this team's use of retardation film on media displays so that we could continue to enjoy crisp imagery even when we're wearing sunglasses. At the end of the day, Apple's granted patent may even provide us with a little reasoning behind Apple's recent move to ban protective screen film from the Apple Store.

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Apple Wins iMac Touch Related Patent – a.k.a. the iKey Patent

1 Cover - Touchscreen Signet Login System 
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 7 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. One of these patents deserves to stand out all by itself: A patent that points to signet based login system for an iMac with a touchscreen. Some have called it the iKey patent.

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Apple Reveals 3D-Like UI for Social Networking App & More

1 - Cover Flow-like content selection Process (2)

In the second half of 2007 Apple had successfully integrated Cover Flow into their iPhone and iPod touch handhelds. That provided users with the ability to view and flip through their collection of iTunes album covers in a quick and easy way using a very unique 3D-like user interface. Of course that was the original intent for the app that was originally developed by Steel Skies - prior to Apple's acquisition. With a year's worth of experience with Cover Flow on handhelds under their belt, it appears that Apple's R&D went right to work on expanding the utilization of such a feature into other types of applications. Apple's exemplary example displayed in today's patent once again points to a social networking application. However, it's currently unclear whether Apple is planning to add this methodology to their iGroups project or simply make this technology available to third party iPhone developers in general. Time will tell.

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Apple Reveals Up-to-Date Commute Time App & Pages for iPad

On March 18, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published 17 patent applications from Apple Inc. The notables within this group include one that we covered earlier this morning titled "iGroups: Apple's New iPhone Social App in Development," in addition to another relating to an "up-to-date commute time" application for Apple's iPhone. This wild and crazy app will help you with your commute to work on time by notifying you of traffic problems and new routes to consider while automatically rescheduling your meetings that are in your iPhone calendar and even reset the clock on your coffee maker. Sorry it doesn't make breakfast. Other patents today include a look at Apple's iWork Pages template feature that even applies to their upcoming iPad. And lastly, there are two more patents that build on a January patent about new features that may be coming to Apple's Magic Mouse in the future.

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iGroups: Apple's New iPhone Social App in Development

Apple is working on a new communications based social networking application that they're simply calling "iGroups." According to the documents published by the USPTO today, Apple's iGroup will be a new service that will work on your iPhone and likely work with MobileMe. The idea is to allow groups of friends or colleagues attending such events as a concert, a tradeshow, business meeting, wedding or rally to stay in communication with each other as a group to share information or reactions to live events as they're occurring. The technology behind the new iGroup social networking applications works with a very sophisticated cryptographic key generation system to ensure security and privacy of your communications. Interestingly, the patent states that if one of the devices in your group happens to be without true positioning technology, it appears that Apple's MobileMe service will provide some sort of "virtual GPS" capability to that user so that they could be aware of the locations of others in the group. Apple's patent provides us with example scenarios of both a concert and WWDC event to clarify the service. This marks Apple's fourth social networking application made public since the start of 2010 - which clearly indicates that Apple now has this hot new sector in its crosshairs. 

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Scales of Justice: MicroUnity Systems vs. Apple

1 - Cover - MicroUnity vs. Apple 
MicroUnity Systems Engineering, Inc. of Santa Clara, California has launched a patent infringement law suit against 22 of the major players in the telecom industry from AT&T, Motorola, Nokia Samsung, Sprint, and Texas Instruments – to major handset makers such as Apple, Google, HTC Corporation, Palm, LG Electronics and others. MicroUnity is claiming that the defendants have infringed on eleven patents that are listed in this report. MicroUnity basically wants the court to adjudge that there was an infringement of their patents. If the Court decides there was an infringement of their patents, then they seek damages and enhanced damages, though at this time no amount is listed in the documents. And lastly, they want the Court to enforce these Companies from using their patents. MicroUnitiy specifically points to Apple's iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch.

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Apple Files a Mysterious Projector Patent

In June of 2009 Apple tried to bury the fact that they had begun preliminary R&D on integrating Pico Projectors into future iPhones and/or other Apple media players - but Patently Apple broke the news. Nine months later a new mysterious projection system patent has emerged. After careful review, we're now able to see that Apple is taking their pico projector research and development to the next level. Apple is now exploring multiple avenues of incorporating pico projectors into their hardware which includes a new and very intriguing application.


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Apple Wins Patent for Aperture's Picture Straightening Tool, More

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 7 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group include technologies behind Apple's Macbook housing and Aperture's picture straightening tool. The way that Apple and Google have been snarling at each other lately, you have to wonder if Apple would use this patent to go after Google's Picasa. They wouldn't be that stupid – would they? - Nah.

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Apple's R&D Advances Audio UI and New Portable Media Dock

On March 11, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published two very interesting patents that illustrate Apple's R&D teams are rapidly advancing the notion of an audio user interface for Apple's media players and iPhone. The technology as discussed many times in the past, will allow motorists to control their iPod content via voice commands. Voice commands will naturally extend to controlling your content while your media player is sitting in a dock in your office or TV room. Today's second patent, which we'll begin with, presents us with yet another twist to the design of a new portable universal docking station.

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The Patent Wars: Apple Reveals New High-End Multi-Touch Technology

COVER - New Touch Panel Technology 
In another excellent report filed by Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune earlier this week about Apple's high tech war against handset makers supposedly infringing on Apple's multi-touch IP, he quotes Oppenheimer's Yair Reiner stating that "Our checks also suggest that these warning shots are meaningfully disrupting the development roadmaps for would-be iPhone killers. Rival software and hardware teams are going back to the drawing board to look for work-arounds. Lawyers are redoubling efforts to gauge potential defensive and offensive responses. And strategy teams are working to chart OS strategies that are better hedged." Well, Apple isn't standing still either boys-and-girls and yesterday the USPTO published yet another round of new highly sophisticated multi-touch panel patents that will reverberate in the war rooms of Apple's competitors around the globe. Gentlemen, behold - this is only the beginning of the patent wars.


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Apple Reveals iPad Display Technology & New iPhone Audio Plug

On March 11, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published 28 patent applications from Apple and in this report we point to one of the patents behind Apple's iPad display technology, a new patent revealing a new audio plug for the iPhone and iPod touch that is positioned on the right side of the unit which may suggest that the audio had to be moved to make way for a new component such as a video calling camera perhaps? And lastly, Apple reveals their secret sauce behind the iPod Touch assembly – which I can't wait to try at home – ha!


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Apple Reveals "Quick-Start" - A Template System for Workouts

On March 11, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the next chapters for Apple's media players used in the gym or private workouts. Apple's latest patent is all about the user creating their own custom workout templates so that they could kick start their workouts faster than before. No more starting your workout from scratch. I enjoy using the Nike + iPod system that provides me with all the stats that I need. In the future, I'll be able to set custom templates for other types of workouts be it for using a rowing machine, weight lifting or other type of exercise. Apple indicates that voice commands will be available in the future which is interesting. Apple also revisits the "virtual competitor" which was first covered in September 2009. This will allow users to compete on a treadmill against friends working out at another gym across town – to help with the monotony of routine workouts.

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Apple Trademarks "New Music Tuesday"

On March 10, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple's latest trademark application for "New Music Tuesday" under application 77950076. Apple has filed their trademark under two International Classes covering retail store services, podcasts and e-publications in the field of entertainment. If you don't subscribe to Apple's iTunes music email service, then you could always check out what's new at the iTunes Store at their "New Music Tuesday" website, here. The question becomes, why did it take Apple almost seven years to file for this trademark?

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Apple Abandons Time Tunnel Trademark, Wins 3 Industrial Designs

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 6 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today which includes a patent for their Universal Dock along with 3 industrial designs covering the MacBook Air, iPod Shuffle and USB Power Adapter. Additionally, two documents confirm that Apple has abandoned their Time Tunnel trademark - which shouldn't have any material effect on their product Time Machine.

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Great Advances are Coming to Apple Remote & Apple TV


The USPTO was down for most of last Thursday, which made it very difficult to access Apple's latest patent applications. One of the reports that we were able to post was in regards to Apple TV's remote controller. Yet hidden within the patents that we weren't able to access - was a little gold mine. After careful scrutiny of this patent over the weekend, let me tell you, Apple has some great ideas in mind for their Remote iApp. Better yet - Apple's patent presents us with a unique overview of a future version of Apple TV that we perhaps hoped for from the very beginning and disappointingly never received. All we can hope for now is that Apple delivers this next generation Apple TV for at least Christmas this year. C'mon Apple – make it happen!

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Apple's Power Advertising Patent May Stir the Crazies into a Frenzy

In October 2009, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Prepares to Rock the Market with Hardware Subsidizing Program" and when All Things Digital decided to post my report - it took off like a bat out of hell. The report was clearly about subsidizing hardware in exchange for having users watch advertisements on their system which would happen to include some interaction with a few ads so that the advertisers would help to flip the hardware bill. Fair enough. Well, some noses got out of joint with that news – In fact, Robert X. Cringely took on Apple's proposal - calling it a Patently Crazy idea. That report seemed to ignite some kind of negative undercurrent or cult that culminated in the recent "Cracked" report titled "5 Reasons You Should Be Scared of Apple" that has since racked up more than 1.13 million hits! Hmm, how a simple, logical idea about subsidization turned into Apple being an evil empire is beyond me. So I could only imagine how the crazies will react to today's patent report that carries along on that very same theme of free television programming coming to computers and portable devices that will – yes, enforce ad participation. Yet for those of you who understand how the real world works - today's patent could actually shed some light on what Steve Jobs could have discussed with the networks when proposing Apple's new 99 cent content deal. The patent in fact points to a multiple tiered ad content system that could be set to a sliding price scale. And lastly – the patent indirectly provides us with some insight into how Apple could utilize their recently acquired Quattro Wireless ad service in the future.

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While Apple Denies Interest in Television, their Patents State Otherwise

1 - Cover 
Tim Cook recently spoke at the Goldman Sachs' annual tech conference in San Francisco and supposedly stated that "Apple TV is a hobby. But "because our gut says there's something there we're continuing to invest in those," reported the Wall Street Journal's "Digit" blog. Seth Weintraub's 9 to 5 Mac went on record with Tim Cook stating that Apple had "No interest in going into the TV market. But still think there's something there." Yes, Apple continues to invest in the area of TV and our TV patent section is trying to document what we can on this very important future product. And while Apple continues to deny that they're working on a next generation television, you'd have to be an idiot reporter for even expecting Apple to say: Oh, yes, we're about to reinvent television and here are the juicy details. Ha! If you know Apple, then you know not to ask questions about "future products "and expect a reply. During every financial conference of Apple's, we continually hear analysts trying to get Tim Cook or Peter Oppenheimer to confess or have a slip of the tongue in the hopes of getting a killer headline. It's not going to happen. With that said, a very simple Apple patent was published today by the USPTO that insists that the company's Apple TV remote is to work with a clearly defined television – beyond what we know as Apple TV - the set top box style unit.

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Apple, Clearly in Search of New Cooling Systems

Why would Apple want to add liquid cooling to the iMac? That was the question on February 10 and it becomes the focus of several new Apple patent applications discovered today at the USPTO. The Mac community, for some reason, got hung up on Apple's old G5 Mac that was designed with large pipes etc, even though the patent clearly indicated it was about a mini-cooling system. To make this point crystal clear - you could download this four page PDF from Asetech that shows just how small cooling systems are getting. In today's patents, Apple mainly focuses on new thermoelectric cooling systems that could be built into a modified MacBook hinge system. Apple's patents attack the problem from different angles making it clear that Apple is searching and researching new ways to keep all of their future devices even cooler. Considering that Steve Jobs tried to change our perception of Apple in January by stating that they were the number one mobile device company in the world, it stands to reason why keeping mobile devices cool physically as well as esthetically is paramount.

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Apple Reveals iFrame Trademarks

On March 4, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office officially published Apple's latest trademark applications for "iFrame" under applications 77946787 and 77946791 which were originally filed by Apple in late February. Apple has filed their trademark under International Classes 009 and 042 covering Apple as an Application Service Provider (ASP) in all aspects and matters relating to video (editing, extracting, encoding, decoding etc) which is covered in our report in detail. Sanyo was the first camera OEM to support Apple's iFrame video format.

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Hmm, Apple has Renewed their Newton Logo Trademark

When discovering Apple's latest trademark filings for iBook and iBook Store in the Canadian Intellectual Property Office this week, I also stumbled upon Apple's filing pertaining to their Newton logo design trademark that appears to have been renewed or has been automatically set to renew on October 13, 2010. Hmm, considering that Apple has reinvented or repurposed their iBook trademark from that of a notebook to that which represents ebooks and an ebook store, could Apple be thinking of resurrecting or repurposing Newton for something meaningful once again? Isaac Newton described the three laws of motion, developed a theory of color and formulated an empirical law of cooling while studying the speed of sound. There's certainly a lot of technology that Apple could apply this to - in respect to a future device – to ensure that Apple's Newton goes down in history as a noteworthy success. What say you?

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Olympic Record: Congratulations Canada!

COVER - OLYMPIC GOLD RECORDWith a surge of victories in the final days of the games, Canada ended the winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver Canada with more gold medals than any host nation in Winter Olympic history. With 14 Gold metals, Canada broke the records held by both the United States and Norway at 12 gold metals. More photos could be found here.

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Apple Files for "iBooks" & "iBook Store" Trademarks in Canada

Patently Apple has recently discovered that Apple Inc. has filed for two new trademarks in Canada for "iBooks" and the "iBook Store" or "iBookStore" under applications 1468914 and 1468910 respectfully – in February 2010. Apple's trademark filings cover an extraordinary wide swath of wares and services that may point to future service possibilities – beyond just books. One of them relates to subscription services for which music is one, yet because it also covers subscription services in general, it means that theoretically Apple could introduce the concept of a book rental business – something which would be in-between an outright purchase of a book and a free electronic-book from a public library. This report covers Apple's full class description details along with a few very interesting highlights which includes the mention of a possible "consumer loyalty program." 

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Apple Gains Industrial Design Wins for MacBook Pro & MacBook Air

On March 2, 2010, the US Patent and Trademark Office officially published three granted industrial design patents for Apple Inc. covering the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Pro's glass trackpad and the MacBook Air. Interestingly, Apple's patent clearly notes that the MacBook Air was or is going to have a black-finish bottom. Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, is listed in the design credits.


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Apple Wins a Patent for an Advanced Battery Recharging System

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 13 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today in addition to 3 industrial design patents covering Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. The notable granted patents presented in our report today includes one relating to Apple's advanced iPod Click Wheel, another relating to the iPhone's alert silencing system and perhaps the most important, a never released battery charging system covering a wide variety of devices. The proposed system would allow batteries to be charged by plugging them directly into a future specialized iMac and/or keyboard slot.


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Apple Aggressively Pursues 'Joint Venture' Trademark

On March 1, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple's latest trademark application for "Joint Venture" under application 77942739. Apple has filed their trademark under International Classes 35 relating to retail services; 37 relating to Maintenance/repair and consultancy services; 41 relating to education services and 42 relating to hardware and software technical support. Today, Apple offers various in-store training services such as the Genius Bar, Business, Youth Programs and One-to-One. Their latest trademark would suggest that they may have developed yet another in-store business class service. Then again, could Apple be thinking of something bigger or bolder here, such as kick starting a new venture capital subsidiary? At Apple's latest Shareholder's meeting held last week, Steve Jobs stated that "When we think about big, bold things, we know that if we needed to acquire something, a piece of the puzzle, to make something big and bold a reality, we could write a check for it." Although the former is more likely to fit the bill for their latest trademark filing, the latter can't be easily discounted. For now, we'll let Apple's competition brood over that last possibility for awhile.


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