Apple Granted 39 Patents Today Covering a One-Time Secret Patent for a Flexible, Foldable iPhone Design
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 39 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's invention for a possible future, flexible and foldable smartphone design. Patently was first to discover that Apple had filed this patent application in South Korea back in January 2014. The patent that surfaced at the European Patent Office covers a detailed design that uses a flexible housing and hinges that are based on a three or four-bar linkage system. This is Apple's second granted patent relating to a foldable smartphone in a month. Earlier this month Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Wins Surprising Patent for a Future Bendable or Foldable iPhone using Advanced Carbon Nanotube Structures."
Apple's patent FIG. 1 notes that hinge #26 (which is a key focus of this patent filing) may be based on a flexible material (e.g., a sheet of flexible polymer or metal) which could be implemented in a single or multi-shaft mechanism – or any other structure that supports rotational motion about a rotational axis to allow housing members to move relative to one another.
In the next graphic noted below we see a sequence of three figures. In the first we see Apple's patent FIG. 2 which illustrates a side view of a device with a flexible display and a hinge formed using a three-bar linkage arrangement in which the flexible display has been placed in a planar configuration; in the second, we see FIG. 3 illustrating a side view of a device in a closed face-to-face configuration.
In the third, Apple's patent FIG. 9 is a side view of a device with a flexible display in a triangular configuration. Apple further notes that in this configuration it could either accommodate a two-person game or the use of two separate applications running at the same time. The very same gaming idea was recently echoed in a Samsung patent in a more elaborate illustration.
In the next graphic sequence below we're able to see four figures. In the first we see FIG. 10 illustrating a side view of a device with a flexible display having a hinge that is based on a four-bar linkage configuration; in the second we see FIG. 11 illustrating a side view of a device where the housing has been manipulated to place the display in a back-to-back configuration; in the third we see FIG. 22 which is another back-to-back configuration with a notable distinction. Instead of using a hinge mechanism, Apple notes that the engagement could use magnetic structures, hook-and-loop fasteners, hook and notch structures and/or other mating structures; in the fourth figure we see FIG. 24 that is a device in a tri-fold configuration with a two hinge construction.
The Hidden Filing
Apple's granted patent 9,504,170 links back to a 2013 patent filing as noted below. Apple's hidden South Korean filing stems from Apple's hidden patent filing that you can see below which doesn't carry "Apple Inc." as the traditional "Assignee." In this case, as are all hidden Apple patent filings, they simply hide it under the names of their engineers. Technically Apple doesn't have to reveal that it's their invention/patent until it's been granted.
To review our original 2014 report, see "Hidden Apple Patent for Flexible Display Devices Discovered."
The Remaining Patents granted to Apple Today
We wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Note: In order to see a clearer image of the list above, simply click on the image above to enlarge it. Some browsers may require that you click on the image and then a second click on the image to enlarge it fully.
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 Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Those using abusive language or behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.