Apple Won 49 Patents Today Covering a Major one for a Folding iPhone along with an iPhone Design Invented by Late Steve Jobs
The topic of future folding smartphones has been a popular one all year long with Samsung leading the way with patents and rumors. While Samsung's Q2 profits fell sharply, Samsung's mobile chief used that opportunity with the press to ramp up excitement over getting closer to having the world's first dual display smartphone. In August their display division announced that they'll be supplying Xiaomi and Oppo smartphone makers with future foldable displays and Huawei is rumored to be preparing for a surprise launch of their first folding phone in Q4.
Apple won their first patent for a folding phone back in July and two months later the U.S. Patent Office has granted them their second folding phone patent which places a lot of emphasis on a unique lubricant system that ensures that the folding area of the smartphone's display won't crack over time. Our patent report focuses on that single patent.
Apple was also granted a series of design patents today with one covering the iPhone 4s that lists Steve Jobs as one of the inventors. And as always, we wrap up this week's main granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Granted Patent: Bendable/Foldable iPhone
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to a device and display that bends about a bend axis. The display may have flexible layers to accommodate bending.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a perspective view of an illustrative electronic device having a flexible display; FIGS. 3 and 4 are cross-sectional side views of electronic devices with flexible displays. They represent smartphones that are known to either have a "Fold out" and/or "Fold in" displays.
Apple's first granted patent for their invention was issued in July, 2018. Today's second granted patent covers new territory as noted in the patent claims.
Apple's second granted starts off with a more detailed description of the foldable phone this way:
Patent Claim 1: "An electronic device, comprising: a housing that bends about a bend axis; a display in the housing that overlaps the bend axis and bends as the housing bends about the bend axis, wherein the display includes display layers separated by at least one layer that allows the display layers to slip past each other as the display bends about the bend axis; and first and second gaskets that hold the display layers in place within the housing while allowing the display layers to shift relative to each other as the display is bent about the bend axis, wherein the display layers extend between the first and second gaskets, wherein the display has an upper surface on which images are displayed, a lower surface opposite the upper surface, and an edge interposed between the upper and lower surfaces, wherein the first and second gaskets are separated by a gap that extends along the edge of the display, and wherein the display layers shift within the gap."
After Apple's new bendable iPhone foundation is set, the big change in this second patent is the focus on a "lubricant' that protects the foldable area of the display. Apple first focused on this in an invention that Patently Apple covered in a March 2017 report titled "Apple Invents an Advanced Lubrication System to Ensure Future Foldable iPhone Displays Don't get Damaged."
Today's granted patent claims lists the word "lubricant" 14 times and opposed to zero in July's granted patent. A few examples of its use are presented below:
Patent Claim 2: The electronic device defined in claim 1 wherein the layer that allows the display layers to slip past each other comprises lubricant.
Patent Claim 4: The electronic device defined in claim 3 wherein the display layers have indices of refraction and wherein the liquid lubricant comprise an oil that is index matched to the indices of refraction of the display layers.
Patent Claim 6: The electronic device defined in claim 5 wherein the lubricant retention structure is formed from an elastomeric material and is configured to form a reservoir for at least some of the liquid lubricant.
Patent Claim 7: The electronic device defined in claim 3 further comprising an anchor structure that overlaps the bend axis and spans the liquid lubricant to hold the display layers together.
Patent Claim 15: A display, comprising: at least first and second layers that bend about a bend axis; a lubrication layer interposed between the first and second layers that allows the first and second layers to slip past each other as the first and second layers are bent about the bend axis; and a lubricant retention structure having a partially hollow interior portion that serves as a reservoir for the lubrication layer, wherein the lubricant retention structure has first and second opposing ends, wherein the first end is coupled to and moves with the first layer, wherein the second is coupled to and moves with the second layer, and wherein the reservoir is interposed between the first and second ends and is aligned with the lubrication layer.
Apple's granted patent 10,069,100 was filed in Q3 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Apple's Granted Design Patents
Apple was granted 3 key design patents today. The first covers the iPhone 4s with Steven P. Jobs posthumously listed on the list of inventors. The second is for the Apple TV remote with the button arrangement differing from the actual product. The last design patent covers a Retail drawer case for Apple Watch.
The Remaining Patents granted to Apple Today
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.