In 2020, the EU Patent Office Rejected an Apple Invention relating to Under-Display Optical Fingerprint Technology
One of Apple's April patent applications that was filed in Europe titled "Under-Display Optical Fingerprint Sensor with Narrow Field-of-View (NFV) Collimator and a Thin-Film Transistor (TFT)-based Organic Imager" was definitely different read. In it, we read that the EU Patent Office in Germany rejected Apple's patent on the grounds that specific patent claims (1, 2, 9-11 and 17 and 18) "lacked novelty" and that certain claims (1-20) lacked "inventive step."
Apple's legal representatives responded by stating that they respectfully disagreed with the EU's Patent Office decision on patentability and set out their case accordingly. The letter was signed and dated on July 24, 2020.
Apple views their under-display fingerprint invention critical to future products such as iPhone 13 and clearly wants this patent approved to provide legal protection.
The documents assigned to this European patent docket don't actually provide us with a final response to Apple's objections, so we're left hanging. The original European patent filing date is noted as July 2, 2019. It's published date is noted as April 9, 2021.
In the Scribd document below you'll find the European Intellectual Property Office's Preliminary Examining Authority report addressed to Apple which includes their detailed rejection followed by Apple legal's response below it. The appropriate information begins after page 23 (which isn't numbered).
Apple's U.S. patent application regarding this invention was covered in a Patently Apple report titled "A new Apple Patent covers Under-Display Touch ID for iPhones and Apple Watch using a Narrow Field-of-View Collimator & more" on January 21, 2021.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1A-1B below are diagrams illustrating an example of an under-display optical fingerprint sensor and a corresponding signal-level chart; FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating an example method for providing an under-display optical fingerprint sensor.
To review our January patent report for more details behind this invention, click here.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time, though it's been rumored that this feature is likely to be coming to iPhone 13 later this year.