With only 11 patent applications published last week by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, this marks a meager week for Apple Inc. Of the patent applications published by the USPTO, three are interrelated applications for managing access to rights-protected digital media. Other patent applications pertain to improvements to internal computer systems, including temperature control and serial bus connectivity.
Managing Access to Digital Content Items
Digital rights management, or DRM, has long been a major concern among computer systems manufacturers. The pervasiveness of digital media content, and the ease with which media files can be shared among computers, has made it difficult to adequately compensate media creators for their digital products. In some cases, computer developers have created DRM software that restricts access to a single user.
The system laid out in these three interrelated patent applications would create an entire secondhand market for digital content like eBooks, music files and other software by managing access rights for a single file across multiple users. For example, a user could choose to sell the digital access rights to a music file to another user. When the transaction takes place, the server hosting the file receives a notice that access has shifted from one user to another. The patent’s methods also mention facilitating a money transaction with the access transfer. This system would also help users who want to access their DRM content on a different device; often, an individual cannot access their content between different computers, even if they have access rights.
Claim 6 (Claims 1 through 5 cancelled) of the ‘615 application describes:
“A method comprising: storing, at a particular entity, first ownership data that authorizes a first user to access a digital content item; receiving, at the particular entity, transfer request data that indicates that a second user, that is different than the first user, desires authorized access to the digital content item owned by the first user, wherein the second user is not authorized to access the digital content item until the particular entity determines that one or more conditions are satisfied; and transferring a right to access the digital content item from the first user to the second user in response to receiving the transfer request data and determining that the one or more conditions are satisfied.”
Claim 1 of the ‘616 patent application describes:
“A method comprising: storing, at a particular entity, first ownership data that authorizes a user to access a digital content item; storing, in association with the digital content item, track usage data that indicates how much the user used or could have used the digital content item; receiving, at the particular entity, from a device operated by the user, relinquish request data that indicates that the user wishes to relinquish authorized access to the digital content item; in response to receiving the relinquish request data, the particular entity identifying one or more conditions associated with the digital content item; based on the one or more conditions and the track usage data, determining whether to provide remuneration to the user; in response to determining to provide remuneration to the user, storing second ownership data that revokes authorization of the user to access the digital content item; and based on the second ownership data, the particular entity preventing the user from further accessing the digital content item; wherein the method is performed by one or more computing devices.”
Claim 1 of the ‘661 application further explains:
“A method for managing access to digital content items, the method comprising: storing first ownership data that indicates that a first user is authorized to access a digital content item; storing transfer restriction data that indicates one or more conditions that must be satisfied before ownership of the digital content item can be transferred from the first user; receiving, at a particular entity, transfer request data that indicates a request for authorized access to the digital content item to be transferred from the first user to a second user that is different than the first user, wherein the second user is not authorized to access the digital content item prior to the particular entity granting the request; in response to receiving the transfer request data, the particular entity determining whether the one or more conditions are satisfied; in response to determining that the one or more conditions are satisfied, storing second ownership data that (a) authorizes the second user to access the digital content item and (b) revokes authorization of the first user to access the digital content item; and based on the second ownership data, the particular entity preventing the first user from further accessing the digital content item; wherein the method is performed by one or more computing devices.”
Method for Estimating Temperature at a Critical Point
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130060510
The processor and other mechanical components contained within a computer system generate a lot of thermal energy, and manufacturers have to include complex cooling systems in order to manage the heat given off by a computer. Problems with thermal energy are even worse with laptop computers. The smaller housing size compounds the amount of heat generated by the processor to the point where it can burn the thighs, hands or other body part that comes into contact with a hot spot.
This improvement to thermal management systems within laptops involves the use of temperature sensors placed at critical hot spots found throughout the laptop. The many sensors can create a thermal model, or a map of temperatures occurring across the device. If the thermal model crosses a critical temperature point, as determined by an algorithm, the processor is given a message to take proactive measures against excessive heating, like turning on the cooling fans.
Claim 1 of this Apple patent application describes:
“A machine-implemented method comprising: retrieving a representation of a thermal model for one or more points of a data processing system from a memory in the data processing system, the thermal model having a first component which estimates a steady state temperature behavior of the data processing system at the one or more points and having a second component which estimates a transient temperature behavior of the data processing system at the one or more points; receiving temperature data from at least one temperature sensor not located at the one or more points; and estimating a temperature at the one or more points using the thermal model.”
Methods and Apparatus for Ensuring Compatibility on a High Performance Serial Bus
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130058355
Connection ports and cables found on electronic devices are manufactured to comply with industry standards in electronic connections. Since the 1980s, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has enforced the 1394 specification for peripheral equipment connections, the latest development of which is IEEE 1394-1995. This specification supports a serial bus management system that allows peripheral equipment, like a digital camera or printer, to connect to a computer.
Currently, upgrades to the IEEE specification have been developed to allow for faster connections between equipment, which has become necessary as these peripheral devices have grown more powerful. Manufacturers can create equipment that use IEEE specifications 1394a, 1394b, 1394c or 1394d. Unfortunately, some devices may be incompatible with computer systems if the specification isn’t supported. This patent application from Apple seeks to protect a system that provides compatibility between all of these IEEE specifications.
As Claim 4 (Claims 1 through 3 cancelled) describes, Apple is seeking legal protection for:
“A method for ensuring compatibility in a data communications system between at least one first legacy cloud of devices having a first legacy device type, the at least one first legacy cloud being coupled to at least one second cloud of devices having a second device type via at least one border node, the method comprising: listening for one or more data packets; responsive to receiving the one or more data packets, transmitting a lock indication to the at least one first legacy cloud, the lock indication configured to lock the at least one first legacy cloud; and transacting the one or more data packets within the at least one second cloud, where the one or more data packets do not affect the locked at least one first legacy cloud.”
Secure Software Installation
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130061314
Mobile smartphone and tablet devices are essentially small computers that can connect to a mobile network and download digital files, such as applications. Both the iPhone and Android devices have diverse app markets offering thousands of apps that a user can download at any given moment. Much like computer systems that connect to the World Wide Web, malware developers have focused on this transmission of data as a way to distribute malicious software among mobile device users.
Current mobile software security systems involve code signing techniques to grant access privileges to apps. However, quality requirements for obtaining code signatures are expensive to fulfill. When a program doesn’t have the proper signature, a user must allow the app to access other programs. Many users don’t understand the implications of allowing access to most apps, and may unwittingly allow malware to access other programs. Apple’s system of secure software installation, described in this application, relies on secure software containers that assign identifiers to software, ensuring access to other apps or denying access when malware has been identified.
Claim 1 of this intellectual property patent protects
“A method of managing a securely installed application on a device, wherein the securely installed application executes within a container on the device, the method comprising: receiving a request to launch an application on the device; attempting to determine a container identifier previously assigned to the application, wherein the container identifier is unknown to the application at runtime; and selectively permitting the application to execute within the container identified by the container identifier and based on restrictions of the container.”