Apple Inc. of Cupertino, CA, is back in focus this week at IPWatchdog as we return to our regular coverage of technology companies that have patent documents regularly published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office after our Earth Day 2013 series. As usual, Apple has filed many applications and received patents recently from the USPTO that show what the company sees for the future of its iPhone, iPad and other digital device products.
This month, the USPTO has published many Apple patent applications that are specifically for improvements to the technology developer’s mobile devices. These include a more secure system of connecting an iPhone to a computer and two new applications, one for easily creating social groups among acquaintances and another for students who wish to enroll in online courses. Apple also wants to protect a system of pre-processing images to create and store thumbnails that are accessed by image applications.
One patent recently received by Apple grants them the legal right to protect a system of generating security codes for more security in connections between two or more devices.
This past week was another very prolific one for Apple, as the California-based electronic device developer received 35 patents and had another 36 applications published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many patent applications were concerned with the ways computer users interact with their systems, and we see a number of upgrades to graphical user interfaces coming for device address books and online stores. Of the patents issued to Apple, one protects a webpage retrieval method that can help browsers save a lot of time while searching for information on the Internet.
One of the many patents received by Apple last Tuesday involves an upgrade to the user interface for web browsing applications. Users of browsers like Internet Explorer are able to go back to previous webpage presentations that they’ve visited, often using the “Back” button. However, using this technique, users can only go back one webpage at a time. Users can view their history to pull up a webpage visited further back without having to load every webpage in between. However, in the case of search engine results or webpages with confusing URLs, identifying the proper page in this way can be difficult.
Apple has invented what they call a “page snapback method” to visit a specific webpage that a browser had loaded earlier without loading the intermediate pages first. A page can be recorded either automatically or manually and restored as is when the system receives an input from the user. The language of the patent document seems to suggest that this system is optimized for search engine result page retrieval, so that a user can return to the search engine listings without having to go backwards one webpage at a time.
On Friday March 1, 2013 Judge Lucy Koh handed down her decision regarding various motions that were filed on behalf of Apple Inc. (“Apple”) and Samsung Electronics Co. (“Samsung”) over the past few months post-trial. Specifically, Apple requested additur, supplemental damages, and prejudgment interest, while Samsung moved for a new trial on damages or remittitur. Judge Koh determined that the “Court has identified an impermissible legal theory on which the jury based its award, and cannot reasonably calculate the amount of excess while effectuating the intent of the jury.” The total amount stricken from the jury’s award was $450,514,650 –pending a new trial on damages. The jury awards stands for the remaining 14 products for a total of $598,908,892 in favor of Apple.
Post-trial, Apple requested the Court to increase its damages award for five products because the jury gave an award less than what was calculated by Samsung’s damages expert. However, the Court pointed out that “Apple provide[d] no authority for the argument that the Court should not consider the jury’s specific findings.” Moreover, the Court stated that by doing so would be to violate the longstanding rule that the Seventh Amendment prohibits a judicial increase in a damages award made by a jury. See Dimick v. Scheidt, 293 U.S. 474, 486-87 (1935). Although Apple contends that this rule does not apply in this current case because there is no dispute about the proper amount of damages, the Court quickly and swiftly disagreed. In fact, the Court points out that “[t]he amount of damages is heavily disputed here, as evidenced by extensive testimony provided by both parties concerning the proper amount of compensation.” Additionally, the jury was not bound by either side’s damages testimony and therefore free to evaluate the testimony of both sides’ experts in arriving at its award. The Court denied Apple’s motion for an increase in the jury’s damages.
Once again, 38 patents have been issued to the giant electronics manufacturer Apple Inc. of California. After a few slight weeks, Apple has enjoyed at least three weeks where they’ve been issued about 40 patents or so from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
This week’s patents include a design patent awarded for a flat-screen monitor display, improvements to voicemail retrieval systems and digital image processing improvements that help retain image detail. Apple also has a very intriguing collaborative media playback patent that would allow multiple people to affect the music choices in a room directly from their electronic device.
The only design patent issued this week to Apple protects the shape of a flat-screen computer monitor for Apple’s iMac computer series. These computers function as desktops that include all of the hard drive and processing components within the monitor; only the mouse and keyboard components are external.
This week Apple had a total of 34 patents issued, including four design patents and a number of patents focusing on improvements to user interfaces on various Apple devices, such as a design patent on an icon (see bottom). Other patents obtained by Apple protect a new method of removing blemishes while still maintaining image quality and an illuminable laptop latch.
This patent represents a fairly substantial improvement to image editing processes, which has long been a staple of Apple systems. Graphic designers are able to retouch images in a number of ways already through computer software. However, removing unwanted marks and other blemishes from an image can be a burden as current blemish removal tools do not distinguish between different textures within an image. A user can take out a mark from an image, but if that mark crosses the boundary between two colors, those colors typically blend together and negatively impact image clarity.
Apple received 37 patents in the third week of February from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. These awarded patents include three design patents and a few motion detection sensing systems that allow individuals to interact with devices without having to touch the device. Other patents protect improvements to shock sensors within electronic devices and electronic contacts within jacks.
What follows is a sampling of some of the patents that particularly caught my attention for one reason or another.
Manufacturers of all kinds of electronic devices have always been interested in improving a user’s experience with a computer system. A user’s ability to interact seamlessly with the computer software contained within the device has always been a large part of that user experience. From keyboards to computer mice and then touch screens, computer technology manufacturers have continued to come up with new and quicker modes of communication between user and computer.
On Tuesday, February 12, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office issued 27 patents to electronics manufacturer Apple Inc., including two design patents and a couple of patents related to improvements in wireless connectivity. Apple’s patent protections also extend into the data encryption world this week, as the hardware developer is awarded a patent for a new method of hash data security based on billiards.
This is one of two design patents issued this week to Apple Inc., this one protecting the design of an electronic device from Apple’s iPod Classic line. The Classic line of iPods is designed to offer the most capacity for media files, including video and music. Schematic images from multiple angles are attached to this patent document depict the recognizable center click wheel as well as other features, including a thin faceplate and the bottom docking port. Claim 1 of this patent protects: “The ornamental design for an electronic device, as shown and described.”
This Thursday was a relatively quiet day for Apple published patent applications, as the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office only released 16 of the documents, which is a fair amount less than usual. Many of the applications listed here focus on improvements to media processing and storage, an area of computer systems which has long been a focus for Apple. Other patent applications include improvements to Mandarin Chinese language translations and methods of grading display screens for light leakage.
Language conversion software has been available for years and is widely accessible through the Internet. Current models of language conversion between any two written languages relies on statistical models of probability that help the software identify probable word combinations based on language used in the corpus, or a large body of texts used as a basis for proper language use in one language.
More than 30 patent applications assigned to California’s Apple Inc. were published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Thursday. Many of the patent applications published this week describe upgrades to handheld devices manufactured by the electronics firm. A new hearing aid detection system may make iPhone use much easier for the hearing impaired. New security measures for handheld devices, including image-based user authentication, are also outlined.
Innovations to mobile phone technologies have already made it easier for hearing aid wearers to tune out background noise using telecoil induction amplification. Before hearing aid compatible (HAC) phones and T-coil hearing aids were available, microphone hearing aids would often amplify background noise as well as the telephone speaker. However, hearing aid wearers must manually engage the T-coil mode of phone operation whenever they need to place a call.
This week brought another large number of patents issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and assigned to Apple Inc. In fact, 38 patents were added to the Apple patent portfolio this week alone. A few of these patents relate to the efficient use of device resources, both system processing power and display screen space. Also, Apple finally receives a patent for one of its portable media players that has been on the market since 2010.
This patent protects Apple’s 4th-generation iPod Shuffle, originally introduced by the electronics device manufacturer back in September 2010. The application for this patent was originally filed as of late August 2010.
The patent’s background section describes many of the difficulties faced by Apple in the development of their line of iPod Shuffles. The Shuffle is designed to be an electronic device contained within a very small housing while fitting in the proper media player components. Even without a display screen, these components can become fairly cumbersome within a small device. The Shuffle has a click wheel that users may use to operate the device, instead of the touch-operated display found on many of Apple’s other items.
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published 20 patent applications on Thursday, January 31 that are assigned to Apple Inc. Some very intriguing upgrades to digital media collaboration systems and cash transaction networks are among the many pieces of intellectual property that Apple is hoping the USPTO will protect. Also included is an easy accessory port to improve iPad usage and a system for associating images with geographical locations for easier map indexing.
Digital payment methods let people carry on their daily business without using much cash, sometimes going a few days with debit or credit cards. However, not all businesses can accept these cards as the fees for processing credit card payments can sometimes be prohibitive. Also, cash is also helpful when trying to split a dinner check or otherwise transfer money for personal transactions between friends.
The network described in this patent application processes cash transactions between two parties without needing any actual money present. The first party sends a cash request to a cash-dispensing server, which verifies that the user has the cash in a linked account and forwards that cash digitally to a recipient. A linked account for the second party is credited with that amount. A service fee could be charged to the party requesting the fund transfer as well.
Last week Thursday brought another 22 patent applications published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office which have all been assigned to device and electronics manufacturer Apple Inc. This week, many of the applications relate to the kinds of efficiency improvements to computing systems and devices that have made the technology development firm famous. Last week’s published patent applications include a more space-effective design for mobile devices as well as an innovation that may possibly be revolutionary for the entire subscription publication industry.
This Apple patent application looks to take advantage of the retail sale of more than one billion single-issue magazine copies that occur in American stores each year. As the application notes, these single issues are often two or three times the rate of the same issue when a subscription is purchased. They can send in a subscription card, but many find this time consuming. The result is a lot of lost revenue for the publishing industry, which thrives on subscription bases.
Do you ever have trouble remembering when to replace your running shoes? Well, if Apple’s recent patent application goes through, you may be able to purchase athletic shoes that tell you when they need replacing.
That’s right. Apple seems interested in introducing an intelligent piece of footwear that will warn wearers of when a critical level of wear and tear has been reached. Worn out shoes don’t offer the correct amount of support to your feet and can cause injury to your feet, knees and even back, so Apple’s newest wearable technology venture is a health asset and not just something that looks cool.
The patent application — U.S. Patent Application No. 20130021152 — was filed in July 2012, with Curtis Vock, an Intellectual Property lawyer with Lathrop & Gage in Boulder, Colorado, and Perry Youngs listed as the inventors. The product is listed as a “shoe wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment and associated methods,” and has Apple Inc. as the assignee.
This Tuesday, Apple Inc. was once again the recipient of a number of issued patents, as 26 patents were awarded to the company. As we’ll see, a number of these are related to improvements in resource efficiency, especially those tailored to mobile devices like the iPhone. Apple also received a patent that may save many iPhone users hours of time: a system that automatically syncs important account data with a new device when replacing a broken or outdated model.
Photo editing applications available on mobile devices typically have very low functionality compared to similar software available for desktop and even laptop computers. With these two patents, Apple Inc. hopes to empower mobile application developers who want to offer better editing features on these devices, which are increasingly being used to capture images.
On Thursdays, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office publishes patent applications that have been filed with the office six months prior, and Apple Inc. is always applying for protections on different device designs and computer systems. As happens every once in a while, three of these 18 published patents are part of a single series; these patents pertain to linking user accounts for mobile app software to obtain upgrades. Other patent applications seek protections on applications that provide parental oversight of a child’s pre-paid debit account or aid zoom functions on picture viewing applications.
More and more, special debit accounts, like pre-paid store cards, are being used by consumers to either control spending or take advantage of certain deals. One type of financial account typically used as a subsidiary to a debit account is a pre-paid financial account for children, often tied to a debit card the child can use. These types of accounts have become increasingly common as today’s economy is much more reliant on debit and credit card transactions.
How to Write a Patent Application is a must own for patent attorneys, patent agents and law students alike. A crucial hands-on resource that walks you through every aspect of preparing and filing a patent application, from working with an inventor to patent searches, preparing the patent application, drafting claims and more. The treatise is continuously updated to address relevant Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decision impacting patent drafting.
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