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back to article Apple is granted a patent on the rectangle. No, really

Thinking of making a thing that is portable, has a display and is rectangular with rounded corners? Well, DON'T! You'll be infringing Apple's new design patent. Apple already owns a design that describes an iPad-like slab with rounded corners, patent US D627,777. Now it's got another one and it's much simpler: behold US D670,286 …

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Anonymous Coward

aaarrgghhhhh

please stop now!!

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Re: aaarrgghhhhh

+1

nothing else to say here... maybe 'oh the humanity"? or how do I apply for immigration somewhere?

:|

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Re: aaarrgghhhhh

*facedesk*

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US-Centric. The rest of the world can ignore this article.

Those insane Yanks have done it agin.

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blimey

is it April 1st already

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Re: blimey

In the United States Patent Office, it's April 1st every day.

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Stop

Re: blimey

... I agree, but I don't think this is a laughing matter at all ... there must be an endemic psychotic disorder prevalent amongst the United States Patent Office officials ... you can't even really blame Apple, and others, for applying for this nonsense, while there is such an institutionalized "nutcasery" at work that grants patents like this ... and since there is no moral or shame in obscene profit making (sosume) ... this rubbish will go on and cripple real innovation ... worldwide ...

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Anonymous Coward

Should be interesting

Let's see how the fanboys manage to defend this as 'innovative', IP that needs protecting, Apple have every right to charge for people using their stuff, etc, etc

It's a fucking rectangle with rounded corners. Only been in use for thousands of years since we started making things that would be better without sharp pointy bits.

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Re: Should be interesting

One way to fit the dictionary definition of innovative is to do something that is contrary to established manners and which establishes new customs.

So it's very possible that Apple's patents are innovative.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Should be interesting

Behaving like they do is certainly contrary to established manners.

I could also be that the lawyers of each actor are in collusion and are having a gas making the various companies sue each other.

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Re: Should be interesting (@Destroy All Monsters)

I agree.

Based on the voting it seems the humourless are out in force, so I'll spell out the meaning of my previous post very slowly indeed: patenting something this obvious is contrary to established manners. Obvious patents appear to be taking hold across the industry. The idea of writing such patents is therefore innovative according to the dictionary. Furthermore there's irony in the way that pushing boundaries in one area is holding another back and in the dissonance with Apple's claims of innovation.

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jai
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Re: Should be interesting

Let's see how the fanboys manage to defend this

Apple are providing a service, you should all be grateful.

For YEARS now you've been complaining about how broken the patent system is. Yet nothing has been done and the system hasn't improved. Apple are obviously being helpfully, doing what the readership of El Reg have been unable to - they're pushing the patent system as far as possible. Sooner or later, with Apple's high profile in the media, the powers that be are going to notice, and then take some action to fix the system. And you'll all have Apple to thank when that day comes. Instead of complaining, you should be singing their praises :)

(well come on, you did ask for that)

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Re: Should be interesting (@jai)

"..... the powers that be are going to notice, and then take some action to fix the system"

Yeah, but what confidence do you have in the powers-that-be that they will apply a fix that will *improve* the patent system?

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WTF?

Re: Should be interesting (@Destroy All Monsters)

'Contrary to established manners' .... ie BAD MANNERS - brilliant band of the 80's!

Or were you just talking bollocks?

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Anonymous Coward

Etch A Sketch is prior art

or just about any rectangular shaped kids toy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Should be interesting

There's many other registered designs and trademarks that are just as insane yet nobody is complaining about those.

Nike has a tick for a trademark. Microsoft uses the term Windows, a dictionary word.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Should be interesting

It's a registered design. If you have a product that has a particular look and feel then you protect it, simple as that. If you don't then you will get your product imitated.

Look at all the dyson-like vacuum cleaners in the shops and he has a registered design patent, imagine if he didn't? he'd be out of business.

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Re: Should be interesting

Gah!! The ridiculous Microsoft Windows and Dyson excuses again!

Microsoft have not got a design patent on panes of glass, they have a copyright on the term Windows in the context of computer software. FFS, this one comes up every single time.

Dyson, last time I looked, has not managed to patent a vacuum cleaner which is a simple geometric shape. The patents they hold are for technological components and innovations contained within their products.

Patenting a geometric shape is utter madness and no amount of apologist excuse making can justify it. This is very bad news for all consumers. If Apple get away with this then every other manufacturer is going to start trying it on.

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Facepalm

Re: Should be interesting

Errr how about NO!

Now if it was razor sharp edges and corners then that would be a bit against the grain (but not by much)

No doubt they will be suing the publishers of the kids books (with rounded edges) that my kids enjoyed all those years ago

/me mutters.......

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Re: Should be interesting (@Destroy All Monsters)

If by referring to Bad Manners as being a brilliant band I would certainly agree with the concept of people talking bollocks ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Should be interesting

My dining room table is prior art, from Ikea in 1986

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Re: many other registered designs and trademarks that are just as insane

1. Learn the difference between patents and trademarks. It's important. Trademarks MUST be defended or they can be invalidated. Patents don't have to be until you want to, so patents can be trolled.

2. Yes, they do. Windows most vociferously, and Apple for their company name (both PC manufacturer and record company). At least Intel got beaten down when they tried on the 486.

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Facepalm

Well...

My ghast is truly flabbered.

"Apple is granted a patent on the rectangle"

and

"Method of exercising a cat"

Really!?

Is the US Patent Office ran by people who decide simply by rolling one of those yes no balls?

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FAIL

Re: Well...

Sadly, these are the finest workers employed by taxpayers. No, really.

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Re: Well...

It's seriously time for Google to start using those Moto patents against Apple. This is beyond stupid.

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Re: Well...

"Is the US Patent Office ran by people who decide simply by rolling one of those yes no balls?"

It looks like they might have a yes / yes ball.

Ooh - I think I'll patent that.

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Re: Well...

Don't forget the 'crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich'- apparently patentable

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Thumb Down

Re: Well...

Sorry, I think you are too late to patent a "Yes / Yes" device!

Prior art and all that - I have already made a 6-sided die which has only one spot on all 6 faces - makes for very tedious and predictable games of Monopoly etc.

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Facepalm

Re: Well...

It does look as though a cat has had a go at the rectangle with its claws.

I presume that is part of the patented look?

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Holmes

Re: Well...

Jim Booth wrote: "Is the US Patent Office ran by people who decide simply by rolling one of those yes no balls?"

Well, they're certainly rolling (and smoking by the looks of it) something ...

... can I have some?

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Happy

Re: a cat has had a go at the rectangle with its claws.

On an iPhone 5, yes- they look like that out of the factory, apparently.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well...

Exciting news, anonoymous have hacked in to the US Patent office and released previously unseen code.

if ($applicant == "Apple") { approve_patent($patent_id); end; }

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Re: Well...

"Is the US Patent Office ran by people who decide simply by rolling one of those yes no balls?"

What on Earth made you believe it has a 'no' side?

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FAIL

Do... Fucking... WHAT!!!

Hey America! Do the world a favour and drown your Patent Clerks, they're making you look like dicks!

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Re: Do... Fucking... WHAT!!!

You do realize that the same sort of process happens all of the time in Europe, too, right?

For that matter, the EU process is worse. Here's the "Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market" website dealing with such things:

http://oami.europa.eu/ows/rw/pages/RCD/legalReferences/legalReferences.en.do

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This post has been deleted by its author

It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

When you actually produce a product that has a specific look (that doesn't depend on function), you can get a design patent. That means that someone else can't whip up a quick copy of your product to try and steal sales from you.

Design patents are very specific, with defined measurements, curves, and angles. No, it's not just "rectangular with rounded corners." It's "rectangular with these proportions and corners with a certain radius." No, you can't create a "uPad" with measurements just 0.1 mm off - that's covered, too.

Design patents have been part of the process for a very long time now. They've been in use for over 170 years (the first US design patent was for a font).

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Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

quote: "Design patents are very specific, with defined measurements, curves, and angles. No, it's not just "rectangular with rounded corners." It's "rectangular with these proportions and corners with a certain radius." No, you can't create a "uPad" with measurements just 0.1 mm off - that's covered, too."

I looked for those measurements and definitions on the USPTO site (link http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN/D670286), but all I can see is a billion references and this:

FIG. 1 is a bottom front perspective view of a portable display device showing our new design;

FIG. 2 is a bottom rear perspective view thereof;

FIG. 3 is a front view thereof;

FIG. 4 is a rear view thereof;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view thereof;

FIG. 6 is a left side view thereof;

FIG. 7 is a right side view thereof; and,

FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view thereof.

The shade lines in the Figures show contour and not surface ornamentation.

The broken lines in the Figures show portions of the portable display device which form no part of the claimed design.

Wherefore art thou, measurements and definitions of radius of curvature which comprise the registered design?

Or am I supposed to measure the line drawing myself, and calculate my own radius of curvature of the corners from a .png on a website?

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Facepalm

Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

You say that, but have you read the patent? There's no sizes anywhere, no definitions of contour, nothing. As far as I can see, AIANAL, they've got a design patent on the generic rectangle with rounded corners and smoothly curved back.

The patent system looks very very broken at this point...

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Happy

Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

Looks like NumptyScrub and I hit the keyboard around the same time!

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Unhappy

Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

I wonder if I dear use my playing cards any more, awfully same shaped I am afraid.

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Windows

Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

Don't see no defined measurements here:- http://www.scribd.com/doc/66467658/USD627777S1

Maybe someone else could find the design patent with said measurements and demonstrate to us that they exist and therefore create validity?

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Holmes

Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

No need - just refer to its video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8pQVDyaLo

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Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

"they've got a design patent on the generic rectangle with rounded corners and smoothly curved back."

It's worse than that as if you look closely the curved back is shown in broken lines and so isn't part of the claimed design. The only thing claimed is the general rectangular shape with round corners.

Perhaps the limiting bit is that it is for a "portable display device" like a monitor that requires some other piece of kit to do anything. No input, no (de)coding, no calculations, no storage and just a display. If that's the case, I could live with that since the portable dvd player my niece got for long car trips is more than just a display. Otherwise I'd have to conclude the patent office was filled with people who find burger flipping too mentally taxing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

Cirby is correct. Look at National Geographic's yellow rectangular border trademark.

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Re: It's called a DESIGN patent for a reason...

If this criteria was used in the desktop computer industry, there would only be one company that makes desktops. For instance, almost all computers have the same design the various input-output ports. The sound card has 3 connectors for speakers, mics, etc in the same general location. I can connect a mouse, keyboard, video (VGA, USB devices, and network without seeing any written instructions because it is the same with most pc's. likewise, these pc's use open architectural design, and look almost the same on the inside. Likewise all cases are almost identical in looks. The differences between all pc's are minor. In fact, if we apply Apple's stupid patents, the first company that that patents a pc's general shape (rectangular shape), they would probably get a patent for it. In reality, the leadership of Apple is blinded by greed and don't want to invest in research and development to create a truly innovative product.

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