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back to article Apple granted patent for microphone silhouette

As if further proof were needed that something is broken at the US Patent and Trademark Office, it took a full 411 days for their staffers to grant Apple a design patent for iOS's Siri voice-recognition icon. Not the Siri technology itself, mind you, but merely its microphone-in-a-circle silhouette icon. Design patent D671,558 …

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FAIL

I'm going to patent the bleeding obvious and patent...

...the comment track on websites like ElReg.

All you people here am my lawsuit beatches and I look forward to trolling you relentlessly.

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Trollface

Re: I'm going to patent the bleeding obvious and patent...

I've begun the process of patenting trolling and the trollface. C&D letter is in the post.

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Did Apple not decline to comment...

... when contacted by The Register?

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Re: Did Apple not decline to comment...

the reg contacted siri directly, and were directed to a santa monica pizza parlour

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Re: Did Apple not decline to comment...

lol did you see what i did there?

directed? (so thats head west to frisco til you pick up the PCH and hang a right)

soz apul, your fuckups are coming to thick and fast for me to keep up

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Facepalm

EVERYTHING is patentable

I think I'll patent my bike, so that I can sue for patent infringement (in Texas) if it gets stolen. Penalties and damage seem to be higher than for theft these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Oooh

That looks an awful lot like this:

Icon

Hopefully Apple with have the sense to only sue for an exact copy, not something that looks a bit similar as there is tons of prior art:

Google search

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Re: Oooh

And this: http://cjoint.com/?BKBvRqB927B

skype being now owned by... surprise surprise...

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Re: Oooh

Just popped open the app drawer on my phone and, lo and behold, an essentially identical icon is used for the Voice Search app. It even has rounded corners!

These design patents are silly. At least they haven't managed to snag a real patent on the thing. Things aren't that far gone yet.

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WTF?

Re: Oooh

That Icon is"called "classic" for a reason..It's been part of the symbol set for stage and studio schematics since they near well invented the things..

Insert the usual "how the hell could the USPTO have missed.... etc.

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Flame

Re: Oooh

may the sun god Ra dismount his fiery chariot and cast a pox on all their houses

it's a fecking cartouche FFS talk about prior art!

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Re: Oooh

That looks an awful lot like this:

Icon...

Unfortunately, it might not work out as you planned. Apple applied for the design patent in 2011, while the icon linked to was published on that site by someone who only joined in August 2012.

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Re: Oooh

And this: http://cjoint.com/?BKBvRqB927B

skype being now owned by... surprise surprise...

I would think the essential elements of the Apple design patent are the microphone symbol and the surrounding circle. The Skype microphone doesn't have a circle around it.

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Re: Oooh

"The Skype microphone doesn't have a circle around it."

No, but I've seen the same symbol -microphone+circle- in many laptops, next to the microphone jack. And in many home sound systems also.

Seriously, the mofos at the USPTO who approved this crap should have their performance reviewed. Drastically. ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: only joined in August 2012

This one was posted in 2009:

http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-9847107-microphone-icon-blue-isolated-on-white-background.php

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Re: Oooh

My first thoughts were of Sansui, Technics, and Pioneer. If i could scream and rend the universe to billions of sub sub sub sub sub particles, and etch the uspto as the blame, i sure the hell would.

There should be a bullet in the kneecap for every approver and every submitter of a bleeding obvious, tear-jerkingly simple design. I though a copyright might be sufficient. But, this shit just raises the bar for those who cannot dream of patenting because such people will not have the money to bri, ummm, pay for an approval. So disappointing. It loweres the standard, and further justifies all the lambasting the uspto gets. Pathetic state of affairs.

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Joke

Re: Oooh

But Apple's microphone is not made of Swiss cheese?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oooh

Until recently I didn't have a clue what it was. It looks like a choc ice in a bowl.

The proper microphone symbol looks like a cornetto.

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Facepalm

Re: Oooh

"Hopefully Apple with have the sense to only sue for an exact copy"

Since when did sense ever come into it??

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Re: Oooh

No but the link posted by an AC above does (below). Basically it looks like they taken the two icons and merged them to get a "Unique" one. If we really need to have these type of patents then the real test should be to show a few random people pulled off the streets the icons for a few seconds, wait 5 mins and see if they can identify the apple one.

http://www.123rf.com/photo_14973511_retro-microphone-icon-microphone-icon-classic-microphone-symbol.html

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Stop

It looks just like a Telefunken U47...

You'll love it!

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Thumb Up

Re: It looks just like a Telefunken U47...

With leather?

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Anonymous Coward

Middle finger raised.

That is all.

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What are you people on about?

I just see a pill of bath salts being delivered into a red wine glass.

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Re: What are you people on about?

Oh yes. It's obvious!

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Re: What are you people on about?

I thought it was a giant turd and symbolic of Siri shitting in our wine.

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Pirate

Did Apple

check with the Swedish train authorities first, to make sure the Swedes don't already have a design patent on a real microphone that looks just like Apple's drawing of a microphone?

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Re: Did Apple

But not with the BBC's 90 years of the BBC exhibition

http://www.bbc.co.uk/historyofthebbc/collections/bbc_collection/collection_archive_tech.shtml

It does seem a tricky claim to defend = "The patent has value because the icon is so obviously and instantly recognisable as a microphone'

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Re: Did Apple

Swiss.

Though, come to think of it, I do recall a very similar design on a button in the railway station under Arlanda airport...

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Re: Did Apple

Swiss, not Swedish.

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Re: Did Apple

Swedes, Swiss...

ah, damn. Leave it to a 'Merkin to mess that up...

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do these people not even try look for prior art?

*has a look at his 3 year old Logitech headset*

Hmmmm, I see two very similar ones on there. the mute button even has a circle around it.

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Re: do these people not even try look for prior art?

I think the difference may be that the Apple's design patent is for an icon, and is therefore applicable to on-screen graphics rather than being physically printed on something.

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FAIL

So it's a wine glass with a Twinkie in it?

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Coat

it's Apple...

... so it's more likely a roofie than a twinkie

mine's the one with the purple pills in the pocket

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Patent? Come on now, surely that's a trademark at best?

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yes I have evidence of prior art

My crappy labtec speakers model LCS-1060 have this very symbol for the speaker socket, very much predating the 4th October 2011 date of apple's however given that the icon is a silhoette of a number of real microphone designs (not owned by apple) and I would imagine very much in the public domain due to age it looks like another example of US companies being able to patent anything they like.

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Holmes

Ya know

When I started working at KRST in Albuquerque (a wonderful progressive rock station in the seventies that lost its mind and identity in the 80's by going (gak!) country-western), we had an RCA 77-DX microphone in both our main and production studios. Looks real similar. Who owns RCA nowadays? Oh, yeah, NBC Universal. Now there's an outfit with enough lawyer horsepower to give ol' Apple a good run for the money.

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Coat

Re: Ya know

Greetings fellow radio pronouncer.

Didn't the NAB or the RTNDA or somebody like that have a logo almost identical to the Apple one?

Mine's the one with the old copy of FMQB in the pocket.

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Devil

US Patent Office Email Address

Please all send the following email message to the USPTO to this address:

ebc@uspto.gov

Please be advised that you have granted patent D671,558 in error as the amount of prior art is overwhelmingly against there being any value to this so called patent of an icon for the Apple “Siri” Microphone.

Failure to reject this patent constitutes a violation of civil law that protects the owners of all prior art.

See link below showing the overwhelming evidence that contradicts ANY and ALL claims of microphone icon originality by Apple Corporation.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?num=10&hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=&bih=&q=microphone+symbol&btnG=Search+by+image

You have 30 days to reply to this notice with evidence that this erroneous patent has been revoked.

Failure to comply will be met with the full force and intent of civil law.

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Unhappy

Re: US Patent Office Email Address

I looked at that link and do you know, out of all the images it shows, there are only four that look anything similar to the Siri icon. Your evidence is not as 'overwhelming' as you would like to think.

Similar is not the same as identical so I doubt your threat would get anywhere.

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Pint

Re: US Patent Office Email Address

Or how about

president@whitehouse.gov

Dear Barack,

The US patent office is not fit for purpose. Please get rid of it.

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Re: Ivan Headache

'Similar is not the same as identical so I doubt your threat would get anywhere'

Tell that to Apple who are happy enough to sue over things being similar but not identical

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Devil

Re: US Patent Office Email Address

You have to wait until the 1.9 million Google Microphone images finish loading.

As far as I am concerned, anything that has the same general outline is prior art but there are at least a dozen that are too close to not have been copied by Apple.

At the very least, this is the artists version of plagarism if not full out theft of prior art.

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Anonymous Coward

Fine by me

With retina displays, you can just buy and digitise/scale a real, actual photo of a microphone (taken in the 50s, perhaps) and just display that).

Better still, just buy exclusive licenses to 100s of photos of microphones and patent a new innovation called "User selects microphone photo/icon of their choice"......

As an iFanboi (really, you can drag my OSX laptops from my cold, dead hands), I fear I'm looking at the slow decline and death of Apple to this idiocy.

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Anonymous Coward

1950's microphones prior art?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f3/Haydn_Sherley_1950s_microphone.jpg

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7yvwgc1SR1qbch8io1_1280.jpg

http://www.oaktreeent.com/web_photos/microphones/Calrad_500C_Vintage_Microphone_Badged_b_web.jpg

http://www.w8bac.com/images/DSC01116.JPG

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Mushroom

Not only is the patent pointless but it's worthless

It's not a patent for a "icon of a silhouette of a microphone" - it is a patent for this very specific icon of a silhouette of a microphone.

So it's pointless because there are any number of silhouettes of microphones that you might come up with, and it's worthless because it's very easy to make an icon that looks enough like the Apple patented one that it is recognisable as such, but is sufficiently different to not qualify as a violation of the patent itself.

What Apple hope to do is use it to bully little guys with. YOUR ICON VIOLATES OUR PATENT! STOP USING IT OR PAY UP OR WE'LL SEE YOU IN COURT

As I keep saying... the solution to the whole patented DESIGNS (as opposed to INVENTION) debacle is for people to refuse to play the game. Get a threat of court action, just ignore it. Get a court summons. Just ignore it. Get a court order awarding damages to a plaintiff. Just ignore it.

The point at which anybody tries to get the system to actually, physically compel you to do anything will be the point at which the system is forced to take a long hard look at itself and realise it is being abused.

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DN4

Re: Not only is the patent pointless but it's worthless

> but is sufficiently different to not qualify as a violation of the patent itself.

But will that stop Apple from suing you?

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Stop

Re: Not only is the patent pointless but it's worthless

>>> it is a patent for this very specific icon of a silhouette of a microphone.

It isn't a patent at all, it is a design patent.

>>> it's worthless because it's very easy to make an icon that looks enough like the Apple patented one that it is recognisable as such, but is sufficiently different to not qualify as a violation of the patent itself.

Then presumably Apple believe it it worth protecting their "special" variation. The difference between the prior art is a recognized factor in any court's assessment of the extent of a design patent, so this whole thing takes care of itself. Something that lends a little irony to certain commentards' blather above.

If it's useless, let Apple waste their money. Who cares.

>>> The point at which anybody tries to get the system to actually, physically compel you to do anything will be the point at which the system is forced to take a long hard look at itself and realise it is being abused.

Ah no I believe that would be the point at which the bailiffs earn their living, you hope like hell it is a limited liability company that you have just bankrupted, and you cross your fingers the court doesn't issue an arrest warrant for you personally. Moron.

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Mushroom

Re: Not only is the patent pointless but it's worthless

No, but it will prevent the court from finding in their favour. The objective of holding the patent in this case is to be able to hold the THREAT of court action and the cost of merely appearing in court over someone.

A: "Hey, that's our design. Stop using it."

- "No it's not, we came up with it by ourselves. Leave us alone."

A: "It doesn't matter. We hold a patent on this design. Time to lawyer up buddy..."

- "Oh crap. Damn. Right, ok, we'll get our design boys right on it."

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