back to article Apple patents touch-sensitive controls for MacBook

Apple has filed for a patent on a system which places the controls for a notebook computer within the outer bezel of the screen. Patent number 8,654,524, published Tuesday, describes a set of systems in which sensors are placed in both the casing and outer screen bezel (the black box around the outside of the display) allowing …

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WTF! This is similar to the buttons on my samsung tv and many other tv's. Putting them on a laptop does not make it a new idea or anything patentable. Just how stupid are the patent office?

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Facepalm

This is how stupid they are. Some guy patented a stick just to deliberately take the piss.

This level of stupidity, combined with the best law money can buy, is how companies plumb out of ideas can get away with this kind of rounded corner type shit.

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Having read through the linked patent application, the prior art that springs to mind is that of the MacBook that some guy hacked about with some years ago... basically, he accessed the accelerometers in the MacBook's HDD and mapped the output to some common user commands. End result? Smacking the left hand side of the MacBook's lid made his browser go back, smacking the right-hand side made it go forward.

Without commenting further on this specific application (I do try and grok a patent application before commenting here, but I am not a patent expert), the OP is correct; the Patent Office might be stupid, whereas a company would be stupid not to try their luck.

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Anonymous Coward

Another load of misinformed WTF'ers commenting, I mean screeching, about something that may or may not exist, May or may not come to market and just because there is a suggestion that it is about Apple.

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>companies plumb out of ideas can get away with this kind of rounded corner type shit.

'Rounded corners' wasn't a patent. It was a Design Patent- a very different concept, albeit one with an unhelpful name. If you haven't got the distinction clear in your mind, your comments are not likely to be to the benefit of anyone here.

On the face of it, Apple had a point - the phones Samsung released after the introduction of the iPhone looked very similar to the iPhone, since they sported the same radius of corners as the iPhone, whereas Sammy's previous efforts hadn't.

Whilst the phrase 'rounded corners' might have featured in the complaint, it was merely a part of the description. It was the ratio between the specific radius of the corners and of the other dimensions of the device that was covered under the Design Patent.

My old man still asks to this day "Is that an iPhone?" when seeing any touch-screen phone (even though I've got him to buy himself a Nexus 5), suggesting that the charge of confusing potential customers is not without merit.

Lay it to rest, please.

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Facepalm

Yes, they did just patent the ON/OFF button

"The location of the sensors may be placed at strategic locations."

"In one embodiment, a proximity sensor or touch sensor may be placed near a feedback indicator such as a sleep indicator. When a user approaches and/or touches, the sleep indicator or area around the sleep indicator, the electronic device may initiate a sleep or wake function. For example, if the electronic device is already in sleep, the user action may cause the computer to wake (or vice versa). "

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Holmes

"My old man still asks to this day "Is that an iPhone?" when seeing any touch-screen phone"

Even the Sony Ericsson P800, released in 2002?

The reality distortion field is strong in this one.

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"My old man still asks to this day "Is that an iPhone?" when seeing any touch-screen phone (even though I've got him to buy himself a Nexus 5), suggesting that the charge of confusing potential customers is not without merit."

It suggests to me that he was oversaturated with iPhone adverts to the point where he assumes any phone with any radius of corners is an iPhone. I mean really... are you suggesting that at no point in pre Apple history has a phone with that degree of cornerage been produced. There's a huge back catalogue of phones to measure there...

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"My old man still asks to this day "Is that an iPhone?" " That is nothing but an indicator of apple's marketing genius. They managed to embed themselves in the public's consciousness and therefore became synonymous with touch-screen phones.

"the phones Samsung released after the introduction of the iPhone looked very similar to the iPhone, since they sported the same radius of corners as the iPhone, whereas Sammy's previous efforts hadn't." Ignoring the fact that Samsung was proven not to having the same radius, this was a classic example of selective image choice, ignoring all the non touch screen phones samsung released after the ihpone and ignoring the touchscreen phone samung released before the iphone. Sure the Galaxy S (http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_i9000_galaxy_s-3115.php) bears some resemblance to the iPhone 3, but it actually bears more resemblance to the Samsung F700 (http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_f700-1849.php)

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g e
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HP Elitebook 6930P

Touch controls on laptop surface above keyboard for volume, etc

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It's Ok

My mother gets asked the same thing when people see her LG Prada so I'd tend to agree that many people have trouble distinguishing one rectangular slab with rounded corners from another. Then again if you covered the grills and badges of the current Camry, Accord and Impala, I'd wager a lot of people wouldn't be able to identify which was which and you could probably convince a good number that they were the last three model years of the same car.

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Existing or not is completely irrelevant. Your ideas don't have to exist, ever.

Patents protect an IDEA, not a product.

Just who is misinformed, other than you?

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Existing or not is completely irrelevant. Your ideas don't have to exist, ever.

Patents protect an IDEA, not a product.

Just who is misinformed, other than you?

Actually you have that backward. You can't patent an idea, it has to be a process, a machine, an "article of manufacture" (a.k.a. a product), composition of matter (such as a synthetic material, molecular structure, metal alloy, etc) or an improvement on the aforementioned. In fact while your invention doesn't have to currently exist, it has to be capable of existing which pretty much eliminates ideas since a flying pony is an idea but good luck patenting one since I'm quite certain, even as lax as they are, the USPTO will require proof that it can be made and does what you say. I know people who have initially been turned down for patents because the examiner didn't believe it was possible and so had to demonstrate the prototype to prove that it did do what they claimed.

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Anonymous Coward

> Another load of misinformed WTF'ers commenting, I mean screeching, about something that may or may not exist, May or may not come to market and just because there is a suggestion that it is about Apple.

Mate, this is a patent and as such a warning to everyone who wants to do this sort of thing not to or to pay up. An innovative but small outfit can't afford to defend against a lawsuit based on this and other crap and may easily get fucked. Patents are mostly bullshit, this one incredibly so. And seeing that Apple is not shy about asserting their proudly held IP, the screeching is very much appropriate.

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Anonymous Coward

"Ignoring the fact that Samsung was proven not to having the same radius"

[citation need] ... seriously, I am interested to read the details.

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Anonymous Coward

Humour

Government and other agencies are peopled by people, some of whom have a sense of humour.

I think there is also a patent for walking a cat.

Famously, there is a published standard for a Martini. The ANSI Standard Martini.

Laugh a little, live is so much better that way.

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Stupid patents cited

Did you notice how many other patents cited that one?

Also, apparently the USPTO still wants you to pay for your patent even after all the claims were invalided.

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Wait a sec isn't this already in a ton of samsung tv's and LG tv's already?

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Anonymous Coward

Not just Samsung and LG

I've got an 8-or-so year old 32" LCD I bought cheap from Tesco. [Relatively] ancient budget tech had this in.

How would one go about getting this patent disqualified on the basis of blatantly obvious prior art? A punative fine for piss-taking wouldnt go amiss either.

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Ahhh, but you forgot the old "delete 'TV', replace with 'phone', file patent... delete 'phone' replace with 'computer', file patent, delete 'computer', replace with 'absolutely every other device, thing or thought we can think of'"

It is OBVIOUSLY completely different...

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Dig

This is truly revolutionary for Apple

Instead of take previous invention from a computer and apply to a mobile device we now take sensors from a mobile device and apply them to a phone. WOW I wish I had thought of that. I guess the hard part is known which ideas are worth patenting and which I would think are obvious and not worth patenting. Perhaps I just can't afford the fees, or the lawyers.

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Re: This is truly revolutionary for Apple

It isn't about "worth" patenting, but about "what can we blow through the Patent Office before anyone realizes it is completely F*CKING obvious!!!"

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Okay not on the bezel

But my 6 year old lenovo Ideapad Y550 has a bunch of soft controls above the keyboard that are part of the casing and are touch sensitive. Not a leap of imagination to shift them up about 1/2 an inch onto the bezel of the screen, shurely not patentable, hopefully the filing is filed where it is most appropriate.

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Re: Okay not on the bezel

my LG tv is 4 years old and has bezel touch controls, my brothers tv is 5-6 years old and it has them as well. I just worked on a friends laptop that has touch controls on it though not on bezel and it was a machine that game with vista. So taking current tech and putting them on screen bezel is not an innovation, just re-purposing current tech and trying to act like they are innovative.

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Re: Okay not on the bezel

See yours and raise, etc.

I had an early Technics or Teac 4:3 flatscreen (tft I think, but could be wrong - bloody awful quality by today's standards anyway) TV with a row of soft touch controls on the bezel of the screen.

It would have been made some time in the 90s. Oh, and with a screen size of around 20" it was most deffo a 'mobile device" (as long as you had a good length of aerial cable to hand!)

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or the Dell U2410's we use at work, they have touch sensitive controls on the bezel.

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Um look at LG/Samsung's TV's over last least 5 years, good number of them have had touch sensitive controls on them. My 400$ 32inch LG tv that is about 4 years old has them.

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Hehehe so now they can sue Samsung...

... who sells plenty of systems infringing on this extremely innovative patent.

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Nya

Re: Hehehe so now they can sue Samsung...

Infringing yes...even though them (and LG and others) have been selling this tech for many years long before this patent. Really goes to show how utterly screwed up the US patent system is.

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HP TX1000 series.

Who reviews these patents? Helen Keller?

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Anonymous Coward

So, hands up who actually read the patent?

Hmm, thought not.

Lots of mindless uninformed drivel then?

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Yet one more Apple patent on existing technology.

"sensors are placed in both the casing and outer screen bezel (the black box around the outside of the display) allowing for the implementation of controls and buttons."

Like both my monitors have for power and OSD controls?

This is NOT new, but I that never stopped Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yet one more Apple patent on existing technology.

""sensors are placed in both the casing and outer screen bezel (the black box around the outside of the display) allowing for the implementation of controls and buttons."

Like both my monitors have for power and OSD controls?

This is NOT new, but I that never stopped Apple."

Should read this is NOT new why is why Apple have filed a patent!

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Anonymous Coward

Arguably Apple did something similar way before the iPhone

Remember the touch-sensitive wake/sleep/off control of the G4 Cube? That.

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Cmon Apple

Just patent gravity. Then all the competition will have to ship their products with glue to keep them on the desk.

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A bit confused here

I've scanned the Patent which is claiming an invention (so not a design patent), and references a number of related patents filed by the same company on the same day which are summarised in the patent. Between them they seem to have patented ANY "electronic device" that has any form of I/O control set into the housing that isn't an obvious inset device e.g. a keyboard or mouse/tracker.

So ignoring all the cases of Prior Art that exist (TVs, PC screens, Kindle, even remote control car keys) , they seem to have tried to patent every possibly permutation of controls embedded into the housing of "an electronic device".

But they also list a load of other patents which are referenced, many of which seem to already cover things claimed in the Apple patent. Hence my confusion - they seem to be patenting a general idea rather than a specific application of an idea (which I thought wasn't supposed to happen anyway, but I may be wrong there) , while there have already been a number of other patents under the same USPO system that use the same idea.

Oh and Dave126 - that's really only the same as calling any e-book reader a Kindle, or even any vacuum cleaner a Hoover. In general people tend to refer to many device types by the brand of the most famous version of it

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A bit confused here

"In general people tend to refer to many device types by the brand of the most famous version of it"

Band-Aid

Cellophane

Cellotape

Durex

and the beat goes on

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Anonymous Coward

Err.....

Almost every current Samsung phone and tablet has touch controls on the bezel, though having them scattered all around the device would, I imagine, be exceptionally irritating

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Patent?

Design should not be patentable. IDEAS are what patents are for. Design is what COPYRIGHT is for. The whole point of a Patent is to prevent others from stealing your idea without compensating you thus enabling you to develop the idea into a commercial product. Copyright is designed to earn income from the use of your creation (be it a product, design, music or whatever). Apple and others are just using the existing system to milk extra income from badly written Patent Law. If I were in the US Patent Office I would be declining any patent that even smelled of Design.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Patent?

If I were the US Patent Office I would be declining any patent application from Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Patent?

IIRC a US "Design Patent" is the same as "Registered trade dress" in the UK.

Neither are a patent in the classic understanding of the word, and that confuses most of the commentards here.

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Ok how is this new my age-old Fujitsu-Siemens Laptop (Just another Uniwill P55 Clone), already had Touch Controls for the Volume yonks ago. Now I grant you it wasn't on the Screen Bezel. But that would almost be as stupid to place it there as would a Touch Screen, al-la Windows (H)8 style.

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Anonymous Coward

My 1997 Psion Series5 has a touch-sensitive icon strip around the screen. From 17 years ago.

Patents (part of my work) are only supposed to be granted for things that are "novel" (no-one has stated them publically before) and "inventive" (ie no-one who's reasonably informed in the business might be expected to come up with the idea). ...or perhaps, in the case of the USPTO, "unless it's an American applicant, for whom the grant of a patent will favour the American economy" ;-)

That's the reason why it's always the USPTO granting everything American that comes their way, ISTM - and not in other countries. I've yet to hear a single reason why countries wouldn't sneakily favour their own companies' applicants - just, no-one seems to do it anywhere near as nakedly as the USA (does the USPTO grant ludicrous Samsung patents? No.)

God help us all if the forthcoming "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" does anything to harmonise patents.

So, where were we, yes: my 1997 Psion Series5... [etc]

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Prior art within 15 feet of me

3 x Asus monitors (annoying touch buttons on the bezel)

Dell laptop (touch buttons for media control, play pause etc admittedly not on the bezel)

Sharp TV (touch buttons on the bezel for all controls)

The last place I want touch sensitive buttons is on a laptop screen bezel, sods law says that I will hit the power button when I adjust the screen angle to get rid of a reflection over what I am trying to see

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Good luck with that...

Let me know how your dinner date with prior art goes, Apple... I seem to (OK, "very clearly") remember my Toshiba Libretto with its mouse track-stick mounted on the lid to the right of the screen. And the mouse buttons. And the power button.

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Jab at Samsung?

Maybe this is a ploy to keep Samsung off-balance. They're big on touch controls (as many have already posted). Apple certainly has the budget to file patents as a form of corporate warfare.

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How visible will these buttons be?

Or have Apple just patented "Screen you daren't adjust to reduce glare for fear of losing all your work"?

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