please stop now!!
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, …
... 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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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:
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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).
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?
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...
"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.
You say that "As far as I can see, AIANAL, they've got a design patent on the generic rectangle with rounded corners and smoothly curved back.", but it's worse than that. The patent itself says:
"The broken lines in the Figures show portions of the portable display device which form no part of the claimed design."
The curved back, the rounded corners, the position of the camera and button, etc, are all shown in broken line - their patent ONLY covers the rounded rectangle, with no dimensions or relative proportions, as far as i can see.
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.
No, it's not just "rectangular with rounded corners." It's "rectangular with these proportions and corners with a certain radius."
So something having different proportions, let's say for the sake of argument a 16:9 screen, like, let's say for the sake of argument the Samsung Galaxy Tab, wouldn't infringe any patent describing the iPad format at all then?
The patent might have been granted and they might start taking other companies to court but it can't go on forever.
Hopefully all the bad stuff they are doing will start to reverse and any money they made through the courts will find it's way back to their rightful owners.
it won't be long until perople start ditching apple in favour of better companies, If apple haven't realised that they are losing control and need to stop this childish stuff then they deserve everything that's coming.
No inducement needed - a cat will chase a small red laser spot without needing encouragement and appeared to enjoy doing so when I tried it with my sister's cat.
I made sure I stood behind the cat and didn't shine it on it or near its eyes, so it never got direct sight of the beam. Nonetheless, its something I'll never do again. Afterwards the poor moggie spent some minutes twitching its ears and shaking its head: I think even the reflections off the carpet (a brown haircord hallway one) were too bright for its eyes. This was a Maplins Keychain Laser Pointer. No power given, but at a guess it would be no more than 1mW.
This cat-exercise patent (US5443036), *and* the (in)famous Sideways Swinging patent (US6368227), are literally cited in a Microsoft patent on 'A method and computer-readable medium for deterring software piracy in a volume license environment' (US8181265, in case you want to look it up).
Point being: everyone is now treating the USPTO as a running joke.
The thing about design patents is that they're very specific.
"Apple patents round-corner rectangle" is a great sound bite, like "Al Gore says he invented the Internet" and "human brains only use 10% of their capacity," but like those other sound bites, it isn't true.
With a simple design patent like this, any change, even a trivial one, means a product is no longer infringing. Take a tablet and give it a different aspect ratio, or change the radius on the corners, and it isn't the same design any more--and therefore isn't infringing.
There's an analysis over at http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/11/07/analysis-apple-got-a-design-patent-on-the-shape-of-the-ipad-and-it-probably-doesnt-matter/ for folks who continue to believe that Apple now has a patent on round-corner rectangles in general.
So why have a design patent on it at all? If you're registering a design for a product you are building, surely the dimensions are an integral part of that product? If something is almost identical in size and shape, with only trivial differences, then you have patented the 'look' of a device. If there are no sizes shown, only a shape, then haven't you just patented a design that is rectangular with rounded corners and a rounded back?
I may be wrong, it's tea time and I'm hungry. I don't think well on an empty stomach...
I suppose we have started look into the wrong direction. Perhaps the more sillier the patent is, the more versatile it is, the more easier it is to use. And patents are not about patents but about litigation and about who can afford the litigation best. Patents where designed to protect the inventor. To day it is about having the money to prevent innovation rocking the boat.
"about having the money to prevent innovation rocking the boat"
Well said. While it might annoy Samsung to have its products held up Samsung certainly has the money to defend itself. It's the small upstart who is struggling month to month that gets stepped on by things like this who has to shutter their business and take second jobs to pay for defending themselves against this kind of nonsense litigation. Even if the upstart succeeds in the trial it will be for naught as the business is probably no longer viable and will likely have to face an endless number of appeals.
"The thing about design patents is that they're very specific"
Very true......but you sometimes get Design Patents which do not detail which bits of it are specific, and then use that patient to claim rights to anything that has a passing resemblance or even standard specific features.
Case in point was the dicks at Monster Cables claiming Design Patent over RCA Connectors. Look it up.
Now tell me which bits of this rectangle with rounded corners is specific.......and then tell met that Apple have not proven themselves to be equally dickish and try to use this to shut down any competition.
Go on, I dare ya.
I've always wondered why in El Reg comment sections, Douglas Adams is the next best thing we have to a high priest, whilst having been a massive advocate of Apple computers (and Apple Corp) in his lifetime. His friend Stephen Fry gets attacked for having the same views. What's the difference - mortal status, height, sexuality, Blackadder... what now?
Mildly surprised and disappointed. I like to think of myself as cynical but life proves me to be a realist more and more each day.
The current patent system is nothing more than a business made to keep lawyers rich. Nothing to do with innovation or protecting anyone's ideas. If it were there wouldn't be any patent holding companies.
The time will come when some corporation will patent the wheel. The sad thing is I probably won't be surprised.
Need a lawyer icon.
Spawn of Satan icon will do nicely.
The time will come when some corporation will patent the wheel
That has at least proper prior art:
The principal problem with all this stupidity is that it gives rich corporations free reign to bleed a potential competitor dry in court. It is 100% irrelevant that the patent can be disproved - who can afford the battle in the first place? Idiots.
the patent is only useful in cases where the camera and home button are on the short edges. Most tablet manufacturers use the long edges, ie, landscape for the camera or any buttons.
but seriously. this is trolling at the most ridiculous. The US patent office really needs to look at its standards for granting patents. and then it really needs to look at the quality of the staff it employs. this is NOT good.
"The broken lines in the Figures show portions of the portable display device which form no part of the claimed design", so it doesn't matter what manufacturers put where. If they put them on a rectangular display device with rounded corners and a rounded back edge then they're screwed.
I want to be the only one
Like no one ever was
To squash them is my real test
To sue them is my cause
I will trawl across the net
Searching far and wide
Each fondleslab to understand
The patent that's inside
It's only me
I know it's my destiny!
Koh, you're my best friend
For a patent we must defend!
Round corners so true
Our cash mountain will pull us through
You sue me and I'll sue you
Gotta sue 'em all!
"Portable display device, yeah good luck defending that one. I got a digital picture frame that shape for Christmas in 2003..."
If you still have proof of that, I would imagine that the Samsung legal team would find it worth paying you a modest sum to provide them with your data. At least an expenses-paid trip up to see them and a decent meal...
I hate to actually post a positive comment about this apple patent but if you look at all the pictures they are not specifying a ractangle with rounded corners. Thay are patenting the whole look of the item complete with the position and shape of buttons and sockets.
In much the same way Ferrari patent the shape of their cars.
" Thay are patenting the whole look of the item complete with the position and shape of buttons and sockets."
If you read the patent, it says "The broken lines in the Figures show portions of the portable display device which form no part of the claimed design." Look at the pictures and you'll see that all the buttons are shown with dotted lines, so not part of what is being claimed.
I was just in the kitchen, and noticed my chopping boards are rectangular (about the same aspect ratio as an iPad) and have rounded corners. I don't think Apple will sue, after all, you couldn't mistake an iPad for a chopping board... or could you ?
I suggest you re-read the article. The patent is only for the black outline, all the other bits are just there to give you something to look at and distract you from the fact that what you are looking at is nothing more than a rectangle with rounded corners. Obviously the distraction worked to get this through.
This was filed in 2010. By now they are all well and truly raving loonies. They are currently engaged in filing new patents for some revolutionary ideas such as a shape made up of 3 sides of variable length with the corners rounded off, a shape made up of 4 sides all of equal length with rounded corners and their proudest moment which shall probably never be surpassed a shape made of just 1 continuous rounded corner.
I am glad really that I dont live or work in the US of A where this patent means jack shit....
apple will push so hard with these stupid US patents that the amount of paper will become so densely packed in the US patent office that it will implode into its own gravity field creating a small black hole, just about big enough that its event horizon rests on the US boarders. in effect removing itself from the planet... sort of like a country wide "Darwin Award"
Let the rest of the world carry on with business as usual.....
Pure and simple. Coca-Cola bottles? Sure.
The noise Harley-Davidsons make? Sure (although I will admit, it may have been trade-mark or copyright).
These are both unique and clearly identify something (not going to argue the toss about patent being the correct tool, just that these two example are unique).
But a rectangle with rounded corners though? A generic shape? That already was is use for a myriad of hand-held objects....really?
Forget the issue of Apple and rectangles - it's getting a bit stale.
I'm more bemused by the connection between Microsoft and the laser cat exerciser.
If you look at the patent for the laser kitty pesterer you see that it references a number of other patents and is referenced in turn by a Microsoft patent US8181265 - "A method and computer-readable medium for deterring software piracy in a volume license environment."
I've been trying to think of some plausible connection between these two patents - especially if you link it with one of the cited patents:- US5194007 "The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy Semiconductor laser weapon trainer and target designator for live fire" then the mind begins to boggle.
I've been trying to think of some plausible connection between these two patents
Microsoft produce software (allegedly!)
Software is used to watch YouTube videos.
YouTube was created to watch "funny" (allegedly!) cat/kitten videos.
Cats/kittens chasing laser pointers are "funny" (allegedly)
Therefore MS own the kitty laser chase exercise patent.
Apple would have a difficult time seeking compensation for this patent.
There is so much prior art, that whomever allowed this patent to even be submitted must have been comatose when they rubber stamped it.
Any court, when faced with the plethora of prior art, would invalidate Apple's patent. It probably wouldn't even cost that much money. Give the courts a box full of thin rectangular devices with rounded corners that were invented before Apple applied for the patent, and ask them to chose one at random.
Hint: almost any episode of Star Trek TNG would suffice.
Quiz: Answer the following question: At its most basic, a patentable invention is:
1. A great idea
2. A solution to a problem
3. Both of the above
4. None of the above
The correct answer is "4. None of the above."
If you visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) site (www.uspto.gov) you will quickly see that many patents are neither great ideas or solutions to any real problem.
The Patent Office only verifies that the description and claims, AS DESCRIBED by their inventors or patent attorneys, are new, unique, and not obvious to the Patent Office.
The examiners DO NOT verify that an invention actually works or that it can ever be, built. They try only to correctly verify that the invention is patentable and has not already been patented.
From "Intellectual property. Everything you wanted to know but were afraid of being told… " at http://www.ciri.org.nz/downloads/Intellectual%20Property.pdf
I hold the patents on 'respiration', 'cell osmosis', 'mitosis as a method of reproducing lifeforms', and 'ATP transportation of chemical energy within cells for metabolism.'
As such, I don't ask for much, I just demand that Apple CEASE AND DESIST from infringing my patents.
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There HAS to be some bribing and under the table funding going on for these kinds of simpleton patents to be approved.
It's as if Apple is a rotten spoiled child and is trying to see how far they can test the level of stupidity of the people in this organization.
People need to start getting shot for this kind of blatant stupidity. If there are zero consequences then how can you expect people to abide by reasonable expectations of society.
Ok, In all serious now, this just shows how FK'd UP this system has become. I think there needs to be some serious investigations into the ethics of the Patent Office employees.
In the UK you may register a design (it's not considered a patent) these are the rules...
For its registration to be valid, a design must:
* be new
* have individual character.
A design is considered to be 'new' if no identical (or very similar) design has been published or publicly disclosed in the UK or the European Economic Area (EEA). For example, a design would not be considered new if it had been 'published' on an Internet website viewable in the EEA before the date it was filed. However, you can apply to register a design in the UK up to 12 months after the designer first discloses it.
The term 'identical' covers designs whose features differ only in 'immaterial details'.
Individual character means that the appearance of the design (known as the overall impression) is different from the appearance of other already known designs.
This is assessed from the view of the "informed user", a person who is familiar with the kind of product in question, and the amount of design freedom will be taken into account.
You may not be able to register your design if:
* It is not a design by legal definition as described above
* It is offensive
* It consists of, or includes, certain protected flags and international emblems
* It is solely dictated by the product's technical function
(source : http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/design/d-about/d-whatis.htm)
In the UK I think Apple's 'patent' fails on almost every count plus the attempt to patent this is offensive. However I do encourage them to try, It will be amusing to see them humiliated in the press and their own web site again.
Fortunately all the claims were later overturned, but this WAS granted initially !!! My kids are relieved that they don't have to pay royalties in our back yard anymore !!!
I keep wanting to contact the author to ask if he did this as a joke just to show how F^%*ed up the patent system is.
I'll bet half (or more) of the people commenting about how the patent office is stupid, then vote for governments that promise to cut taxes and reduce regulation and the public service.
So, you are getting what you voted for. For years the patent offices have not had the manpower to investigate each patent before accepting it, due to reductions in resources, and the increasing number of applications. Instead, the only mechanism left to them is to pass on the responsibility for evaluating patents to the court system. They check the paperwork is filled out, and let the "free market" fight it out.
So, stop voting for conservative "we will reign in the crazy spending" politicians, and you might instead get a government that can "reign in the crazy patents" by spending to support the patent office.
Instead of leaving the industry to "self-regulate" via the court battles. While we all suffer from the "collateral damage" it is doing to innovation and putting up the prices of equipment (that $1B for Apple has to come from someone somewhere buying Samsung products!).
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