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, …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    aaarrgghhhhh

    please stop now!!

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: aaarrgghhhhh

      +1

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

      :|

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      2. wowfood

        Re: aaarrgghhhhh

        *facedesk*

    2. Shagbag

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

      Those insane Yanks have done it agin.

  2. noboard

    blimey

    is it April 1st already

    1. bluest.one

      Re: blimey

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

      1. Erwin Hofmann
        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 ...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      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.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        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.

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          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.

          1. Dan Harris
            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?

            1. Rob Crawford

              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 ;)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Neill Mitchell

          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.

      3. Rob Crawford
        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.......

    2. jai
      Black Helicopters

      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)

      1. CABVolunteer

        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?

    3. Anonymous Coward
    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Etch A Sketch is prior art

      or just about any rectangular shaped kids toy.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Tom 13

        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.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should be interesting

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

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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?

    1. Captain Save-a-ho
      FAIL

      Re: Well...

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

    2. W.O.Frobozz

      Re: Well...

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. julianh72
        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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    5. Andrew Moore

      Re: Well...

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

    6. P. Lee
      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?

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        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.

    7. Stumpy
      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?

    8. Anonymous Coward
      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; }

    9. Rob Carriere

      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?

  5. jestersbro
    FAIL

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

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

    1. cirby

      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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      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. cirby

    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).

    1. NumptyScrub

      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?

      1. Bob Vistakin
        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

    2. Growly Snuffle Bunny
      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...

      1. Growly Snuffle Bunny
        Happy

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

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

      2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        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.

      3. julianh72
        Thumb Down

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

        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.

    3. Lars Silver badge
      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.

      1. hitmouse

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

        Sorry you can't play any cards. Apple is holding all of them.

    4. jestersbro
      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?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

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

        A trademark is a completely different thing to a patent. For example, it's possible to trademark a color (I presume NG do that for their yellow).

    6. henrydddd

      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.

    7. Bent Outta Shape

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

      Of course, the Samsung tablet that suffers from (apparently) breaking the "rounded corners" patent was a different size and different aspect ratio from the iPad...

    8. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

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

      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?

  7. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    I just patented the raised middle finger, but I give leave to anyone to use it free of charge as long as they are pointing it at an Apple store or their corporate headquarters in Cupertino.

    1. Zombie Womble
      Thumb Up

      Excellent,

      I'll take 2.

    2. Ian Emery Silver badge

      DAMN!! Does that mean I can no longer count to 4 in binary at them???

      1. Rukario

        Or better yet, count to 132.

  8. shade82000

    Can't go on forever

    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.

    1. Bob Vistakin
      Big Brother

      Re: Can't go on forever

      The patent system is preventing evil idea stealers from such innovations as chucking a stick for your dog to fetch back too: http://www.google.com/patents/US6360693

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Can't go on forever

        Holy shit, I have used this... I have been a pirate all the time!

        That's kinda cool.

      2. Notas Badoff
        Holmes

        Re: Can't go on forever

        Someone patented a broken tree branch? Someone patented an artificially constructed broken tree branch? Someone patented a thing that looks like this --> Y <-- that's made of cellulose.

        That wraps it up for me! The patent office must be reformed.

        1. Bob Vistakin
          Devil

          Re: Can't go on forever

          Correct - and it would all be laughable had this nasty combination of corruption and stupidity not just cost Samsung $1bn.

  9. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    I want off this planet :/

  10. Matthew Smith

    "A method for inducing cats to exercise"

    Inducing? As in forcing the cat to chasing the laser against its own will? Bah! The patent would be null and void once it was test on my old moggy. She'd think it was some sort of sunbeam and go to sleep.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: "A method for inducing cats to exercise"

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "A method for inducing cats to exercise"

        works for dogs too. Just don't get them too wound up else you might get a situation like when my father-in-law thought he'd made a relative's dog have an epiletic fit

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "A method for inducing cats to exercise"

        No power given, but at a guess it would be no more than 1mW.

        Missed opportunity there. A Wicked Lasers 5W unit would have been much more fun.

    2. JeffyPooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: "A method for inducing cats to exercise"

      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.

  11. Franklin
    Thumb Down

    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.

    1. Growly Snuffle Bunny
      WTF?

      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...

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Yeah yeah yeah. "Very specific", huh?

      Seeing as what happened last time with the "design patents" on the similar-if-you-had-a-bong-and-squinted Samsung device, I won't bet that sanity prevails...

      "Oh hey, that's nearly the same as OUR RECTANGLE .... call my IP ATTORNEY!!"

    3. Lars Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      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.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        @Lars

        "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.

    4. peter 45
      Facepalm

      "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.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Learn from the lessons of history if you want to see the likely use of this patent: http://www.forbes.com/asap/2002/0624/044.html

  12. LJRich
    Facepalm

    ???

    What. The. Fuck?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know how to deal with the people behind this

    What we need is a huge spaceship capable of holding all the lawyers and other such undesirables which we could then fire towards the sun. We could call this ship 'B'*

    *please remember to sanitize your own telephone after launch

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know how to deal with the people behind this

      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?

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: I know how to deal with the people behind this

        Like comedy and tragedy, the difference is timing.

        Douglas Adams lauded Apple at a time when they were good at what they did and didn't try patenting the platonic solids. Fry lauds Apple at a time when they're arsewipes of the highest order.

    2. IanzThingz
      Thumb Up

      Re: I know how to deal with the people behind this

      up voted for the HHGTTG reference :)

  14. Joe Drunk
    Devil

    United States of (insert corporation name here)

    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.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: United States of (insert corporation name here)

      The time will come when some corporation will patent the wheel

      That has at least proper prior art:

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn965-wheel-patented-in-australia.html

      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.

  15. rickykemp
    WTF?

    Hopefully...

    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.

    1. Growly Snuffle Bunny

      Re: Hopefully...

      "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.

      Seriously, WTF?

  16. Keith Oborn

    Circular Transportation Facilitation Device

    I don't have time to look it up, but a few years ago a patent was issued for this.

    Common name: "the wheel"

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Circular Transportation Facilitation Device

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn965-wheel-patented-in-australia.html

  17. Rukario
    Devil

    Gotta sue 'em all!

    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

    Applemon!

    It's only me

    I know it's my destiny!

    Koh, you're my best friend

    For a patent we must defend!

    Applemon!

    Round corners so true

    Our cash mountain will pull us through

    You sue me and I'll sue you

    Applemon!

    Gotta sue 'em all!

    Applemon!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Email the Judge in the Samsung case.....

    ..... go on.... someone must have her email address. ....

    1. bobbles31

      Re: Email the Judge in the Samsung case.....

      Portable display device, yeah good luck defending that one. I got a digital picture frame that shape for Christmas in 2003.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Email the Judge in the Samsung case.....

        @bobbles31

        "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...

  19. W.O.Frobozz

    Go Colonial

    It's high time for Android slab makers to do as the Colonial Fleet does in the new Galactica: Shave off the corners completely. Only the Cylons like rounded corners.

  20. FlossyThePig

    Ferrari

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ferrari

      Ferrari actually does some non-obvious design - this is like Ferrari patenting a generic something with two seats, four wheels, windows and doors.

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Ferrari

      " 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 ?

      YouTube video here

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ferrari

      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.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: "a method of exercising a cat"

    I do so like the illustration in that patent. :-)

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: re: "a method of exercising a cat"

      Is he trying to exercise the cat or phaser it ?

  22. banjomike
    WTF?

    Someone needs to shove a laser up the £$%& of the patents office...

    ... those clowns are causing more damage than... I don't know what.

  23. Toothpick
    Meh

    Piss the taking

    Rearrange these words into a well known 3 word phrase.

    Anyway, my cats chase a laser pointer they can see, unlike the invisible one cited in the patent. So if they want payment they can go swivel.

  24. Chris 171
    Stop

    Signs...

    That apple really are going slowly mad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Signs...

      Going?

      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.

  25. Self-evidently!
    Thumb Down

    OMG the D U M B S H IT E!!!

    How can nobody see that these MORONS and CRIMINALS are RUNNING RINGS around innovation????

    Jesus, how STUPID are people!

  26. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Alien

    Why...

    Why, oh why, does no one put a stop to this?

    If we are being watched by intelligent life out there then what must they be thinking of us?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Why...

      "Hmm.... this primate civilization is being overtaken by dumbasses and lawyers - Oh hell. Prepare Krytonic Rays, we don't wanna stay any longer than necessary."

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Why...

      Why, oh why, does no one put a stop to this?

      They're still figuring out a way to patent it.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Why...

      I shall invent a device to accelerate and collide lawyers and priests at relativistic speeds, and place it in the public domain.

      I wonder what esoteric particles would be produced?

      Suggestions on a postcard:-

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Why...

        I wonder what esoteric particles would be produced?

        Three different bogons: "up yours", "down with'em" and "strangle"

  27. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Alert

    Lasers...

    Can I have a patent for a method to exercise patent officers using a laser, please?

    1. Oninoshiko
      Joke

      Re: Lasers...

      no, that's obvious from the cat patent, now if we change that to execute...

      I do have to neg the article in one respect, there are actually SIX different patents on playing with cats with a laser pointer!

      1. julianh72
        Thumb Up

        Re: Lasers...

        Or better still:

        "A device to entertain intelligent life-forms by executing lawyers using an autonomous high-powered laser device."

  28. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
    Mushroom

    glad really....

    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.....

    1. Wombling_Free
      Thumb Up

      Re: glad really....

      can I recommend 'After America' by John Birmingham then? It describes pretty much exactly that.

  29. The BigYin
    FAIL

    It's too generic a shape

    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?

  30. John.B
    Happy

    Prior art?

    What about weetabix?

  31. Ole Juul
    Coat

    felines fit as a fiddle

    Catgut doesn't exactly conjure up an image of feline fitness.

  32. Paul 129
    Devil

    Damn

    It looks like I'll have to pay royalties on all my placemats!

  33. nmc
    WTF?

    Cat exerciser & Microsoft

    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.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Cat exerciser & Microsoft

      I've been trying to think of some plausible connection between these two patents

      Easy!

      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.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I go to the USPTO to try and view the orignal patent document I'm forced to install a plugin...Apple Quicktime.

  35. DrewG

    Uh?

    Am I missing some important detail that causes this to make any sense?

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Uh?

      Yes you seam to have missed the bit that its in Wonderland^W America

  36. jim 45
    FAIL

    surely there is some way...

    ... to have this sort of nonsense overturned on appeal. This can't continue.

  37. Damian Skeeles
    Thumb Up

    El Reg are GENIUSES!

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/01/apple_patent/

  38. Russ Taylor

    Bonkers

    SURELY the US patent office must be corrupt and taking back handers, no one is this stupid right?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AHHHHGGGGGGGG

    Makes me glad to NOT live in the US of A...

    Who the hell approved such a patent??

  40. Esskay
    Trollface

    Meanwhile, in Beijing...

    not a single fuck was given.

  41. Tristan Young
    WTF?

    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.

    1. PsychicMonkey
      Pint

      prior art

      but what if the jugde said that they couldn't show the prior art to the jury, then you might get some stupid judgement, giving stupid damages. Could even be in the region of a billion dollars!

      I know, I know, that would never happen....

  42. Paul Webb
    Go

    iMoebus

    Courtesy of 1 Infinite Loop.

  43. John Fielder
    Headmaster

    Playing cards

    All playing cards need to be withdrawn and redesigned quickly then.

  44. Shane 4
    Facepalm

    Now If....

    Only Stanley Kubrik was still around, I'd be suing Apple for copying his black rectangle from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    This is Madness!

    Madness? This is Cupertino! o.O

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey Carlos...

    dee dee dee

  46. FurryPieri

    So when does their filing of a flat surface go through too?

  47. Semaj
    Trollface

    Acurate

    Well at least they decided to include the scratches on this one.

  48. The Axe

    A patent is not a good idea

    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

  49. Glostermeteor

    Just shows that Apple is completely running out of ideas so they have to try and patent something that's been around since Roman times.

  50. Wombling_Free
    Boffin

    As I keep explaining...

    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.

  51. Velv Silver badge
    FAIL

    ahhhhhhhh

    Now I see what Samsung have copied. Clearly they were wrong to copy this newly patented design.

    And since that time travel patent they submitted next week was approved last year they'll have no more problems in court.

  52. Arachnoid
    Thumb Down

    We only need someone to patent a rectangle with square corners and thats the market f****d for sure

  53. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't work in the UK afaik.

    A patent isn't valid if it's already been publically demo'd, or so I thought.

    Thus, if anything has ever been rectangular, with rounded corners, then it can't be patented.

    Or am I wrong?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Reg

    See those "upvote" and "downvote" buttons? Dodgy ground...

  56. Identity
    Alert

    Good Golly, Miss Molly!

    I thought no one could beat the joke found here:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/microsoft-patents-ones-zeroes,599/

  57. GotThumbs
    Facepalm

    What kind of FK'd UP people work in the patent office?

    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.

  58. A 3
    WTF?

    Applicability to UK?

    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.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swinging a swing sideways was also patented!!

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6368227.PN.&OS=PN/6368227&RS=PN/6368227

    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.

  60. indulis
    Devil

    Patent complainers 50% likely to have caused the problems with patents

    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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