back to article What HAS BEEN SEEN? OMG it's a thing that looks like an iWatch

Apple has been granted a patent for a new device, and because of the components listed and the sketch accompanying the filing, several sources have said it could be the near-mythical iWatch. At first glance, it doesn't look like the most exciting of patents. But beneath a preamble about boring old housings for electronic …

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  1. EddieD

    Bloody hell.

    No wonder there is so much patent litigation - that has so many conditionals, it could cover absolutely anything.

    Bloody hell.

    1. NoneSuch

      Re: Bloody hell.

      Looks to me like they just patented a pizza take-away box.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Bloody hell.

        Technically the independent claims 1, 12 & 17 are a flexible microwave band antenna, a camera with glue and a pizza box with a display respectively. The dependent claims then go on to add everything but the kitchen sink, perhaps I missed it, in the obvious hopes that something would stick and oddly it seems it all has.

    2. LarsG

      Re: Bloody hell.

      This is just sleight of hand and mis-direction, while everyone focuses on this they are moving something in by the backdoor....

      They release something like this just to garner interest and advertising.

      They have patented 'deception'

  2. psychonaut

    insane

    How could that description be patented? Its a box I tell you. A box yeah. Its got stuff in it. Yeah. And glue. Yeah its gonna make me millions kid.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: insane

      Exactly my thoughts. In my (long gone) youth I used to put Velleman electronics kits together if I was too lazy to design the circuitry and PCB myself, and generally used the box it came in. It appears I may have prior art here, and so has probably half the planet.

      What happened to the non-obvious requirement?

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Why are we getting worked up about this?

    Apple churn out tons of patents but it seems they're more about stopping other people executing ideas than actually putting them into practice themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are we getting worked up about this?

      That's pretty much what we're told to do at our company, it's not about covering what you have, it's about covering what other people may do in the future.

      Anon, because, well, it's probably better that way.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Why are we getting worked up about this?

      I patented that comment a few articles ago.

      Actually everyone else has said already anything I'd need to say.

      "doesn't look like the most exciting of patents"

      So like every other pointless Apple "patent". Is this one though an actual patent or what we would call a "Registered Design", like shape of a Coke Bottle or Classic steel Hobbs Kettle?

    3. The Man Himself Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Why are we getting worked up about this?

      Maybe patents should be a bit like planning permission - once granted, you need to do something with it, or else it lapses. That opens up the way from someone else to then do something to take the concept forward *within a reasonable timeframe* rather than the current position which seems more like "I've patented it and won't do anything with it, and you can't do anything about it"

  4. PlacidCasual

    The mind boggles

    How can you patent something like that? What invention or innovation does that include? If the box, for example, were specifically sized to act as a wave guide for some specific frrequency that increased reception by a wonderful percentage on the basis of man years of lab testing I would get it but if its just a box it is beyond credible.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The mind boggles

      >... but if its just a box it is beyond credible.

      It's not just a box. I can't quite work out what it is, but it isn't just a box. Lots of description of manufacturing processes and the like.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: The mind boggles

        I think the crucial bits are claims 1 , 12 and 17

        1. refers to support structure and dielectric housing with flexible printed circuit which includes printed antenna and finally conductive foam. This seems very specific.

        12. refers to camera window fitted inside camera window trim structure inside a housing. Unless there is something very specific about trim structure I do not see how this could be innovative, but what do I know

        17. refers to device housed inside a basket with four corner brackets. Seems quite specific to me, but is it innovative I dunno.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: The mind boggles

          But none of those claims are novel, lacking in obviousness to anyone skilled in the Art or without Prior Art.

          None of that should get a patent or Registered Design.

        2. julianh72

          Re: The mind boggles

          Don't forget the really important bit that makes it "non-obvious":

          16. The apparatus defined in claim 15 wherein the camera window trim structure has grooves on the curved exterior surface.

          Grooves?! They're putting grooves on the curved exterior surface?!!! OMG!!!

          Anybody could make a camera window trim structure with a curved exterior surface, but it takes true genius to see the potential of putting grooves on it!

  5. Justice
    Trollface

    The NEW Apple iSomething

    Apples latest product: THE iSOMETHING

    Features:

    A flat square (or square-like) device with rounded corners and no definable purpose.

    The iSomething may or may not contain something and will almost definitely get you sued if you try to create a similar box with something in it that infringes on our 'intellectual' property.

    There are already people queuing up outside Apple stored to get one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The NEW Apple iSomething

      "There are already people queuing up outside Apple stored to get one."

      citation please?

      Oh, sorry this place hates everything Apple

      1. McWibble
        Gimp

        Re: The NEW Apple iSomething

        Complain about it all you like, and even play the iVictim, but you know it to be true. If Apple were to release a (patented!) device for toasting bread that cost £250 and had an Apple logo on the side of it, you know damn fine fanbois the world over would be queueing to buy it on launch day.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The NEW Apple iSomething

          And the sad part would be that the rest of us would have to start eating toast with non-rounded corners

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: The NEW Apple iSomething

          "If Apple were to release a (patented!) device for toasting bread that cost £250 and had an Apple logo on the side of it,"

          Only if it flies!!!!

          The flying iToaster!!! We could all have screensavers with that on.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Wot they all said above

    This is exactly why the patent applications system need seriously overhauling, hopefully by people with a modicum of common sense.

    Apple is, I am sure only one of many who indulge in this stupidity, I wonder how many people on the planet can include 'Patent Troll' as a skill on their resumes?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wot they all said above

      A modicum of common sense would dictate that you at least try to read the patent application before commenting on it, but hey ho.

  7. DropBear Silver badge
    WTF?

    Wait, let me get this straight...

    ...after a dozen or so smart-watches have actually reached the market and been sold for a while, Apple is about to patent the concept? Now? ...Really?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wait, let me get this straight...

      >Apple is about to patent the concept? Now? ...Really?

      No, they're not. If you skim through the patent application before you comment on it (a crazy idea, I know), you'll see its not describing a concept at all. Its is concerned with a method of mounting a flexible PCB of adjustable length within an enclosure, using 'conductive foam' amongst other techniques.

      I don't know enough to judge whether it has merit as a patent, but at least I know that I don't know enough.

      The many references in the application to using a vacuum to test the seal of the gaskets, and of 'conductive foam' (useful for securely mounting parts in a device subject to shock) do suggest a wristwatch-like device.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wait, let me get this straight...

        It's much easier to just rail in with "OMG APPEL ARE PATTENTING SQUARES AGAIN?!" though.

        ISTM they are patenting the process required to produce such a square; not being a materials scientist I have no idea whether it is novel or not.

  8. AndrueC Silver badge
    FAIL

    So basically it's a square thing(*) with holes in it made with glue and containing electronics.

    (*)With rounded corners of course.

    1. JoshOvki

      electronics

      That would be unspecified electronics, possibly with some sensors.

  9. Steve Todd

    El Reg has either deliberately or inadvertently got their description wrong

    The patent is about how to mount components INSIDE of a case. The shape and size of the case is therefore unimportant. It would apply to anything from a new model laptop through to a hypothetical iWatch. It isn't a design patent, it is not about the shape of the device.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: El Reg has either deliberately or inadvertently got their description wrong

      Steve, Why then does that allow itself to be patented ?

      Isn't that a bit like saying, I have a cardbaord box and I like to fill up in the following manner........, therefore I will now "patent" my method and thereby disallow all others form filling up their boxes in the same way.

      What is actually being patented ? Isn't there a notion of "invention" involved in a patent.

      I am not arguing that what you are saying is wrong, it's just that I do not understand how this is justifiable.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: El Reg has either deliberately or inadvertently got their description wrong

        >What is actually being patented ? Isn't there a notion of "invention" involved in a patent.

        A good question, and one that I can't answer from the application- the language is a little obtuse. However, just because I don't understand it doesn't mean that there isn't something of merit in it.

        For sure, I'm no fan of the way these patent applications beat around the bush, dscribing many aspects of a device or system but not emphasizing the supposed novel concept.

        What I can gather is that it is describing a specific method of assembling a device with a flexible PCB, using overlap.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: El Reg has either deliberately or inadvertently got their description wrong

          As I understand it Dave 126 has it right. The components are mounted on some sort of flexible band, and the band is slipped over some sort of support core.

          To use the box analogy, while you can't patent packing items in to the box you CAN patent a new way of using packing materials and laying things out so that you can use a smaller box and the contents are better protected.

  10. Tromos

    Could be a laptop computer or an earpiece device.

    Grant this patent as soon as Tim Cook demonstrates shoving a laptop into his ear and not before.

    1. stucs201

      Re: Could be a laptop computer or an earpiece device.

      I can think of other body parts where I'd like Apple to shove some things...

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Could be a laptop computer or an earpiece device.

        Since apple is a multi-national corporation, it doesn't have body parts and you're getting all personal about a corporate entity.

        1. stucs201

          Re: Could be a laptop computer or an earpiece device.

          No, I'm sure you can find many arseholes at Apple.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Could be a laptop computer or an earpiece device.

          "it doesn't have body parts"

          In the USofA, a corporation is a legal "person"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proir art

    I had something delivered by Royal mail this morning. It was a box with rounded corners (they might have been square before it was posted) it had stuff in it, was glued together and had a window on the front. You could see text and words on the paper in the window and the box contained a camera.

    Apple, you owe me two hundred and ten trillion dollars, about 3 time global GDP should cover it, I shall send you my account details in one of my patented boxes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proir art is inside the box.

      It's worse than that. Inside the box was a camera. Inside the camera there may be a flexible circuit board. Which probably has sensors, holes, conductive or non-conductive foam and rounded corners. YT would show plenty of teardowns of stuff with flexible PCBs, various mountings and attachments so I'm curious what's novel about Apple's proposed method. Other than prehaps another novel way to make it unserviceable by anyone other than approved suppliers.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    It could, but everybody else mustn't

    I confidently expect Apple to one day patent something called 'things', identified as an arrangement of atoms to make a 'thing' which could do something.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: It could, but everybody else mustn't

      I confidently expect Apple to one day patent something called 'things', identified as an arrangement of atoms to make a 'thing' which could do something.

      Someone should pre-empt them with a patent involving string theory.

  13. chris 17 Bronze badge

    Read the Patent rather than the sensational reporting

    From the Patent application filled in March 2012:

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=8,712,233&OS=8,712,233&RS=8,712,233

    This relates generally to electronic devices, and more particularly, to structures for mounting components within electronic devices.

    Electronic devices such as portable computers and cellular telephones contain electrical components such as displays, wireless circuitry, sensors, and communications buses. It can be challenging to mount desired electrical components within an electronic device housing. Space is generally at a premium, particularly in compact devices. If care is not taken, device performance may suffer or device housing structures may be bulkier than desired.

    It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved techniques for mounting components within electronic devices.

    1. Hairy Spod

      Re: Read the Patent rather than the sensational reporting

      But basically it still boils down to them patenting pretty much all of the sensible and concievable ways of making smaller consumer orientated consumer devices in a manner vaugue enough to ensure that most other manufactures will fall foul of this (if not one many many others) that they hold.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    igasm

    keep clear of fanbois, they may work themselves up into a frenzy

  15. Sander van der Wal
    Thumb Down

    Clearly, the wrong things are being patented

    Click-bait, for instance. If one-click shopping charts can be patented, why not click-bait?

    The internet would be so much better.

  16. 27escape
    Happy

    it could describle a smartphone

    prior art

  17. Shonko Kid
    WTF?

    Introducing...

    the iWeigh, the world's first game changing set of bathroom scales.

    A whole new product sector for them.

  18. Truth4u

    Can't wait

    to buy an infringing device from a competitor.

    Place your bets now will the Samsung one cost

    4/5, 2/3, 1/2, 1/4, 1/5, or less?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't wait

      Well, as usual, Samsung already makes this 'infringing device'... They build and sell many, many things which consist of electronics mounted in a case.

  19. plrndl
    Go

    Patently Obvious

    I'm applying for a patent on a "device" that could contain "components" enabling it to perform "functions".

  20. Avatar of They
    Coat

    The coat is already on....

    I feel there is merit somewhere with this story, of the ifad, 'wrist action' and combining them for those 'zealot' like people that might perhaps like to play with those items, on their own, late at night etc. Perhaps the added joy of now having one on their wrist for example and the fact it could whip them into a frenzy of happiness?

    The is more than enough to somehow combine them into a joke or sarcastic dig at people that like the 'I' products, but it escapes me at the moment.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All this advancement

    And you'll still need two hands to tell the time

  22. 1Rafayal

    "Jesus Phone"

    Ahhh, welcome back

  23. Dom 3

    It's the foam.

    That is all

  24. Rick Brasche

    it's a portable wifi hotspot?

    so Apple is gonna launch a 4G service and this is their wifi hotspot module?

  25. MachDiamond Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Recycle and add lawyers

    I've seen much of what is in the patent in other devices. The testing of glued joints by using vacuum is as old as paint. In the world of tech, you can't move up to the next level if you don't have some patents to show. The same thing goes for companies that produce products with lifetimes measured in months. The value of the company is in it's IP and patents. An automobile company would still have value after closing down just for the replacement part business. Most tech is throw-away, so hard value is in all of the used office furniture and filing cabinets.

    I would be amazed if Apple went to court over this patent. It's not very strong.

  26. julianh72

    Why don't Apple just go the whole hog?

    "What is claimed is:

    A thing which may contain one or more other things, each of which may perform one or more functions."

    There, that should just about cover it!

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