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December 11 2013

00:49

Apple wins patent for curved touch sensor and screen

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 6.51.38 PM

Apple appears to be forging ahead with plans for its new iWatch and possibly other products, winning a patent for a curved touch sensor and screen on Tuesday. The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) awarded the unique patent, which allows Apple to use the new technology in its products, including  displays, touch mice and even iOS…

Continue reading Apple wins patent for curved touch sensor and screen

December 10 2013

14:16

Apple patent points to new curved screen technology

If you’re still busy trying to wrap your head around a 12.9-inch iPad, how does a curved screen iPhone sound? That might be where Apple is headed, according to a new patent awarded to the company on Tuesday for a “curved touch sensor.” First noticed by Apple Insider, the patent describes curved screen technology that could potentially make its way into phones, tablets, monitors and mice, among other devices.

The patent details a manufacturing process that would allow Apple to produce a curved touch screen without worrying about deformation in the substrate. According to the patent:

The method can include depositing and patterning a conductive thin film on a flexible substrate to form at least one touch sensor pattern, while the flexible substrate is in a flat state. According to certain embodiments, the method can include supporting the flexible substrate in the flat state on at least one curved forming substrate having a predetermined curvature; and performing an anneal process, or an anneal-like high-heat process, on the conductive thin film, wherein the anneal process can cause the flexible substrate to conform to the predetermined curvature of the at least one curved forming substrate. According to an embodiment, the curved forming substrate can include a first forming substrate having a first predetermined curvature and a second forming substrate having a second predetermined curvature complementing the first predetermined curvature.

So, rather than use flat LCD screen on the bottom with curved glass on top, as some devices have done to provide the illusion of the curve, this technique would allow Apple to produce a thinner screen with a genuine curve.

I’ve had an LG G Flex on my hands for a few days now. And while I was admittedly skeptical about the benefits of a curved display at first, it really does improve viewing angles. I’m also pretty sure that the Flex’s curve would make the phone much better able to fit in a back pocket – if only the 6-inch device weren’t so big.

That said, simply being awarded a patent doesn’t mean that Apple is planning to introduce a full lineup of curved screen devices anytime soon, if ever. But if it can further prove that a curved display provides substantial benefits for touch-based devices, I’m much more open to the idea than I used to be.

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December 03 2013

17:00

Apple snags patent for face detection and recognition

AppleInsider is reporting that Apple has been awarded a patent that embodies face detection and recognition technologies. What's more, the patent covers a method for allowing users to control their device -- whether it be a Mac or iOS device -- via various facial expressions.

In one proposed use case, an incoming call to an iOS device would result in different events depending on whether or not a recognized face is detected facing the screen. If a recognized user is detected, the full incoming call interface would present itself. If not, the phone would merely ring without any of the additional bells and whistles.

AI adds:

In another example, an incoming email can be blocked from view unless the authorized user's face is detected by the system. This implementation would be helpful for users who choose to display part of the message in the lock screen.

Now before anyone raises their arms in dismay and wonders why Apple would ever implement this type of functionality, it's important to remember that Apple often patents technologies that it has no plans on implementing in the near future, and sometimes at all.

At the same time, recall that face detection and recognition is a rather broad topic. To that end, it stands to reason that Apple may have plans for the technology that aren't exactly laid out in the patent application itself, which we should note, was filed back in 2008. The inventors listed include Jeff Gonion and Robert Duncan Kerr.

Apple snags patent for face detection and recognition originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 03 Dec 2013 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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November 26 2013

16:00

Apple wins iPhone patent suit against NetAirus

Apple has won a patent suit brought against it by NetAirus Technologies and Richard Ditzik, a 70 year-old engineer that claimed he came up with the idea for a smartphone, reports Bloomberg. Ditzik's patent showed how a handheld device could be paired with a computer and cellular and 80211 wireless to make and receive phone calls.

In order for Apple or Ditzik to win, the jury of 8 was required to reach a unanimous verdict. However, after three days of deliberation, the jury could not find common ground. The lawyers for both parties then told the judge that they would be willing to take a majority vote. That's when the judgment came out in Apple's favor.

The NetAirus lawsuit is yet another legal victory for Apple in the last few weeks. Previously, a judge ruled Samsung had to pay Apple another $290 million in patent infringement damages.

Apple wins iPhone patent suit against NetAirus originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 26 Nov 2013 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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November 21 2013

17:30

Apple had no say in Rockstar's decision to sue Google

Three weeks ago we reported that Rockstar, a consortium backed by companies like Apple and Microsoft, sued Google for patent infringement. As a quick primer, the Rockstar consortium in June of 2011 jointly bid US$4.4 billion in an auction for over 6,000 Nortel patents. Google was also a participant in the auction but backed down once bidding hit the $4 billion mark.

As for the suit itself, Rockstar is suing Google over patented technology which helps map relevant advertisements to corresponding Internet search terms. Put simply, the suit is going after Google's prime money maker.

As one would expect, news that Rockstar was going after Google evoked a lot of ire from folks who assumed that the patents obtained by the consortium would only be used for defensive purposes. Indeed, many were quick to call out Rockstar for being nothing more than a money hungry patent troll while expressing disappointment in Apple for being party to the proceedings.

For instance, Matt Drance of AppleOutsider wrote:

I've said this multiple times in the past, and I'll say it again: I don't like this game. Rockstar looks, smells, and now acts like countless NPE's that have done more harm than good - namely Lodsys, which has been aggressively harassing Apple's own ecosystem. It's extremely disappointing to see Apple facilitate this kind of behavior.

But as it turns out, it appears that Rockstar filed the suit against Google with no input from any of its shareholders; a grouping that includes Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericcson, and Sony.

In an interview with Intellectual Asset Management, Rockstar CEO (and former Nortel IP chief) John Veschi expressed a bit of surprise that the lawsuit against Google generated as much press as it did. Veschi also emphasized that the decision to go after Google was not made at the behest of Apple or any of the other shareholders.

Given the amount they paid and given the on-going issues at least some of them have with both Google and the Android platform, many reports have talked about the consortium going on the attack or have assumed that it is the shareholders that have driven things.

This is categorically not the case, Veschi says. "It was entirely my call based on the facts in front of me," he states. "The shareholders got an email telling them what had happened after the suits were issued."

Previously, Veschi has made a point of stating that Apple and co. are merely shareholders and the relationship between them and Rockstar is "distant."

"I understand that it might be sexy to say that they are pulling the strings," Veschi explains, "but actually it is also slightly insulting to us. We are running the business. We do that job and they do their jobs and that's it."

While some might not buy the story Veschi is selling, Veschi adamantly maintains that none of Rockstar's shareholders influence, in any way, who Rockstar chooses to go after.

If you'd like to read more about Veschi and the Rockstar operation, there's an interesting and informative interview with him up on Rockstar's website where talks about all things licensing along with Rockstar's underlying business philosophy.

Apple had no say in Rockstar's decision to sue Google originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 21 Nov 2013 12:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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November 12 2013

18:15

November 01 2013

22:03

October 18 2013

19:29

September 27 2013

22:15

Daily Update for September 27, 2013

It's the TUAW Daily Update, your source for Apple news in a convenient audio format. You'll get all the top Apple stories of the day in three to five minutes for a quick review of what's happening in the Apple world.

You can listen to today's Apple stories by clicking the inline player (requires Flash) or the non-Flash link below. To subscribe to the podcast for daily listening through iTunes, click here.

No Flash? Click here to listen.

Subscribe via RSS

Daily Update for September 27, 2013 originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 27 Sep 2013 17:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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17:00

Apple and 13 other companies warn that EU patent shakeup may encourage patent trolls

Apple and 13 other companies warn that EU patent shakeup may encourage patent trollsSeemingly not a week goes by without hearing some new story about a patent troll mysteriously emerging out of the woodwork, with questionable second-hand patents in hand, and suing a smorgasbord of tech companies for patent infringement. While the Obama Administration has taken steps to potentially reduce the drain on the tech economy stemming from frivolous patent lawsuits, there's no denying that patent trolls are still able to earn ill-gotten fortunes in patent troll-friendly courts around the country.

Now, Apple and 13 other companies recently signed their name to a letter sent to European officials expressing their concern that the patent troll problem may soon sprout up in Europe in light of plans to implement a unified patent system across most of Europe. Some of the other companies signing off on the letter include Cisco, Deutsche Telekom AG, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Samsung.

As it stands now, individual European countries typically have their own unique patent rules, procedures and regulations; which helps explain why Samsung and Apple currently have patent infringement cases pending in places like the Netherlands, Germany, France, the UK and Italy.

So while a unified patent system may operate to improve efficiency in some respects (reduced cost in obtaining patents, for example), the aforementioned companies worry that the plan in its current form may actually serve to benefit patent trolls in the long run.

For instance, the current draft of the rules of procedure for a Unified Patent Court (UPC) details a two-court system wherein one court would rule whether or not a party is guilty of infringement while another would rule on the validity of the asserted patent.

The letter highlights how this bifurcation of duties might potentially lend itself to mischief:

This could, in some cases, allow plaintiffs to obtain a quick infringement ruling, along with an injunction barring products from most of the European market, before any determination of whether the patent in question is actually valid. Given the drastic impact of such an injunction on the defendant, unprincipled plaintiffs would be able to extract substantial royalties (through settlements or verdicts) from European and other companies based on low-quality, and potentially invalid patents.

Consequently, the proposed patent system, the letter argues, "could undermine rather than promote innovation in Europe."

Naturally, the signed parties ask that a framework be put in place wherein injunctions would be put on hold until a "decision on patent validity has been reached."

The signed parties also take umbrage with the fact that there are no guidelines regarding the rigidity with which injunctions will be handed down. If injunctions are handed out too freely, the letter reads, the result would be particularly harmful as rulings from the UPC would "extend beyond a single country to most of Europe." As a result, patent trolls operating under a UPC could abuse the system and force settlements from company's fearing adverse rulings that would have ramifications across a number of European countries.

The letter concludes:

We believe that these concerns can and should be addressed through targeted changes to the proposed UPC rules of procedure. Several of the undersigned organizations will recommend specific changes to the proposed rules to the Preparatory Committee, which is responsible for establishing and implementing the UPC. These changes will include guidance to the judiciary on how to handle bifurcated proceedings when validity is raised, when to issue a stay of an infringement action and when to issue injunctions. Adoption of these amendments will allow operating companies to focus on innovation instead of litigation, thereby fostering economic growth and prosperity in Europe.

Lastly, it's worth noting that not every European country is on board with a Unified Patent Court. The New York Times relays that Spain, Poland and Italy have all expressed concerns and reservations with the idea.

Apple and 13 other companies warn that EU patent shakeup may encourage patent trolls originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 27 Sep 2013 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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September 26 2013

14:22

Apple Ordered to Pay ¥330 Million Over Patent Infringement in Japan

The ghosts of products past have come back to haunt Apple, as the Tokyo District Court ordered the Cupertino company to pay ¥330 million (roughly $3.4 million) in damages regarding a patent infringement case over the old iPod click-wheel. That damages amount, which is relatively small compared to the ¥10 billion sought after by plaintiff Norihiko Saito, partially reflects the sales of the classic iPod still on shelves. But, all in all, it’s another one of Apple’s myriad patent cases that is finally put to rest.

Story posted at: nasdaq.com

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Tags: lawsuit patent

September 09 2013

06:00
1619 6453 500
Rykten om fingeravtrycksläsare i iPhone 5S får stöd i nytt patent
Sedan Apple köpte upp det amerikanska säkerhetsföretaget AuthenTec för lite drygt ett år sedan har det spekulerats kring vad Apple har för planer för den teknik och kompetens som de betalade hundratals miljoner dollar för. Sensorer för fingeravtrycksläsare var företagets kärnverksamhet, och kort efter uppköpet framkom det att övriga delar av AuthenTec som inte hade […]

August 23 2013

20:15

Daily Update for August 23, 2013

It's the TUAW Daily Update, your source for Apple news in a convenient audio format. You'll get all the top Apple stories of the day in three to five minutes for a quick review of what's happening in the Apple world.

You can listen to today's Apple stories by clicking the inline player (requires Flash) or the non-Flash link below. To subscribe to the podcast for daily listening through iTunes, click here.

No Flash? Click here to listen.

Subscribe via RSS

Daily Update for August 23, 2013 originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 23 Aug 2013 15:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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16:00

Apple patents stealthy hinge technology, dreams up possible uses

Everyone loves mysterious patents, and Apple's newly acquired rights to "Interlocking Flexible Segments Formed From A Rigid Material" is most certainly strange enough to qualify. As the patent's summary puts it, "The method includes providing a substantially rigid material, such as, but not limited to, metals, alloys, hard plastics and the like, and selectively removing portions of the rigid material defining a geometric pattern in the rigid material." In other words, it's way to add a hinge to a solid piece of material by cutting it a fancy way.

So what could Apple possibly want to use such a technology for? Well, several things, apparently. The patent application shows the nifty folding technique used on everything from a notebook to what appears to be a rollable Smart Cover for the iPad.

Of course, as with all patents, there's a decent chance that we'll never see this feature implemented in any retail product, though the possibilities are certainly intriguing.

[via Ars Technica]

Apple patents stealthy hinge technology, dreams up possible uses originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 23 Aug 2013 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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09:00
3124 2e1f 500
Tillgänglighetsstatus för iPhone-användare kan bli verklighet
I en ny patentansökan beskriver Apple ett system för att ange och dela sin tillgänglighet direkt på en iPhone, som då delas kontakter emellan. Precis som de flesta chatt- och kommunikationsprogram idag kan visa status tänker sig Apple att du ska kunna se en persons status innan du ringer, sms:ar eller e-postar någon. Vid sidan […]

August 21 2013

08:00
1687 5ee9 500
Apple knycker intressant 3D-patent
Ett nyligen publicerat patent som godkänts av den amerikanska patentverket (USPTO) visar hur en tredje dimension kan läggas till på en touchscreen. Tanken är att en enhet ska kunna fortsätta registrera fingerrörelser även när de slutar beröra skärmens yta. Patentet beskriver två möjliga tekniska lösningar, antingen att det vid sidan av kapacitiva sensorer i skärmen ska […]

August 08 2013

11:00

Google patenterar smartare skärmlås som kan starta appar

google_alternative_unlocking

Vi smartphone-användare har blivit mer och mer säkerhetsmedvetna i takt med att vi förvarar mer och mer värdefull information i våra små enheter. Idag känns ett skärmlås som självklart för många, och för Android-användare är det vanligaste ett så kallat grafiskt skärmlås där man genom att rita ett mönster med fingret kan låsa upp en enhet.

Varje dag låser en genomsnittlig användare upp sin enhet upp emot 100 gånger för att sedan starta en app. Google har sett detta extra steg som ett problem och har nu i dagarna fått ett patent på ett nytt smart skärmlås godkänt i USA.

Genom att titta på vilka appar som används mest ska det gå att spara ett specifika skärmlåsmönster för varje app. När ett sparat mönster ritas på skärmlåset startas den förinställda appen automatiskt, likt bilderna från patentansökan du ser ovan.

Google kallar funktionen för “Alternative Unlocking Patterns”.

VIA: ENGADGET
KÄLLA: USPTO

August 06 2013

16:17

How one ITC commissioner's dissent opinion cleared the way for veto of Apple product ban

For those of you that have an interest in patent law or in interest in the ITC's ruling in the Apple-Samsung case, which President Obama just vetoed, then you should check out this piece from Philip Elmer-DeWitt. Elmer-Dewitt explains how the ITC's original ruling forced the first presidential veto in a quarter century thanks to the dissent of Dean Pinkert, one of the six ITC commissioners.

Most notably, Pinkert said that Samsung had failed to make a reasonable FRAND patent offer to Apple because the offer it did make came with strings attached...strings it knew Apple could not agree with. Specifically, Samsung wanted Apple to license non-essential iPhone patents to the company in return for its FRAND patents. This made it appear Apple was being unreasonable, thus incurring the ITC's original ban on some of its products.

This led Pinkert to write in his dissent that "it is neither fair nor non-discriminatory for the holder of the FRAND-encumbered patent to require licenses to non-FRAND-encumberd patents as a condition for licensing its patent." Elmer-Dewitt theorizes that this set the stage for something the Obama administration, and the ITC itself, wanted: a strong sign via a presidential veto that signaled the United States was serious about putting an end to unreasonable patent lawsuits.

Whether or not the presidential veto will have a lasting effect on patent lawsuits in the United States remains to be seen, however many in the industry believe it will jumpstart much needed patent reform in the country.

How one ITC commissioner's dissent opinion cleared the way for veto of Apple product ban originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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July 25 2013

17:30

Verizon asks President Obama to veto iPhone ban

Verizon asks President Obama to veto iPhone banLast June, ITC handed down an order banning Apple from importing older AT&T-based models of the iPhone and iPad after finding that they infringed upon a Samsung patent. The specific models encompassed by the ban include the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and the first two generations of the iPad.

The ITC ruling is final, and the only way for Apple to get around it is to secure a presidential veto.

The ban is scheduled to go into effect on August 5th, and while the iPhone 3G and 3GS aren't active devices in Apple's product line, the iPhone 4 still continues to sell impressively well.

Consequently, Apple isn't the only entity worried about the impending product ban.

To that end, Verizon lawyer Randal Milch penned an article in today's Wall Street Journal imploring President Obama to step in and veto the ITC ban. Remember that the ban only affects AT&T-based models of the iPhone, but Verizon sees a larger public policy issue here that needs addressing.

Unless the administration intervenes, the ban could be in effect by August 5. High-tech products can implicate thousands of patents. If the ITC finds that a product infringes even a single one, it can stop the product at the border. But that's basically it. The commission can't levy much in the way of a lesser penalty. In the end the consumer suffers when the use of such an enforcement tool is unwarranted.

...

What we have warned is that patent litigation at the ITC-where the only remedy is to keep products from the American public-is too high-stakes a game for patent disputes. The fact that the ITC's intellectual-property-dispute docket has nearly quadrupled over 15 years only raises the stakes further.

It remains to be seen if Obama ultimately decides to intervene, but history certainly isn't on Apple's side. The last U.S. President to veto an ITC import ban was Ronald Reagan who did so in 1987.

Indeed, Milch articulates that the dearth of Presidential vetos over the last few decades underscores the notion that the import-ban power wielded by the ITC is unchecked.

Apple, meanwhile, filed a motion a few weeks ago arguing that if the ITC ban is upheld, it will make the ITC an "outlier internationally and domestically" to the extent that the ruling renders "meaningless a FRAND commitment made to a standard-setting organization."

Recall that the Samsung patent at issue here is subject to a technological standard, meaning that Samsung is obligated to license it to Apple on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.

Apple also pointed out that the ruling runs counter to the very mission of the ITC itself, which is to protect American-based companies from unfair competition.

Verizon asks President Obama to veto iPhone ban originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 12:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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13:29

Verizon calls on President to veto coming iPhone ban

As an import ban on Apple products gets set to take effect two weeks from now, a Verizon executive is asking the White House to take the unusual step of intervening with the U.S. trade agency that imposed the ban.

In a plea published in the Wall Street Journal this week, Verizon’s head lawyer, Randal Milch, argues that the International Trade Commission should not have scheduled an import ban on the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 for violating a patent held by Samsung, and that President Obama should exercise his veto power over the agency.

“Unless the administration intervenes, the ban could be in effect by August 5,” writes Milch, adding that the President should signal he will veto this decision and other situations where an infringing patent isn’t that important to the overall product. In the case of smartphones, there are over 250,000 patents that conceivably apply to them, meaning that patents have become strategic weapons that Apple, Samsung and other device makers use to harass their rivals.

Ordinarily, companies sue each other over patent infringement in court. In the last decade, however, they have discovered that the ITC, which is like a Customs agency, is a faster way to press patent claims. The agency’s only tool if it finds infringement is an import ban.

That’s what occurred in June when the ITC found that Apple infringed on a Samsung patent related to encoding technology. In previous cases, including one involving Google’s Android phones, the agency has allowed companies time to tweak their product in order to find a workaround. This time, the ITC provided no such reprieve — meaning that Apple and its partners could run out of the still-popular iPhone 4 in the near future. In a filing last week, Apple warned that the ban will “sweep away an entire segment of Apple’s product offerings.”

While presidents can intervene during the 60 days it takes for an ITC order takes effect, none have done so since President Reagan vetoed an import ban in 1987.

As the Verizon lawyer notes, the case does not have a direct effect on the company because “the products at risk of being stopped at the border run on AT&T’s network not ours.”


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