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  1. avt123's Avatar
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    Default Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    There's been a lot of talk over the last couple of years — especially by Samsung during the course of its recent patent infringement trial — that Apple has obtained design patent coverage on rectangular devices with rounded corners. While that may not have been true before, it is now. The US Patent and Trademark Office issued patent no. D670,286 to Apple yesterday and it really does cover the outer edge shape of a device. There's no other way to look at it.

    As we've explained before, the scope of a design patent is defined by the drawings, and the solid lines are what counts —the dashed lines are just there for context. As you can see below, the 'D286 patent has a lot of gratuitous context but just a single solid line defining what is being protected.





    Previous design patents on the iPad and iPhone have included at least one additional feature in solid lines — like the home button, the back surface contour, the bezel shape, the side profile, or the edge-to-edge screen. This one ignores all of that and simply focuses on the shape of that peripheral edge. It's a broad patent. Really broad. Granted, an argument can be made that the horizontal and vertical lengths of the solid edge line in the drawings limits the patent coverage to a specific proportional design that excludes tablets with different aspect ratios, but you wouldn't want that to be your primary defense.

    IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A PATENT TO BE TOO BROAD TO ACTUALLY USE

    Will Apple ever use this patent against its competitors? Maybe, but there's an inherent downside to asserting a patent like this: it's vulnerable to invalidity arguments. The narrower a patent is the harder it is to find prior art devices or publications that have everything you need to knock it out. Conversely, the broader the patent the easier it is to come up with something that a judge or jury (or even the patent office) can use to invalidate it. Even though Apple submitted hundreds of prior art documents while this patent was being reviewed by the USPTO, it sure feels like a weapon too fragile for battle. It could very well just be a let's-see-what-we-can-get patent with no real offensive future. We'll see.
    Apple finally gets its patent on a rectangle with rounded corners | The Verge

    The USPTO needs to be reformed. This is beyond ridiculous. If Apple uses this patent in any suit, I hope it gets thrown out of court immediately.

    The fact that a patent like this is allowed shows how hard up the USPTO is for Apple. With a patent this broad being passed, I wouldn't be surprised if they can patent basically anything now.

    I love my Apple products and think they are great, but every ridiculous patent Apple gets makes me like them less and less. They claim other companies are stealing from them, while Apple is stealing common sense.
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    el_excelsior (11-07-2012) 
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  2. el_excelsior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Quote Originally Posted by avt123 View Post
    Apple finally gets its patent on a rectangle with rounded corners | The Verge

    The USPTO needs to be reformed. This is beyond ridiculous. If Apple uses this patent in any suit, I hope it gets thrown out of court immediately.

    The fact that a patent like this is allowed shows how hard up the USPTO is for Apple. With a patent this broad being passed, I wouldn't be surprised if they can patent basically anything now.

    I love my Apple products and think they are great, but every ridiculous patent Apple gets makes me like them less and less. They claim other companies are stealing from them, while Apple is stealing common sense.
    I agree it's quite ridiculous. It's patent bullying on an extreme level
  3. Roo Zilla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    This is a DESIGN PATENT, which is not the same thing as a UTILITY PATENT. The purpose of a design patent is to prevent people from making exact copies of your stuff. Just about anybody who creates any distinctive design applies for a design patent. Just about everything you see made by a major manufacturer probably has a design patent. I'm sure Blackberries have design patents too. Here's one for a Blackberry:

    RIM Blackberry Phone Design Patent

    Does that mean nobody else can make a phone that has a keyboard and a trackball? Of course not. You just can't make it exactly the same as outlined in the design patent. Design patents are narrowly defined. You really have to go out of your way to copy someone else's design to get caught for infringing it. Just using "rounded corners" is not going to do it. You'll pretty much have to follow the design to the letter. Some other items that have design patents registered are things like PS3, the boxes the Big Mac and your fries come in, a Tiffany lamp.
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Models and Supported Frequencies: Z10, Q10, Q5, Z30

    Want to find out which radio band your BB10 phone is currently on? UMTS, LTE (careful with escreens!)
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    They dotted the I's and crossed the T's and some government monkey, seeing that the bureaucratic nonsense was in order, approved it. It's merely a design patent, it's indefensible and will ultimately be invalidated.
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  6. avt123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Design patent or not, it is still ridiculous that something like this can be patented at all.
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Quote Originally Posted by avt123 View Post
    Design patent or not, it is still ridiculous that something like this can be patented at all.
    Why? Design patents are granted for almost anything. The straw at you get McDonald's has a design patent. Why doesn't anybody complain about that? Does that mean nobody else can make a straw? No, it just means you can't make it exactly the same as the one made by McDonald's.
  8. avt123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Quote Originally Posted by Roo Zilla View Post
    Why? Design patents are granted for almost anything. The straw at you get McDonald's has a design patent. Why doesn't anybody complain about that? Does that mean nobody else can make a straw? No, it just means you can't make it exactly the same as the one made by McDonald's.
    Because this is a ridiculously broad patent. No one cares about straws. People care about their smartphones. There have been smartphones before the iPhone that are rectangles with rounded corners. Apple did not invent the rectangle with rounded corners. The patent is so broad that basically every touchscreen device looks exactly like the figure shown.

    How hard is this to understand?
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    Default Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Quote Originally Posted by avt123 View Post
    Because this is a ridiculously broad patent. No one cares about straws. People care about their smartphones. There have been smartphones before the iPhone that are rectangles with rounded corners. Apple did not invent the rectangle with rounded corners. The patent is so broad that basically every touchscreen device looks exactly like the figure shown.

    How hard is this to understand?
    I think you're missing the gist here, Everyone thinks it's a ridiculous patent. It's indefensible and it will be invalidated. Apple merely did what any company does, filed for a patent. The bureaucrats at the patent office approved it. I don't think anyone has anything to worry about unless they design a product that looks exactly like that sketch, Plus Samsung would be the only ones likely to do it anyway. Yes, it is ridiculous and people have been saying for years the patent system needs to be overhauled.


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    Default Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Oops....... Quote myself.
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    im sure someone from the USPTO is on apple's bankroll. blows my mind how they can approve something so ridiculous.
    presently rocking a trio of Zeddy,Q10,PB.
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  12. Roo Zilla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Quote Originally Posted by avt123 View Post
    Because this is a ridiculously broad patent. No one cares about straws. People care about their smartphones. There have been smartphones before the iPhone that are rectangles with rounded corners. Apple did not invent the rectangle with rounded corners. The patent is so broad that basically every touchscreen device looks exactly like the figure shown.

    How hard is this to understand?
    Once again, you're confusing an UTILITY PATENT with a DESIGN PATENT. Anything that has a unique shape, or trade dress can be granted a DESIGN PATENT. Does nobody care about straws? What about all the other fast food vendors? I'm pretty sure their customers would be pretty ticked off if they couldn't get a straw at say Wendy's. Yet Wendy's offers straws to their customers... That's because the Wendy's straw doesn't look exactly like a McDonald's straw. McDonald's didn't apply for a UTILITY PATENT on their straw, they applied for a DESIGN PATENT, which was granted to them. That doesn't prevent anybody else from making a straw, which is basically a hollowed out tube of plastic, it prevents them from using the same stripe and color pattern. How hard is it to understand the concept of, "it's a unique design, you got a design patent."

    Is the patent overly broad? Perhaps, but the fact of the matter is, NOBODY had such a design before this patent was applied for, which makes the design unique. Yes, the design of the iPad seems obvious now, but that's now, and not when the patent was originally applied for. That's the important part. When the design patent was applied for, there was nothing like it.
  13. el_excelsior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    I hope Research In Motion has all the utility patents for the upcoming BB10 OS devices secure!
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    With apple stock tanking by 20% over the last month and a half I dont blame them in their sneaky tactics to secure revenue. Lets face it apple is stagnant and releasing the same cr@p over and over in slightly different hardware formats. They are following Rims old playbook by the looks of it. The prospects for Android win8 and bb10 just getting better.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
  15. avt123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Apple officially patents rectangles with rounded corners

    Quote Originally Posted by xandermac View Post
    I think you're missing the gist here, Everyone thinks it's a ridiculous patent. Yes, it is ridiculous and people have been saying for years the patent system needs to be overhauled.
    I'm not missing anything. All I am saying is that the patent is ridiculous and that I hope it would be thrown out of court if they did try to use the patent. I know it will be invalidated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roo Zilla View Post
    Once again, you're confusing an UTILITY PATENT with a DESIGN PATENT.
    I'm not confusing anything. One again, all I am saying is that something this broad should not be able to be patented.

    Anything that has a unique shape, or trade dress can be granted a DESIGN PATENT.
    There is absolutely nothing unique about a rectangle with round corners. Other devices have looked like that for years. The patent does not inclued the unique figures represented by dotted lines. Just the solid rounded rectangle. If you can honestly tell me that is unique and no other devices look like that, then I haven't been living on earth for the past decade.

    Does nobody care about straws? What about all the other fast food vendors? I'm pretty sure their customers would be pretty ticked off if they couldn't get a straw at say Wendy's. Yet Wendy's offers straws to their customers... That's because the Wendy's straw doesn't look exactly like a McDonald's straw. McDonald's didn't apply for a UTILITY PATENT on their straw, they applied for a DESIGN PATENT, which was granted to them. That doesn't prevent anybody else from making a straw, which is basically a hollowed out tube of plastic, it prevents them from using the same stripe and color pattern.
    I meant nobody here is complaining about straws because this is a smartphone forum. Nobody outside this forum is complaining about straws because compared to something like a smartphone, the design is trivial. I can think of plenty different designs for a straw that would work.

    How hard is it to understand the concept of, "it's a unique design, you got a design patent."
    The only one having a hard time understanding something here is you. I made my point very clearly. I understand that concept. Once again, there is nothing unique about a wide candy bar style device.

    Is the patent overly broad? Perhaps, but the fact of the matter is, NOBODY had such a design before this patent was applied for, which makes the design unique. Yes, the design of the iPad seems obvious now, but that's now, and not when the patent was originally applied for. That's the important part. When the design patent was applied for, there was nothing like it.
    Nothing looked like this design before November 2010 (the date within the patent)?



    Introduced in September 2010.

    You don't see the resemblance? Looks like a rectangle with round corners to me. I don't know exact it has to be but that pretty close.

    There were other tablets in production around that time that have the same style. Not to mention smartphones.

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