Apple’s patent trophy case grows again this week

Macworld Australia Staff
13 July, 2012
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Apple continues to patent whatever it can, creating a litigation arsenal for future lawsuits and this week has been no exception for the world’s biggest technology company. The latest granted patents include an anti-theft system, a noise- reducing iPhone case, NFC data transfer and a new Multi-Touch display.

Here’s a roundup of what’s made patent news this week.

New iDevice Power Clip and Docking Station

Speculation that Apple will launch a new, smaller dock connector for its iOS devices has been swirling around the rumour mill for a while. A 19-pin connector has been a common thread in recent times, and Apple’s latest patent illustrates the company is considering a change. iOS devices plug into docks to charge the battery or transfer data, and Apple’s patent may mean you will be able to charge while on the move. Not really a new concept.

The Patent refers to a Power Clip that would provide electrical coupling for a device, providing a range of embodiments such as a clip that may be attached to a device during dock connection and a similar clip with built-in Flash memory.

The patent also mentions a pin-like connection system, which Apple states “may be a computer”, and possibly a sensor to alert users to a successful or unsuccessful connection, according to Patently Apple.

Smart Card in iOS devices

Apple has updated a patent awarded to it in March, providing further details on an ejectable tray for smart cards, flash cards and possibly its recently approved nano SIM card. The patent “generally relates to an apparatus and method for improving the construction of ejectable component assemblies in iDevices,” Patently Apple writes. The tray could include a connector that would allow it to communicate with the circuit board.

Anti-theft system

For iPhone users who run, jog and make sudden movements, probably everyone, while holding their iOS device, Apple’s anti-theft patent will be an annoyance. On face value that is. Apple’s solution to theft is to utilise the devices accelerometer to determine whether the device is being moved in a theft-like manner.  The device will sound an alarm and disable itself if it believes it is being stolen. Similar Android and Mac apps have been around a while, with an alarm sounding if the device is touched, but Apple’s latest security concept could be completely different.

Patently Apple believes “the acceleration sensor is configured to sense an acceleration of the portable electronic device and provide an acceleration signal to the controller upon detection of the acceleration. The controller is configured to initiate the production of an alarm signal from the audio output based on the acceleration signal.”

We will have to wait and see.

iPhone case with Noise Windscreen

Apple has been granted an iPhone case design to help remove the background noise during phone calls. The removable case covers the whole iPhone and features a grill to cover the iPhone’s microphone at the base of the device. The grill will be built with a mesh, foam, or feather-like structure.

Integrated Multi-Touch Screen

Apple has been granted a Multi-Touch patent to create a lighter, thinner, brighter and power savvy displays. A touch sensor panel layered over a display creates a thick and heavy screen, however Apple’s patent contends the display would include “multi-function circuit elements” that generate the display’s images as well as forming part of the touch sensing circuitry.

“Circuit elements in the display pixel stackups can be grouped together to form touch sensing circuitry that senses a touch on or near the display,” Patently Apple says.

A combination display could form the basis for Apple devices in the future.


With Passbook arriving on iOS devices in iOS 6, set to launch in spring, Apple has patented the Near Field Communications (NFC) aspects involved in travel services and Apple’s future iWallet application. The patents include Apple’s iTravel check-in system for both Macs and iOS devices, which allows ticket information to be stored and transmitted from owners’ devices to another electronic device. This could be used to check-in for flights, hotels and public transport.

Device holders’ identification, such as passports or drivers licenses, may also be transferred via NFC.



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