The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently published three Thunderbolt related patents that suggest Apple may have plans to build Intel’s Thunderbolt connections into its iOS devices. As Patently Apple points out, Apple may build its own cabling technology that gives it exclusive rights to how Thunderbolt technology might be built into portable devices. Thunderbolt ports would allow for faster data transfers on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, as well as shorter charging times. One of Apple’s more revealing patents describes stronger Thunderbolt cables that could handle greater amounts of data more efficiently and without overheating. Apple says in its patent that the Thunderbolt connections “may be provided between a portable media player and a display, a computer and a portable media player, or between other types of devices.” Apple currently has a number of devices, including displays and computers, with Thunderbolt ports. The company does not yet offer a portable device with the I/O option, however. More →
Google recently purchased 217 patents from IBM, including 28 published patents and 188 of IBM’s granted patents. The transaction was posted in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s assignment database on Tuesday. SEO by the Sea said the patents are related to email administration, IM apps, video conferencing, presentation software and more. It remains unclear how much Google paid for the patents, but the company also purchased 1,000 patents from IBM in July of last year and another 1,023 in September. Google is currently in the process of acquiring Motorola Mobility as well, which has a vast patent portfolio that Google said will help it defend its Android partners from patent lawsuits filed by litigious competitors such as Microsoft and Apple. More →
The United States Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application related to face and presence detection that could be used to help keep iOS devices secure. Patently Apple said the company’s application describes a technology that could allow a user to unlock his or her device by simply looking at it. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) already features face detection, but it can easily be tricked according to reports, and doesn’t always work. Apple’s solution details a way to analyze a user’s mouth, the tip of a nose and eyes, and the distances between each of those facial features to determine whether or not a person is is the owner of the iOS device. The reliance on 2D facial feature locations might mean Apple’s solution will be vulnerable to the same flaw that allows anyone to access a locked Android 4.0 device using a photo of a face, instead of a real face, but we won’t know if that’s a real issue until the technology is implemented. The patent also describes support for multiple users, though it is unclear when, if ever, Apple will implement this technology in its iOS platform. More →
Apple may soon include 3D tech in its devices, according to a recent patent filing. Apple has reportedly filed for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week titled “Systems and Methods for an Imaging System Using Multiple Image Sensors.” The document details Apple’s plans to use two-cameras to capture and record 3D images and video. This is a feature we’ve seen on other devices, such as the HTC EVO 3D on Sprint, which sports two 5 megapixel cameras that are capable of recording 1080p HD video or 720p 3D video — no special glasses required. Apple plans to build on the techniques already in use, which involves software that has to “guess” the stereo disparity compensation required for 3D images and videos. The Cupertino based company plans to use a hardware approach with separate sensors that would produce a more accurate 3D image, AppleInsider said. We heard rumors earlier this year that Apple had plans for a 3D iPod touch, and this patent filing certainly solidifies Apple’s interest in 3D. More →
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a patent filing that is both new and familiar. Initially submitted by Nokia in May of 2010, the patent in question is for a tablet device that bears an extremely strong resemblance to Nokia’s N8 handset. From the drawing we can make out a 3.5mm headphone jack, and several additional ports on the device’s top — we’re assuming at least one of which is a HDMI-out port. The schematic is likely for a MeeGo or Symbian based device the will, in all likelihood, never see the light of day. As with all things Nokia that occurred before February 11, 2011, it is unclear whether or not this project has been shelved. There are a few more drawings of the device after the jump, have a look for yourself. More →
Although corporate lawsuits are, for the most part, dull and boring, they can occasionally provide comedic relief. Back in January, we told you about a little nomenclature spat brewing between technology giants Microsoft and Apple. The Redmond-based Windows maker filed a complaint with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office claiming that Apple was attempting to trademark a generic term, “App Store.” In its January filing, Microsoft argued that the term App Store is “generic for retail store services featuring apps” and that Apple should not be granted a trademark due to the “genericness” of the phrase. Kind of a funny choice of words from a company holding trademarks on Marketplace, Windows, and Office, don’t you think? Fast forward to today, and Apple has submitted its rebuttal.
Having itself faced a decades-long genericness challenge to its claimed WINDOWS mark, Microsoft should be well aware that the focus in evaluating genericness is on the mark as a whole and requires a fact-intensive assessment of the primary significance of the term to a substantial majority of the relevant public. Yet, Microsoft, missing the forest for the trees, does not base its motion on a comprehensive evaluation of how the relevant public understands the term APP STORE as a whole. What it offers instead are out-of-context and misleading snippets of material printed by its outside counsel from the internet and allegations regarding how the public allegedly interprets the constituent parts of the term APP STORE, i.e., ‘app’ and ‘store.’
It’s been a fairly humorous affair up to this point. No word on when the USPTO will be rendering a decision on the case. More →
According to a USPTO document, HP has recently submitted a trademark application for the term “Palmpad”, a moniker that would be fitting for its first attempt at a webOS tablet. The application form lists the target goods/services as “Computers, computer hardware, computer software, computer peripherals, portable computers, handheld and mobile computers, PDAs, electronic notepads, mobile digital electronic devices”, a category of devices that describes a tablet to a tee. Another circulating rumor suggests that this “Palmpad” may ship with a capacitive touchscreen that supports digital pen input. A carryover from HP’s popular lineup of TabletPCs and Palm’s PalmPilot devices, this pen input would serve to set the webOS tablet apart from its primary competitor, the iPad. Anyone interested heightened by the possibility of inking or perhaps even graffiti on this rumored webOS tablet? More →
Patent-holding company NTP is winning big with its wireless email patents. In 2006, NTP settled a lawsuit with RIM for $612 million, and in 2009 it had 67 of its patent claims — including four patents for wireless email — reviewed and declared valid by the USPTO. Emboldened by these victories, NTP is staging another coup d’état by filing a patent infringement lawsuit against six of the major mobile phone companies, including: Google, Apple, Microsoft, HTC, LG, and Motorola. Noticeably missing from this list is RIM, which is excluded from all patent infringement claims (as it signed a licensing agreement with NTP as part of its settlement), and Nokia, which has also signed a licensing agreement with NTP. Palm is also not included as it is the subject of a previous lawsuit by NTP that is currently stalled in court. Thus far, none of the companies listed in this latest suit have commented on the matter.
In recent years Apple has helped to transform the world of mobile communications, and now, according to a patent recently awarded to the Cupertino company, it is looking to shake up the entertainment ticket industry. By tapping into the burgeoning e-ticket market with a system called Concert Ticket +, Apple’s patent filing details how the complex ticketing system could be used for concerts, movies, amusement parks, weddings, sporting events, and more. Coupon codes and other freebies may also be piggy-backed on top of the tickets. The system includes an electronic device (represented in the filing by none other than the iPhone) that can obtain and display e-tickets. These e-tickets can be purchased directly on the device or purchased and transferred via iTunes. If you already purchased a paper ticket, it can be converted into an e-ticket simply by scanning the ticket with the iPhone’s camera. The electronic device can also use near field communications such as RFID to interact with a free-standing kiosk, which can be used to not only purchase and verify e-tickets, and with the assistance of a turnstile, operate as an un-manned event entry system. Elegant and efficient. Exactly what one expects from Apple.