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Apple finally gets its patent on a rectangle with rounded corners

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(Spork)    87

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

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.

http://www.theverge.com/2012/11/7/3614506/apple-patents-rectangle-with-rounded-corners

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Som    356
padd.jpg
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Growled    3,880

That's just plain silly.

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Ice_Blue    973

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.

Read it at The Verge

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Pam14160    303

Darn, I hadn't really realized that Apple had invented the rectangle. . .go figure; again learning something new.

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123456789A    4,708

This is great news!

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Open Minded    939

I read the title and thought this was going to be in the jokes and funny section.

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notuptome2004    140

So i am gonan just say it but i think we need to go and Paten all the other weird shapes before apples does .

Imagine the iPad 7 looking like a Stop sigh

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Buttus    885

i'm going to patent the shape of the oxygen molecule... now all you breathing things need to pay up!

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virtorio    2,186

http://www.google.co...epage&q&f=false

1991 Already done by someone else.

Not the same, the short edges on that a totally curved.

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Chris123NT    361

Now watch them go sue every single other phone manufacturer because they invented a shape LOL.

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redvamp128    321

Not the same, the short edges on that a totally curved.

Yes but enough - this would prove that there was/is prior art and the patent should not be made to stand

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richardsim7    101

Holy **** I thought this was going to be an article from The Onion. Wow...

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Raa    1,407

This is great news!

Not for the consumer.

In fact, it's downright stupid. You shouldn't be able to patent plainly obvious things like shapes or actions. :/

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123456789A    4,708

Not for the consumer.

In fact, it's downright stupid. You shouldn't be able to patent plainly obvious things like shapes or actions. :/

Consumers need to suffer.

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virtorio    2,186

Yes but enough - this would prove that there was/is prior art and the patent should not be made to stand

The real issue is that fact you can patent a shape to begin with.

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Sigmatic.Minor    20

Consumers need to suffer.

Could you please explain why?

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notuptome2004    140

i'm going to patent the shape of the oxygen molecule... now all you breathing things need to pay up!

Sorry but i Patent the Atom seu you need to pay up and i sue you for making such false claims on your patent

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szo    117

Editor?s pick from the comments:

http://arstechnica.c...nded-rectangle/

?I think most people don?t understand what it means that this is a design patent ? it?s not the same thing as a ?regular? patent (a utility patent). Design patents allow a company to get an exclusive right to the form of a functional object so that a 3rd party can?t make a different device with identical appearance (well, not legally at least). Almost every company that puts the time into making a distinctive shape for their devices gets one: Microsoft has one for the Xbox, George Lucas got one for Yoda etc.

Design patents are extremely narrow ? you have to do your level best to copy them exactly in order to be found in infringement. Plus, they specifically cannot cover functionality ? that has to be covered by a utility patent, if it?s going to be protected. This design patent only protects a ?portable display device? (that?s the wording in the Patent itself), and only one with those specific design elements that are shown in the Patent Figures.

I?d be shocked if Apple hadn?t applied for design patents for all of its devices. This really isn?t an issue."

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remixedcat    2,765

I thought I was being warwagoned.... son imma dissapoint.

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techbeck    4,979

Editor?s pick from the comments:

http://arstechnica.c...nded-rectangle/

Yea, way different than an XBOX design patent and Yoda. Many different ways to design a game system and Yoda, well....thats a character and again....many different ways to design a characters. So that is why those are non issues. The editor is an idiot. The phone has been a long device since it was invented. Now with smart phones and touch devices, this limits the way a phone can be designed and a broad patent such as this is not a good thing. Are companies expected to design circular/square devices that makes it harder for the consumer to use and hold?

This is stupid that the patent was allowed and you can bet they will use it against others. Already did with Samsung and just a matter of who is next....or who is making lots of money and taking profit/market share away from Apple. This essentially opens the way for Apple to sue the crap out of the competition and make it so no one else can produce a smart phone. Shape patents should not be allowed, period. At least not as broad as the one Apple got. At least Nokia and HTC seem to be playing nice....for now.

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John S.    359

threads merged

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CrossCheck    175

doesn't a "rectangle with rounded corners" basically mean its no longer a rectangle.....when are the manufacturers of feminine products gonna sue apple for the use of the word "Pad" or Pea farmers sue apple for the use of the word "Pod"

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