Yesterday afternoon, the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple 29 new patents. Two of them are design-related — one covers retail packaging, and the other covers the iPad’s exterior design.
The latter patent is fairly significant, in that it covers the look of Apple’s popular tablet. You know how a lot of people said that Apple shouldn’t be allowed to patent a rectangle with rounded edges? Well it just did…
The ‘286 patent is entitled “portable display device,” and literally covers a rectangular device. It’s similar to Apple’s ‘889 design patent, which helped it win a big injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.
ArsTechnica has more:
“The ‘286 patent awarded on Tuesday appears to give Apple the exact patent the Samsung and Apple critics have erroneously claimed that the ‘889 patent was. The patent includes a number of drawings of the original iPad design, with most of its uniquely identifying features in dashed lines. As stated in the patent description, “broken lines in the Figures show portions of the portable display device which form no part of the claimed design.
The only unbroken line in all the figures is the outline of the flat, rounded rectangular front face of the device. All the other identifiable features, such as the speaker grille, round home button, display size, Dock connector, or even its curved back, are not covered by this design patent.”
It’s unknown whether or not this particular patent will be much use to Apple in the courtroom. Design patents are pretty narrow, so someone would have to copy it verbatim in order to be charged with infringement.
Apple credits Steve Jobs and its SVP of Industrial Design Jony Ive along with Jody Akana Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey and other team members as the inventors of the patent.