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Apple awarded patent for iPhone 3G, 3GS design

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, May 4, 2010
News Categories: Apple, iPhone

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Apple has been awarded a U.S. patent for the ornamental design of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Filed on June 5, 2008, patent number D615,083 lists both Apple CEO Steve Jobs and senior vice president of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive as inventors. Possible examples for the “electronic device” are listed as a “computer, a portable or hand-held electronic device, media player (e.g., music, video and/or game player), media storage device, a personal digital assistant, a communication device (e.g., cellular phone), and/or the like.” [via GoRumors]

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Comments

1

How is it possible to patent a shape? Has the US Patent Office gone completely nuts? Is this some kind of competition with the SEC?

Posted by Skyan on May 4, 2010 at 3:03 PM (PDT)

2

The patent covers the whole design… it doesn’t mean a “rectangle with a touch screen”. It means a device of this exact shape, this exact size, with buttons of this exact shape and size in exactly this location, etc.

Posted by Chad on May 4, 2010 at 4:06 PM (PDT)

3

I’ll add that they do this to prevent “clones” from being sold in the First World that would be nearly physically identical.

Posted by Chad on May 4, 2010 at 4:09 PM (PDT)

4

Read the patent summary.

“The broken lines show portions of the electronic device which form no part of the claimed design. The shade lines in the Figures show contour and not surface ornamentation.”

“More generally, the invention pertains to an ornamental design for an article of manufacture. In one embodiment, as claimed herein, the article of manufacture is an electronic device.”

Look at the images above. It would appear they have patented a rectangular device with a touch screen.

Posted by Joe on May 5, 2010 at 3:26 AM (PDT)

5

Ok, its a contoured rectangle with a touchscreen.

Must have taken quite some investment to come up with that idea. Certainly is not ‘obvious’ to a person skilled in the art.

Posted by Joe on May 5, 2010 at 3:27 AM (PDT)

6

I’ll add that this is done to abuse the patent system for the purpose of bullying any possible competition.

Posted by Joe on May 5, 2010 at 3:30 AM (PDT)

7

Actually it does not even have to have a touchscreen or even be an electronic device. They have patented a thing of this shape.

Posted by Joe on May 5, 2010 at 4:43 AM (PDT)

8

I’m really starting to miss the good old days of Apple “Computer” Inc., as opposed to today’s Apple Inc.

I suppose Steve Jobs is still hurting from losing the lawsuit against MS (and Xerox) over GUI that he is determined not to let a single thing leave 1 Infinite Loop without a ® (registered trademark) and a U.S. Patent number after it (and, of course, his name on it as “inventor”—I’m sure Woz laughs every time he sees that!).

Posted by JonnyOneNote on May 5, 2010 at 8:08 AM (PDT)

9

I guess the real question is “Why wouldn’t you patent your design?”. If I designed a device and did not want other companies to copy my product, I would certainly patent it. Why is Apple a bad guy for protecting their interests? They R&D’d it. They dedicated the time, money and resources to produce it. They have every right to apply for a patent on it. If the patent office feels it is too broad, they can reject it. They basically gave them a picture of the existing iPhone and said we claim this design in it’s entirety. Not a “rectangle with a touch screen”.

Those of you that take some sort of issue with this need to wake up. Companies do this ALL THE TIME. Car makers, toy makers and gadget makers alike.

Posted by Mitch on May 5, 2010 at 10:10 AM (PDT)

10

The US patent office is incompetent. This is clearly evident from some of the patents they have granted. The fact that they grant a patent does not mean anything. They have also granted many patents which have subsequently been invalidated in court, patents for the mathematically impossible, patents for the obvious in the face of tons of prior art, etc, etc.

Their incompetence is a serious problem for the US economy. Fighting over who invented the obvious such as this patent and nipping smaller more innovative business in the bud using hundreds or thousands of such patents does not help the US produce or invent anything. It merely leads to greater corruption of the US economy as capital is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. It is destroying what built the US in the name of defending it which is when it gets most sickening.

Posted by Skyan on May 5, 2010 at 10:42 AM (PDT)

11

The fact that you can not simply copy someone else’ work is what drives innovation. If a company could just copy the efforts of a successful product for their own gains, then no one has a real need to improve upon the design. I do not want Nokia or HTC or Samsung to simply put out a replica of an iPhone. I want them to develop their own design. If this design is an improvement over the iPhone…great. Then Apple will have to step up and innovate themselves to compete. Competition is the lifeblood of a strong market. Patenting your idea/design is key to keeping that competitive blood flowing.

And yes, I agree that the Patent office makes some real blunders. But you can not rule out their overall importance.

Posted by Mitch on May 5, 2010 at 11:33 AM (PDT)

12

Patents as originally conceived and at the time were probably a much better idea then our current system is. The patent system now though is broken. I think to the point where no patent system would be better then what we have now. It would be a good start at least.

Say I had justed ‘invented’ the iPhone but it was OK for somebody to ‘just copy it’ actually this would give me a good reason to innovate. If I did not I would be competing on how cheaply I could manufacturer. Assuming my new device cannot be copied instantly by innovating I would still have more then merely the cheapest cost to sell as long as I maintained innovation.

Even without patent law I could still use copyright law or trade secrets to protect certain aspects of my work.

If I could just patent a phone like device and stop anyone else bundling a set of electronics and software into a handset unless they are willing to pay me then that is going to give me a good reason not to innovate. That is not what the patent system is intended for though and so this is not easy to do. By filling as many patents as possible and making them as broad as possible and then strategically suing people this is what in effect I begin to do. Any company significantly smaller then my own will be in trouble.

Posted by Skyan on May 5, 2010 at 2:39 PM (PDT)

13

I’m curious about the exemption of the home button. Is this eluding to a buttonless future iPhone?

Posted by Michael on May 5, 2010 at 9:50 PM (PDT)

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