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Apple Patents Tablet Mac (with Photos) 565

jkheit writes "I wrote a quick news item over at the Mac Observer that might be of interest. Apple patents a tablet Mac. The new photos confirm that this device is a touch-screen Apple tablet. You can see it here."
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Apple Patents Tablet Mac (with Photos)

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  • by jkheit ( 634306 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:29PM (#12493822)
    Sorry about the misleading title. (A case of fingers before brain) There are illustrations from the patent, not photos. (Perhaps this can be corrected). Anyway, my apologies on that.
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:31PM (#12493836) Homepage Journal
    Some of us pointed that out to the editors before it was published, but they chose to ignore us (surprise, surprise, surprise)
  • From TFA "It's important to note that being granted a design patent does not necessarily mean that Apple has any intention of releasing a particular product, and Apple has filed for many design patents in recent years for products that did not make it to market."

    I hope this is a case where thry come thru with it. It looks COOL!

  • Re:Patent? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheHonestTruth ( 759975 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:32PM (#12493860) Journal
    It's a DESIGN patent, not a utility patent. They only have ruights to someone using that design specifically. Design patents are very easy to, pardon the pun, design around. You just have to make some ornamental change. IANADesign Patent Lawyer, so I don't know the legal standard for getting around a design patent, but from what I understand, they are more used in the clothing, accessory, and toy markets to prevent counterfeitting where looks are as improtant as function.


  • Patent RSS Feeds (Score:5, Informative)

    by stikij ( 871472 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:44PM (#12493949)

    • Apple - RSS []
    • Microsoft - (RSS [])
    • Google - (RSS [])
    • Yahoo! - (RSS [])
    • IBM - (RSS [])
    Courtesy of []
  • Re:Patent? (Score:3, Informative)

    by croddy ( 659025 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:56PM (#12494050)
    accessible... desirable? yes. patentable? no.

    this is rather like apple's patent on the itunes interface. problematic by itself, and depressing if it becomes a precedent for future patent maneuvering.

  • by NickV ( 30252 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:08PM (#12494150)
    Yea... I see what you're saying. It seems WAAAAY to obvious (and un-Apple like) to just give something that big away in a patent without obfuscating it to hell and back (and a picture of a guy using a tablet is pretty much the opposite of obfusication.)

    That patent you refer to was clearly for the iPod clickwheel, but by phrasing all the language and diagrams as a "mouse" with a "rotary dial" you guys totally hid the real nature of the patent until it was released. Mind you, after the iPod mini's release it was pretty obvious that the patent applied to that item.

    So what you're saying is the patent is for something unrelated to a tablet... something that , once it comes out, will obviously fit that patent.

    You know what I think it is (based on your hints and other things I've read.) A remote for the Airport Express Video (the one with an integrated hardware h.263 encoder and digital video outputs for a TV) that gives you a mini iTunes-y type interface to select tv shows/episodes you bought.

    Yea... that sounds like it! It'd be very cool! (and surprising for a company run by a man who I've read hates the TV.)
  • Re:Using Tiger (Score:2, Informative)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:08PM (#12494153) Homepage Journal
    This helps with some rotatable monitors as well as for handhelds.
    You can flip some widescreen monitors around and have a super long visible page.

    It sure is better on your eyes.
  • Design patents 101 (Score:3, Informative)

    by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:17PM (#12494218)
    There are basically two kinds of patent:

    Regular "new idea" patent: You have to prove that this is a new way of doing something.

    Design patent: registers a shape/style/whatever. I expect the Apple patent is one of these.

    FTFUSPTO: Definition of a Design A design consists of the visual ornamental characteristics embodied in, or applied to, an article of manufacture. Since a design is manifested in appearance, the subject matter of a design patent application may relate to the configuration or shape of an article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of configuration and surface ornamentation. A design for surface ornamentation is inseparable from the article to which it is applied and cannot exist alone. It must be a definite pattern of surface ornamentation, applied to an article of manufacture. The Patent Law provides for the granting of design patents to any person who has invented any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. A design patent protects only the appearance of the article and not its structural or utilitarian features. The principal statutes (United States Code) governing design patents are: 35 U.S.C. 171 35 U.S.C. 173 35 U.S.C. 102 35 U.S.C. 103 35 U.S.C. 112 35 U.S.C. 132 The rules (Code of Federal Regulations) pertaining to the drawing disclosure of a design patent application are: 37 CFR 1.84 37 CFR 1.152 37 CFR 1.121 The following additional rules have been referred to in this guide: 37 CFR 1.3 37 CFR 1.63 37 CFR 1.153 A copy of these laws and rules are included in the Appendix of this guide. The practice and procedures relating to design patent applications are set forth in chapter 1500 of the Manual of Examining Procedure (MPEP). Inquiries relating to the sale of the MPEP should be directed to the Superintendent of Documents, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. Telephone: 202-512-1800. Types of Designs and Modified Forms An ornamental design may be embodied in an entire article or only a portion of an article, or may be ornamentation applied to an article. If a design is directed to just surface ornamentation, it must be shown applied to an article in the drawings, and the article must be shown in broken lines, as it forms no part of the claimed design. A design patent application may only have a single claim. 37 CFR 1.153. Designs that are independent and distinct must be filed in separate applications since they cannot be supported by a single claim. Designs are independent if there is no apparent relationship between two or more articles. For example, a pair of eyeglasses and a door handle are independent articles and must be claimed in separate applications. Designs are considered distinct if they have different shapes and appearances even though they are related articles. For example, two vases having different surface ornamentation creating distinct appearances must be claimed in separate applications. However, modified forms, or embodiments of a single design concept may be filed in one application. For example, vases with only minimal configuration differences may be considered a single design concept and both embodiments may be included in a single application. An example of modified forms appears in Appendix II. The Difference Between Design and Utility Patents In general terms, a "utility patent" protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a "design patent" protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171). Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance. While utility and design patents afford legally separate protection, the utility and ornamentality of an article are not easily separable. Articles of manufacture may possess both functional and ornamental characteristics.

  • Re:Patent? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dave1212 ( 652688 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:24PM (#12494266) Homepage
    ..iPod interface, not iTunes. Get your facts straight before whining. It's a design patent. Don't make me have to explain what that is. Please.
  • Re:Using Tiger (Score:3, Informative)

    by rootofevil ( 188401 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:27PM (#12494292) Homepage Journal
    definitely works on my powerbook, and is QUITE difficult to fix once youve changed it, as the option disappears and you have to quit/relaunch system preferences to get it to come back, as the mouse is now rotated and i think inverted too.
  • Re:billions? (Score:4, Informative)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:47PM (#12494441) Homepage Journal
    Now white headphones are becoming as ubiquitous as cell phones.

    In Steve Jobs' dreams perhaps. There were almost 700 million cell phones sold last year and an estimated 800-900 million this year.

    How many ipods?
  • Re:Using Tiger (Score:5, Informative)

    by ljaguar ( 245365 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:53PM (#12494477) Homepage Journal
    it screws up the subpixel rendering though. because subpixel rendering (LCD anti-aliasing) depends on horizontal layout of red/green/blue pixels. he anti-aliasing of the font expects the red/green/blue pixel to be aligned in a certain way so draws the font in a certain way. This works fine when it's really aligned that way as expected. But if the screen is rotated 90 degrees, the algorithm screws up.

    I tried it. Other people are freaking out because they can't figure out how to revert the screen... You just restart the system preference panel and do it again. I did it and got it back fine.

    But like I said, the subpixel rendering problem is there.
  • Re:Using Tiger (Score:3, Informative)

    by dave1212 ( 652688 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:29PM (#12494714) Homepage
    The option only appears on machines with a certain type of Radeon video card or higher. Your machine does not have a compatible card.
  • From Quartz Composer:
    Tablet This patch returns the current state of the tablet pointing device. The pen position is expressed in units in the Quartz Composer coordinates system. The pen tilt on the X and Y axes is normalized to the [-1.0,1.0] range and the pen pressure is normalized to the [0,1] range. Note that this patch does not read the tablet state directly but is dependent on the proper information being passed to the composition. This information may not always be available, depending on the environment in which Quartz Composer is running.
    From the ADC Reference Library []:
    A tablet with a stylus is an input device that generates more accurate and detailed data than does a mouse. It enables a user to draw, write, or make selections on a touch-sensitive surface (the tablet); an application can then capture and process those movements, reflecting them in its user interface. The tablet is generally a USB device connected to a computer system and the stylus is a wireless transducer. The stylus actually can be any pointing device, such as a pen, an airbrush, or even a puck. In addition to the stylus location at any given moment, tablet devices can report many other pieces of data, such as the tilt of a pen, the rotation of a puck, and the pressure applied to the stylus. Pressure is particularly important because, with just this small piece of data, a user can tell an application to vary the thickness of a line being drawn, or its opacity, or its color. Some stylus devices also have buttons that can furnish an application with additional information. Mac OS X supports tablet devices from several manufacturers. Some of these tablets can respond to multiple pointing devices on their surfaces at the same time.
    Now, the output parameters that the Tablet patch provides in Quartz Composer are:
    • X
    • Y
    • Tilt X
    • Tilt Y
    • Pressure
    • Tip Button
    • Lower Button
    • Upper Button
    Also worth noting from the ADC Library documentation (for Cocoa) above:

    Important: Tablet events are available in Mac OS X v10.4 and later versions of the operating system.

    On a similar note, Quartz Composer showed up in Mac OS X 10.4 as well. Note the pictures in the ADC document as well. They depict a tablet connected to an iMac or Apple display. It seems to me that none of this is talking about a tablet PC. If it is, they sure went through a great deal to hide it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @10:02PM (#12494873)
    check out this: []

    for this guy it was basically a "roll your own" job, but there is a company which already produces a touch screen ibook, and could've easily made a Mac tablet based on the design ages ago. Their website here: l []
  • Re:700 million ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @10:12PM (#12494929) Homepage Journal
    I sure can.
    here []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @01:45AM (#12496244)
    It seems to me that none of this is talking about a tablet PC. If it is, they sure went through a great deal to hide it.

    The tech inside a tablet PC is exactly the same as any other tablet -- and it's all (due to patents) owned by Wacom. So, basically, it's a moot point -- it doesn't prove or disprove the existence or planned existence of an Apple tablet computer.
  • Re:Patent? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:05AM (#12496332) Homepage
    That is why we have trademarks.

    No, actually, it isn't. A trademark is entirely different. For example, a trademark prevents someone from putting your logo on their product, whether it looks like your product or not. A design patent prevents someone from copying the design of your product, no matter what logo they put on it.

    It is a dangerous precedent for design elements to be patentable.

    Except it isn't a precedent at all -- design patents aren't a recent thing. They were incorporated into patent law in 1842. It seems like they are among the least dangerous parts of current patent law.
  • Re:a Mac tablet (Score:3, Informative)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @05:07AM (#12496963)
    part of making a Mac Tablet successful will be Apple's "stubbornness" in insisting that everything works with just a 1-button mouse. The real drawback with windows tablets is that too many programs have become hooked on using odd 2nd, 3rd, and scroll buttons with poor downward support.

    a tablet necessitates a "1-button" interface because generally it's similar to a "pointy finger" of the user. The main drawback to windows tablet right now is that key programs like office 2003 are still a terible usage kludge for "pure" tablet users... The key to the design so far looks to be the LACK of any keyboard gotta force the software developers to give up that crutch.

  • by kogs ( 221412 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @05:17AM (#12496992)
    UK Design Law 101
    1. Copyright

      Copyright can provide protection for patterns on products, e.g. the rounded white square with the central silver Apple logo on the top face of a Mac Mini.

    2. Unregistered Design Right

      This operates similar to copyright but with a much, much shorter term - up to 15 years depending on circumstances. Apple generally will not be able to protect products using unregistered design right because it is a US corporation - they may be saved if the designer is a "qualifying person", e.g. an EU citizen. US corporations do not benefit from unregistered design right because the US does not provided an equivalent right.

      There is an EU-wide version that have a term of only 3 years from first publication.

    3. Registered Designs

      These are available in UK and EU flavours and are granted by the UK Designs Registry and OHIM respectively on application. Both have a term of up to 25 years and are equivalent to US Design Patents.

      Registered designs can protect patterns and shapes but the registration may be revoked if the design fails to meet certain novelty and individuality requirements.

    The unregistered rights, namely copyright and unregistered design right, differ from registered designs in that copying must be proved in order to enforce them. For registered designs, infringement is simply a matter of whether the alleged infringing design looks sufficiently like the pictures in the registered design.

  • FingerWorks? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @05:48AM (#12497056)
    This is a rumour only:

    This patent might be the outcome of the purchase of FingerWorks, Inc [] that has some pretty neat heat sensors for keyboards and mice. Something that might very well be used in that tablet Mac. Read the FingerWorks story here : .php?t=9 []
  • The Hancock (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tipa ( 881911 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @01:45PM (#12500920) Homepage
    I worked on the O/S and some utilities for this. It was announced at an WWDC as the Hancock and was canned in favor of the Newton. It was based on a Powerbook Duo, and like the Duo, would dock into a desktop setup. I google'd someone's essay [] about Apple's previous tablet computers (including Hancock).
  • by trentblase ( 717954 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:09PM (#12501211)
    As I recall, portable CD players that would play MP3 CDs were considered the player of choice for geeks in the know. (Burned the to cd as as filesystem)

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