“Apple has won one of its USPTO patent claims for the iPhone, specifically covering the device’s iconic steel bezel. While appearing superficial, Apple claims that the bezel is actually essential to impact resistance, and innovative in part because it merges utility with aesthetics. The part is flush with an iPhone’s housing, inserted into a brace and held with a spring. It is also manufactured with cold worked steel, said to better accommodate design limits while reducing the need for machining.” I put this story in the humour category because that’s the only place I could put it without wanting to slit my own throat.
USPTO Fail: Apple Patents Steel Bezel iPhone
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2010-03-31 4:11 pmndrw
If someone works hard and comes up with some amazing idea, then they should be allowed to protect that investment in time and energy.
That’s not the goal the patent law was put in place for.
It was all about disclosing the ideas and giving their inventors something (a limited monopoly) in return.
In some cases the inventor could then use this monopoly to raise some funding for his/her venture and monetize the idea by selling a product. But that wasn’t the purpose, it was a lucky consequence.
Currently the consequence is less lucky: patents are most valuable for defensive purposes and protecting the status quo. It’s not a coincidence that there are some many patents being granted in countries living out of their glorious past. It’s a slippery slope though, in a long term any kind of market protectionism hinders the growth of the economy using it.
I wish the only criteria of deciding which invention is worth granting a patent was “is learning this idea worth the cost of granting a monopoly?”.
Having said that, there are plenty of areas where the patent law is way too weak and fails to do its job. It gives no incentives for companies like Google, Facebook or Amazon to disclose their real secrets, at least after some time. Things like search algorithms, source code, user base, DRM keys etc. Instead, it grants patents for inventions like this bezel that is no secret to anyone.
Before posting stories like this, or making silly comments about how irrelevant the patent sounds, be sure to read Andrew Tridgell’s article about how to read a patent. Sure this patent might be trivial and silly and stupid, but patents aren’t interpreted based on their abstract alone but as a collection of legal claims.
I think its a design patent, which is the easiest patent to get. Most of the third party companies that “will help you get your idea patented” essentially take your prototype and get a design patent. Which is essentially worthless for the individual as any company really wouldn’t be interested in the athletics of any home built device.
I’m guessing they might be more valuable when its an apple design patent, but I’m not sure how much.
There are a few inconsistencies in the above remarks.
1) Materials are not patentable; a hammer made of steel is not patentable over a hammer made of plastic.
2) Monetizing a patented concept through a government enforced limited monopoly is the incentive provided to motivate people to share their novel concepts. The purpose of patents is to document and share novel concepts but an incentive needs to be provided to improve the publicly known state of the art.
3) This patent awarded to Apple is a utility patent, not a design patent.
This is a utility patent with the USPTO: 7,688,574
What is claimed is:
1. A portable electronic device, comprising: a housing enclosing circuitry …; a component comprising: a first planar surface having a plane and a periphery …; and a lip portion …; and a bezel comprising a top planar surface and a step portion …, wherein the bezel surrounds the entire periphery of the component, wherein the top planar surface is substantially co-planar to the first planar surface.
This claim hardly seems novel, merely written in a confusing manner for the poor patent examiner. I doubt this patent would have been granted if this claim was written in a clearer manner, such as in Jepson format. This claim appears to be consistent with just about any cell phone I have ever seen. Honestly, there is nothing new here. IMO, this claim may be easily invalidated.
A rewrite may look like the following, grab your own cell phone and read along.
1. A portable electronic device comprising a housing, a planar component, a lip portion, and a bezel
said housing encloses circuitry connected to a display device,
said planar component comprises a first planar surface and a periphery wherein said first planar surface defines an exterior surface of said device through which information may be provided to the display,
said lip portion is vertically stepped down from said planar component and extends beyond the periphery of said first planar surface of said planar component,
and said bezel comprises a top planar surface and a step portion such that when said bezel is secured to said housing said step portion engages said lip portion to secure said planar component in place on said electronic device;
said bezel surrounds the entire periphery of said planar component and said top planar surface of said bezel is substantially co-planar to said first planar surface of said planar component.
2010-04-03 11:08 pmbnolsen
did someone say something?
…. a “steel bezel” dartboard with Steve Jobs’ face on it.
If this goes through, im going to patent and trademark an utter wagon load of stuff i have “invented” when creating housings, maybe i could also patent the exact same bezel as the iphone but with another material(s) and if they ever swap, i will sue?
Brilliant, i want to patent the patent itself too as it isnt patented. That would mean royalties everyone uses a patent, but sadly that is not allowed. Still would make about as much sense.
General rule thumb: If you have NOT invented anything new you can NOT patent it… I (Or maybe that is how it should be)
There is one more news! But I saw the rules how to submit news in OSNews and decided to give up. Here is a link if someone wants to submit it to.
Apple sued over multitouch patent!
LOL at/with Elan. I hope their suit against Apple is successful. If the shoe fits, wear it. Or is that “If the foo shits, wear it”?
Patents are a tricky one.
I love the idea, but at the same time hate the idea. If someone works hard and comes up with some amazing idea, then they should be allowed to protect that investment in time and energy.
But at the same time, suing people right left and centre over the stupidest things is mind numbing at best, esp. when the object is to make money, not protect your investment.
I guess the problem doesn’t like with Apple or companies like it, but with the patent system itself. If it can be abused, then companies (and others) will abuse it (of course).
Maybe the target of our venting is in the wrong place…
Having said that, not sure why Apple needed to patent this idea. I’m sure if HTC decided to do this, it would make 0 difference to sales, but then, I might be wrong. Maybe Apple hopes other phone makers will all have bad reps. in regard to dropped phones…
Not sure if this patent is worth cutting ones throat over however – LOL, not sure Apple will / can use it too much…