Apple Finally Patents The Round-Cornered Rectangle

Debate has raged, not least in the courts, about whether Apple should really be able to patent a rectangular device with rounded corners. Seems the US Patent and Trademark Office thinks it can, because it just granted a patent which lays claim to the shape of the iPad.

Patent no. D670,286 defines the basic shape of the first iPad, represented by the solid black line in the image below. The dashed lines are there merely for context and don't contribute to the patent: what's being protected here is a single, round-cornered rectangle.

Apple holds plenty of other design patents relating to the iPad and iPhone already — covering everything from the home button, the back surface contour, the bezel shape, the side profile, blah, blah, blah — but this one ignores all that in favour of defining the perimeter of the device.

It's a ridiculously broad patent, and it will no doubt cause much head-scratching within courts and tech companies the world over. In fairness, it should cause some head scratching for everyone: a world in which it's possible to patent a simple shape seems an odd one indeed.

Of course, this only really matters if Apple ever actually chooses to use the patent in anger against its competitors. It's not clear it will, because it's easy to find patents like this invalid in the courts on prior arts grounds. Given Apple's track record, however, nothing should be ruled out. [USPTO via Ars Technica]


Comments

    Someone needs to sack the patent office. Honestly there needs to be an enquiry into all this crap but it'll never happen because apple is a local USA company and the rest are foreign.

    IMO these patent lawsuits have hurt the Apple brand more than anything else. Its ridiculous.

    To be fair, most patents which people go "they can't patent that" are never help up in court.
    But there are those who fall through the cracks...

      Your going to tell us that a $1b court case between 2 giant companies like Apple and Samsung "fell through the cracks"

        Errum, most of that actually came down to trade dress, not patents.

        Though Apple should have been hit hard on infringing the FRAND patents.

        Going to court with FRAND patents is not wrong. Going to court with FRAND patents without offering a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory price is.

        And Samsung tried. Apple declined. Repeatedly.

        Last edited 09/11/12 11:53 am

    A rectangle with rounded corners is not technical innovation. Its just ridiculous. I doubt few companies get such broad patents granted like Apple does.

      That's why this is a design patent not a technical patent.

        Does that mean that TV and computer monitor companies will be getting sued now? My LG TV at home is a rectangle with rounded corners.

          Read up on design patents/read my post below. Unlike what the article states, design patents are not broad, they are incredibly specific and you have to TRY to actually infringe.

    Apple work hard to innovate their products. They have every right to protect their property. The mobile industry is a cut throught one. Apple are just simply playing the game better.

      By patenting a SHAPE that existed on devices like Tablet computers in the 90's????

      Pull the other one

      Successful troll is successful

      Star Trek TNG Data PADD anyone??? Viacom should sue Apple for every penny made from the iPad, iPhone, iPod or any device that is a rectangle with rounded corners.

      https://www.google.com.au/search?q=star+trek+next+generation+padd&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-au:IE-Address&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=Yk-cUPySFaWRigf6zoGYAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=2048&bih=1058

    On the plus side, all this money Apple are pouring into the Patent Office with their ridiculous patents should give the Patent Office more money to fix their broken processes...

    ...in a perfect world, of course.

    Ugh. Another one.

    Hey, if Apple want to waste their money on useless patents, go ahead. They've got enough of it and they seem to be unable to spend it. Better than giving everyone on the payroll a Christmas bonus.....or innovating product design again....god forbid....

    THIS is what the Mayans were afraid of.

      Apparently, Apple will be patenting the calendar app by the end of this year. The Mayans were scared that they will get sued and hence why they didn't continue with their calendar after 2012.

    Surely this would be utterly destroyed by prior art?

      No. Nobody has ever had a rounded rectangle in the history of the world. It is an entirely new shape that was carefully researched and designed by the geniuses at Apple.
      Apple deserve all the money for coming up with this world shattering shape.

    Awesome news...I shall now patent the iMug, a mug so innovative is has a cylindrical container, sealed at one end, and a handle on the outside. I shall reap trillions from defending my IP...mwaahahahahahahahaaa

      Can't call it the iMug apple will sue you for the use of the letter i

    This is the sort of stuff behind the reason I will never even consider an Apple purchase

    The article headline is misleading. Apple have pantented the iPad's exact dimension including the bezel size, all the angles, the home button. if they didn't then anyone could build a tablet that looks exactly the same in every way to the iPad. A headline design to get attention and web traffic that's all.

      Agreed.
      " Apple Finally Patents The Round-Cornered Rectangle "
      This is Gizmodo trolling if you ask me.
      Trollmodo? :P

    Apple are such trolls. It's kind of amusing.

    Now I want to patent a fork and sue anyone who make one and people who use the word f**k in writing or speech because it sound similar. LOL...

    Note: This is a design patent.

    It's different than your average patent. They're overly bloody specific.

    To infringe this you would need to create a device that has the same aspect ratio as defined, the same curvature on the corners. Have a circular button with a square symbol on in it in the center. Have the same amount of bezel, etc...

    It's a little more than a rounded rectangle. Still, f*ck the USPTO.

    lol and its Google who is 'wasting their money'....

    Looks like our kids will have to thank apple in art class everytime they draw a rectangle with round corners...

    Patents as stupid as Apple's are actioned by other tech companies every day. It is simply that Apple makes a good headline at the moment. People use to talk like this about Microsoft. People need to stop making Apple the bigger evil. Every large organisation is purely there to generate money and nothing else. They are all as evil as each other. If either Google or Microsoft are in Apples position in 12-24 months people will be saying the same things about those companies. How are the real sheep.

      You're right. Everyone should stand back , say and do nothing, for that will certainly convince the ''evil corporation du jour'' to alter course.

    I'm glad I've never bought any Apple hardware in my life.
    I'm also glad I never will.

    Is it really April 1 already?? dafuq.

    Greed.

    Ah the U.S., where companies are people and shapes are copyrighted.

    Last edited 10/11/12 10:06 pm

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