Apple earns long-gestating rounded rectangle patent, should other tablet makers be concerned?

So there you have it folks. Apple has officially been awarded the patent for a rounded rectangle, as first demonstrated by the original iPad. This can’t be real life. One of several key elements to Apple’s revolutionary tablet design, it’s a shape that Apple has defended rigorously in courtrooms around the globe. But will their new patent only serve to increase the company’s thirst for the blood of other tablet makers?

We can’t say for sure at this point, but given the track record we’re working with we don’t see how Apple won’t attempt to use a patent for a shape that has existed since before the very technology it now defines (and in fictional depictions of such technology from yesteryear’s sci-fi) in their favor. The real question is, should Samsung, Motorola, and other Google partners feel overly concerned? Probably no more than they have been in light of previous legal action from Apple.

While the patent was approved — we still don’t quite understand how the US Patent and Trademark Office went ahead with this one — it still remains a hard one to justify in courtrooms. Yes, Apple’s patent for the rounded rectangle may create new ground for legal action, but it won’t create any less trouble for attorneys on both sides of the court. Or judges for that matter. Unless your name happens to be Judge Lucy Koh. Then the answer is quite obvious: Apple always wins.

[via Gizmodo]

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  • Aar0nC

    This is unbelievable…

    • peanutsrevenge

      Really?
      This must be the first time you’ve read a tech news article this decade :p

  • Chris Rogers

    Good thing the new patent laws allow for this to be thrown out if a third party can prove the design is not deserving of a patent (not novel, prior art, and the like). I’m sure the crowd sourcing platforms are already hard at work.

    • Badgerboy1977

      Doesn’t seem to stop companies using them in a court of law in the mean time though which I’d say is the major problem with the US patent system.

  • peanutsrevenge

    That’s fine, it’s clearly for the 30 pin connector so micro-USB connectors will be fine and they could even use the lightening connector and Apple on’t be able to sue (under this patent)

    :D

    Oh, but good news for iPad fans, looks like they might get the ability to plug other cables into their iPads

    Double :D

    • http://www.facebook.com/KissMyWookie Steve Day

      No, it’s not just for the connector but the shape of the actual device.
      Read the actual patent and look at the pictures they submitted.

      • peanutsrevenge

        Realise when someone’s being sarcastic!

        • No_Nickname90

          Can’t blame the guy. Kinda hard to tell online.

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    LAME LAME LAMO, APPLE can SUCK the rectangle

  • chuckles87

    Visa and mastercard you better watch out you are infringing on apples design patents

    • http://www.facebook.com/Psylocke0834 Oliver Almare

      don’t forget discover and amex!

    • rageboardr

      You can go older than that. Pretty sure my social security card is the same shape. I know my drivers license has always been.

      • No_Nickname90

        Beepers!!

    • Matt Poulsen

      Well, if credit cards had screens were 7-10″ in size and had a bezel mounted power button with no other forward facing buttons then you’d have a valid point.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Spencer-Mead/508355625 John Spencer Mead

        If you had a sence of humor, you may enjoy life more

      • misaacs6516

        The Patent specifies size? or are you being salty to people trying to have a good time? Have a good day, and cheer up man.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Victois-Segunchoux/1799125824 Victois Segunchoux

        the makers of the first tv’s could sue apple. I used to have an old black and white tv I don’t remember where I got it from but the face of the tv was black and the trim was light grey like the current iphone 4 and 4s

    • http://twitter.com/macavely Macavely

      What was that electronic toy that help kids with spelling? I had one in the 80s. They might get sued by apple for using their design.

    • Garrett OBrien

      That looks exactly like my 150 year old wooden table, including the annoying coffee cup stain. I hope Apple doesn’t find out and takes me to court.

  • http://AfterCredits.com Chris R.

    We’re all screwed. I’m looking around my office and see many things that violate this patent. My laptop for one, a book, my cell phone, my other cell phone, my business card holder, my badge, my credit cards, a photo, some USB sticks, sticky notes, a router, dvd case, pop tarts, cookies…my God! I’m surrounded by illegal material! Please don’t take me to jail!!!

    • NIGHTSCOUT

      You WILFULLY infringed by purchasing those products, and are now subject to be part of the humanceniPad.

      • http://twitter.com/jguzman277 Juan Guzman

        What episode was that from?

    • ntegrit

      Don’t be silly, you’re not going to jail! You’ll just have to testify, so we’ll be serving you with a subpoena…

  • blest

    This cant be life..

  • DanWazz

    I. Cannot. Believe. This.

    I wish I had know the patent system was this bad years ago. Quick! someone patent the circle and sue schools and Kindergarteners.

  • dudinator

    i don’t want to live on this planet anymore

    • FatFredJones

      Better than being dead on this planet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

      Sorry Farnsworth… No planet of evolving nanites for you!

  • http://twitter.com/mwohrlin Mark Wohrlin

    They are awarding patents for shapes now? I am gonna apply for the circle and square patent.

    • No_Nickname90

      If this is the case, Sesame Street already owns these.

    • Blake Thomas

      I personally plan on showing up at a patent office and saying, “I call it…. ‘The Wheel!'”
      Should work out fine right?

  • Nigel Harrison
  • http://www.swornbrotherhood.com/ nemesys06

    phandroid should have a contest… How much did Apple pay to get this patent?

    • chuckles87

      Apple just solved the us debt crisis with this single bribe

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

        Except that it went into a bureaucrat’s pocket.

  • surethom

    There is a well know phrase that most of the world says “only in America” stupit patient office

    • Matt Poulsen

      only in America…stupid people who do not understand how a patent works or what they cover. There is nothing at all controversial about this patent. People are upset purely out of ignorance.

      • David Cramblett

        Samsung was found guilty of infringing this patent (pending at the time of the case) in America. Other countries are invalidating this IP claim. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a design patent, it’s still BS.

        • http://twitter.com/tDailyInsanity The Daily Insanity

          You don’t get found guilty of infringing a patent that isn’t issued.

          • David Cramblett

            You are “technically” correct, my point still stands. Samsung was found guilty of Design patents 087 and 677 which are essentially the “Rounded Corner” patents for the iphone (black and white versions). This patent is the same thing, only now in reference to the ipad. Apples intention is to use this against android tablets.

  • CWeb

    hey my Coffee-table is rounded rectangle, who should sue who?

    • Gabriel Parsons

      Who should sue “whom”. Whom is objective; therefore, the subject “who” sues “whom.

      • bmg314

        Really? O.o

      • http://www.mark717.com Mark Seven

        I think we understood his comment just fine without your help, but thanks anyway..

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    TV manufacturers bend over, you will be bleeding from your anus after Apple is done with you, since you infringed on this design.

    • https://market.android.com/developer?pub=Ender's+Games+and+Apps Brian Ouellette

      I am not sure about that. Patent says Portable Display Device. So a TV will not work. But… any tablet that has rounded corners may infringe on this design patent. Really is sad though.
      I wonder if that design patent applies to a certain radius on the corners. Maybe if the corners were less rounded on tablets?

      • No_Nickname90

        Portable DVD players have been out way before. This should get thrown out now.

      • itznfb

        I can pick up my TV and carry it to another room. Apple will probably call that portable. My TV!!!

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    All Android OEM’s should band together and sue the US Patent and Trademark Office.

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Now THAT would be a case I’d love to follow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/artaragon77 Art Aragon

    Looks like Google’s nexus tablets will have to be a Squared Oval.

    • ntegrit

      Why would you think that Apple hasn’t patented that?

  • KOLIO

    Come on everybody,get your facts straight before you start hating on APPLE:

    1) It’s common knowledge that the radius did not exist until APPLE started using it on all of their products.

    I myself cannot recall any product that I’ve purchased or used, EVER, until the entire global manufacturing community began mimicking APPLE’S invention of this mysterious shape…… EVER!

    • Ben Edwards

      Not sure if fanboy, or just unsuccessful troll…

      • http://twitter.com/NaylorChristian Christian Naylor

        Terrible read man.
        Definitely sarcasm.
        You could hear it in his voice.

  • jimmy

    Damnit Art beat me to it. Patent a squared oval.

  • nycplayboy78

    JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!!! A patent on a SHAPE….LAWD!!!!

  • Guest

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

  • Dulal gazi

    Now god should sue and put apple in hell for breathing the air, stealing shape and boasting they invent it! Sad, the only thing apple will ever get from me is my middle finger.

  • No_Nickname90

    Because the Portable DVD player didn’t exist already.
    Because touch screen cell phones didn’t exist already.

  • renGek

    My election ballet was rectangular with some rounded edges.
    I wonder if my meds are invalidated because the label is rectangular with rounded edges

    • bmg314

      Apple is driving me up the wall. May I have some of your meds?

  • Rdfry

    I wish the reality distortion field would implode and Apple would disappear into a black hole.

  • Frankie Abaddon

    ROFLMFAO

  • leocal79

    Patent Office needs to wake up

  • bmg314

    Well done, Kevin. Calling out Koh, especially. Nice!

  • stvnlira

    Next thing you know someones gonna patent the circle/sphere. Then they will own the sun moon and earth….I call dibs! Even though other people on here mentioned it first. On my way to patent office now!

  • Ross

    Wasn’t the etch-a-sketch a rectangle with rounded corners? This has to be a late April fools joke or something.

  • maximillion82

    Our patent system is clearly broken.

    • ari_free

      As intentioned.

  • Brian S.

    I have been watching news headlines pop up about Apple and patents for years now and I just realized that I am in disbelief that they have a patent for founded rectangles. Is this really what the patent is? I would really appreciate an straightforward clear answer.

  • ari_free

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple becomes a part of the US government with all these patents backing it up.

  • Matt Poulsen

    Do you do no research before writing these “articles?” This is a DESIGN patent. Do you know the difference?? To infringe someone has to use the exact “ornamental design” depicted in this patent. That is phenomenally easy for a competitor to get around. Design patents are primarily used as defensive patents.

  • Matt Poulsen

    I read these comments and am just amazed by the fundamental lack of understanding by so many. Apple did NOT patent a shape for God’s sake. Moreover, this is a DESIGN patent and not a UTILITY patent (which is the patent most of you think of when you hear the word “patent”). This covers the exact ornamental design depicted in the figures of the patent. This essentially covers against copycatters.

    This of course could be cleared up by an honest effort by the authors of this and similar articles, but the phandroid contributors apparently think they get more of a response with this type of garbage.

    And, no, I’m not an Apple user.

    • David Cramblett

      Really how did that argument work out for Samsung in Court? Yeah were all just a bit to naive to “get it” I guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucasm83 Lucas Meyer

    How the F&%K can a shape be patented

    • Miss_Jean

      > How can a shape be patented?

      It can. And was. That’s already done.

      The REAL question “was Apple foolish for doing that” (and earning a billion dollars, with many more billions to come)… or “was the patent OFFICE foolish for allowing that?”

      Apple was brilliant for doing that.
      The patent office (and courts) foolishing allowed it.

      Blame the right person for this error.

  • Michael Thompson

    Innovation through litigation.

  • http://twitter.com/pittdiscgolf PITT Disc Golf

    In other news today, the US Patent and Trademark Office has received a FREE lifetime supply of Ipads. WOW, didn’t see that coming…lol!!!!!

  • itznfb

    Kind of like when Harley Davidson tried to Trademark the sound of their exhaust….

  • bookie

    I am going to patent the shape of an automobile. Both 2 doors, 4 doors and hatch back 5 doors. I will earn loads of money…

    Can you imagine what the auto industry would be doing if this same thing was going on there?

    Give this crud up Apple. Why not patent something that is really worth patenting?

    I should patent the sphere too, could collect money for anyone make a ball like object. Tons of money in the sporting area!

    • Miss_Jean

      > Give this crud up Apple.

      How is it Apple’s fault that the patent office FULLY grants these patents… and the courts fully support them?

      > Why not patent something that is really worth patenting?

      So if you owned a company you wouldn’t try to patent something worth a BILLION dollars… even if you knew the patent office would approve it… and the courts would support it? You feel Apple should just say “oh, we don’t want that billion dollar patent.”

      (Remind me never to hire you at our company.)

      I guess it comes down to this: Should your company be awarded:
      Smart billion dollar patents. (For true innovative ideas.)
      Stupid billion dollar patents. (For successfully patenting a shape, a color, a weight, a size, a number, etc.)

      Both are STILL “billion dollar patents” either way.

  • rob in katy

    Mannnnnn! all my remotes are in violation…Damn that Apple!

  • Satwik Kamatmehbro

    brace yourselves.. the law suits are coming..

  • Slapout

    If you try to view the images at the link, it says you must have Apple Quicktime installed!

  • Luke

    What’s difference between this and the patent(D504889) from 2005?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Victois-Segunchoux/1799125824 Victois Segunchoux

    they should be concerned but its not a big deal. all companies have to do is either make perfectly square devices. or perfectly round devices devoid of angles. I mean the patent is bull crap. but previous companies aren’t calling apple on it so what can you do?

  • AppleWins

    Tablets from now on will have to have angled corners like Motorola phones. If you could make one side a millimeter longer, you could argue it’s not a rectangle. It would be Apple proof and still keep the general shape of a typical tablet

  • E. B.

    Someone needs to step in and take the patent office to court. They are out of control. Also, I’d like to see if there’s a money trail coming from Cupertino to the patent office.

  • Shannon

    Interesting, Matt. Thanks for clarifying. I’m sure its typical with every manufacturer… Samsung, Asus, HTC, etc. Prevents other manufacturers from making exact replicas of their device. I’m sure BMW patents their designs, too, so that Kia doesn’t make a cheaper version that looks EXACTLY like a beamer but for a quarter of the cost. They can make something similar, but not an exact replica. Everyone does it. Don’t get excited…

    • Miss_Jean

      These are two VERY different things:

      > I’m sure BMW patents their designs,

      BMW has a car with wheels that are round in shape, so the fenders go around them also… so you can’t make your wheels or fenders in their logical shape.

  • http://www.mark717.com Mark Seven

    All tablets must now look like a large Sony PSP..

  • Miss_Jean

    > should other tablet makers be concerned?

    Each company should quickly patent their own “tablet corner shapes” too.

    Slightly rounded.
    Very rounded.
    Squared off.
    Even more rounded.
    Average roundedness.
    Etc.

    Then no one will EVER be able to make any corner style tablet. All corner designs will already be patented by another company.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Jared631 Jared Matthew Allard

    I wanna see Apple try too take my ‘Rounded’ stuff. Stupid Apple…