Apple wins multi-touch and glass process patents

Dec 28, 2012 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org)—The US Patent and Trademark Office has published thirty-six patents granted for Apple. Patently Apple has highlighted two of those patents. One has to do with multi-touch displays. The multi-touch patent relates to sensor panels using capacitive sensors to detect and localize touch events. The other patent has to do with new ways to shape glass for iDevices, e.g., the iPhone and iPad. One of the advantages of Apple's proposed process on glass is that it would not involve dangerous chemicals and gasses.

First, in presenting the Touch Sensor Back Plane Ground Connection, which was filed by Thayne Miller in July last year, the noted that, if touch sensors are to correctly identify the presence and location of a touch event, then the back plane of the panel needs to be reliably grounded. If the back plane isn't, then sensors may behave sporadically and misrepresent touch events or fail.

"Touch sensors may misrepresent the touch event. These can include, but are not limited to, errors in the location of a touch event or the detection of a phantom touch in the absence of an actual touch event. In extreme cases, the touch sensors may fail altogether." The patent said the various embodiments in the disclosure are designed to provide a reliable ground connection even in the presence of failure conditions.

Providing a reliable ground connection for the back plane may be useful in providing a uniform electrical reference point to measure changes in voltage and from a touch event. The patent signals Apple's ongoing development of multi-touch for its iDevices.

The "" patent, titled "Glass alignment for high temperature processes," was filed in 2009. The patent said that "Apparatus, systems and methods for alignment of a glass member for high temperature processing are disclosed. The high temperature processing can, for example, pertain to a slumping process to mold glass into a predetermined shape (e.g., a three-dimensional shape). In one embodiment, a glass slumping system can have a mold and an alignment system that support a glass member to be slumped relative to the mold. The alignment system may have a plurality of alignment members being configured to move away from the glass member as the temperature increases during the slumping process to allow the glass member to bend around the mold without interference."

This second patent appears to have drawn the most interest from Apple watchers, casting bets that it may signal introductions of bendable phones and other such devices.

The new patent details a way to use heat to achieve a particular shape. The patent suggests ways to shape glass without having to undergo a long process and involving risky chemicals. The patent's suggested embodiments of the glass invention are discussed: "The apparatus, systems and methods for alignment of a glass member for high temperature processing are suitable for glass covers assembled in small form factor electronic devices, such as handheld electronic devices," it said, but also listed more embodiments.

"The apparatus, systems and methods can also be used for glass covers or displays for other relatively larger form factor electronic devices (e.g., portable computers, tablet computers, displays, monitors, televisions, etc.)."

Explore further: IBM's Watson advises US soldiers on life after service

More information: USPTO Patent 1

USPTO Patent 2

via PatentlyApple

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User comments : 16

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dogbert
2.8 / 5 (9) Dec 28, 2012
Of course, no one would expect that you would need a stable ground state in order to detect variations from that ground state ...

visualhawk
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 28, 2012
Of course, no one would expect that you would need a stable ground state in order to detect variations from that ground state ...


or that one needs to align glass to accurately form it .... whow - that is ground breaking 'new' technology ....
Lurker2358
3.5 / 5 (8) Dec 28, 2012
I think Apple owns the U.S. patent office and some of the courts.

If this keeps up, they'll corner the market on all knowledge and technology.

Wow. They get to patent shaping glass?!

Fundamental forces and fundamental circuits should not be patentable. Period.
dogbert
2.8 / 5 (9) Dec 28, 2012
The parent system has been abused for a very long time. Instead of encouraging innovation and creativity, it is used to stifle competition.
twasnow
3.2 / 5 (6) Dec 28, 2012
I am not going to say that these patents are worthy or not, but it seems people actually think you can patent an idea.

"Of course, no one would expect that you would need a stable ground state in order to detect variations from that ground state"

They are not patenting the grounding of the glass, they are patenting the way in which they are grounding the glass.

And it is not that they are patenting aligning glass to form it they are patenting a method to align glass to form it.

Consider they are making thousands of glass screen covers per day. the process needs to be fast, and extremely accurate and repeatable. Aligning the glass to a precision of micrometers is not an easy process to do thousands of times a day, if you can do that without the current chemicals and gasses, than maybe you have something.

A patent is only given for a new and useful process/method, machine, or composition of matter, or significantly new and useful improvement of these things.
Lurker2358
2.9 / 5 (11) Dec 28, 2012
A patent is only given for a new and useful process/method, machine, or composition of matter, or significantly new and useful improvement of these things.


Except that patents actually stick around for decades, generations, or even centuries now, giving a corporation a permanent monopoly on technology, because a competitor can't use the same process even if they figure out how to do it, and even if it's the best thing available within the known laws of physics. This means competitors are required to use inferior technology, forever, even if they know how to make the patented, more advanced technology. This is NOT what was intended by patent laws.
Moebius
3 / 5 (6) Dec 28, 2012
Of course, no one would expect that you would need a stable ground state in order to detect variations from that ground state ...



or that it requires a patent.
dtxx
3 / 5 (6) Dec 28, 2012
All these patents are is ammunition for future lawsuits. They are like money in the bank, and represent an entire business model. The are going to become the next SCO Group.
RealScience
3 / 5 (3) Dec 28, 2012
@lurker - no, even Apple doesn't get to patent molding glass. What Apple (or anyone who invents one) can patent is a NEW way of molding glass.

If the patent office found that this way was not new, they would not issue the patent.
Te patent office does makes mistakes, especially in new fields like software and business models where they lack experience and history, but you can point out their mistakes and they will revoke the patent.

Also, as the article states, the patent only cover the new way of shaping glass: holding the glass in place with alignment members that move away from the glass as the mold is heated, thereby allowing the glass to slump.

And patents do not stick around for centuries. They stick around for 20 years from date of filing, so even if this becomes an issued patent it would expire in 2029.
gopher65
5 / 5 (3) Dec 28, 2012
Except that patents actually stick around for decades, generations, or even centuries now, giving a corporation a permanent monopoly on technology, because a competitor can't use the same process even if they figure out how to do it, and even if it's the best thing available within the known laws of physics. This means competitors are required to use inferior technology, forever, even if they know how to make the patented, more advanced technology. This is NOT what was intended by patent laws.

... Patents are good in the US for 20 years, and then they expire. You might be thinking of copyrights, which are much longer, or trademarks, which don't expire as long as they are properly maintained.

Design patents (like the "rounded corners" patent) last for 14 years before expiry.
Lantern5
1 / 5 (4) Dec 28, 2012
This is what we can do to prevent massacres of innocent children
A) Prohibit the sale of automatic weapons.
B) All gun owners must have a special box with combination lock and special to keep their weapons.
C) The government should initiate a program of recovery of weapons, firearms by changing food supplies and electronics. (If you do not ask the origin of weapon, weapons succeed in recovering thousands)
Lantern5
1 / 5 (3) Dec 28, 2012
D) The government should strengthen psychological care programs for young people with special attention to the following points:
1) Constant control of the problem of bullying in schools.
2) special psychological support to young people with problems
Social adaptation. We can improve the self-esteem of these young people, we can increase the feeling of love and empathy for these young people.
We create activities in which these young people get the joy of achieving goals.
We create activities that feel triumphant and successful.
We create activities in which young people learn to help yourself and others is the most important goal of every human being.
If we find ways to fill the minds of young love for themselves and for others and if we teach them to reason to control their actions, then the crime rate will drop.
Lantern5
1 / 5 (4) Dec 28, 2012
E) We must create laws to reduce violence in movies and video games. Many films are literally manuals for serial murderers and terrorists.
Video games record the cold-blooded murder in the minds of children. It's almost hypnotic.
Of course, many will defend the rights of film producers and rights of producers of video games. But I tell you that not all of these people millions in profits worth the life of one child.
They can not put more value on money than the life of a child.
A depraved mind by these vices is easy to recognize because those who are depraved defend those who trade in death and perversion rather than advocate for children.
F) Place electronic bookmarks in various weapons and warning systems in parking lots and public places to alert guards near a weapon.
G) Provide schools bulletproof vests and nonlethal weapons very efficient. Each school would have at least three teachers with bulletproof vest and nonlethal weapons.
Lantern5
1 / 5 (5) Dec 28, 2012
H) Create systems technology and automatic defenses nonlethal schools would cost infinitely less than the American space program. It's a matter of priorities. What is worth more to you, find out if there are microbes on Mars, or prevent a child from being crushed to death?
The army can handle remote warehouses to fight, in the same way the army can be remotely controlled robots with lethal weapons to fight murderers. The army robots are now clever enough to get from one place to another quickly.
I) must track smarter psychological state and history of violence of gun owners.
Lantern5
1 / 5 (5) Dec 28, 2012
J) Those who wish to marry and have children should be educated by the government on a special course that teaches basic notions of morality and proper education of the children (including teaching how to stop coddling the children) Couples can marry if approved the examination after the course "family education". Raising a family is a big responsibility and many couples who marry believe that raising children is like having pets.
K) we put military guards in schools. Female soldier armed with lethal weapons and high-tech guns.
L) These guards should have an excellent personal armor.
M) I once saw a nonlethal weapon throwing jets of glue which hardens rapidly.
N) On another occasion I saw an air cannon that shoots huge networks.
Lantern5
1 / 5 (5) Dec 28, 2012
O) There is a system of non-lethal sonic weapon.
P) Destinemos billionaire budget used by NASA to fund the system of military guards in schools. The money spent on NASA remote controlled toys is so unreasonably high that with this huge amount of money is enough to put military guards and armored silicon firearms in all public places in the United States. (The guards must be women with clean police record and not to use drugs and must be continually educated in a moral and logical based on love of neighbor) (Ideally guards are groups of three)