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Apple Attempts To Patent Interactive Gaming on Smartphones


(Image courtesy of

It appears our favorite “patent happy” company may be at it again.  The latest has Apple having filed a patent application in April 2009, for “interactive gaming with co-located, networked direction and location aware devices.”  Could this be the cause of the mysterious data center in North Carolina?

The patent filing is for a broad “interactive game environment” that lends support to “two or more co-located, networked, direction and location aware interactive game devices.”  Through the mentioned system, users would be able to have devices that would be able to measure position, orientation, as well as time. 

Some of the features are:

-A common geographic reference frame.  Cartesian coordinates would be an example for starters, then UTM, which would be supported by GPS, for describing one’s position in the world.
-Devices could communicate position, orientation and time to devices of other players.
-The device would then be able to use information for plotting positions, directions and even the rates of travel of other users.

The first claim of the patent entails:

A computer-implemented method performed by a first interactive game device operating in a real world, interactive game environment with a second interactive game device, comprising: receiving state information from the second interactive game device, the state information associated with a reference frame defining a virtual interactive game environment; and determining an interaction between the first interactive game device and the second interactive game device in the real world, interactive game environment using the state information.

Apple had brought up the example of laser tag as such a game that could use “the relative positions and orientations shared between the interactive game devices to provide an enriched interactive gaming experience.”

What do you think readers?  Does the potential patent sound like a possible winner?  Feel free to leave your thoughts below!

via BNET

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter



Apple Hit for $625.5 Million in Patent Case Ruling

No doubt some strong language and Sith choke holds were seen in Cupertino today, as word has broken of a patent infringement ruling against Apple to the tune of 5.5 million. With a wake-up call like that first thing Monday morning, who needs coffee? The lawsuit that led to the judicial command for the hefty payout was filed back in 2008 by the now defunct software company Mirror Worlds, which, as a piece of tragic trivia would have it, was founded by Unabomber victim and Yale professor David Hillel Gelernter. Can word of a patent lawsuit become more intriguing than this?

Yes. Yes it can.

According to the folks at Fast Company, Apple has been ordered to pay out a sum of 5.5 million a piece for Cover Flow as seen on their iPhone, iPods and Mac computers. Apple has unsurprisingly objected to this and requested a stay on the ruling, arguing that CoverFlow is in fact a single technology being used as part of the three product lines, and that being forced to pay a fine for each instance would triple-dipping on the part of Mirror Worlds. Were the suggested stay allowed, Apple would have 7 million they’ve been ordered to dole out to Mirror Worlds struck from the books. At the same time as the legal types at the East Texas Federal Court wade through the matter of the stay, you can bet that Apple legal is planning on mounting a counter-assault. Mirror Worlds was disbanded back in 2003 due to weak software sales. This along with the face that Apple was granted a patent for Cover Flow this past April, should give Jobs’ flying monkeys plenty of material to work with.

As always, we’ll fill you in on any new developments as they occur.


Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.



Apple Settles Patent Dispute Over iTunes Music Sales

Sharing Sound, LLC recently brought a lawsuit on a few different companies offering online music sales. The lawsuit was over a patent that Sharing Sound owned for the online distribution of digital music files. The companies mentioned in the lawsuit included Apple, Microsoft, Napster, Rhapsody, Amazon, and Netflix. Today, however, Apple has officially settled the patent dispute.

According to the lawsuit, “The patent being contested – U.S. Patent Number 6,247,130, titled ‘Distribution of musical products by a website vendor over the Internet’ – would essentially prevent all these companies from using any type of online store environment which allows them to provide song previews, a shopping cart or even a music player.”

Signing off on the settlement was Judge David Folsom of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. No additional details were mentioned in the settlement.

TechCrunch notes that if this patent were enforced, it could have been devastating to one of Apple’s strongest business models.

via MacRumors


Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.





Patent Patrol: Honey, I Shrunk the Headphone Jack!

Apple headphone jack patent
(Image courtesy of AppleInsider)

You can’t say you didn’t see this one coming: As Apple continues to use their shrink-ray on their already diminutive devices, a new patent application reveals that they may want to clear some space inside those products by implementing different technology inside the headphone jacks they already have.

AppleInsider is reporting that a new Apple patent turned up this week at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Audio Jack with Pogo Pins for Conductive Contacts.” That’s just sexy patent talk for “we want to shrink the headphone jack to make more space inside our iDevices.”

As noted by AppleInsider, current headphone jacks rely on “cantilever beams,” which are buried inside the jack and move away when an audio plug is inserted. The problem is that the cantilever beam can take up a relatively large amount of space inside such as small product as the iPod nano or iPod shuffle.

“In particular, a cantilever beam can require a substantial minimum length for ensuring that the force generated by the beam deflection is sufficient to maintain the beam in contact with an audio plug contact portion,” the application explains. “In addition, the cantilever beam requires space in at least two dimensions, which can prevent the size of an electronic device from being reduced.”

The new patent aims to resolve the problem by using a headphone jack that relies on “deflectable Pogo pins” in an effort to conserve space. As seen in the image above, when an audio plug is inserted into such a plug, the pins simply retract within themselves, rather than the current method with cantilever beams.

“The contact mechanism for the audio jack only needs to extend in one direction (e.g., in one direction perpendicular to the axis of the cavity, or y),” the patent application reveals. “This may allow an electronic device in which the electronic device housing follows the dimensions of the audio jack for around at least one half of the periphery of the audio jack (e.g., all of the audio jack conductive pads and the movement of the audio jack conductive pads remains in a plane that includes the central axis of the cavity).”

The patent application is credited by Sean Murphy and John Difonzo and was first filed on June 10, 2009.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Apple Sues Sanho Over Patent Infringment

If you listen closely, you can hear the drums of war beating once again. Follow the sound on the wind and you’ll be led to the faraway land of Cupertino where it’s clear that Apple is none too pleased with Sanho Corporation, makers of the increasingly popular line of HyperMac external battery products for just about every Apple product under the sun. It seems that Apple’s beef stems from the fact that many of the products from the HyperMac line include MagSafe connectors for connecting to power-hungry MacBooks, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops. In addition, they also utilize Apple’s 30-pin dock connector to move juice from their batteries on to every iOS device under the sun. This might not be an issue if Sanho had asked permission to do so. However, as you may have guessed by now, they didn’t.

According to Ars Technica, Apple’s suit against Sanho was filed on September 9. Apple’s case would appear to revolve around the fact that for as integral as the MagSafe adapter and 30-pin connectors are to their line of external battery products, Sanho Corporation never bothered to purchasing the rights to use them from Apple. Worse still, through Sanho’s own admission, they’re not even manufacturing their own MagSafe connectors, opting instead to utilize recycled ones produced by Apple instead.

Sadly, the issues surrounding Sanho’s use of the 30-pin connector could have been avoided had they simply ponied up the dough for a license to use Apple’s connector technology in their wares. However, with Apple refusing to license their MagSafe technology to anyone at this time (thanks for pointing that out, Scott!), we could be left with no external battery solution for our MacBooks.

We’ll just have to wait and see how this one plays out.

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.



Apple Applies for Clip On Camera Lens Patent

A scant few days after Apple dropped a bevy of new products in the laps of eager consumers, it seems that they wizards of Cupertino are at it again. This time around, if the details of a recent patent application uncovered by Patently Apple are any indication, we could be in for some snazzy attachment lenses to use with our iPhone and iPod touch cameras.

While the diagram shows that the lens is being held on by a clip, Patently Apple explains that the main focus of the Patent Application details the use of a series of magnets to hold the peripheral in place. With the quality of cameras being seen in Apple’s hardware releases improving with each new generation, it’ll be nice to see how the options of rocking a high-quality zoom or macro lens will affect the photos that we’ll take with an iPhone a few years down the road. More so, with Apple taking a greater interest in designing and selling their own peripherals at every turn, it’ll be fun to watch third-party peripheral developers up their game to compete.


New Mystery Apple Patent Could Make Your Next iPhone Bulletproof

Apple composite laminate patent
(Image courtesy of Patently Apple)

The best way to keep tabs on what Apple might be cooking up next is to keep an eye on all of the new inventions they file for patents on. One of the latest is a patent for an improved composite laminate that could someday make future devices practically bulletproof.

Patently Apple is reporting that Apple has recently won the patent for an improved composite laminate, which the website claims “could consist of a wide range of materials including glass, synthetics, metals (such as aluminum or titanium) or even epoxy.” The patent doesn’t reveal exactly what Apple plans to do, but the website notes that such material is commonly used in “real-world products ranging from an iPad cover to all manner of sporting equipment such as golf clubs, baseball bats, canoes, bikes, skateboards and more.”

According to Wikipedia, the use of such materials could even be used to make a portable device literally bulletproof, which certainly makes us imagine that Apple CEO Steve Jobs could be living some kind of Batman-esque dual life. (Would that make the iPhone his Bat-Phone?)

Unfortunately Patently Apple chooses to theorize a much more down-to-Earth scenario. “Apple could also be rethinking their use of polycarbonates in their MacBook for a much lighter material and using the sandwich method as shown above,” they propose. “Hmm, who knows — maybe the new Apple TV is already using one of the material variants. I haven’t been able to find out exactly what they’re using. Is it a thermosetting plastic as mentioned in this patent?”

As is often the case with patents such as this, only time will tell.

“Where and how Apple will end up using this material is unknown at this time — simply because of the wide range of products that Apple could apply this to — including future wearable computers,” Patently Apple concludes. “In time, we’ll be sure to hear about this material as it comes to market in some surprising way. For now, all we know for certain is that Apple has been granted a patent for an improved cosmetic surface regarding this material and that it’s paved the way for Apple to now bring it to market.”

Now all that Cupertino needs is a Bat-Signal to announce Apple’s next media event and they’ll be all set…

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Apple Patent Reveals Plans for Audio Ports

It looks as though Apple could be ready to fire off yet another salvo as part of their continuing war against buttons and peripheral holes. A war you say?


In 2006, the company did away with one hole by giving us the Magsafe power connector. In recent years you may also have noticed that their video out interfaces keep getting smaller and smaller: You just know that it’s leading to the utter destruction of a physical video connection in their gear. Similarly, the introduction of the MacBook Air and its single dual purpose headphone/microphone jack signaled an impending unceremonial farewell to the presence of microphone port in their mobile devices. If a patent application filed today is any indication, Apple may be just that much closer to perfecting the latter and realizing their dream of a smooth, hole-free housing for their devices:

“A connector for receiving a cylindrical plug, the connector comprising: a body defining an aperture and a cavity for receiving the cylindrical plug; a plurality of electrical contacts in communication with the cavity, the plurality of electrical contacts making electrical connections with the cylindrical plug when received in the cavity, at least one of the electrical contacts mechanically engaging and retaining the cylindrical plug when received in the cavity; and a microphone coupled to the body such that the aperture and the cavity provide an acoustic path to the microphone.”

Compared to some of the more pie-in-the-sky patent applications we’ve seen coming out of Cupertino over the years, this one, a bid to refine their machinations for the impending doom of a physical port they’ve already taken steps to do away with, seems down right reasonable. However, be they zany or straight laced, as we’re always reminding you, it’s best to take any and all patents filed by Apple with a grain of salt as many of them never make the leap from the drawing board into a fully realized product.



Paul Allen Suing Apple Amongst Other Companies For Patent Infringement


(Image courtesy of BusinessWeek)

Remember Paul Allen?  Well, he’s about to try and make sure Apple amongst a whole slew of other tech heavy hitters don’t soon forget him.  On Friday, he sued Apple, Google and nine other companies claiming that they’re making use of technology that came about ten years ago at his now-kaput Silicon Valley lab.

Granted Allen didn’t develop any of the said technology, but he does indeed own the patents.

This would mark a first for Allen.  He is in hot pursuit of companies, including some of the biggest names such as Apple and Google, that he claims are in violation of technology that had been originally developed at Interval Research Corp., in Palo Alto, Calif., which is a lab and technology site he financed on his own with 0 million.

“Paul thinks this is important, not just to him but to the researchers at Interval who created this technology,” said Allen’s spokesman, David Postman.  “We recognize that innovation has a value, and patents are the way to protect that.”

Allen’s suit names companies like: Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube.  But missing from the list were Microsoft, with whom Allen remains a major investor and, based in Allen’s hometown of Seattle.  Postman opted to not comment on the list of defendants.

As for the actual details of the suit, it lists violations of four patents for technology that are key parts of the operations of the various companies – and of e-commerce and Internet search companies.  No estimated damage amount was listed.

In one patent, the technology allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they’re currently viewing, or that which might be related to the online activities of others, perhaps in Facebook’s case.

The second, gives readers of news stories the option to locate stories in a hurry in regard to a certain subject.  The other two enable ads, stock quotes, news updates or video images to flash on a computer screen, that are related to what that user is doing at the current moment.

via The Wall Street Journal

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter