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USPTO Reissues Key iPhone Patent to Apple

This specific patent, entitled "portable computers" describes a touch-sensitive computer called SmartQuill, which was invented by British Telecom's Lyndsay Williams in 1997. BT filed the patent in 1998 and was granted the rights to it in 2005. Apple purchased the patent in May of 2008 and apparently filed a reissue patent application, which is often done in order to correct errors in the original document.

The SmartQuill is a pen computer with a monochrome LCD on the front. The LCD is used to display emails, other messages as well as simple application UIs such as calculator, time or a diary. The display is surrounded by eight "touch-or pressure sensitive" buttons. There is also a touch scroll strip to navigate the screen, a "pyrolectric detector" that serves as proximity sensor, docking pins as charge and data transfer connectors, as well as a microphone that is tied to a speech recorder using "Sequoia" technology with a capability of recording up to 60 seconds of audio. And no, there was no wireless connectivity.

Of course, Apple was not interested in the computer feature of the device. The device also feature an accelerometer that enabled the device to adjust the orientation of the content that is shown on the display. It is believed to be the first patent that describes this feature for a mobile computing device and could provide Apple with more ammunition in ongoing patent infringement lawsuits against its rivals.

  • jhansonxi
    Up next: "narrow cylindrical device for moving loads overland" and "exothermic reaction combustion process"

    Note - you can't patent patent trolling since Haliburton already has.
    Reply
  • Yuka
    Why when I want to see an image in the USPTO page, it asks me for QT?

    It's very annoying; they should use regular PDF or something like that...

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • mrmike_49
    YukaWhy when I want to see an image in the USPTO page, it asks me for QT?It's very annoying; they should use regular PDF or something like that...Cheers!
    QT ; Quick Time : Apple
    very interesting
    Reply
  • silver565
    I can see it now.... "the iPen, revolutionizing the workplace"
    Reply
  • cookoy
    it looks like some device you stick in your ass to get your temperature
    Reply
  • justjc
    SILVER565I can see it now.... "the iPen, revolutionizing the workplace"No way Apple would launch a product with eight buttons, however they might just see the patent as a reason to gain income from companies actually making smart pens, like Livescribe and Logitech.

    @jhansonxi I think the patent found at http://www.ipmenu.com/archive/AUI_2001100012.pdf will blow your mind. It was given to a Patent lawyer in 2001, who wanted to prove that the patent system was flawed... case proved... still no one seems to have done anything about it :-(
    Reply
  • zybch
    YukaWhy when I want to see an image in the USPTO page, it asks me for QT?It's very annoying; they should use regular PDF or something like that...Cheers!Or just freaking JPEG pics!! Anything except a dumb format that makes you install extra crap (especially apple crap) on your computer.
    Reply
  • alidan
    EVERYONE

    you are missing the point.

    when you move an ipad, and an ipod touch from vertical to horizontal the way things are displayed changes.

    they got this patent for THIS FEATURE ALONE... nothing more.
    Reply
  • mcvf
    jhansonxiUp next: "narrow cylindrical device for moving loads overland" and "exothermic reaction combustion process"Note - you can't patent patent trolling since Haliburton already has.
    The best patent ever! You made my day.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    So Apple bought it for the accelerometer part. I smell more lawsuits.
    Reply