California Patent Attorney® Blog

May 2012 Archives

Apple Applies for Stylus Patent

May 25, 2012,

apple-logo.jpgCalifornia - When the iPhone was first introduced by Apple, Steve Jobs insisted that patenting the stylus was a bad idea and not worth the time and effort involved. However, despite the idea previously being shunned by the internal creative powers at Apple, it has been confirmed that Apple has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for an Optical Stylus.

The current idea being patented is conceptually different from the stylus that most consumers would get with a tablet purchased in the marketplace today. Most stylus products currently being sold are simple optical devices with a pressure sensor that can capture an image using a built in camera. When the stylus touches the prescribed surface, the camera captures the image and relays it to the computer's internal parts, which in turn tells the computer what to do. But today's consumers are more technically savvy than ever and expect more from their products than what a simple stylus has traditionally done. To that end, Apple's newest stylus patent could possibly include several different high-tech variations, including but not limited to: accelerometers, gyroscopes, haptic feedback and/or multiple orientation determining sensors.

It should be noted that the patent application does not mean that Apple plans to market the next iPad with a stylus. However, Apple has traditionally been a creative leader in the computer field and the new stylus ideas are no exception. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the creative design teams would spend so much time and energy on new stylus ideas if there weren't some products being planned that would incorporate the new stylus ideas in some iteration or another.

This is not to say that the designers at Apple have surmounted the convenience problems that most consumers have with a stylus. Jobs himself famously complained that a stylus was inconvenient and easy to lose. Consequently, even with a convenient space to store the stylus, many consumers end up misplacing the smaller part sooner or later. But with new and creative concepts constantly being bandied about at Apple, it is likely that the creative teams will market the new products and stylus ideas with some interesting new storage ideas.

TeleCommunication Systems Receives 35 More U.S. Patents in Mobile Mapping Technology

May 14, 2012,

navigate_directions.jpgCalifornia - TeleCommunication Systems is known for its groundbreaking advancements in mobile communication technology. It has recently been granted 35 more patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office related to messaging, wireless data, and public safety. Maurice Tose, the chairman, CEO, and president of TeleCommunication Systems stated, "TCS has long been a pioneer and leading innovator in messaging, mobile location/mapping, public safety and wireless technology" and "these 35 new patents - including the 13 mapping & location patents - demonstrate our continued commitment to apply innovative engineering solutions to improve mobile device communications."

The patents related to "Navigation and Route Determination" include U.S. Patent No. 8,090,534 a "Method and System for Enabling an Off-Board Navigation Solution" and U.S. Patent No. 8,169,343 a "Method and System for Saving and Retrieving Spatial Related Information", as well as three other patents. These patents will allow users to request a particular navigation route by voice while also saving the request. The user will also be able to affiliate a certain image to a specific destination or route.

Also added to TeleCommunication's intellectual property portfolio are patents related to the location of a caller and receiver. For example, a person making a phone call will be able to allow the receiver to view the caller's location by viewing their GPS coordinates. The patents associated with the "Locating a User Technique" include U.S. Patent No. 8,165,603 for a "Personal Location Code", U.S. Patent No. 8,126,889 for a "Location Fidelity Adjustment Based on Mobile Subscriber Privacy Profile" and U.S. Patent No. 8,032,112 for "Location Derived Presence Information". With regard to security, the user will also be able to adjust the security settings on their phone to enable or disable a receiver from viewing the location of the user.

Bob Held, a senior director of intellectual asset management for TeleCommunication Systems stated, "there are significant opportunities to leverage our company's 200+ patents and other intellectual property around the world, through both licensing and partnership arrangements in core and non-core business areas." By this statement we can be sure that TeleCommunication Systems has no plans to stop filing patent applications.

Facebook Receives Patent on News Feed

May 7, 2012,

facebook.jpgCalifornia - Facebook has been issued yet another patent related to the News Feed, almost six years after filing for it. Granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the new patent lists co-founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg as one of the inventors.

The News Feed patent is described as: "Communicating a news feed of media content based on a member's interactions in a social network environment." The invention allows Facebook to let users not only view status messages, photos, and links to videos of online friends, but also particular actions their friends are taking. Such actions could include commenting on posts from other users or playing games.

Facebook's U.S. Patent No. 8,171,128 is further described as: "a system and method for providing dynamically selected media content to someone using an electronic device in a social network environment. Items of media content are selected for the user based on his or her relationships with one or more other users. The user's relationships with other users are reflected in the selected media content and its format. An order is assigned to the items of media content, for example, based on their anticipated importance to the user, and the items of media content are displayed to the user in the assigned order. The user may change the order of the items of media content. The user's interactions with media content available in the social network environment are monitored, and those interactions are used to select additional items of media content for the user."

In its application, Facebook described its method of allowing users to view certain status updates, pictures, links to videos, and their friends' actions. The patent will let Facebook keep a profile of each user on the social network in a database, then identify the relationships between users, generating "stories" based on the connections with each other, and then creating a News Feed for each user.

The patent will also allow Facebook to monitor what actions the viewer takes in response to the stories, such as Liking, Sharing, or Commenting, and then uses that data to generate more stories.