Yes, you read that right – Apple now officially holds a patent on the rounded rectangle. That faint sound you hear is Samsung sobbing. How is this possible? How is this legal? Read on and be sickened – er – amazed.
What Apple Patented
As much as we’d like to tell you that the Apple patent really only covers something small, like the degree of the rounded corners, it appears that the mobile giant really did manage to patent something as vague as ‘the rounded rectangle.’ However, some experts warn against getting too riled up.
The new Apple patent is a design patent. This is not the type of patent you get for inventing a brand-new product. It’s more the type you get for a logo. It’s precisely the reason that the twenty-dollar Prada bag you bought off a street vendor in NYC isn’t quite kosher.
According to the experts, this means that a smartphone competitor would have to actively try to copy every last detail of an Apple-patented shape in order to infringe upon the patent.
If you’re still a bit confused, don’t worry. So are we. So are plenty of industry experts, for that matter. Patenting a logo is pretty obvious. Patenting the shape of (among sixty zillion other items) crackers? That’s a new one.
What the Apple Patent Means for Competitors
It’s the question on everybody’s mind but, so far, nobody really knows what this patent will mean for the world of smartphone manufacturers. The precise wording of Apple’s patent covers a ‘portable display device’ with the specified shape. Hmm…yeah, that’s pretty much every phone you, I and your grandmother ever have or ever will own.
Seeing just how Samsung and other competitors react to this patent will be interesting, to say the least. Are we witnessing the birth of the round smartphone? How about a nice octagon? Of course, the most obvious route is to stick with sharp-edged rectangles. They work just fine, but we’re not looking forward to them digging into our palms, that’s for sure. In the end, it’s just another game of wait-and-see, with Apple crouched in the corner, giggling like a mad schoolgirl.
Does the Apple Patent Point to Clinical Insanity?
Okay, we’re reaching a bit on that one. However, there’s no way to get around the fact that they have successful patented a shape which has been in existence (we’re assuming) since cavemen discovered that rounded edges didn’t hurt their hairy fingers as much as sharp ones. Patenting something so familiar, even if the actual patent is technically very narrow, just seems strange. Experts reassure us that since nobody is actively attempting to sell a copy of the iPad (NYC street vendors notwithstanding), there is little Apple can do to actually enforce their brand new patent. Still, to us, the whole thing smacks of power-gone-insane on both ends of the equation – Apple for filing in the first place and the patent office for granting their ‘revolutionary’ shape any type of official standing.
Opinions aside, this is really just technical court-speak. Plenty of odd things have been patented for years, and it’s unlikely to stop anytime soon. If we wanted to, we could patent our face. It may seem ridiculous, overzealous or flat-out crazy, but the inner workings of massive corporations often do.
We would write more, but after glancing down, we realize we need to call our lawyers. We have a sneaking suspicion that our manicure is heavily infringing on a patent somewhere.
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