Apple Patents: From Vehicle Locators to Viral Social Network Campaigns Management

locating vehicleIn recent weeks, Apple has added to its generous patent portfolio with a variety of interesting patents covering location-based services implemented through the electronic devices produced by the company. The enhancement of location-based services available through mobile devices is at the center of U.S. Patent No. 9066199, which is titled Location-Aware Mobile Device. The method claimed here involves determining a location of a mobile device, controlling a client to display visual indications associated with the device’s location and transmitting information regarding the selection of a visual indication to a network resource. This innovation is designed to increase the opportunities for providing location-based services by enabling the activation of multiple location-based clients directly on a mobile device instead of accessing mapping resources over a network.

Apple is also trying to make it easier for you to locate your car with the technology described in U.S. Patent No. 9041556, titled Method for Locating a Vehicle. The method for locating a vehicle in a parking structure claimed here involves receiving a vehicle signal from a low-power wireless transmitter in the vehicle, determining the vehicle’s location based on the sensor transmitting the vehicle signal, receiving a wireless signal from a device, determining that the device is associated with the vehicle and transmitting information on the vehicle’s location to the device. This invention would leverage the low-energy device communications enabled by Bluetooth, which is becoming an incredibly important technology thanks to the growing Internet of Things sector. (more…)

Apple Patents Digital Handshake Between Devices

On April 23, 2013, Apple obtained U.S. Patent No. 8429407, titled Digital Handshake between Devices.

Creating a secure connection between two devices that are in close physical proximity allows users to share a great deal of digital content. Instead of showing a webpage or document to another person by turning the screen towards them, a user could choose to send the info directly to another device, preventing people from having to crowd around a small device screen to see. The same is true of videos and pictures. Also, some applications allow users to interact with other nearby devices for money transfers or to play a game.

Apple was granted the right to protect the system of creating a secured connection between devices laid out in this patent. It would allow an iPhone to create a bar code or alphanumerical code that can be scanned by the camera of another device. Once the “digital handshake” has taken place, other phones can also scan the key that was generated by the device to connect with the other devices as well.

As Claim 1 describes, Apple has gained legal protections over:

“A method for establishing a communications path between a first device and a second device, comprising: capturing an image of the second device using the first device; extracting, from the image, a first key associated with the second device; selecting from a plurality of processes a process to be used for generating a digital handshake key; generating the digital handshake key using the selected process with the first key; and establishing a communications path with the second device using the digital handshake key.” (more…)

Apple Tackles Heteronym Translations in Patent Application

By: Gene Quinn (

On February 14, 2013, an interesting Apple patent application published. The title of the patent application is “Method for disambiguating multiple readings in language conversion,” and deals with the difficulties associated with proper automatic translation when the word being translated has a different meaning based on the usage context. An interesting invention in its own right perhaps, but the disclosure specifically relates to addressing this problem with respect to translating from Chinese into English.


Apple Applies for Patent on Parental Controls for Debit Cards

by aditza121Lately, I’ve been trying to publish articles every week on IP Watchdog about Apple patents and published patent applications. I have long told students and others that if you work in an area where Apple innovates and you are looking for good, well-written patents to read and learn from, then read whatever Apple patents you can find. Of course, there is a cult following for everything Apple, so there may be at least a little pandering on my part. But patents are patents and to learn you have to read, so why not read interesting patents? At least that was always my philosophy when teaching law school classes.

This week,  a particular Apple published patent application jumped out at me.  U.S. Patent Application No. 20130018792, simply titled Parental Controls, seeks to give parents the option of allowing children to have debit cards while allowing parents to define limitations for use.


Unwired Planet Foregoes ITC Complaint Against Apple, RIM

On October 15, Unwired Planet (Nasdaq: UPIP) announced that it was abandoning the pending International Trade Commission (ITC)  investigation it initiated against Apple and Research-in-Motion. According to the company’s announcement, on Thursday, October 11, 2012, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Gildea declined to stay the pending investigation despite a joint motion filed by all of the parties.

It seems that Unwired Planet came out on the short end of a claim construction order, which dealt a fatal blow to the company’s infringement assertions.  According to the company, “the ALJ made an unfavorable, and in our view, erroneous construction of a set of closely-related terms – the mobile device terms – in three of our patents.  The error was that the ALJ limited the invention of the patents to mobile devices that do not contain a ‘computer module.'”

Thus, rather than go through with a trial, Unwired Planet decided to throw in the towel in favor of its pending case in the Federal District Court of Delaware, which was initially filed in August 2011 and has been conducted in parallel with the ITC investigation.  This federal district court proceeding deals with the same patents and, according to Unwired Planet, will provide the opportunity to seek different claim construction in the federal court.