Patent no. D670,286, the “ornamental design for a portable display device” as stated in the patent application, has been awarded to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office yesterday. Basically, and in simple English, Apple now has the design patent coverage for rectangular shaped devices with round corners.
A design patent is qualified by its drawings, especially solid lines. The patent in question has definite solid lines for the shape of design. While most of Apple’s previous patent designs focused on smaller things like the home button and the side profile (yes even that), this design focuses on just one thing: the shape.
Is this one of the Cupertino company’s efforts at a “let’s-see-what-happens” scenario? If Apple expects a nitpicking patent like this to stand up in court, they have another thing coming most would say, as competitors can counteract this in various ways. This is a patent that screams vulnerability. Different sizes, aspect ratio’s, device thickness can all influence the validity.
As reported on wired.com, Associate Professor with Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law, Lea Shaver said: “This design patent gives Apple no new advantage, because no one is out there trying to market an iPad lookalike.”
The patent loses credibility as it is seen as a “lose” or very “broad” patent by pundits. Shaver confirmed this by saying: “The Samsung Galaxy doesn’t have a center bottom circle, it doesn’t have a camera in the top center, and although its back panel slopes to meet the front, the angle of that slope is different.”
Can we expect more patent infringement lawsuits?