NEW YORK (
(AAPL - Get Report)
has obtained three new patents that could change the face of portable devices -- its own as well as those made by other companies.
The first is a patent for the iPod touch. Remember iPods? You should because the patent the company has just been granted seems to be for what was Apple's finest from a few years ago. (Sometimes it takes the U.S. Patent Office some time to catch up with the all the paperwork.) From the sketch included in the original submission, the device looks a lot more like the older fourth-generation model rather than the latest iPod touch.
There's also a patent for a new way to mold curves into thin glass for tablets and smartphones. It involves equipment and a procedure to bend the glass, during processing, while it's still hot. That could make for some interesting future phones, tablets and even television screens, none of which are hinted at in the patent details.
But the most important new patent grant involves a design for the mechanism that holds the SIM card in portable devices. The new mini-SIM connector is a newly designed slot that minimizes damage to the SIM card (and possibly the phone/tablet) when the card is installed or removed.
Don't forget that Apple also created that new mini-SIM that goes inside. That design has been approved for worldwide use by the people who do such things. Apple's design won out over competing designs from a number of cellular phone manufacturers. Officially it is now the SIM of the future.
The reason the patent is important is that as the new mini-SIM gains acceptance, other companies will have to deal with Apple and its approved SIM holder. Or they'll have to come up with a design of their own that doesn't infringe on the patent.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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