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The Unexpected Patents of Steve Jobs 198

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the who-patents-a-staircase dept.
Harry writes "It's no surprise that Steve Jobs' name is among those credited in Apple's patents for MacBooks, iPods, and other iconic gadgets galore. But the man holds patents for packaging, a staircase, iPod cases, and several intriguing products that Apple hasn't built to date. They all add up to an interesting portrait of the world's most famous tech CEO."
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The Unexpected Patents of Steve Jobs

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:24AM (#28124179) Journal
    His name is also on a patent for the earphones/iPod lanyard [google.com] and that patent references 47 other patents.

    You can find a complete list of Steve's patents here [uspto.gov]. For what it's worth, I find Jobs listed on 100 patents or patent applications and Bill Gates listed on two [uspto.gov] as the inventor.

    Probably a fair indication of what kind of leader you have on your hands ... definitely marketing/business for Gates.
    • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:27AM (#28124245)

      Probably a fair indication of what kind of leader you have on your hands ... definitely marketing/business for Gates.

      Wait, what? Did I miss the irony?

      You think Jobs contributed in any technical way to any Apple product? Heritic! May the Woz have mercy on your soul.

      And a patent that references 47 other patents is far less impressive than vice-versa.

      • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768.comcast@net> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:57AM (#28124709) Journal
        While Jobs is certainly not technical minded, in terms of design he HAS been the main patent holder, and main developer on a lot of items. The iMac g4 in particular that the article cites was almost ALL Jobs, it was well known in the company he spend months working on the arm before handing it off to Ives and the Engineers to test and finalize.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:05PM (#28124811)

        "You think Jobs contributed in any technical way to any Apple product?"

        Actually, yes.

        Jobs is nowhere near technically competent as Woz, but can hold his own. Probably better than most coders here. Woz would probably agree if asked.

        I know in the project that ended up being OS X, he was one of five engineers developing the product and while his role was more along the lines of project manager, he would get his hands dirty occasionally and contribute code or fix others foul ups.

        I know this goes against the heavily manicured image he likes to maintain...he wants to be seen as the inspiration and not the source, but he still has a lot of geek pride. Those that work closely with him know that he is as willing to tear a piece of hardware apart as look at it...or ask to see the source. Occasionally his 'revisions' are more zenlike reductions of the code (which goes along with the infamous ordering of the engineers to align resistors on the back of the iMac circuit board to be more aesthetic). Those not within his inner circle only get to see the superficial side of all of this.

        Left anonymous for obvious reasons.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kelzer (83087)

          Jobs is nowhere near technically competent as Woz, but can hold his own. Probably better than most coders here. Woz would probably agree if asked.

          But the more important question is "is Jobs the ballroom dancer that Woz is?"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)

        Jobs isn't as technical minded as the Woz, he is smart.
        However If I had the money and a team of lawyers I'd easily ahve 100 patents by now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LKM (227954)

        You think Jobs contributed in any technical way to any Apple product?

        He probably did. He did work as a technician at Atari before starting Apple. Clearly, Woz did most of the work, but Jobs has at least some basic knowledge of these things and probably has contributed something. The bigger picture is that he's very much involved in product development at Apple. The patents in question aren't very technical, they're more along the lines of user interaction design.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mister Whirly (964219)
          He should have paid more attention when he worked at Atari. Atari's computer line was superior and cheaper than Apple's offerings at the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053)
      Meh, you're never going to hear about the products because they're all like this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGJuD9hVtTI [youtube.com]
    • by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:51AM (#28124637) Homepage

      Pretty much all Microsoft's products come from buying up small companies that have the technologies he wants.

      Marketing certainly plays a part, but finding the right companies to buy up in the first place is also a very important skill.

      • by rm999 (775449)

        Yeah, in the business world that is referred to as "strategy", not "business".

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:08PM (#28124847)

      Probably a fair indication of what kind of leader you have on your hands ... definitely marketing/business for Gates.

      I don't understand how you can come to a conclusion like that. All that shows is that Steve Jobs thinks that it's important to get his name on patents, and Bill Gates doesn't. I can't find definite numbers, but Apple has at least 2000 patents, and Microsoft had at least 5000 three years ago. Frankly, I think the fact that Steve Jobs is more interested in getting his name on patents means that he is the more business and marketing-oriented of the two, not Gates. Gates could have his name on several thousand patents, but apparently he didn't think that was important.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Frankly, I think the fact that Steve Jobs is more interested in getting his name on patents means that he is the more business and marketing-oriented of the two, not Gates. Gates could have his name on several thousand patents, but apparently he didn't think that was important.

        Personally I think it's more of a ego thing.

        Steve Jobs is a excellent businessman, no doubt, but he's also a showman with a huge ego.. Apple == Steve Jobs == Apple. If there is a apple product, he wants his name attached to it somehow. Therefore all the patents apple claims should be in his name.

        On the contrary to Bill Gates who doesnt care about his ego that much. (and why should he after all....) Bill Gates wanted the name Microsoft attached to everything, not his personal name. Everything he does

    • Ok, I looked at the patent on this before posting this because I initially thought, was "BULLSHIT, you can't patent a fucking staircase. There has to be something being left out."

      But, I was wrong wrong wrong.

      About the only descriptive text in the patent.

      "We claim the ornamental design for a staircase, substantially as shown and described."

      I know he has made some cool tech contributions, but this is absurd!!!
       

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tkohler (806572)
        It's called a design patent and they are almost worthless except for stopping exact knock-offs. Design claims have no bearing on function so he didn't "patent a staircase", he patented "that particular look of a staircase".
    • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:34PM (#28126153) Journal

      The vast majority of Steve Jobs's patents are design patents. Bill Gates's patents are both utility patents. So, it's pretty much a tie.

    • by Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:38PM (#28127413)
      Hmmm so my two patents on fire and the wheel aren't as impressive as your 47 patents on lanyards? OK, good to know. ;)

      BTW speaking as someone whose work has received more than one patent I can tell you that someone's name being on a patent doesn't necessarily mean they contributed in any intellectual way. They may simply have provided money. I'm not dismissing the importance of money to a design coming into existence but I'm not so sure that anyone should be listed as an inventor if they didn't make an intellectual contribution to the design.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      >> Probably a fair indication of what kind of leader you have on your hands ... definitely marketing/business for Gates.

      Not sure about that, but your comment is a 100% accurate indication of what kind of fanboi you are. FFS, just because Steve Wonderful Jobs' name is on all those patent does not mean he actually deserves it/invented it - its more like my boss few years back who was first in the queue to get awards and last whenever shit hit the fan.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:25AM (#28124197)

    Steve Jobs is not the world's most famous tech CEO.

    Bill Gates has better name recognition than Jobs, if only because his philanthropy reaches so many more people than Jobs' work does.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      Bill Gates has better name recognition than Jobs, if only because his philanthropy reaches so many more people than Jobs' work does.

      And yet Bill Gates is no longer a tech CEO, so he is removed from consideration.

      Jobs' status is currently "in limbo" AFAIK, but he is technically still CEO of Apple per their regulatory filings.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LandDolphin (1202876)
        Why is he removed from consideration? He was a CEO. Lee Iacocca is still remembered as a great CEO, even thought he's dead now. The phrase, "most famous tech CEO" does not limit itself to current CEO's. If you were to have a lsit of most Famous X's, you'd expect to see some retired/dead people on that list, no?
    • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:32AM (#28124343)
      His philanthropic accomplishments are certainly praiseworthy, but it's worth remembering that his vast wealth was mainly accumulated with some really unpleasent business tactics.

      See "A History of Anticompetitive Behavior and Consumer Harm"
      http://www.ecis.eu/documents/Finalversion_Consumerchoicepaper.pdf [www.ecis.eu]

      Whilst I congratulate the man for subsidising research and giving to worthy causes I have to wonder if he would do so much if he was not one of the worlds richest man.
      • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:53AM (#28124661)

        His philanthropic accomplishments are certainly praiseworthy, but it's worth remembering that his vast wealth was mainly accumulated with some really unpleasent business tactics.

        See "A History of Anticompetitive Behavior and Consumer Harm"

        http://www.ecis.eu/documents/Finalversion_Consumerchoicepaper.pdf [www.ecis.eu]
         

        Jobs has led his company through fewer, but still not close to zero, unpleasant business tactics. On a personal note, he goes out of his way to make his employees unhappy. He's also fabulously wealthy, and he doesn't give significant money to charity, where Gates has so far given half of his wealth away. Gates seems like the rather bad for some other businesses and good for the people he's affected, where Jobs is moderately bad for other businesses (or perhaps much worse, considering the inability of other companies to produce make clones) and terrible for the people he directly affects.

        • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:31PM (#28125177)
          More Companies make money because of Microsoft then Apple. If Apple had Microsofts market share with their current business model, how many other companies would not exsist?
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by NatasRevol (731260)

            That's because it costs a shitload more to support MS infrastructure. Thus there are a lot of consulting/support businesses, and they do make money because of MS. Money that could be spent on growing the company's business.

            • Companies that make PCs, like HP, Compaq, Asus, Dell and many others would be out of business if Apple and Microsoft reversed market share (Or at least out of that section of their business which may be small or large depending o nthe company).
              • So what?

                They (and most jobs) would probably be replaced by:
                Apple Enterprise
                Apple Education
                Apple Consumer
                What's your point?

                And you still miss the point that people are paying these companies & MS too much for the infrastructure, instead of directly back into their business.

                • The point is, MS makes software that Hardware Vendors install on their hardware and sell to consumers. Apple sells both the Hardware & the Software. People pay these companies & MS too much? Look at a personal PC. I can get one that does everything a college student needs for $400. Can you get that cheaper from Apple? No. So, how is Apple cheaper? Then moving to etnerprise software & hardware, I fail to see how Apple would make any of that cheaper then MS.
                  • Then you're talking out your ass, and have never deal with paying for CALs.

                    Here's a test for you.

                    Price out hardware & software MS solution for an email server to host 500 accounts.
                    Do the same for an Apple solution.

                    Then add on AD, and SUS.

                    The licensing for MS software alone will cost more than EVERYTHING from Apple. times 3 when you add the AD & SUS.

            • by Vancorps (746090)

              What is this based on? It sounds to me like it's not based on reality as OS X server was a farce until about a year ago and it's still lacking significant enterprise features that have been present in Windows for 10 years and present in Netware for 15 years.

              Sorry, that's complete BS, I'll consider OS X friendly when it doesn't litter file shares with hidden files and starts closing file locks that it open which isn't a problem on the Linux platform. Combined with speed issues of file-sharing and I'd say th

              • You're seriously bitching about hidden files & different configurations for different OSes?

                And why don't you have copies of your important config files? And when have you ever had an update reset your config? I run a bunch of OSX servers and have never had that happen, on any service I run.

                • by Vancorps (746090)

                  I was suggesting there are a multitude of issues and was not suggesting that updates reset server configurations although I have had OS X server accept a write to a share even though it was out of disk space resulting in someone losing all of their work for the previous two weeks.

                  I will grant that it was one of the first versions of OS X that was released but it still sorely lacks a lot of enterprise class features to this day especially in the field of centralized deployment, change, and event management.

                  • You're still bitching about small(10k) hidden files. And since you didn't bother to look it up, they're .DS_Store files. They keep a record of the view of the folder when looking at it from a client. Your users might want to keep the directory in list column for those thousands of files. This is not a server issue, it's a client issue.

                    Also, you can turn off the ability of the client to create them, but I'll leave that an exercise for you.

                    As for centralized deployment, etc, there are lots of tools - NetR

                    • by Vancorps (746090)

                      You again make a lot of assumptions and still don't refute the OS X server lacks these features as you have to go third party. Both Microsoft and Novell have offered complete solutions for years and only recently has OS X become anything short of a farce as I said to begin with.

                      Of course you also don't seem to understand the complete absurdity involved in storing client views on the server which conflict with one another as one Mac user will have one preference while another will have a different preferenc

                    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                      by NatasRevol (731260)

                      Wait, you're deleting thumbnails & metadata?

                      If you were my server admin, I'd punch you in the face for deleting those.

                      Ever think they might be useful and/or necessary for your users? If nothing else, so they don't have to recreate them every time they access the data.

                      And again you show ignorance of the tools - these tools are used at shops that have tens of thousands of client machines -large newspapers, Disney & Pixar studios, large ad firms. They don't worry about compliance or policies any more

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Speck'sBacon (1042490)

        Whilst I congratulate the man for subsidising research and giving to worthy causes I have to wonder if he would do so much if he was not one of the worlds richest man [sic].

        This is some twisted logic.. Of course he wouldn't do so much if he weren't so rich! He would be incapable of doing so. While Microsoft's business practices are deserving of scrutiny, I fear most of the vitriol aimed at Microsoft and Gates is motivated by envy, or "tall poppy syndrome," or some variant. In the final analysis, the man is a successful business person who's earned his money, and can do with it as he pleases.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hkmwbz (531650)

          In the final analysis, the man is a successful business person who's earned his money, and can do with it as he pleases.

          Actually, it turns out that he violated several laws, both in the US, EU, Korea and other places. He earned his money by breaking the law. Can he still do with it as he pleases?

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        His philanthropic accomplishments are certainly praiseworthy

        O RLY? [latimes.com]

    • Bill Gates has better name recognition than Jobs, if only because his philanthropy reaches so many more people than Jobs' work does.

      Of what tech company is Bill Gates a CEO of? I'm pretty sure he stopped being the CEO of Microsoft back in 2000 when Steve Ballmer took over.

      • Who's the most famous baseball player? Is there anything in that sentence that restricts me from answering Babe Ruth? Did Babe Ruth become and invalid answer when he stopped playing?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Who's the most famous baseball player?

          Define the time context we are talking about. If you are talking about both past and present players one would ask, and in most such polls that cover topics like this it is asked this way, "Who is the most famous baseball player of all time?" or "Who is the most famous baseball player ever?". But hey, you can win this stupid little nitpick game when as anyone who wasn't trying to be overly pedantic knows that the article was clearly only talking about current CEOs.

          • I didn't start the nit picking. Someone mentioned that they beleive that Bill Gates should get the title and then others said he is not eligable. The original framework of the statement did not elude to whether or not they are including both current and former, or just current. People choose to read it as inclusive or exclusive based off their own personality.

            At the end of the day, it does not matter what some yahoo writing an article thinks/says or the others that reply in the thread about it. It'
  • by ciderVisor (1318765) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:31AM (#28124315)

    "unexpected parents".

    I thought TFA was surprised to find that he wasn't a product of the immaculate conception.

  • *cough* (Score:2, Redundant)

    by C_Kode (102755)

    They all add up to an interesting portrait of the world's most famous tech CEO."

    *cough* Bill Gates*cough*

  • by ardor (673957) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:36AM (#28124383)

    Hmm ..

    A shiny staircase with Carrara marble steps and sides covered with quartz glass, but one needs special apple iShoes to use it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gubers33 (1302099)
      That would be the iStaircase, not the Apple Staircase.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SchizoStatic (1413201)
      Don't give them more ideas. I am waiting for the official iBed which lets me plug all apple products into to control my dreams and tell me to buy more apple products.
  • iStairs! (Score:3, Funny)

    by AioKits (1235070) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:37AM (#28124415)
    Finally, a sectioned inclined surface for ascent and descent, for the rest of us!
    • Great, I have to buy another pair of shoes because the ones I have won't work with the new stairs... and I want my old DOS flip flops back too!
  • So they must be able to clone him now? That's good news for apple. I wonder if he hatches from a pod.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:47AM (#28124565) Journal

    "The Unexpected Pants of Steve Jobs"

    Like he inadvertently wore Hawaiian-print Bermuda shorts with his mock turtleneck.

    The weird thing is that we'd probably never notice, with the RDF making us see what we expect.

    • by denzacar (181829) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:12PM (#28124907) Journal

      How do you "almost misread" something?

      P..P-a... (OMG! PANTS!)...P-a-t... (OMG! SOMEONE MISSPELLED PANTS!)...P-a-t-e... P-a-t-e-n... (OMG! SOMEONE HAS NO CLUE HOW TO SPELL PANTS!)... P-a-t-e-n-t... (OH! Not really pants... OMG! I ALMOST MISREAD IT AS PANTS!)... P-a-t-e-n-t-S... Patents...

      • by Inda (580031)
        It's 5:45 in the afternoon and you have no appointments.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by yascha (1526775)

          It's 5:45 in the afternoon and you have no appointments.

          I almost misread that as a-pants-ments.

  • ... how many of these did he steal from Woz?

  • What about Dave? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zashi (992673) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:57AM (#28124711) Homepage Journal
    What about Dave Thomas [wikipedia.org]? Arguably a much more famous CEO considering how many commercials he starred in.

    And that Bill Gates guy might be a tad more famous, though I worry about mentioning this since it seems like flamebait. Also, he's not a CEO anymore.
    • What about Dave Thomas? Arguably a much more famous CEO considering how many commercials he starred in.

      Wait, what? It's the "most famous tech CEO" (emphasis mine).

      Or you must know something about Wendy's products that the rest of us don't... can Frosties and Wendy's baked potatoes be used as wi-fi receivers or something?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Sou you think to people who are not CEOs are the most recognized CEO's? wha?

  • Steve Jobs sure is pants but it's about as unexpected as this pun on slashdot.

  • So ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nitroyogi (1471601)

    All of a sudden patents are all cool and nice and nicer!
    Just because Steve has few!?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I don't think anybody around here ever said patents were bad. And if they did, they certainly don't represent the majority opinion. Most of feel that software patents are bad, and that the patent system, particularly in the U.S., is just really screwed up because the USPTO awards patents for ideas that are clearly either non-novel (prior art exists) or are obvious to those in the field(s) of study in question. Many of us also feel that patents are granted for too long a period of time, especially in the

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Almost everyone here doesn't understand what novel means regarding patents.

        They generally think it's the idea, it is not. It's how it works; which is why business method and software patents make no sense.

        I dont' think anyone who actually understands the industry thinks patents are too long.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I dont' think anyone who actually understands the industry thinks patents are too long.

          I don't think that you can really build a good argument for the statement that pharmaceutical patents should run as long as they do, especially given that the alleged research before most drugs go on the market is a bunch of bullshit. It's easier to get a new version of an old drug on the market in the USA than it is to get a new version of an old turbo kit on the market in California.

  • Is John Chambers. Just pick up a copy of his trade rag... er... the respected publication Business 2.0. He's sure to be on the cover, and he will tell you just how famous he is.
  • Suprise (Score:3, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:07PM (#28125711) Homepage Journal

    The most surprising patent is the one for the Woz.

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