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Apple Receives Patents For Bezel-Free Display, Touch ID Button Embedded In Screen (9to5mac.com) 176

Apple has just been granted patents for two of the biggest features expected from the iPhone 8: an edge-to-edge display, and a Touch ID button embedded into the screen. 9to5Mac reports: The edge-to-edge display patent has the rather mundane heading "Reducing the border area of a device." It describes how a mostly-flat display can have a curved border area allowing it to wrap around the sides of the device: [...] "This relates to methods and systems for reducing the border areas of an electronic device so as to maximize the display/interactive touch areas of the device. In particular, a flexible substrate can be used to fabricate the display panel and/or the touch sensor panel (referred to collectively herein as a 'circuit panel') of a mobile electronic device so that the edges of the display panel and/or the touch sensor panel can be bent. Bending the edges can reduce the width (or length) of the panel, which in turn can allow the overall device to be narrower without reducing the display/touch-active area of the device." The embedded Touch ID patent is one of many submitted by Apple, describing different approaches it could take. This one re-uses language from a separate patent granted back in February, describing the benefits of allowing a user to authenticate without having to remove their finger from the screen: "Where a fingerprint sensor is integrated into an electronic device or host device, for example, as noted above, it may be desirable to more quickly perform authentication, particularly while performing another task or an application on the electronic device. In other words, in some instances it may be undesirable to have a user perform an authentication in a separate authentication step, for example switching between tasks to perform the authentication." Apple has been granted a total of 56 patents today. For more information, visit Patently Apple.

Apple Receives Patents For Bezel-Free Display, Touch ID Button Embedded In Screen

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  • Really?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 17, 2017 @06:07AM (#54432457)

    Oh man... the US patent system is beyond broken and useless...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 17, 2017 @06:26AM (#54432531)

    The best thing about the iPhone was the physical home button. At least you knew by feedback that you were activating it purposely and not by mistake. I'm old school,I like physical switches and buttons and to me software buttons are just a way to save money and do not work as well.

    • It might not be too bad: a virtual button that requires a push rather than a touch, and feedback from the taptic engine to know when you've pressed it. The only disadvantage is that you won't be able to locate the virtual home button by touch.
  • Has anyone patented the flying car yet... because it's a car... that flies, and describing attributes seems to be all that's required for a patent these days. How does it actually go about flying? we'll figure that out later let's just stop everyone else from working towards a vague idea or product attribute.
  • by CptLoRes ( 4510239 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2017 @07:18AM (#54432717)
    Quote straight from the Samsung Galaxy S8 site, phone in sale at this moment.

    Boundaries removed The Infinity Display has an incredible end-to-end screen that spills over the phone’s sides, forming a completely smooth, continuous surface with no bumps or angles. It’s pure, pristine, uninterrupted glass. And it takes up the entire front of the phone, flowing seamlessly into the aluminum shell. The result is a beautifully curved, perfectly symmetrical, singular object.

    • The patent is about having a bezel-less edge-to-edge wrapped touch display. My understanding is that Samsung still has a bezel in the sense the the wrapped portion of the display (and a small amount near the edges) has no touch sensors.

      This isn't a patent for a wrapped display area - it's for a wrapped touch area.

      • "My understanding is that Samsung still has a bezel in the sense the the wrapped portion of the display (and a small amount near the edges) has no touch sensors."

        Your understanding is not correct.

        At least on the Galaxy S6 Edge, the entire screen including the piece on edge of the phone was touch-sensitive. Maybe this has changed in recent models.

    • by MikeMo ( 521697 )
      Actually, I believe the patent is for the METHOD by which they achieve touch-sensitivity on those bent edges. It's not for edge-to-edge screen.
  • fingerprint sensor -> severed fingers

    image a coupe of them dangling from a keychain.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2017 @07:45AM (#54432805)

    "Apple has been granted a total of 56 patents today."

    Just another day on the Monopoly board of Innovation.

    I have an idea. Every patent that has been granted in the last 20 years that is not actively being used should be forced to go up for auction. I'm guessing a trillion or two would come flying out of tax havens as companies scramble to bid and secure patent stockpiles, which those funds would be available as capital funding for new startups based entirely out of the US, along with that money being taxed properly.

    But here's the catch. We repeat the process every year for every unused patent until the concept of hoarding patents for litigations sake is not a sound investment strategy.

    US startup investing and onshore hiring. Considerable tax revenue gained. Short-circuit pointless patent hoarding and allow innovation to thrive once again.

    • Every patent that has been granted in the last 20 years that is not actively being used should be forced to go up for auction.

      Ok let's go with that for a moment. Define "actively being used" and tell me who is going to monitor all these patents for activity. I think you are going to find that to be a LOT harder than you think.

      I think a better idea is to have an exponential patent renewal fee. Anyone who gets a patent has to pay an annual fee. The fee is say $100 the first year (indexed for inflation) and it doubles every year after that. The patent remains valid as long as the fees get paid. This way patents that are actuall

      • Every patent that has been granted in the last 20 years that is not actively being used should be forced to go up for auction.

        Ok let's go with that for a moment. Define "actively being used" and tell me who is going to monitor all these patents for activity. I think you are going to find that to be a LOT harder than you think.

        I think a better idea is to have an exponential patent renewal fee. Anyone who gets a patent has to pay an annual fee. The fee is say $100 the first year (indexed for inflation) and it doubles every year after that. The patent remains valid as long as the fees get paid. This way patents that are actually valuable get used and less valuable patents enter the public domain sooner. It wouldn't be hard to maintain the patent for 5-10 years but after that it becomes very expensive. There is no point in paying the patent fees to hold a patent that brings in insufficient value. This would mean that by year 25 a patent would have to be worth in excess of $1 billion to be worth paying the fees to maintain. You can adjust the length of the average patent by adjusting the starting price.

        If you want to make it interesting you could make it so that the patent holder gets first rights to pay the patent but if they decline to pay it, it goes up for auction with a starting price at the fee the patent holder would have had to pay. If someone buys the patent then they get to continue the payment schedule.

        This is a good idea going forward for new patents, but you're kind of ruining the fun of flushing out tax havens and watching Greed scramble in bidding wars.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2017 @08:36AM (#54433003)

        If a patent creates a monopoly, why wouldn't they just use a pricing model that sets the price for the good at a level that supports paying the extended patent fees?

        A simpler method of controlling hoarded intellectual property:

        Three years after being granted, if a patent is not used in a product it is held to be "idle" and demonstrating an idle patent becomes an affirmative defense in a patent violation lawsuit.

        This way, it's self-enforcing. Patents become use it or lose it, and patent trolls who hold patents but don't make a product or don't license it to someone who does use the patented idea are out of business. Corporations that hoard patents merely competitive to their own patented inventions won't be able to use them to stifle competition.

    • I have an idea. Every patent that has been granted in the last 20 years that is not actively being used should be forced to go up for auction. I'm guessing a trillion or two would come flying out of tax havens...

      Probably not. Most patents don't last anywhere near the full 20 years, because the USPTO (as well as foreign patent offices) charge "maintenance fees" or "annuity fees" that increase throughout the lifetime of the patent. Fail to pay those, and the patent goes abandoned. In the US, those fees go up to $7400. In Europe, it's $787.50 Euros... annually. Pay all the fees through the full 20 year term, and you're spending an additional $20-30k on the patent - so, for Apple, with their 56 patents, that's potenti

      • I have an idea. Every patent that has been granted in the last 20 years that is not actively being used should be forced to go up for auction. I'm guessing a trillion or two would come flying out of tax havens...

        Probably not. Most patents don't last anywhere near the full 20 years, because the USPTO (as well as foreign patent offices) charge "maintenance fees" or "annuity fees" that increase throughout the lifetime of the patent. Fail to pay those, and the patent goes abandoned. In the US, those fees go up to $7400. In Europe, it's $787.50 Euros... annually. Pay all the fees through the full 20 year term, and you're spending an additional $20-30k on the patent - so, for Apple, with their 56 patents, that's potentially $100-150k for just this set.

        $100 - 150K? Are you fucking kidding me? For a company sitting on $200+ billion in cash reserves, even $150 million in patent fees is pocket change. Literally.

        The financial argument is obviously an invalid one. If the current financial penalties were an effective deterrent, the business of patent hoarding wouldn't be a viable one.

        • I have an idea. Every patent that has been granted in the last 20 years that is not actively being used should be forced to go up for auction. I'm guessing a trillion or two would come flying out of tax havens...

          Probably not. Most patents don't last anywhere near the full 20 years, because the USPTO (as well as foreign patent offices) charge "maintenance fees" or "annuity fees" that increase throughout the lifetime of the patent. Fail to pay those, and the patent goes abandoned. In the US, those fees go up to $7400. In Europe, it's $787.50 Euros... annually. Pay all the fees through the full 20 year term, and you're spending an additional $20-30k on the patent - so, for Apple, with their 56 patents, that's potentially $100-150k for just this set.

          $100 - 150K? Are you fucking kidding me? For a company sitting on $200+ billion in cash reserves, even $150 million in patent fees is pocket change. Literally.

          The financial argument is obviously an invalid one. If the current financial penalties were an effective deterrent, the business of patent hoarding wouldn't be a viable one.

          It isn't. As I said, in the part you clipped out, the average patent lifespan is 12 years. Clearly, the current financial penalties effectively deter most patent owners from keeping patents longer. Literally, even, your gut feelings to the contrary notwithstanding.

  • So they already had the curved screens that make it impossible to use a glass screen protector, and now they're removing the bezel so there's no way to put it inside any sort of protective case. I might as well just go back to a landline, because I won't want to take it out of my house.

  • How will I hold my phone in certain positions or angles, I DO NOT LIKE having to keep my thumbs on the screen while using it. I already have to, that's why I like bigger cases. Best phone ever had was still the Nokia 1520 with a case.
  • It's not "innovation" until Apple steals it from you and patents it.

  • I have yet to see a single high end phone from any company that isn't wrapped in some sort of bumper, and typically a complete 3-side box. And when I hold the phone my hand overlaps some of the screen.

    I'm really failing to understand this "feature". Touch-anywhere, yeah I can actually see how that is kinda useful, but bezel-free? Hrm...

  • Great! Maybe now the Slashdot poll and sidebar ads will be on the back of my device where I don't have to see it.

  • It will cost close to, if not over $1,000.00 for the good one. Phones are crazy expensive, for something a lot of fools toss down money for, every year, or 2-3 years.
  • ...in broke patent land.
    Because of course the US Patent Office would grant patents to a company when competing companies not only came up with the concept first, they already have multiple models on the market to prove it while Apple has none.

    Guys, the patent for the bezel free display isn't even a matter of talking about the S8... the Note Edge which fits the description perfectly came out in 2014.
    Interestingly enough, Sharp also had a prototype phone that's more or less similar to the Xiaomi Mi Mix that a

  • patentlyapple only links to one of the patents, but at least included the patent numbers for all three patents that they discuss. The other 53 patent numbers are in an image.

    9to5mac can't even be bothered to print any patent numbers.

    For reference

    Reducing the border area of a device: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi... [uspto.gov] device including finger biometric sensor including transparent conductive blocking areas carried by a touch display and related methods: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi... [uspto.gov]
    Scanning depth engine: h [uspto.gov]

  • Seriously. Am I the only klutz who'd destroy an all-glass bezel-free phone within three months if I couldn't wrap it in a drop-protecting case?

    Gorilla Glass? Pfft. Drop *any* phone glass-down onto asphalt or ceramic tile from 6 feet without a proper case. If it doesn't get cracked the first time, it almost certainly WILL the second time around.

    Personally, I'd be afraid to even HOLD a bezel-free phone that couldn't have a robust case. My phone get fumbled, dropped, or accidentally semi-flung AT LEAST once or

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