Oh my, our broken patent system is at it again. Yesterday Apple was awarded patent D670,286, which is a design patent pertaining to the iPad’s “ornamental” design. In a sense it’s a patent for a rectangle with rounded edges covering a “portable display device.” Before everyone screams foul, it remains to be seen if it will be worth anything to Apple.
Apple already has a design patent D504,889, and they successfully convinced Judge Lucy Koh that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 should be banned based on it. Of course, in August, a jury didn’t find the Tab 10.1 infringed on that patent. Back then Samsung was quoted as saying it was “unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners.” Interestingly enough Apple now has the patent with this new ’286.
The issue is that this ’286 patent is what Apple and Samsung claimed the ’889 was. Furthermore, “This design patent gives Apple no new advantage, because no one is out there trying to market an iPad lookalike,” Lea Shaver, Associate Professor at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law told Wired.
Also worth mentioning is the ’286 patent included numerous examples of prior art like an early HP tablet PC, the Knight Ridder concept tablet, and others. These were all used by Samsung as prior art references to the ’889 patent, but still the USPTO examiner let it pass with flying colors.