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Apple Patents Illuminated Hardware Cases

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 93 comments

Apple has just been granted a patent that will be interesting to follow in the hardware community. Can you validate a patent for an illuminated computing device "housing" that was filed in July of 2009?

The patent goes back all the way to the original iMac in 1998 to describe a technology that enables a light source to be coordinated with certain computing events. The hardware foundation uses a light controller that is connected to the main CPU of the computer as well as a light source. In Apple's words, we are talking about: "computing device includes a housing having an illuminable portion. The computing device also includes a light device disposed inside the housing. The light device is configured to illuminate the illuminable portion."

Apple expands on this idea a bit further and notes that "the light source [is] configured to illuminate the reduced thickness portion in order to form an indicator image at an outer surface of the inner bezel" and that the "shape of the recess [produces] an indicator image of similar shape on the outer surface of the inner bezel."

Apple's idea comes down to the thought that the illumination of a computer housing can serve as an additional information source next to the display screen itself. For example, it would provide a different illumination when playing a DVD than when you are playing a video game. While it would be common to assume that Apple would be discussing different color ranges, the patent focuses on intensity and the brightness of the Illumination, which is controller via a light driver: "The light driver is configured to convert the light control signals into a stable continuous current for driving the light emitting diode. The magnitude of the current is based at least in part on the light control signal. The magnitude of the current affects the light intensity of the light emitting diode."

Apple patented the idea for any computing device, including "laptop computers, and handheld computing devices include personal digital assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones." There are 20 separate claims on 65 pages, which exhaustively describes and illustrates Apple's active case illumination idea.

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  • 28 Hide
    tsnorquist , October 7, 2011 2:43 PM
    So in other words, it's exactly the same idea as having an LED on a smartphone change colors based on text/email/voicemail or Philips Ambilight tv's....


    Groundbreaking.


    Sounds like they're gearing up for another 10 years of patent trolling other companies.
  • 24 Hide
    yzfr1guy , October 7, 2011 2:45 PM
    FFS Crapple do you want to patent my toilet handle mechanism too so I have to pay royalties each time I flush?
  • 24 Hide
    shiboe , October 7, 2011 2:45 PM
    It's not even "Apple" it's everyone. The whole patent system needs to be torn down at this point for sheer silliness. Patents can mostly work when they protect a very specific process to go about implementing something. Allowing patents on general concepts is beyond silly.
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2011 2:40 PM
    Wow.....
    Seriously.. this actually happened?
  • 28 Hide
    tsnorquist , October 7, 2011 2:43 PM
    So in other words, it's exactly the same idea as having an LED on a smartphone change colors based on text/email/voicemail or Philips Ambilight tv's....


    Groundbreaking.


    Sounds like they're gearing up for another 10 years of patent trolling other companies.
  • 20 Hide
    bennaye , October 7, 2011 2:43 PM
    ...or we could strap on some LEDs and call it a day, instead of paying exorbitant prices for a picture of an apple and some approval from other hipsters.

    Or better yet, why don't we just use a lamp? Much better for ocular health and has the added benefit of illuminating THE WHOLE DESK instead of just the case and half of the monitor.
  • 24 Hide
    shiboe , October 7, 2011 2:45 PM
    It's not even "Apple" it's everyone. The whole patent system needs to be torn down at this point for sheer silliness. Patents can mostly work when they protect a very specific process to go about implementing something. Allowing patents on general concepts is beyond silly.
  • 24 Hide
    yzfr1guy , October 7, 2011 2:45 PM
    FFS Crapple do you want to patent my toilet handle mechanism too so I have to pay royalties each time I flush?
  • 19 Hide
    eklipz330 , October 7, 2011 2:46 PM
    wow this is some real BS.
  • 20 Hide
    Cazalan , October 7, 2011 2:49 PM
    Another case of WTF is the patent office smoking.

    Case lights for Power, hard drive activity, network activity have done this for 20+ years.
    AIO computers (LED display is illuminable portion inside the housing) have been doing this for well over 5 years.
  • 20 Hide
    TheGuardian , October 7, 2011 2:49 PM
    Screw you Apple...this is just getting dumber every freakin day!
  • 17 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , October 7, 2011 2:53 PM
    That's it. My case infringes that patent :D  Go sue CM, Corsair, NZXT, Antec and others, stupid crApple... I hope all your lawyers drown in a toilet or something soon; I'm sick of this BS.

    shiboeIt's not even "Apple" it's everyone. The whole patent system needs to be torn down at this point for sheer silliness. Patents can mostly work when they protect a very specific process to go about implementing something. Allowing patents on general concepts is beyond silly.


    +1

    yzfr1guyFFS Crapple do you want to patent my toilet handle mechanism too so I have to pay royalties each time I flush?


    They'd love to, I assure you.

    tsnorquistSo in other words, it's exactly the same idea as having an LED on a smartphone change colors based on text/email/voicemail or Philips Ambilight tv's....Groundbreaking.Sounds like they're gearing up for another 10 years of patent trolling other companies.


    In that case, Siemens should sue them - they had it on their phones since like what, 2002? :D 
  • 8 Hide
    clonazepam , October 7, 2011 2:56 PM
    An LED on the Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z is configurable with at least 4 different settings, one of them being cpu activity. There's another LED on the board to show activity on the SATA controller. It's only visible on the board but it would be simple enough to position some optical cable over it, and run the other end to a monitor's bezel or some other more visible area of the case. I don't fully understand the patent because I'm an illiterate bastard, but is that it basically?
  • 12 Hide
    tacoslave , October 7, 2011 3:00 PM
    This is why i hate apple
  • 15 Hide
    spiketheaardvark , October 7, 2011 3:00 PM
    Why did the patent office let them patent a glorified HDD activity light?
  • 17 Hide
    dontcrosthestreams , October 7, 2011 3:03 PM
    in other news.....patent office employees start their new jobs at Apple on monday.
  • -7 Hide
    barmaley , October 7, 2011 3:05 PM
    Next thing you know, someone is going to try and patent nuts and bolts we have in every home...

    So, here’s my idea how to solve this whole patent mess. Any company can use any patent and technology available without prior authorization. But if they do, they agree to turn over 30% of their revenue generated by the product they created to the patenting agency.

    The patenting agency will make a public announcement regarding the new products and the fact that it received the funds. The patent holders will line up and get the appropriate portion of their money correlating with how crucial and important their patent was.

    The important thing to note is that the company that created the product should be given immunity from any law suits unless they falsify the numbers and pay less than 30%. All the disputes should be taken up in court with the patenting agency, thus effectively removing the burden from the patent using company.

    This new policy would promote innovation and cut down on the number of ridiculous patents like the one above. All this while people who patent something really amazing will still be rewarded for their inventions.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2011 3:13 PM
    Mainboards have LEDs
    During boot up they send signals which illuminate the case.
  • 4 Hide
    lamorpa , October 7, 2011 3:16 PM
    I'm thinking about patenting, "Bite Me" I'll make tons of money off all the people who want to send this message to Apple.
  • 1 Hide
    misry , October 7, 2011 3:23 PM
    Oh crap! I have lights inside my case that indicate when the computer is turned on! With recent changes in patent law that grant patents based on time of filing and not time of conception, I may have to remove them. I wonder if I can sue Apple for causing me undue stress in that I have to reconfigure my entire computer system because of their patent placing restrictions on my preexisting configuration?
  • 0 Hide
    rohitbaran , October 7, 2011 3:24 PM
    Great. Now all the laptop manufacturers have to pay up Apple for illuminated desktop and laptop cases? Typical crapple.
  • 0 Hide
    misry , October 7, 2011 3:24 PM
    You patent items, you copywrite words.
  • 10 Hide
    back_by_demand , October 7, 2011 3:32 PM
    What
    A
    Load
    Of
    SHIT
    ...
    I have heard some crappy patents but this one takes the biscuit, I recently passed some very respectful comments about Steve Jobs regarding his tragic passing away but I think it was not his battle with pancreatic cancer, he must have seen this item on the weekly report of patent submissions and just straight out died of SHAME.
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