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Apple Files Patent For New Proprietary Port

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the any-old-port-in-the-storm dept.

Input Devices 282

rwise2112 writes "Apple proposes a solution to multiple port requirements within limited space: the two in one port. The port is described as a 'Combined Input Port,' where two different interfaces could be in one port. The input port includes an outer wall defining a receiving aperture, a substrate positioned within the receiving aperture. One set of contacts is configured to communicate with a first connector and the second set of contacts is configured to communicate with a second connector. Looks like another addition to the special Apple cable lineup."

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282 comments

Prior art (5, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 10 months ago | (#44134179)

Samsung and HTC, and doubtless others, invented this first. My Galaxy S3 has a combined USB, HDMI and audio port. My ancient HTC Hero had a combined USB and audio port. Different connectors used different pins.

It seems like anything is new and worthy of patenting if it's on a computer, on the internet or on an Apple :-(

Re:Prior art (4, Informative)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 10 months ago | (#44134259)

Combined USB2.0 & eSata port on recent Lenovo notebooks too. Apple's patent diagram resembles it.

Re:Prior art (4, Informative)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 10 months ago | (#44134717)

It's called eSATAp [wikipedia.org] . Oddly enough, my current Thinkpad (T410) only has plain eSATA, but I remember a Fujitsu laptop from my 2008 workplace that had the powered one.

Re:Prior art (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 10 months ago | (#44134331)

I'm not familiar with the S3 or Apple's patent, but a difference might be that they can have one cable that actually plugs in 2 devices (so that both interfaces are in use at the same time), rather than a port that can be used for multiple things, but only one thing at a time.

Re:Prior art (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134609)

The Galaxy S3 has an "MHL 2.0" port that allows for the use of:
a) a charging connection
b) a data connection
c) a video connection

Re:Prior art (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44135363)

The Galaxy S3 has an "MHL 2.0" port that allows for the use of:
a) a charging connection
b) a data connection
c) a video connection

yeah.. it's just their arrangement they're patenting I suppose. so you can't build clone cables.

Re:Prior art (1)

bp+m_i_k_e (901456) | about 10 months ago | (#44135093)

So, Apple combined the dual-function (eSATA) port concept with the idea behind a splitter for a 4-wire phone line - which splits two lines to my fax machine and two lines to my phone. More comedy from the patent world...

Re:Prior art (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 10 months ago | (#44134383)

USB 3.0 cables are a marriage of two different connectors.

Re:Prior art (3, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44135297)

USB 3.0 cables are a marriage of two different connectors.

Abomination!

Marriage is only between 1 man and 1 woman! So sayeth the bearded fairy in the sky!

Re:Prior art (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44135357)

Please shut up. It's really gotten old.

Re:Prior art (1, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | about 10 months ago | (#44134525)

A strong case for this would be the "docking station port" found on the bottom of many business class laptops today from Lenovo, Dell and HP. It's also found on the bottom of the SNES, N64 and Gamecube. The one on the gamecube in particular is used to connect GBAs to the Gamecube as a gamepad.

Re:Prior art (1, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 10 months ago | (#44134569)

Samsung and HTC, and doubtless others, invented this first. My Galaxy S3 has a combined USB, HDMI and audio port. My ancient HTC Hero had a combined USB and audio port. Different connectors used different pins.

And how is any of these prior art for a combined USB and SD card reader? You don't (or shouldn't) get patents for an idea, you should get patents for a working implementation.

Even if Apple applied for a patent for a combined USB, HDMI and audio port, as long as it works different from the Samsung implementation, there is no reason why it shouldn't be patented. And there must be another way to implement it, because if there was only one possible way, then Samsung wouldn't have got a patent.

Re:Prior art (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44135323)

... or the 1/4" | XLR combo port [wikimedia.org] found on most decent quality mixing boards since at least the 1990's.

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134657)

Or the SCART [wikipedia.org] connector, known in the Americas as EIA Multiport (multi-port, get it?) dating back to 1977.

Re:Prior art (0)

jo_ham (604554) | about 10 months ago | (#44134705)

Well, the Galaxy S3 couldn't be prior art, since it was released after the patent was filed, but I see your point.

This port looks to be a hybrid physical port, however, rather than simply one that speaks different protocols (they already have those), so you'd be able to plug a normal USB cable into it, or a normal HDMI cable.

Again, not sure that's a totally new idea (card readers than can take more than one type of card, perhaps?), but it's a little different to what the S3 does with its microUSB port.

Re:Prior art (5, Informative)

Kurast (1662819) | about 10 months ago | (#44134709)

The patent is only for a specific type of joint connector (not for all of them), and for this type, there is no prior art. The patent, if granted, secures only the schematics/diagrams mentioned in it.

Even the title being generic, this does not mean they are patenting the abstract idea of combined ports. You have to read the patent to see what it mentions.

Re:Prior art (4, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#44134887)

You're absolutely factually correct, but since this is a story about Apple, patents, and law, we Slashdotters will spend the rest of this discussion raging about prior art, litigation, and monopolies.

Re:Prior art (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 10 months ago | (#44135219)

Once someone first came up with the idea of combining two different types of data interfaces into a single hybrid port, wouldn't every single other instance of this be an "obvious" invention, and thus not patentable?

Re:Prior art (0)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 10 months ago | (#44135377)

Its funny, read this yesterday on a Mac forum I like to troll, tee hee.

Its amazing the delusion of Apple fanatics going on about how revolutionary this is, how Apple's engineering is so far ahead of the competition, thinking outside the box bullshit.

But the reality is they have never seen a combined port of any sort, not in the Appleverse. The most they have seen is a multi-purpose dongle they have to hang off a proprietary port in order for it to do more than one thing. I mean it IS revolutionary that Apple is combining two general purpose technologies into one without inventing a new proprietary accessory you have to buy first.

But, the way patents work, its not just that other companies have merged two or more purposes into a single slot, its the fact that Apple is combining specifically a SD and USB which is why they will win this patent. Aside from Apple I can't see anybody caring to do this anyways, most port combos are for related purposes not just trying to minimize space, which I also don't see an issue because it would be thinner to put SD and USB beside each other rather than over top. I'd assume you still want to be able to use both slots and not just one or the other.

Anyways, whatever.

Special Cable? not so much... (5, Informative)

Tavor (845700) | about 10 months ago | (#44134189)

From TFA:

Apple illustrated the idea with discussion of a USB port and SD card reader, showing how the card reader and USB port could be integrated, but the port could house other interconnects.

The summary is misleading in so many ways. This is just adding USB to a multi-card reader.

Re:Special Cable? not so much... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134915)

Yea thats what I thought, you can still use normal usb cables and normal camera cards, just combined into one port. No new cables to come.

Just another way to get money from fanboys (2, Informative)

Rato Ruter (1008363) | about 10 months ago | (#44134199)

Even though I understand the idea, isn't there any standards conforming alternative? Always the walled garden...

Re:Just another way to get money from fanboys (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134789)

You must be speaking of the Samsung and Lenovo fanboys...(see above posts)...dick.

Idea previously implemented. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134219)

Invalid.
Concept has already been implemented. I have a Dell system with a combination eSATA/USB port. This is just a rip off of prior art.

Genius design (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134237)

They just invented the stereo jack!

Not a new cable. (4, Informative)

FellowConspirator (882908) | about 10 months ago | (#44134249)

Specifically, this port allows either an SD card or USB3 cable to be plugged into the same physical opening. Either will fit.

wow, a proprietary connector (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134263)

Apple sure is innovative!

iFacepalm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134285)

Because you know, it's not like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESATAp this has any prior art, or anything.

Not exactly new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134289)

I have an eSATA+USB port on my 3 year old laptop.

Reading comprehension fail (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134293)

While the submitted made their hatred of all things Apple very clear, they also made clear that their rage obscures their ability to read.
The patent is clearly for one port that you can plug multiple standard cables into -- so there is no call for the "looks like another addition to the special Apple cable lineup" snark.

Re:Reading comprehension fail (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 10 months ago | (#44134595)

Right, but the patent was filed in 2011, when the obvious prior art (eSATAp, which combines eSATA and USB ports in a seemingly identical fashion to that described in the patent) has been around since 2008.

There's nothing wrong with what Apple wants to do with ports. In fact, I think it's a great way to expand connectivity on laptops with minimal space for ports. I've got a Macbook Air that would benefit greatly from this. But there's no justification for trying to patent an idea that has been shipping in laptops for years prior.

Re:Reading comprehension fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134893)

Right, but this is for a specific implementation and group of ports, not for eSATA + USB and not for combinations as a general concept.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches wouldn't be prior art for Reece's peanut butter cups.

Re:Reading comprehension fail (1)

Olmy's Jart (156233) | about 10 months ago | (#44135073)

That also fails the prior art test since a lot of audio equipment is equipped with SPDIF ports that have an electrical coax connector shell and a fiberoptic core. So you can plug in either a coax SPDIF digital audio cable or a fiberoptic one. Two well documented standard cables and one port.

File Date (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134323)

December 23, 2011

Non-obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134329)

Isn't the intention of a patent to document the creation of something non-obvious? There have been multiple designs for combined ports, from docking station connectors to USB/eSATA connectors, and even the combined flash media readers. What's novel about this implementation?

Is this just an attempt to force people to pay a license in order to make compatible cables??

Bob Saget (-1, Troll)

operagost (62405) | about 10 months ago | (#44134333)

The port is described as a 'Combined Input Port,' where two different interfaces could be in one port.

So, like a penguin's cornhole, then?

not really innovative but not proprietary either (4, Informative)

arifyn (711614) | about 10 months ago | (#44134347)

This is just cramming two ports into one space (in the example, SD and USB) so you can add more functionality to the sort of thin & light products that Apple is obsessed with. No need for a "special Apple cable", since the whole point is that it can accept several standard interfaces.

Audio Jack? (1, Informative)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 10 months ago | (#44134387)

They're describing a plug where you have different contacts at different depths. Push one cable in one depth, and you hit one set of contacts. Push another cable in deeper, and you hit different contacts. How is this any different than a standard audio jack, where you have two or three rings and a center pin? The only difference here is that they're individual contacts, rather than a whole ring.

Re:Audio Jack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134623)

Or the esata/usb combined ports

Re:Audio Jack? (0, Flamebait)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#44134687)

My Nook Color has an extra deep USB port. Plug a regular USB cable in and you get standard USB functionality. Plug in the special Nook Color charger with an extra-long USB connector and you get a high-power charger.

Those two connectors happen to have the same outside shape, but it's the depth that's in question here, so prior art bitches. I guess Apple can patent a specific port shape if it wants, like one that won't let you transfer your photos to your USB hard drive.

I know, though, in Appleland any port at all is like a sebaceous cyst on an otherwise perfect surface. If only wireless Thunderbolt were available now they could offload all the connectivity to a breakout box that people could begrudgingly take out when the unseemly need arose to connect a non-Apple product to the otherwise perfect Macbook. Afterwards it could be safely hidden away, and nobody would ever have to tell their friends about it.

Re:Audio Jack? (2)

phayes (202222) | about 10 months ago | (#44135165)

why is it that you were incapable of actually reading TFA and discovering that the patent is very narrowly for a combined USB/SD port, making every apple-bashing word about how you have some whatever combo USB cable irrelevant?

Is it that when you see apple and patent in the same sentence your mind turns off rendering you unable consider that in this case, the patent is a valid functional patent?

Re:Audio Jack? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#44134701)

Push one in one depth, and you hit one set of contacts. Push another in deeper, and you hit different contacts.

So many jokes, so little time ...

Re:Audio Jack? - to ensure entrapture. (1)

See Attached (1269764) | about 10 months ago | (#44134863)

Thats so the parts can break off deeper inside the phone.. Anyone out there ever replace a phone jack on a 4s?

Dongles (3, Funny)

simonbp (412489) | about 10 months ago | (#44134423)

What is it with Apple engineers and 1000 different connectors? Do they have a dongle fetish?

Re:Dongles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134565)

Apple really wants you to play with it's dongle.

Re:Dongles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134637)

It's because their own dongles aren't big enough.

Re:Dongles (2, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#44134669)

What is it with Apple engineers and 1000 different connectors? Do they have a dongle fetish?

No, they have a near-Teutonic obsession with small, neat, and orderly in their designs.

In the process, they tend to decide that the big honking cables evolved for desktops aren't so useful on small devices and build their own.

The dongles are just a side effect -- and I'm sure in no small measure a desire to lock into proprietary stuff.

But I think Apple has always moved forward with new connection technologies -- I think they were among the first to support USB in an era where PC makers were slavishly doing nothing new because nobody else had done it yet.

Re:Dongles (1)

See Attached (1269764) | about 10 months ago | (#44134919)

I took an iphone 4s apart the other day.. It was a study in how difficult it can be made to assemble. the entire phone had to come apart o replace the phone jack. With a circuit board shaped like an "l", why would connectors/cables have to be run on top and under and around and over ... Some one needs to get some DFM going on. Yes... I did get it back together. Yes, it did work!

Re:Dongles (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#44134973)

It was a study in how difficult it can be made to assemble

I don't doubt that ... super small and space efficient doesn't make for easy to re-assemble.

Hell, most things you can't even cram back into its packaging these days.

Re:Dongles (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 10 months ago | (#44135333)

What's smaller than wireless?

Get rid of the ports and use BT / W-USB / W-HDMI. Use induction charging if you're feeling ambitious.

Dongles = lock-in + $$, and there's no other way around it.

Re:Dongles (1)

mjpollard (473241) | about 10 months ago | (#44134697)

What is it with Apple engineers and 1000 different connectors? Do they have a dongle fetish?

Wasn't Paul Reubens arrested for indulging in his dongle fetish?

Not a "proprietary port", no "Apple cable lineup" (4, Informative)

Above (100351) | about 10 months ago | (#44134433)

Normally I'm not a fan of the jump on the poster bandwagon, but this title and description could not be more misleading. The patent is on the idea of making one port take two standard connectors. The example used is a USB-or-SD Card physical form factor.

The design does not use "proprietary port"(s), rather it builds on existing standard port designs.

The design does not require a "special Apple cable", indeed the entire point is that standards compliant devices (not just cables, but things like SD cards) will just work.

As to the merits, it seems to me like there is probably prior art, and it may also fail the obviousness test. I'm not sure this is an idea that deserves patent protection. As devices get smaller, thinner, and lighter, I do think this is a great idea to reduce the physical space needed to provide all the ports a user might want.

Re:Not a "proprietary port", no "Apple cable lineu (2)

Guspaz (556486) | about 10 months ago | (#44134639)

The idea might have deserved patent protection; I don't think you can say it's "obvious" to figure out how to cram multiple connectors into a single port and make them work. There's some neat engineering that goes into making that happen. The problem is that somebody else did it first; eSATAp, which combines eSATA and USB in a single port (and can be used as either an eSATA port, a USB port, or with a special connector that combines the two) predates the patent filing by several years, if nothing else.

Re:Not a "proprietary port", no "Apple cable lineu (2, Interesting)

phayes (202222) | about 10 months ago | (#44135205)

You'd actually have a point if you could plug SD cards into eSATAp ports. The difference in function & design is what renders this patent valid.

Re:Not a "proprietary port", no "Apple cable lineu (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 10 months ago | (#44134659)

As to the merits, it seems to me like there is probably prior art, and it may also fail the obviousness test. I'm not sure this is an idea that deserves patent protection.

I think it is a very, very obvious idea that you would want a port where you can plug in either a USB connector or an SD card. What I don't know is how difficult it is to make this very obvious idea work. Consider this: It is a very, very obvious idea that it would nice if my car could fly. Does it fly? No. Because it's hard to implement.

That's actually something that makes it more patent worthy: If there is an obvious need for it, and similar things have already been developed and well accepted, but this particular combination isn't available yet, then it seems reasonable that actually making it work requires something entirely non-obvious.

Re:Not a "proprietary port", no "Apple cable lineu (1)

chromas (1085949) | about 10 months ago | (#44135095)

you would want a port where you can plug in either a USB connector or an SD card.

As long as it's a second SD slot so I don't have to contract storage space every time it needs a-chargin'.

If there is an obvious need for it, and similar things have already been developed and well accepted, but this particular combination isn't available yet, then what's the point?

Re:Not a "proprietary port", no "Apple cable lineu (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | about 10 months ago | (#44135099)

Except patents do not need to be for working hardware. That hasn't been the case for decades (if ever). How else would we have patents on software? There are plenty of patents for flying cars as well. In fact, there are so many that there are enough of them out there that someone did an article about the top 5 recent flying car patents: http://info.articleonepartners.com/top-5-recent-flying-car-patents/ [articleonepartners.com]

The issue in this case is that it may also be too broad. I havn't read the patent, as I may be in a situation where if I know about a particular patent it is worse than if I didn't know about it. But from the summary, they are specifically using the words "like" when showing their example of SD and USB. This implies that their patent isn't just for USB and SD, but for ANY type or combination of devices, for which USB and eSATA would fall under the same group/category of multiple devices. The same thing would then be said for anything that made special converters to combine multiple types of cables into 1 cable.

Yo dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134483)

We put a cable in your cable, so we can send data while we recieve data.

Old Mistakes never die.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134495)

"Apple Files Patent For New Proprietary Port"

Because that's a sure way of making sure it's adopted by everyone.....

Filing doesn't mean getting (-1, Troll)

kawabago (551139) | about 10 months ago | (#44134501)

They can file anything they want, that doesn't mean it's patent eligible. These proprietary ports that change each generation are why we no longer buy Apple. Why do people keep buying this kind of garbage?

Re:Filing doesn't mean getting (2)

jo_ham (604554) | about 10 months ago | (#44134769)

I see you didn't read the article.

As to why you don't buy garbage, that's between you and the product descriptions that you also must fail to read.

Re:Filing doesn't mean getting (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 10 months ago | (#44135097)

Okay, that's just trolling right there.

First, this is not a proprietary port, as that implies that it takes proprietary plus. It is a proprietary connector that takes standard plugs and SD cards.

Second, to the best of my recollection, not counting power connectors or internal card slots, Apple products have used only four truly proprietary ports in its entire history: the two iPhone dock connectors, the Apple high density video connector (early PowerPC desktops), and the HDI-30 external SCSI connector (68k era laptops).

All the other connectors that you seem to think are proprietary are either existing industry standard connectors (e.g. mini-DIN-8 serial and DB25 SCSI) or are connectors that Apple designed and made available as part of industry standards that it helped define (e.g. FireWire 400/800, Mini DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt).

And I just got rid of my S-Video cables (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 10 months ago | (#44134503)

I was rummaging through my cable collection (it fills an entire cabinet because of all the adaptors) and found a bunch of old S-video cables and I remembered that ADB cables were the same as S-video, and how I saved PILES of money by getting standard boring old S video cable instead of the apple branded ADB for the same functionality.

Can't really do that anymore.

I wonder if this will combine USB / Thunderbolt / firewire. Please dear god...

Re:And I just got rid of my S-Video cables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134889)

Could be worse. Back when SCSI was an option, you needed Apple DB-25 to Amphenol 50 pin cables, 50-pin terminators,maybe some 50-pin to 68-pin scsi drive adapters. Or to 50 pin IDE connectors. Then things got much worse, with wide scsi, ultra-wide scsi, fast, ultra-fast, lvds, the list goes on almost endlessly. Almost any time I bought a new RAID card or enclosure or drive, there was some new incompatibility. And that's not even talking about protocol incompatibilities, or SCSI-over-xxxx.

Kinda makes one long for places like North Korea, where one supreme dictator could, with a stroke of a pen, decree ONE bleepin standard for the next 5 years. At least for connectors and cables.

Seems like Cisco might have some prior art. (1)

Olmy's Jart (156233) | about 10 months ago | (#44134561)

I think Cisco/Linksys may have some contrary prior art.

Some Linksys WiFi routers would seen to meet that description. There's a "hidden serial console port" on the WTR-610N WiFi routers for the serial access port. It's on the opposite side of the LAN1 port. You wire a special ethernet connector up with a 4 wire cable on top (tap side) of the ethernet plug and it mates with circuit board contacts giving you a TTL level serial for reprogramming and a controlling console.

That router has been around for quite a few years. There certainly may be others. They produced a number of models of the same footprint and form factor over the years.

I just happen to own a couple of these myself (and yes managed to brick and recover one). References and descriptions can be found on the dd-wrt web site forums where they've documented it.

Re:Seems like Cisco might have some prior art. (3, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | about 10 months ago | (#44134835)

That's not what they are doing here. Those sort of "one port, many protocols" thing has been around for a while. What this is, is a design for a port that can accept a standard USB cable or a standard SD card (not both at the same time) into one port, depending which one you needed to use at the time.

The apple bashing "lolz need a special connector" snark in the summary is nonsense, as usual, but apple bashers typically have their reading comprehension obscured by the fog of hatred. It's funny, because they're often pretty decent with technology and basic reading ability otherwise.

USB U is for Univeral (0)

jellomizer (103300) | about 10 months ago | (#44134661)

What is wrong with just making devices with USB ports. Normal USB, and Micro USB.
Why do we need a bunch of freakin ports. Just make the fastest bi-directional port you can, and use it... For everything.

We shouldn't need VGA,HDMI, DVI, USB, Firewire, SD, SATA..... Just give us one port to connect a damn wire from one system to the next!

Re:USB U is for Univeral (2)

jo_ham (604554) | about 10 months ago | (#44134867)

That's what this is. A USB port (that accepts normal USB cables) with the ability to also accept SD cards to save space on the device so you don't need two ports.

Re: USB U is for Univeral (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44135021)

I think Thunderbolt is the interface you're looking for:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderbolt_(interface)

Re:USB U is for Univeral (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44135063)

Because each of those has different requirements that aren't all satisfied simply by "fast and bi-directional." USB connectors are fine, but I know if I was swapping out memory cards with USB connectors to my camera, I'd eventually break the card or worse, the connector to the camera. SD cards don't have that problem. And I sure as heck don't want to replace the Cat 5 in my house with USB (which I doubt could even work because of interference issues). Then there are the licensing issues... We could babble on and on about it.

tl;dr: because.

This will surely endear the public once more. (-1, Flamebait)

See Attached (1269764) | about 10 months ago | (#44134781)

Has Aapple forgotten they just changed this port, and again we all have to buy -another- set of device-lets to leverage the wonderfull ness of what is really a commodity device? Surely there are better places to show off their innovation skills.

Wireless devices should be wireless (1)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#44134811)

Wireless portable devices should be totally wireless. No holes, no connectors, and waterproof. Today's smartphones have radios for GSM, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Some have near-field communications and wireless charging. There's no need for wires.

I'm amazed that Apple hasn't done this, with their fetish for clean industrial design.

(Also, the three competing wireless charging standards need to be reduced to one. Then we'll see more public wireless charging pads and tray tables.)

Hasn't this been out there for a while? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134841)

I'm no expert on patents, but hasn't this combined port thing been done already... a lot? My gigabyte motherboard has USB 2.0 ports that double as USB 3.0, and also has USB ports that double as eSATA ports. Never seen a port that combines USB and SD drive, so maybe that's new and patentable? Card readers for years had combined slots where you could plug SD cards and MemorySticks into the same slot. This doesn't seem like the type of patent filing that Apple should be granted, but given the track record of the USPTO, they probably will! *sigh*

Esata/USB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44134909)

Really how is this different from the Esata/USB port found on many laptops.

Been done already (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 10 months ago | (#44134943)

See the input ports on DVI-D-capable monitors, with contacts for both analog and digital signals. It should also be obvious, contacts can be used for anything so once you have contacts in a connector for one thing it's a simple and straightforward idea to add a few more contacts for another thing. And you have USB charging cables which separate the +5/GND power pins from the D+/D- data pins, hooking power up to provide for charging but ignoring data since it's irrelevant. So yeah, this patent ought to be smacked down based on at least the KSR v. Teleflex ruling.

How is this different from USB 3.0? (1)

kriston (7886) | about 10 months ago | (#44135019)

Exactly how is this different from USB 3.0? Or even the Nook Color and Nook Tablet's 12-pin 1.9 amp micro-USB connector that optionally charges at 1.9 amps with the appropriate connector, but regular USB with a 5-pin connector?

There's lots of prior art.

Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44135031)

What we really need is an adapter that will let me plug a USB 3.0 device into a USB 2.0 port and still run at full (3.0) speed.

Now then we'd really have something.

Well drat (0)

jxander (2605655) | about 10 months ago | (#44135071)

I was really hoping for the force-feedback codpiece.

At least that way, when Apple screws you over, at least you get a little somethin-somethin from it.

dot panel patent (0)

2gravey (959785) | about 10 months ago | (#44135145)

I propose a signaling device that creates an information interface to personal computer users by representing coded data as lighted dots on a panel that are arranged to recreate both text and multimedia images. I have just submitted this concept to the patent office, which makes it patent pending, so if you choose to use such an interface you had better pay me a royalty.

Not a bad idea, but (1)

bsdasym (829112) | about 10 months ago | (#44135185)

It's nothing new either, and for that reason I doubt it's patentable. There is definite prior art, and as stated, the obviousness test fails instantly. To clear up a little misinformation here, what they are talking about is a port (i.e. a mechanical interface) that can house 2+ other disparate interfaces, so those other interfaces can be used *without* requiring a dongle -- though from the looks of it, you're going to need a dongle if you want to use more than one of them at a time. It doesn't look like their example port is designed to allow both an SD card and USB cable to be used at once -- unless you use a dongle! So on the face of it what they're trying to patent is any case where two physically different connectors can be plugged into the same socket, and the electrical connection that is made is matched correctly to the connector type. It does bear a strong resemblence to the eSATAp port which is simply a USB port embedded in an eSATA port, allowing you to plug in either (but not both) types of devices. IANAL but it seems like this patent will (or more properly, should) fail on two counts: 1. Obvious. The given example of SD+USB is good enough. Remove one side of the USB socket and an equal sized hole in one side of an SD socket, and glue them together. Done. 2. Prior art. eSATAp is one example. So are combo RJ11/RJ45 jacks, and pretty much every 'N-in-1 USB card reader' that has combined e.g. SD+xD into a single slot. The little USB stick multi-readers combine them all into a single 'socket'.

Play on an old joke (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 10 months ago | (#44135277)

A man who was line-camping for the new iPhone is first into the first store stocking the item. He's there even before the employees.

The Apple Genius shows up looking rushed with a large white suitcase and says "Sorry to disappoint you, but we only have one iPhone to sell today due to the number of them that were pre-ordered online. So you there, first in the line, come with me." He opens the store and gets behind the counter, the man in the line walks up to the counter ready to receive his new phone.

The Genius pulls a small, sleek black box from behind the counter and hands it to the man. The man runs towards the door and is almost out when he notices the Genius running after him dragging the big suitcase he came in with, yelling:

Wait! You forgot the cables! [angelo.edu]

Sounds like a lot of "me too" going on here (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 10 months ago | (#44135303)

1. Everyone knows that it's not really invented unless Apple invents it. When Apple does it, it's a "Coolvention."
2. All these "pre-existing" devices should expect letters from Apple's lawyers in a short while.

Okay, with my attempt a mild humor failing so badly, I have to wonder why they are bothering with wires at all. Seems to me, with all this inductive charging and what-not, seems to me various signals could be crammed into a single point of inductive charging. Headphones should be bluetooth. Everything should be contactless. Fewer things to break. I essentially operate this way now with my Nexus 4. Since it has built-in Qi inductive charging, I do all my phone I/O over WiFi.

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