back to article Apple patent foresees ultra-svelte iDevices

Apple has filed a patent application for an audio port that accommodates a jack which is larger in diameter than the thickness of the device into which it's plugged. Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the filing, entitled "Low Profile Plug Receptacle", is a resurrected version of an essentially identical …


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  1. zanto

    i want to patent

    "A Means or Method to Listen to Audio or Other Media Players Less than 2 mm thick"

    Method 1:

    use smaller Jacks made from Metal or an Alloy of Metals or Any Other materials that is yet to be discovered that gets the job done"

    Method 2: use in-line connectors

    Method 3: use separate connectors and "poke" the device in more than one slot.

    Method 4: use magnetic contacts

    Method 5: use Velcro or any other adhesive like fastener

    Method 6: Anything else i forgot to mention

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Anything else i forgot to mention?

      Yes, you forgot to read the article:

      "All three methods are designed to allow Apple to continue to use industry-standard jacks"

      And you also forgot to mention wireless which would have been a better solution than all those mentioned, and would still let them stick to some existing standard (e.g. bluetooth).

      1. Fluffykins Silver badge


        Come up with something that isn't an industry standard and use it often enough so it becomes an industry standard - at least, a standard in everything from your industry.

        Like iPhone/iPlayer connectors.

        1. JaitcH

          "Like iPhone/iPlayer connectors." This is where Apple makes money by ...

          using non-industry standard connectors and why they chase down all those nasty little Chinese companies who knock off connectors, with cables, for less than 50 cents each.

          At least we can buy them in the Far East - the Home Security gang stop them from being imported to the U.S.A.

    2. nobby

      yep, zanto

      You have the idea!

      Now send that with your fee to the US Patent Office and await your billion of dollars in back-handers!

  2. TeeCee Gold badge

    Obvious answer.


    I'm surprised that with Apple's fixation on cool design they're even considering persisting with something as old-hat as wires......

  3. Cameron Colley

    I thought patents were supposed to be "not obvious"?

    I came up with the idea of the split design a while ago and thought of the others as I read the title.

    If Apple are awarded the patent for this then whoever awarded it needs shooting.

    1. Victor Ludorum

      I'm with you on this one.

      It never ceases to amaze me how companies think they can patent the bleedin' obvious, and the USPTO will let them...


    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Not only obvious....

      This "invention" is not only obvious, it's actually just how current jacks work.

      The locking mechanism on a standard jack socket is a single sprung contact, and the other contacts resist the motion in parallel. Most standard jack sockets would still work perfectly well if you took a saw to them and cut off the top and bottom.

      In fact, I have a vague recollection of a gimmicky "credit card" FM radio that worked this way....

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  5. frank ly

    Is it really patentable?

    " audio-plug socket that's smaller in diameter than the thickness of the device in which it would be used."

    All the audio plugs and sockets that I use are smaller in diameter than the thickness of the devices that I plug them into. This sentence could do with some rewriting.

    As for Apple's effort here; it's 'imaginative' but I wouldn't call it an invention; it's a particular design. Hey look, we made a cutout in the case with a matching cutaway in the socket so the plug body doesn't foul on entry!

    I've just thought of a design that would allow protrusion of the plug body from both sides of the case. It uses thin steel rods that the plug displaces and is then held in place by as it's inserted. Can I have my patent please?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Remember the original iPhone...

    The original iPhone had that weird curved top to the 3.5mm socket which meant you had to use 3.5mm plugs with super-skinny plastic around the top (or Apple's horrible earbuds).

    Well people hated that because they wanted to use their own headphones that may, or may not, have fat/right-angled plastic around the top of the plug.

    3.5mm jacks are not going away any time soon, bluetooth or no bluetooth.


  7. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Who says this has anything to do with Apple making them....

    ...and not Apple STOPPING anyone else using the bleeding obvious.

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  9. Anonymous Coward

    Well lets see if this fails....

    Well the 1st option should be granted. No truely. 100% granted. That why the thick shits that buy it will wonder why they keep getting hum everytime anything slightly conductive comes into contact with the exposed area.

    1. handle

      Thick shits

      You mean, as opposed to the thick shits who think that you will hear hum in your headphones if you touch the connections?

      The only risk is that you will short the contacts together, getting either mono sound or no sound.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Doesn't a patent have to be "non-obvious"? Are Apple trying to get around this by claiming that "fucking obvious" is "non-obvious"?

    1. Bilgepipe


      If it's so "fucking obvious" where are all the examples of it?

      I don't know why they don't just use a tiny magsafe plug with a standard 3.5 jack on it. Job done.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        re. Obvious?

        You mean it's not obvious to you that you can remove part of the case (i.e.have a simple slot as the article describes it) to allow the use of a connector that's physically larger than the case?

        As for an example? Try Googling "Xircom RealPort" and look at the images.

        1. Hayden Clark Silver badge


      2. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: Obvious

        "If it's so "fucking obvious" where are all the examples of it?"

        It's not needed yet, because no-one's wanted to build something that thin.

        It's still an obvious solution that anyone would have come up with when it became an issue....

  11. Payne
    Thumb Down


    They all look crap, simply leave the socket as it is and design around it, making it look like jet fighter exhaust etc. There is nothing to patent there.

  12. JaitcH

    Stunned, Apple that is, yet more prior art tosh

    There are many systems where connectors are bigger in one or two dimensions than the unit that houses them. Remember the PC modems that stuck out of laptops and had a flip-up RJ-45 connector?

    How dumb can the US Patent Office be. Maybe the new rules will put an end to this stupidity.

    I like the Samsung offering on it's upcoming pad - a socket with an 'eyebrow' accommodating the protrusion. Class!

  13. Robert Grant Silver badge

    Just put the jack housing in the bumper

    Once you put your iDevice in its mandatory bumper it loses most of its visual aesthetic appeal and all of its thinness anyway, so why bother putting the housing in the device at all. Then you can make an even thinner device that demos even better, but because the bumper keeps the phone the same size anyway you can carry on using a normal jack housing.

  14. Fuzz

    this was granted?

    whilst I salute Apple for apparently trying to stick to standards, recognising most headphones have 3.5mm plugs and fining a way of incorporating them into a device, this should never have been granted a patent. It comes under the category of obvious. I reckon more than 50% of people would come up with at least one of these three methods given the same problem.

    Also, what is Apples obsession with making things thin, less than 3.5mm is very thin. Why not just concentrate on making stuff lighter and more durable. The iphone is already plenty thin enough, make it much thinner and it will become really annoying to use as a phone.

    1. Bilgepipe

      READ IT!!

      Read the fucking article, it's a patent *application*.

      Too much knee-jerking from the Apple trolls.

  15. Arctic fox

    More patent trolling?

    Are they actually trying to patent a genuine device (if so, where is the physical example of such a device accompanying this application?) or simply a very generalised series of concepts intended as nothing more than a judicial minefield for any competitors in the field of consumer electronics? A clearer example of deliberate market poisoning would be hard to find. Apple make very good kit that is deservedly very popular but their taste for using their legal department to dream up schemes designed to cripple any future competition reminds me very strongly of Microsoft at its very worst in the 1990s.

  16. jake Silver badge

    More to the point ...

    Use RF between iThingie & ears. It ain't exactly rocket science.

    These proposed mechanical connectors will be subject to premature failure. Not that Apple gives a shit, seeing as the turnover on current Apple kit is roughly 6 months, and falling ...

  17. TRT Silver badge


    Ultrasonic waves through your bones?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Uh !

    I think this a case of patenting the bleeding obvious and has most likely been done before.

    Next week they will try and patent sex, it's going to cost you an Apple Tax of £10 a poke, that is unless MS get there first in which case you will still pay £10 but you will need to reboot three or four times before you get going.

    1. Arctic fox

      @AC re Uh! And the Man From Cupertino will probably try....... insist that you use a non-standard connector only available from your local Apple Store!

  19. Adam T

    Proprietary Love

    Apple love proprietary sockets.

    Which leads me to believe they're only patenting this stuff to keep it out of the hands of the rest of the world (or make a shilling from their hard work).

  20. Your Retarded


    I am glad that Apple are concerned about hodling my headphone jack securely in place.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there a metallurgist in the house ?

    Putting aside the merits of of the patent, what are apple going to make the iDevices out of. If the case is thinner than the socket, you are going to be up against some issues with the stiffness of the material aren't you. What will stop an iDevice of iphone length/width bending or snapping if stuffed in your back pocket and sat on. Likewise the screen ? Or do apple have a way of growing diamonds the size of an iphone ?

  22. John Stalberg

    Is it a joke?

    If your Patent & Trademark Office approves upon this, something is seriously wrong? It must have been some device in the past that have been used that holds a thicker connector than what was ideal?

    That is just a thickening of the device either permanently or by being flexible. It must have been done in a way before that would ruin this patent. It is a matter of finding it. If one think about all the stuff people put together that really not nicely fits together it most be some example out there to show how it has been done.

    It can't be of anyones good in the long run to grant companies patent's like this. Where did the rules that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has to follow about what is innovative or unique enough come from? Or rather where did this destructively low level come from? This is what is in everybody's best, according to who?

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