back to article Magnets to stick stuff to tablets: Yup, there's an Apple patent application for that

Apple has filed a sweeping patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a "magnetic attachment mechanism" that allows two electronic components to be attached to one another to "augment the functionality of usefulness" of the primary electronic device. Examples of devices that could be magnetically attached …

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  1. Francis Boyle

    The USPTO

    How does it work?

    1. LarsG

      Confused

      I have a Tom Tom Go 600, it is seated and held in place on its car mount by a magnet. This allows the unit to be removed without having to remove the sucker pad off the windscreen, or in my case where it is attached to a Brodit mount.

      Oh DID I say it was held in place by a strong magnet? I did.

      So how can Apple patent this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Confused

        Because, Apple are patenting being able to stick the tomtom directly to the car, what you described has a third item between the two. And of course, the tomtom is the accessory, and the car is what it's being stuck to. The car is not a mobile device (it is, but it's not) while the ipad is. Therefore completely different patents.

        It's still a daft patent, I mean honestly, it's magnets. "Yeah we took two things that naturally do something, and put them together. Give us money!"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Confused

          Not only that, but Apple's patent covers the two devices communicating with each other, which your TomTom isn't doing.

          Not saying Apple's patent isn't silly, but it isn't something your TomTom is prior art for.

          1. wowfood

            Re: Confused

            I always liked the idea of having it so your GPS would link to your cars speedometer, and then feedback whether you're going above the speed limit. Perhaps in a future of electric cars having it so that it automatically caps your top speed to 5mp above the speed limit. At least it would kind've eliminate some of the stupidity you see on the road, even if a lot of drivers would hate it.

            1. Frank Bough

              Re: Confused

              You are aware that GPS allows measurement of speed as well as position? Not only that, but most widely used road databases include speed limit information and that car speedos are typically inaccurate by about 10%?

              What you're suggesting was common 5 years ago.

            2. jai

              Re: Confused

              @wowfood

              I always liked the idea of having it so your GPS would link to your cars speedometer, and then feedback whether you're going above the speed limit

              I had a GPS app on my phone for navigation, and it would do exactly that.

              it's SO annoying - constantly pinging, especially on the motorway when I was in fast moving traffic that every 5 minutes would be changing from going 65mph then up to 85mph, then down to 75mph then up to 80mph then up to 90mph, then down to 50mph etc etc

              so in the end i switched off the speed limit alert. i'm not sure that was the intended end result when they implemented that feature

              1. turkey

                Re: Confused

                @jai:

                changing from going 65mph then up to 85mph, then down to 75mph then up to 80mph then up to 90mph, then down to 50mph etc etc

                ----

                So it worked then? Oh, how annoying...

            3. kiwimuso
              FAIL

              Re: Confused

              @wowfood

              What you are suggesting is just downright dangerous.

              While most people seem to think that the brake is your safety device, there are times (just occasionally) when your accelerator is the most appropriate safety device, as I have experienced myself on a wet motorway in a borrowed car, when a car (a Porche as it happens) 100 metres in front without warning, turned right into the central armco barrier, then started slowly moving backwards towards the near side, by which time I had no wish to test out my brakes and tyres on a wet motorway so I dropped down a gear and accelerated - hard!

              I think I missed him by mere inches but if I had attempted to use my brakes I would have probably have t-boned his driver's door.

              Now I have no idea what my top speed might have got to during the manoeuvre but I certainly wouldn't want some clown trying to limit my top speed in those circumstances.

              Would you have wanted to use that moment to see if the car you were driving was equipped with ABS?

          2. sorry, what?
            Thumb Down

            Re: Confused

            What about Android devices that know they have been docked into a car holder, switching to "car mode", based on sensing a magnet in the right position in the dock? Let's extend this - if the device and car use Bluetooth for Media playing and the device attaches to the car using a (partially) magnetic dock that, as a side effect notifies the device it is in car mode, automatically enabling Bluetooth, does that constitute prior art?

            I hate the apparent failure to engage any sort of intelligent thought within the US Patent Office prior to the rubber stamping of applications from any US company... twats.

          3. MiggyMan

            Re: Confused

            No but it is an awful lot like the pre/touchpad, which has been using magnets for stuff like this for a *long* time.

          4. imaginarynumber

            Re: Confused

            My HTC Advantage (released before the iphone) looks exactly like the ipad/keyboard. It connected magnetically, holding the phone part at a comfortable angle, keystrokes were transmitted via contacts on the two. When not in use it acted as magnetically attached screen protector. The only difference is that the cover had a Perspex window that showed on screen notifications (the phone knew when the cover was in use)

            I can't see how HTCs superior device is not prior art.

        2. solo

          Re: Confused

          "..The car is not a mobile device (it is, but it's not).."

          Heck.. it is.

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: Confused

            >>"..The car is not a mobile device (it is, but it's not).."

            >Heck.. it is

            Not like a bicycle, anyway.

    2. TimNevins
      Stop

      Re: The USPTO

      It's very simple

      - US Patent Office grants obvious/ridiculous patent to a US Company.

      - US Company enforces said patent world wide ensuring US interests are protected and non-US company cannot secure it for themselves.

      - US Company collects worldwide patent licence fee.

      - US Company pays(in theory) tax on profit from patent to US Government.

      - US maintains signficiant worldwide IP control and secures profit flow into the US.

      So its all about both control and profit.

      Suddenly it all becomes clear

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: The USPTO

        > It's very simple

        It is even simpler:

        > - US Patent Office grants obvious/ridiculous patent to a US Company.

        - USPTO collect application fees and renewals.

        - Patent is challenged as being obvious and/or prior art.

        - USPTO collects patent review fees.

        The USPTO neither knows nor cares about how companies sue each other, collect licence fees, or whatever.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @TimNevins

        US Patent Office grants obvious/ridiculous patent to a US Company.

        The patent office is an equal opportunity grantor of obvious/ridiculous patents. Can you point to cases where they've denied obvious/ridiculous patents on a repeated basis to non-US companies?

        US Company enforces said patent world wide ensuring US interests are protected and non-US company cannot secure it for themselves.

        Having a US patent does not allow the company to assert its patent worldwide. That's why they have patent offices in other countries. Having a US patent that's filed before the date of a competing patent filed elsewhere gives it precedence, but the reverse is also true (at least for countries the US has a patent treaty with, which is most of the important ones)

    3. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: The USPTO

      Work rules:

      Evaluate examiners on applications completed, keeping mindful that denying an application will likely lead to refiling with amendments, possibly many times. Of course, the application is incomplete until either the patent is granted or the applicant exhausts all options for amending it, something that might take years. An examiner who acts deliberately will act less quickly, receive a lower appraisal rating, be less likely to receive awards, pay raises, and promotions, and in the end, more likely to seek more rewarding and remunerative employment elsewhere. One who completes applications quickly after cursory review to ensure proper spelling and grammar will receive outstanding appraisals, performance awards, pay raises, and promotions. The "best" eventually will fill the top level executive positions. The USPTO is a bureaucracy, and Imhoff's Law applies.

    4. lambda_beta
      Linux

      Re: The USPTO

      Didn't you know Jobs invented magnetism before he died? So it's only natural that Apple should get the patent. Screw all those people who claimed to have something to do with it - Ampère, Coulomb, Faraday, Gauss, Heaviside, Henry, Hertz, Lorentz, Maxwell, Tesla, Volta, Weber, Ørsted - they had no clue.

    5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: The USPTO

      If Apple were a manufacturer of toilet paper, I wouldn't put it past them to submit a patent application for that product. And the USPTO would no doubt grant it.

  2. cyke1

    O look at this, Another inventsion that at least MS had on surface 1 that apple is gonna try to claim it came up with.

    1. Steve Todd

      Check the patent date, January 2012, months before the Surface was announced. Apple and Microsoft have a patent cross licensing deal in place so I doubt there will be any problems there.

      The other Apple item, on which this seems to be based, is the MagSafe power connector which dates back to 2006. Prior art doesn't seem to be as easy to find as you think.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Prior art easier than you thought

        'Jupiter' by Ben Bova had magnetic fastening connectors, and was first published in 2000. I would be shocked if it was the first example. If only non-obvious did not mean non-obvious to a pickled porcupine.

        1. El_Fev

          Re: Prior art easier than you thought

          How the F**K did you get 7 Thumbs up! HOW THE FLYING F**k IS A BOOK PRIOR ART!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "How is a book prior art"

            "How is a book prior art". I agree, the written documents in the patent files cannot be considered "first", they should MAKE a device. ;)

            On a serious note, it's the first idea, if in written form or not, that usually constitutes prior art I guess. If Apple wish to patent a specific mechanism, clip and latch then fine. If they wish to patent "any device with magnets that connects and uses communication" then they can get lost.

          2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Prior art easier than you thought

            "HOW THE FLYING F**k IS A BOOK PRIOR ART!!"

            If it isn't prior art, it certainly drives a coach and horses through "non-obvious". Historically, a published description of an idea has always been something that would invalidate a patent. Even today, I think most lawyers would advise you to file the patent application *before* submitting that paper to Nature.

            1. Steve Todd
              FAIL

              Re: Prior art easier than you thought - @Ken Hagan

              So you're saying that if anyone ever manages to invent a warp drive then it isn't patentable because it was in StarTrek and it's therefore obvious as to how it would work? Interesting brand of logic you have there (certainly not as we know it).

        2. Bakana

          Re: Prior art easier than you thought

          But, as Arthur Clarke used to complain, you can't Patent an idea in an SF Novel, otherwise Clarke would have been a Multi Billionaire because he "invented" the Geosynchronous Orbiting Communications Satellite years before anyone ever launched Anything.

      2. SuccessCase

        Yes the Apple MagSafe power adaptor was an example of a very good hardware invention and has saved many a MacBook getting dragged to the floor. The iPad Smart Cover was also excellent, and this is a continuation of that work, filed before the MS Surface was released and filed during the period when the initial Smart Cover patent application was still secret. The initial filing is kept secret precisely so such continuations can be worked on.

        The Reg's interpretation of the first independent claim is also wrong. All clauses if the independent claims need to be read like a logical AND. So the claim isn't just for two magnetically attached devices communicating with each other, but where each device is also actuated based on the moment of attachment (e.g. Wakes up, comes out of standby etc.). The Register just like to moan about anything with Apple and patent in the title.

        Patented inventions are always small steps on from the state of the art. It is the easiest thing to claim a patent is obvious after the fact. The black and Decker Workmate, one of the best Everyman patents ever filed also seemed obvious after the fact (a table top combined with a clamp). In recognition of this the hardest criterion on which to get a patent overturned, is obviousness.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Remember the patent on the thermos flask?

          The judge said that although it was obvious in hind sight, looking at a delicate piece of laboratory equipment like a Dewar flask and thinking "That could be made robust and portable enough to take on a picnic" was not obvious before the patent. The judge included a picture of a Dewar flask to underline his point. In the background of the picture was a small, robust Dewar flask that the lab technician had assembled to show off to friends and family at picnics.

          The ideas comes early and often, but do not instantly become reality. In this case it was because rare earth magnets were not always so cheap. Apple can often beat competitors to market because Apple's customers are willing to pay more.

        2. Francis Boyle

          So it's a combination of a fridge magnet (a magnetically attached accessory) and say any USB device. At least the Workmate is an inventive combination - it's more than "a device with feature A and also feature B".

        3. big_D Silver badge

          What really narks me is that adding "on a mobile device" to any existing invention seems to make it unique enough to repatent.

          What does it matter, if the device is mobile or not? If I connect a peripheral to a desktop PC, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone and it can communicate with said host, what makes it connecting to a tablet unique over a laptop or a desktop?

          So many of the patents I see coming up are not only obvious, but were common practice when I started programming in the early 80s, only we had mainframes and micros at the time. One I read was for a menu list on a mobile device. How is that unique or obvious, how is having that same menu list taken from a 15" monitor and displaying it on a 4" display making "displaying a menu list" unique?!?!?!

          1. Benchops

            > What really narks me is that adding "on a mobile device" to any existing invention seems to make it unique enough to repatent.

            Can't agree more. I'm going to patent this but on all specifically silver and white mobile devices.

        4. imaginarynumber

          Google the 2007 HTC Advantage, a 5" Windows Mobile with a magnetically attached keyboard come cover.

        5. csumpi
          Stop

          "the iPad Smart Cover was also excellent"

          You obviously have never used one of those shitty magnetic iPad Smart Covers. Because if you did, you would've noticed that:

          1. offers zero protection for your shiny, at least not much more than a film screen protector

          2. they come off all the time, so if you happen not to be holding the case and your shiny at the same time, your shiny will fall to the floor unprotected (see 1.)

          3. they don't even work well as a stand, and hold your shiny in a way that it becomes too top heavy and fall over

          But, it's awesome for Apple. Because of all the above, lots of new shinies can be sold to replace the the broken ones.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        And how many months did it take MS to come up with the design, test it, refine it and put it into production, so that it was available in high enough numbers for the launch? You can't do that all in a couple of months.

      4. hplasm
        Gimp

        @ Steve Todd

        I think you dropped this...

      5. Kunari

        MagSafe is daft too. I have a circa 1980's deep-fryer that has magnetic power attachment cord.

    2. Frank Bough

      So you've never used an Apple iPad with a Smart Cover then? They've been doing this for years already.

  3. Schultz
    Devil

    Activated magnets...

    I like the idea of activated magnets. Maybe they really invented some kind of switchable permanent magnet -- that would be cool! It would also be very very improbable, but who knows what those lawyers came up with!

    I am a little disappointed with the limitation to i-things with "a first side, [and] a second side opposite the first side". Does this mean that any type of Moebius object will circumvent this patent? Let me then be the first to suggest a magnetically attached galaxy device with a single side parallel _and_ opposite to the first side and all the required magnets to hold it to another galaxy device, blablabla. I described it first, no one can patent that now (you're welcome, unnamed producer of galaxy devices).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Activated magnets...

      a bit like were used here?

      http://www.decadecounter.com/vta/articleview.php?item=977

      1. Schultz

        Re: Activated magnets...

        Electromagnet have the tiny disadvantage that they eat electricity. I am not aware of any portable device (portable as 'in my pocket') using an electromagnet. To get to the magnetic field strength trivially available with a permanent magnet, you need some serious power. Unless you got some superconductor at hand and then you have to think about liquid nitrogen cooling.

  4. Richard 12 Silver badge

    We have shipping product that does this

    It's been advertised for a few years, and I'm sure we weren't the first.

    Where do we send the evidence of prior art?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have been using blu-tak to do the same job for years.... can I sue??

    (Where is the "Money Grubber" icon when you need it??)

  6. hitmouse

    Strictly speaking, all attachments are electromagnetic bonds even if two bits of wood glued together.

    1. frank ly

      My favourite was the new paint for the high speed trains in the UK wich was advertised as bonding to the metal by 'quantum forces'. (At a stretch, it could have been Van Der Waals forces.)

  7. frank ly

    "augment the functionality of usefulness"

    How much training do you need (or what do you drink) to come up with phrases like that?

    1. VinceH

      Re: "augment the functionality of usefulness"

      Just wait until they file the patent for whatever follows this. In that they will "enhance the functionality of augmented usefulness." Then they will "Aggrandize the enhanced functionality of augmented usefulness."

    2. Gav

      Re: "augment the functionality of usefulness"

      It's not just anyone that's allowed to wield the power of such expressions.

      There are extended periods of structured knowledge reception, followed by formal evidencing of your acquired skillset, before you are allowed to publish on a open platform this level of corporate bovine waste product.

  8. Richard Jones 1
    Unhappy

    Oh Dear My Fridge Door Must pay a license fee?

    Many burglar alarms, proximity pads, pet door openers, etc. are suddenly apple matters; there might even be a few more examples.

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: Oh Dear My Fridge Door Must pay a license fee?

      You have electronics in the door and body of your fridge that talk to each other when the door is closed?

      Don't be silly, this isn't an attempt to patent anything held together by magnets.

      1. WraithCadmus
        Joke

        Re: Oh Dear My Fridge Door Must pay a license fee?

        "You have electronics in the door and body of your fridge that talk to each other when the door is closed?"

        Yes, they tell it to turn the light off

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Oh Dear My Fridge Door Must pay a license fee?

          How do you know the light is off when the door is shut?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oh Dear My Fridge Door Must pay a license fee?

            "How do you know the light is off when the door is shut?" - Well since you asked... I put my phone in the fridge whilst recording a video...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Huh?

    This totally fell down the bonkers tree and hit every branch on the way down.

    How long before Apple patents the use of feet in conjunction with two eyes for the purpose of transportation of organic entities from one place to another having used two eyes to identify the destination and estimate the distance to that destination?

    1. Blackbird74

      Re: Huh?

      Nah. They know there is more money to be made in patenting the incoming fuel source for that....Air.

  10. Frankee Llonnygog

    Apple, gnash, magnets, snarl, patents, groan....

    Cue ranters moaning that Apple would have patented gravity if Newton hadn't created prior art. Very therapeutic but it might be a good idea if the ranters RTFA once their arteries return to normal diameter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple, gnash, magnets, snarl, patents, groan....

      "Cue ranters moaning that Apple would have patented gravity if Newton hadn't created prior art. Very therapeutic but it might be a good idea if the ranters RTFA once their arteries return to normal diameter."

      Oh your sooooo clever sir, any other nuggets of wisdom?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple, gnash, magnets, snarl, patents, groan.... @Obviously

        "Oh your sooooo clever sir, any other nuggets of wisdom?"

        I've got one - before you get cocky, check whether you've made the right choice between "your" and "you're".

    2. Swarthy
      Trollface

      Re: Apple, gnash, magnets, snarl, patents, groan....

      No, no, no... This is ranters moaning that Apple is patenting gravity, even though Newton has prior art (he didn't file in the US, you see; so according to USPTO, it doesn't count).

  11. David Pollard
    Megaphone

    Prior art?

    I have a faint recollection of seeing something similar in a British publication on the internet not so long ago...

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/22/heater_release/

  12. GNoMe
    FAIL

    Prior Art.

    My Sony Xperia Z1 has a magnetic dock and power connection, so Apple is stealing other people's ideas again.

    1. Philippe

      Re: Prior Art.

      Does your Sone Xperia Z1 behave differently if you, use the magnetic connector to, let's say, connect to another Sony Xperia Z1?

      Nope?

      Then it's not the same thing.

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: Prior Art.

      Given that the Z1 was unveiled in September 2013 and this patent was filed in January 2012 then it doesn't count as prior art either.

  13. Drew 11
    WTF?

    Hey! Magmount antenna! What a brilliant idea. I wish someone had thought of that sooner!

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Magmount

      Though mine has three magnets and a 2.5m aerial.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre
      Coat

      Useful invention, that

      if the external magmount antenna ever catches on, a whole lot of old iPhone4s could start a new life as... phones.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Re: Useful invention, that

        iPhone4s being the plural of iPhone4 obviously.

  14. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    DENIED

    No new idea, just a slightly different way of using an existing idea. DENIED. Now go come up with an idea worth Patenting, oh and shoot your Patent Lawyers.

  15. kmac499

    Patent Busted

    I wish to design a two part device held together by magnetic force. Each part to be in the shape of a Mobius strip.

    Which as all you amateur topologists will know only has one side and one edge therefore dodging the Apples innovation (?? Ed) patent completely.

    (I'm working on the Klein bottle variant but I'm a little short of dimensions..)

    1. Swarthy
      Pint

      Re: Patent Busted

      These may help get your dimenstions in order: http://www.kleinbottle.com/

      And if it starts to get to you, they have a Klein Stein.

  16. Roo

    Foxconn are in big trouble then...

    My Foxconn NT330i 'nanoPC' has a magnetically attached USB DVD-drive. The fact it shipped 2-3 years ago won't stop a US Jury from awarding a few $bn in damages to Apple...

    1. El_Fev

      Re: Foxconn are in big trouble then...

      Did they apply for a patent for it in the US? if no... then...STFU!

    2. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: Foxconn are in big trouble then...

      Your DVD drive has magnetic clips, but connects to the NT330i via a regular USB cable. It doesn't care if the DVD drive is clipped to it or not. To count as prior art clipping the DVD to the base unit (without ANY other connection) would have to cause both units to wake up and data to be transferred from the DVD to the system unit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Foxconn are in big trouble then...

        Your saying you cannot make a device wakeup with such a setup? Or that wakeup on connection is patentable?

        Or that magnets can have a patent on them?

        Oh, but if I glue magnets to a cable, then cause the device to wakeup it is a new invention?

        Devices have had magnets and detected cables for decades.

        1. Steve Todd
          Stop

          Re: Foxconn are in big trouble then...

          No, I'm saying that the Apple patent application covers a magnetic catch that (1) self aligns and precisely connects, (2) automatically detects when it is connected and (3) without any additional connection communicates between the two active parts (either through electrical connections included in the catch or wirelessly). Item (2) can cause the devices to wake.

          The Foxconn device fails to meet the above requirements in all three regards as far as I can see. There's no keyed alignment, there's no detection that the DVD drive has clipped to the system unit and it requires manual connection to start communicating.

          Now if you can find an example of something that does all three of those things prior to January 2012 then you might have a case ...

          1. Roo

            Re: Foxconn are in big trouble then...

            "The Foxconn device fails to meet the above requirements in all three regards as far as I can see. There's no keyed alignment, "

            "(1) self aligns and precisely connects"

            Actually it does self align - that's the beauty of using magnets (and it is keyed - if you count keeping the long sides matching up)...

            That said the magnetic attachment doesn't trigger anything in itself. So fair play.

  17. Tromos

    I'd like to apply for a patent for the use of gravitation to secure laptops to laps.

    1. Stoneshop
      Holmes

      I'd like to apply for a patent for the use of magnets to attach clue to the USPTO. Their behavior will indeed be significantly different once I can get magnets strong enough to get the clue to stick.

    2. OrsonX

      USPO

      GRANTED!

      next.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am i the only person to think that sticking magnets on a device with a built in compass and that may be used to navigate, is not a terribly good idea?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm assuming it can be balanced for this. Or assuming it is a GPS or similar compass.

      Or assuming no one checked and leaving a clip on the seat next to the device will cause interesting navigation.

    2. hplasm
      Thumb Up

      Ah, but-

      It's a subtle fix for Apple maps...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You will notice they've specifically identified lefthand drive cars for the Dashboard variant. Those of us who drive the correct way around should be OK.

  20. Doogs
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: Advantage HTC?

      No. The HTC does not turn on a video game or GPS map when you plug it in with the magnetic connectivity keyboard.

      You see the very cleaver people at Apple have invented and thus applied for a patent for "a device using magnets to secure a device and subsequently applying a pre-specified action", thus superseding in a non-incremental non-obvious step.

      Next they are patenting "two devices that communicate between each other while in a format of easy transportation through the transmission of energy from stored resources" but adding the important factor of "while on a planetoid". As I'm certain no one has patented that specific example just yet.

      /sarcasm

  21. Valeyard

    hooks then...

    ...fucking hooks?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: hooks then...

      Worked for Velcro.... ;)

  22. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Hold on a minute

    What about those little cubes you could get a while ago that were autonomous, but when you stuck then together (they had magnets) they would communicate with each other.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: Hold on a minute

      Yes. Perhaps Reg should ask for comments from the Patent office and Apple?

      For reference:

      http://sci-toys.com/my_toys/2007/09/cube-world.html

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radica_Games

      Increasing the strength of the magnet and the functionality of the toy/device is obvious, right?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mk 1 was too simple by half

    Ok guys let's try again.

    Right this is the mark 2 application, what do you guys think?

    It's fantastic Tim, that can't fail to fuck em up good and proper. We got a pass!

  24. OrsonX
    Paris Hilton

    Interestingly....

    ....magnets do NO WORK when they are stuck to your fridge door, they'll hold your take-away menu in-place forever!

    (apparently)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Re: Interestingly....

      Correction. They will slowly degrade after a LONG time.

      It depends on the atomic structures and domains (apparently, from my quick read up) and the surrounding environment. Now if we were talking about protons, now they might last forever. :)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patenting FTW

    I'm waiting for the news that Apple has been awarded a patent for "submitting written words via an electromagnetic or carbon-based communication channel to the US Patent Office for the purposes of obtaining a patent, where the words cause the US Patent Office to issue a corresponding patent".

  26. ecofeco Silver badge

    The truth about bad patents

    No joke. Now you know. It's deliberate and now enforced by law.

    http://economixcomix.com/home/tpp/free-trade-pg25-3/

  27. Bladeforce

    But, but.....I invented...

    the magnet, now come on Apple be a good little doggy and pay up you pathetic patent trolling scumbag. I was going to leave you be but as you troll every day i will call an eye for an eye in your case

  28. Morrie Wyatt
    Stop

    Super Saiyan Vegeeta

    I have a toy my kids left behind when they grew up and moved out. One of them now with an 8 year old kid of his own.

    It comprises of a base upon which the model Vegeeta stands, the feet being held by magnets in the base. The magnets and metal slugs in the models feet, are used to provide power to a yellow LED in the head of the model. When you push the button on the base, the electronics within the base make the appropriate noises, and power up the LED in the model in harmony with the sound effects.

    Magnets to hold the two electronic units together in correct alignment? - Check!

    The magnets allow the two electronic units interact? - Check!

    Year of manufacture 2002.

    I'd claim that as over 11 years of prior art, not to mention patently obvious.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just Apple is trying to pretend the Microsoft Surface doesn't exist...

    .... because people needs to augment a table functionalities for any productive tasks.

    Look as there are more and more BT stylus being developed to add iPads digitizer-like features. I'm sure the next "big new feature" for the iPad will be a Wacom digitizer...

  30. Bakana

    Laws of Nature?

    Never mind all the Prior Art arguments.

    What happened to the rule that you can't Patent the Laws of Physics?

    Magnetism is fundamental to the way the Universe works.

    That alone should get this application laughed out the door.

    But, hey, Apple Owns Congress, so "What Apple Wants, Apple Gets."

  31. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    A pedant writes...

    You say "After all, the USPTO is a bit of a black box – pop something into it, and you never really know what will come out the other end."

    Surely the point of a Black Box is that you generally DO know what th eoutput will be for a given input, you just don't know exactly one leads to the other.

    None of which advances the argument one iota and probably has equal numbers of people saying "he's right, you know" and "What an idiot". So I think that's a perfect internet posting.

  32. Tex Arcana

    I guess Apple's gonna try patenting magnetism next...

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