As any patent attorney will know, there is a great deal of valuable information contained within the file wrapper associated with the prosecution of a patent. Although a review of prior art can be helpful in determining whether an invention is patentable, more insight can be gained through a review of a patent application’s rejections, claim adjustments and other correspondence that has taken place between an applicant’s representatives and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office examiners. Today, image file wrappers made available through the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR), accessible over the Internet, contain this information.
The Public PAIR system has its shortcomings, however. It’s not terribly useful for finding a wide range of patents in a certain technological field, not in the same way that users can search for patent keywords on Google’s patent search or FreePatentsOnline.com. To look up an image file wrapper through the PAIR portal, a person must already know the specific patent for which he or she is looking. It’s also difficult to view more than one file wrapper at a time, which makes it difficult to compare official correspondence related to multiple patent applications.
To illustrate the kind of information that Public PAIR can reveal, we’ve collaborated with The Patent Box, a patent research startup headquartered in Philadelphia, PA that develops Public PAIR research and monitoring tools. As anyone who has used the PAIR online portal will know, staying on top of issue notifications for a patent application can be time consuming and current monitoring services tend to be an expensive alternative. However, since The Patent Box is currently piloting a new high-volume monitoring service they were able to use to show us some of the patent applications from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for which the USPTO will soon issue as patents. The following should give our readers at least a little idea of the kind of information that can be quickly gleaned using PAIR research tools like what The Patent Box is currently offering.
Upcoming Apple Patents: From Real-Time Traffic Data to Synchronizing Apps for Travel
On October 27th, Apple will be issued a patent for the technology which is outlined within U.S. Patent Application No. 20110133995, filed under the title Bezel Gap Antennas. The patent issued will protect an antenna in an electronic device having a ground plane, a conductive path formed partly from conductive structures and comprising a gap filled with dielectric, a dielectric coating on the conductive structures, a first antenna feed terminal connected to the conductive path at a first side of the gap, a second antenna feed terminal connected to the ground plane and an electrical element interposed in the conductive path between the two antenna feed terminals. This innovative antenna configuration provides a compact structure for a wireless antenna in an electronic device which is less susceptible to interference from conductive structures, like metal housing components, which can affect radio-frequency performance. The file wrapper for this patent application shows that it has faced two final rejections, the latest of which was this May and cited U.S. Code Title 35 Section 112 objections for lack of specification in at least one claim, while multiple claims ran afoul of Section 103’s rules for obviousness.
Improved methods for marking electronic devices with pertinent information like serial or model number is at the center of U.S. Patent Application No. 20130251915, entitled Techniques for Marking Product Housings. Issuing on October 27th, the first claim of the patent, which has not changed from the original patent application filing, discloses a method of depositing material to selected regions of an electronic device housing by depositing a layer of UV curable material onto a housing surface of the electronic device housing, partially curing selected portions of the UV curable material layer, removing remaining portions of the UV curable material layer that have not been partially cured and completing curing of the portions of the UV curable material layer that were partially cured. This novel technique for marking electronic devices enables pertinent information to made on an electronic device housing which are sufficiently accurate and precise for making legible small markings. This patent application only faced one non-final rejection last November, which cited concerns under Section 103’s rules regarding obviousness, Section 112’s rules regarding specification as well as a double patenting claim regarding two claims which were substantially similar.
On the same date, Apple will be issued a patent for a technology that analyzes a person’s travel plans to provide them with potential points of interest, laid out within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140223448, titled Dynamic Location Search Suggestions Based on Travel Itineraries. The amended first claim of this patent application will protect a method involving detecting itinerary information stored by a first application, identifying a travel destination based on the itinerary information, communicating the travel destination to a second application, storing the travel destination in a second application which is adapted to retrieve local information based on an identified geographic location, detecting the satisfaction of a triggering threshold for providing the local information, providing the local information for the travel destination in response to user interaction with the second application and in response to the threshold for the triggering event being satisfied, communicating the travel destination to a third application that retrieves local information based on an identified geographic location, providing local information of a first type through the second application at a time prior to the time of travel and providing local information of a second type through the third application at a time prior to the time of travel but after the time at which the information of a first type is provided. This innovation enables automatic updating of device application, such as weather or clock apps, in response to the detection that a user has travel plans. The file wrapper shows that this patent application did face a final rejection in March of this year for non-obviousness in light of a technology for data synchronization among widgets and the dashboard in a virtual environment.
Many electronic device developers have an interest in providing upgraded navigational routing information applications and Apple will increase its IP holdings in this area when they are issued a patent on the 27th for U.S. Patent Application No. 20130332077, which is titled Encoded Representation of Route Data. The amended first claim of this patent will protect a method of encoding route data on a route server by receiving a request for route data for a route comprising a plurality of junctures including maneuvering instruction data associated with each juncture, determining whether the associated maneuvering instruction data is producible by the route client and encoding the route data by excluding any maneuvering instruction data that can be produced by the route client. This invention is intended to address shortcomings in traffic data displays on which traffic data is superimposed, which can sometimes produce an inaccurate representation of traffic data over multiple zoom levels of static road images. In November of last year, this patent application received a non-final rejection of most claims under Section 101 of U.S. patent code, the examiner arguing that the claimed invention is directed at unpatentable subject matter as an abstract idea which was no more than “mere instructions to implement the idea on a computer.”
Finally, the 27th will also be the issue date for the patent protecting the technology outlined within U.S. Patent Application No. 20130332942, which is titled Targeted Memory Pressure Event Notifications. The patent will protect a method of managing memory by assigning priorities to processes running on a device, determining that less than a threshold number of high priority processes are active on the device when a memory pressure on the device exceeds a threshold and sending a memory pressure event notification to an active process with the lowest priority to initiate a memory reclamation event when less than the threshold number of high priority processes are active on the device. This innovation is intended to provide a computing scheme through which a limited amount of random access memory (RAM) can be balanced between high priority applications running critical system processes and low priority applications which can affect a user’s experience if terminated because of a lack of available RAM. One final rejection was issued on this patent application in April 2014. It issued a rejection for obviousness under Section 103 in light of a similar technology filed with the USPTO for a system of managing an electronic device’s RAM to process multiple applications without killing applications, again impacting a user’s experience.
About The Patent Box
The Patent Box’s patent research website currently provides a database of more than 100,000 file wrappers comprising millions of official USPTO correspondence documents pertaining to patent prosecution. A free membership will give users limited access of The Patent Box’s search features while the $100 monthly membership unlocks full search capability as well as some patent application monitoring.
The firm is seeking pilot users now for their new high-volume Public PAIR monitoring service. The service is designed to support competitor monitoring applications and should launch at a monthly cost of less than $2/application. The service utilizes a variable PAIR synch interval that is dynamically determined for each application using a prosecution event model that the firm is developing. Specifically, the pilot program is seeking users interested in monitoring 250 or more U.S. patent applications concurrently. More information about the pilot can be found here.