Apple granted patent for curved touch surfaces, could lead to curved-display iPhones

By on December 11, 2013, 10:30 AM

Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office related to curved touch surfaces, leading many to believe they might be experimenting with curved displays for the iPhone.

Specifically, the patent details the manufacturing technique used to produce accurate, curved touch surfaces that are free of typical deficiencies caused by substrate warping or deformation. The technology would naturally be used in displays, touch pads and touch mice according to Apple Insider.

Apple points out that current touch panel technology, like those containing thin-film conductors, are tough to work with because of the desired thickness of the substrate and thin film. When putting a thin film over a flexible substrate like plastic, heat must be applied at a lower temperature to prevent structural damage despite the fact that higher temperatures allow for greater thin film resistiveness and better optical properties.

In addition to a simple single curve, Apple also outlines a technique to create more than one curvature. By adding a second or third forming substrate, Apple could in theory create something like a wave or other curved surface.

As with any patent, just because it was granted doesn’t mean we are guaranteed to see it arrive in a consumer product. But given the fact that curved displays seem to be a rather popular and budding technology at the moment, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some sort of curved display show up on a future mobile device from Cupertino.




User Comments: 32

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4 people like this | wastedkill said:

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!

Sorry caps was needed I mean come on apple get granted soo many patents that they have nothing to do with its beyond a joke. Other companies have been releasing phones with curved touch surfaces they haven't even started planning that yet.

This should be given to a company that actually makes curved touch surfaces instead to a greedy company.

OneSpeed said:

Apple have people working in the USTPO. I mean c'mon. Samsung and LG were the first with this. It will be interesting to see how the courts deal with this one. BTW, Samsung and LG are kinda stupid for not getting a patent on this.

4 people like this | Guest said:

With every month that goes by, my decision not to purchase ANY apple products is reaffirmed.

Guest said:

Ammm, those same "other companies" could have patented it as well, sooo why didn't they?! Especially since they are already making curved displays? Ikr, so dumb...

1 person liked this | wastedkill said:

The patent system probably saw a few companies including apple, samsung etc. then because someone is on apples payroll they gave it apple first.

1 person liked this | 9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Apple doesn't even make displays! It's like Gucci patenting safety glass for automobiles. Guess it's just another bridge for their patent trolls to guard. I swear, you can get a patent regarding the forming letters into words and troll the world.

2 people like this | Blkfx1 Blkfx1 said:

You guys didn't know? Apple owns all patents. Even the ones that haven't been thought of yet.

OneSpeed said:

Ammm, those same "other companies" could have patented it as well, sooo why didn't they?! Especially since they are already making curved displays? Ikr, so dumb...

Yes, agreed, and those companies are dumb. Apple will look dumber, and probably win in Lucy Koh's courtroom, but how can you be blind and agree with Apple's so-called innovation?

Guest said:

Apple has a patent on the patent making process. So essentially only Apple can create patents.

1 person liked this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ammm, those same "other companies" could have patented it as well, sooo why didn't they?! Especially since they are already making curved displays? Ikr, so dumb...

Probably because nobody in their right mind assumes that a frivolous patent can be given for a curved surface?

I guess it's not too surprising, they got a patent for a rectangle with rounded corners... Apple's competition should have seen this coming and tried to patent it themselves.

Guest said:

Ammm, those same "other companies" could have patented it as well, sooo why didn't they?! Especially since they are already making curved displays? Ikr, so dumb...

Yes, agreed, and those companies are dumb. Apple will look dumber, and probably win in Lucy Koh's courtroom, but how can you be blind and agree with Apple's so-called innovation?

Apple saw an opportunity and grabbed it, I really don't see what the issue is here, this is the nature of business, this is not a charity. Apple is still an innovative company, yes in-no-va-tive, not inventive. And to be an innovative company takes vision, it's about using the tools available to you and making creating something awesome.

wastedkill said:

Apple saw an opportunity and grabbed it, I really don't see what the issue is here, this is the nature of business, this is not a charity. Apple is still an innovative company, yes in-no-va-tive, not inventive. And to be an innovative company takes vision, it's about using the tools available to you and making creating something awesome.

Steve jobs was the only person at apple that could do that now he is gone apple's only chance of survival is to patent the next-big-thing and sue the hell out a everyone else. If history shows us anything its apple starts to rot and wither away without jobs.

OneSpeed said:

Ammm, those same "other companies" could have patented it as well, sooo why didn't they?! Especially since they are already making curved displays? Ikr, so dumb...

Yes, agreed, and those companies are dumb. Apple will look dumber, and probably win in Lucy Koh's courtroom, but how can you be blind and agree with Apple's so-called innovation?

Apple saw an opportunity and grabbed it, I really don't see what the issue is here, this is the nature of business, this is not a charity. Apple is still an innovative company, yes in-no-va-tive, not inventive. And to be an innovative company takes vision, it's about using the tools available to you and making creating something awesome.

Ethically and morally wrong. For Apple, it's about stealing an idea to prevent others from using it until they are paid though the courts. You are wrong in your assertion that they are making or creating, because it's already been done. Apple is just trying to prevent others from selling something they've already made. Google it.

Guest said:

The last thing I would do is defend Apple. However, I think the patent is not for curved screens in general but the particular process that Apple have developed to actually make them in such a way that improves manufacturability and resilience. It's no different to Sony patenting their Trinitron technology.

This kind of stuff can appear obvious to the technically-minded, but it's one thing to think of the idea and quite another risk spending the money on R&D to actually try and make it for the mass market. There has to be some kind of reward for developing this stuff otherwise very few people would think it was worth it.

I do think that the patent durations need to be looked at though and I think there's a case to made for companies like Apple to be obliged to cede patent rights once they've recouped multiples of their initial investment in the particular technology the patent refers to.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You know technically that means they only have a patent on a single direction curve. The patent on multi-direction curve is still open.

1 person liked this | Blkfx1 Blkfx1 said:

You know technically that means they only have a patent on a single direction curve. The patent on multi-direction curve is still open.

Quick, @cliffordcooley here is our chance to patent it!

1 person liked this | wastedkill said:

Cant forget multi-touch curved touch surfaces, multi-touch curve devices. I should patent those 2.... I could have a field day with apple once they start doing multi-touch curved devices lol!

2 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Ammm, those same "other companies" could have patented it as well, sooo why didn't they?! Especially since they are already making curved displays? Ikr, so dumb...

Yes, agreed, and those companies are dumb. Apple will look dumber, and probably win in Lucy Koh's courtroom, but how can you be blind and agree with Apple's so-called innovation?

Apple saw an opportunity and grabbed it, I really don't see what the issue is here, this is the nature of business, this is not a charity. Apple is still an innovative company, yes in-no-va-tive, not inventive. And to be an innovative company takes vision, it's about using the tools available to you and making creating something awesome.

Yeah, creating something they didn't steal first. The only thing awesome about Apple is their ability to BS and overcharge while not blushing.

hitech0101 said:

Apple never innovates it simply patents them.

Guest said:

Ammm, those same "other companies" could have patented it as well, sooo why didn't they?! Especially since they are already making curved displays? Ikr, so dumb...

Yes, agreed, and those companies are dumb. Apple will look dumber, and probably win in Lucy Koh's courtroom, but how can you be blind and agree with Apple's so-called innovation?

Apple saw an opportunity and grabbed it, I really don't see what the issue is here, this is the nature of business, this is not a charity. Apple is still an innovative company, yes in-no-va-tive, not inventive. And to be an innovative company takes vision, it's about using the tools available to you and making creating something awesome.

Ethically and morally wrong. For Apple, it's about stealing an idea to prevent others from using it until they are paid though the courts. You are wrong in your assertion that they are making or creating, because it's already been done. Apple is just trying to prevent others from selling something they've already made. Google it.

Your are right, and I do agree with you. Morally wrong? Or Business smart? They dropped the ball (idk how they could), and apple picked it up, seems like commonsense to me :/ Again, innovating and inventing are two different words with different meanings. Apple didn't make the first tablet, or finger print scanning phone, but they didn't it better, and suddenly...tablets everywhere, every one is making tables. It's not about who did it first, it's about who did it better. I will not be surprised if phones with fingerprint scanners start showing up.

OneSpeed said:

Ammm, those same "other companies" could have patented it as well, sooo why didn't they?! Especially since they are already making curved displays? Ikr, so dumb...

Yes, agreed, and those companies are dumb. Apple will look dumber, and probably win in Lucy Koh's courtroom, but how can you be blind and agree with Apple's so-called innovation?

Apple saw an opportunity and grabbed it, I really don't see what the issue is here, this is the nature of business, this is not a charity. Apple is still an innovative company, yes in-no-va-tive, not inventive. And to be an innovative company takes vision, it's about using the tools available to you and making creating something awesome.

Ethically and morally wrong. For Apple, it's about stealing an idea to prevent others from using it until they are paid though the courts. You are wrong in your assertion that they are making or creating, because it's already been done. Apple is just trying to prevent others from selling something they've already made. Google it.

Your are right, and I do agree with you. Morally wrong? Or Business smart? They dropped the ball (idk how they could), and apple picked it up, seems like commonsense to me :/ Again, innovating and inventing are two different words with different meanings. Apple didn't make the first tablet, or finger print scanning phone, but they didn't it better, and suddenly...tablets everywhere, every one is making tables. It's not about who did it first, it's about who did it better. I will not be surprised if phones with fingerprint scanners start showing up.

Agreed. I actually buy a lot of Apple's and Samsung's products for the household, but the thing that bugs me is the marketing (aka, lies) machine that Apple is, saying they "invented it first", and this goes back to the GUI, the mouse, and don't get me started on the rectangle with the rounded corners!

Guest said:

I love how everyone is jumping on the "Apple Patent Troll Bandwagon", but you are missing the bigger picture. Curved displays are neat, but they are pretty well useless on a phone. The few advantages they might have (Fitting in your pocket, keeping the display from touching a surface) aren't enough to warrant a massive change. The one place they would be more usable, is PC Monitors and to a lesser extent, Televisions. Imagine a Gaming PC with the monitor curving around you. 1 Monitor instead of multiple.

CorvusCorax said:

Am I mistaken that the LG G Flex curved phone would be prior-art, making this patent invalid?

CorvusCorax said:

Ahh, they patented the manufacturing process, not curved screens themselves. Reading comprehension fail.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Am I mistaken that the LG G Flex curved phone would be prior-art, making this patent invalid?

The LG Flex might not qualify as prior art because the curved surface is horizontal. Same with the Samsung Round, as that surface is vertically, but it's concave and not convex like Apple's design. Those subtleties seem to matter in a court, even if they are implicitly described in the patent.

1 person liked this | p51d007 said:

2 seconds after the patent was approved, they ran next door and filed a lawsuit against Samsung & LG for having curved screens LOL.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

If Apple uses this to sue Samsung/LG I swear I will denounce all Apple products. They won't be getting a penny from me. As for why didn't Samsung/LG get a patent? Apple is an American company, Samsung/LG aren't, gee what's going on here? I swear our patent system is so messed up.

Guest said:

How can you patent something that is only an idea on paper . Patents should be given only if the idea on paper is working in real life

dennis777 dennis777 said:

Why patent a process? do car companies patent how build cars? their are secrets in building a car but I dont know of a car company that patent it.

Spykezxp Spykezxp said:

You cant really blame Apple for the patent on the process that they "might use". I'm not defending Apple or any other company. I'm simply stating that they are doing what they have to do to survive, just like ALL companies do. The US Patent office/system is the one that is riddled with flaws and needs to be changed. For them to allow some of the things to be patented in the last couple years makes me really wonder who is really in charge and what kind of changes need to be made.

Skip Rennert said:

One can only hope the patent office actually refines how it compares new applications with patents already granted. I for one see no difference between this and the many common laminate processes that use molds, substrates and mechanical pressure.

A corporate policy of seeking suspect patents -to close legitimate innovators and alternative products out of a market - isn't very consumer friendly and is never sustainable over the long run.

pmshah said:

The whole patent granting process in US is royally fu***d up. A company should be required to submit a finished working product. Then only any patent used in that product my be granted a patent.

In this particular case since they have already been granted the patent they should be required to submit a working model within say 15/ 20 days failing which they should be barred from filing any patent applications in future !!!

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