updated 08:00 pm EST, Wed January 4, 2012
Award for using iOS device as flash drive also
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has given Apple a total of 13 patents today, covering a wide range of topics from the design of the Thunderbolt Display to the (at the time) revolutionary interface for managing lists in iOS. The latter is an important patent that may be leveraged in future litigation, as most other smartphone competitors have copied it fairly closely in their own implementations. Apple was also given a patent for its now-discontinued Bluetooth headset.
The list-management patent, which was first filed with the original set of iPhone patents in 2007, describes the system by which a user could add, delete or change the order of lists using only a finger rather than a stylus. The patent application repeats Apple's arguments against the use of styluses, saying that while more precise, their use leads to a cluttered, button-oriented design that depends on that very precision to do anything, whereas a finger-oriented design keeps things simpler.
The company was also granted a patent on the methodology of connecting and pairing an iPhone (and other iOS and iPod devices) for use as a portable hard drive, and another patent for making conference calls. Another awarded patent covered the design of the MagSafe connector.
Apple's short-lived Bluetooth headset won praise for its compact and elegant design (ahead of it's time in comparison to contemporary models) but fell short on versatility, being unable to be used with the iPod and internet functions of the iPhone and having few features other than accepting, ending or declining a call. It sold for $129 and was discontinued in early 2009.
Apple VP of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive is listed as one of the co-inventors of the Thunderbolt and Apple Cinema Display design. Vice President of iOS Development Scott Forstall is listed as one of the co-inventors on the list management patent.