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Apple seeks to patent Universal Connector

updated 05:21 pm EDT, Thu October 25, 2012

Universal connector described matches Lightning

Apple has filed a patent covering the technology behind its Lightning connector cables. The patent is titled "Universal Connector," and it purports to describe "circuits, methods, and apparatus that limit the number of types of connectors needed by an electronic device." The technology is aimed at reducing "the number and types of connector receptacles needed on an electronic device."

The patent filing begins by detailing the proliferation of myriad sorts of electronic devices: tablets, laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, and so forth. These devices tend to have a range of ports and connections, many of which may not match or will require adapters in order to allow devices to interact. "Thus, what is needed," the filing concludes, "are circuits, methods, and apparatus that limit the types of connector receptacles needed by an electronic device."

The patent goes on to describe a connector insert that "may be inserted in either of two orientations, such as right-side-up or up-side-down," much like the current Lightning connector, which Apple noted is reversible.

The receptacle for the connector reads the pads on the connector, thereby determining which sort of device it is and what sort of input the receptacle can expect from the device.

The invention described is, by the patent filing's own description, not meant solely for Apple's iOS devices. The illustrations accompanying the filing show it connecting a computer to a monitor, and it could be applied to a number of other devices. The patent was filed on April 24 of this year, and there is no indication of when or if it may begin to show up in Apple devices.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Wiskedjak

    Posting Junkie

    Joined: 06-04-02

    I don't think it's possible for something to be both patented and "universal"

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Then you do not understand how patents work vs. licensing.

    Seat belts, for example, are both patented AND universal. Volvo just made them free to license.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Originally Posted by WiskedjakView Post

    I don't think it's possible for something to be both patented and "universal"



    It isn't "universal" as in "everyone uses it in the universe". It's universal as in "everything that plugs into my computer uses this one connector.

    For example, thunderbolt is a universal port. It uses the mini-displayport, BTW, which is patented to Apple but also licensed by apple (not that anyone is really running out there trying to make all these devices for it!)

  1. Wiskedjak

    Posting Junkie

    Joined: 06-04-02

    Originally Posted by testudoView Post


    It isn't "universal" as in "everyone uses it in the universe". It's universal as in "everything that plugs into my computer uses this one connector.
    For example, thunderbolt is a universal port. It uses the mini-displayport, BTW, which is patented to Apple but also licensed by apple (not that anyone is really running out there trying to make all these devices for it!)


    So, to clarify, I don't think it's possible for something to be both patented by Apple and "universal", as evidenced by the Thunderbolt port. A huge part of the reason why nobody running out to make Thunderbolt devices is the huge cost of licensing for it.

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