updated 11:53 am EST, Wed December 26, 2012
Includes current 'plunger system'
Apple has won a USPTO patent on a proprietary SIM card connector format, notes AppleInsider. SIM cards are used in all GSM-based cellular devices, which in Apple's case includes models of the iPhone and iPad. The patent documents ways of inserting or removing a SIM card, specifically in a way that protects both the card and the device from being damaged if a person makes a mistake.
One part of the patent covers the "plunger system" used to eject cards on iPhones and iPads. A specially-crafted pin is pushed into a hole, which triggers a release mechanism eliminating the need to pull a card out by hand.
Apple recently became more invested in SIM technology after the European Telecommunications Standards Institute decided to adopt Apple's nano-SIM design as an industry standard. Nano-SIMs are used in the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini, but not in full-sized iPads, which still depend on micro-SIMs. Most non-Apple devices use either a regular or a micro-SIM.