Yesterday, USPTO granted 34 new patents to Apple Inc. One of the patents, U.S. Patent No. 8,934,045, relates to a wearable camera system that can be controlled via a remote. This patent is pretty interesting for a couple of reasons, and seems to stand out from the rest of the patents granted to Apple Inc.
First of all, this patent takes a jab at GoPro cameras, saying that:
[T]he HD Hero2 camera includes only a single image capture system, which captures images using an optical axis directed outward from the ‘front’ of the camera. This can cause excessive wind resistance and presents a high profile that is more susceptible to damage and image artifacts from vibrations in some situations.
Karn, col. 1, lns. 43-49.
You’re probably asking, “Is it seriously necessary to call out GoPro by name?” As you may have guessed, no it’s not. The specification of a nonprovisional patent application, however, does require background of the invention, among many other sections. See MPEP § 608.01(a). Some patent attorneys like to dedicate a “description of the prior art” section in the background, where they discuss the prior art in depth. Personally, I talk about the prior art generally to illustrate why there is a need in the prior art for the invention I’m describing, but it’s not my style to call out different prior art references by name.
Second, this patent has a pretty interesting assignment history when you look at it closely. In fact, FIGs. 3A, 3B, and 3C sort of hint at it. If you look at FIGs. 3A through 3C, you’ll see that there are shown different views of a digital camera of the instant invention. Each view of the camera has “Kodak” written on it.
Well what happened was, the inventors assigned the patent to Eastman Kodak Company on April 5, 2012. Then Kodak assigned the patent to Apple Inc. on March 8, 2013. So you see, Apple did not actually file the application, but Apple now owns the patent. Reportedly, Apple’s assignment was a factor in yesterday’s GoPro stock decline. This just shows you Apple’s sway as a market disruptor, whether or not Apple is actively pursuing to venture into the camera market. Also, the patent itself is a market disruptor, because the patent grant excludes others from making, using, or selling the invention in the U.S.
As a side note, the other thing I noticed while reading the spec was that the summary was written like a claim. It’s always interesting for me to look at different styles of drafting a patent application. Again, I wouldn’t have written the summary like this, but hey, it was good enough for Apple.
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