Portfolio of over 300 patents underscores Steve Jobs' attention to detail
Besides managing day-to-day operations while acting as Appleâs leader for the better part of his career, Jobs took an active role in the various development stages of most iconic products launched by the company, from the first Macintosh computer to the various generations of iPod, iPhone or iPad devices. Unsurprisingly, New York Timesâ Miguel Helft recently noted that Jobs is credited as the âprincipal inventorâ or âone inventor among severalâ on a record 313 Apple patents.
By comparison, Microsoftâs co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates is only listed on nine patents while Googleâs co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin appear in just âmore than a dozen Google patents.â
Apple isnât likely to have added Jobsâ name on these patents in an attempt to âbolster the image of the visionary chief executive,â as some claim, Helft writes. As Standford University law professor Mark Lemley further points out, âif you put someoneâs name who didnât participate, your patent could be invalidated.â
To better put in perspective the involvement of Appleâs former iconic leader, the Times also revealed that Jobs âwas likely to have had an especially prominent role" in the 33 patents "where his name appears first."
Most patents Jobs where Jobs was heavily involved âcover the look and feel of a product.â More than 200 Apple patents that are shared by Jobs with industrial design chief Jonathan Ive back up this detail.
Jobs is also among the authors of various âutility patentsâ which can cover technical details such as âa software algorithm or computer chip,â and itâs worth noting that not all of the devices described in these fillings have been released to consumers.
Of those 313 patents awarded to Apple, Jobs has been credited as the principal inventor in the following cases:
Filed in Nov., 1980, and awarded in Apr., 1983, the âPersonal computerâ U.S. Patent No. D268,584 describes a âpersonal computer, substantially as shownâ and it reveals a device similar to the Apple III, launched by the company in 1981 without a monitor.
Highly portable media device
U.S. Patent No. 7,593,782 contains a âdetailed description of the design and workings of the first iPod shuffle,â Appleâs first iPod that didnât feature a display. The patent filed in Aug. 2005 was awarded in Sept., 2009. Steve Jobsâ name appears in 85 iPod-related patents.
Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics
This U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, awarded in Jan., 2009, describes âa computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command." More generally speaking, the filing covers how touchscreen-based iOS devices such as the iPhone or iPod touch work.
Awarded in Oct., 2002, U.S. Patent No. D464,344 covers âthe ornamental design for a laptop computer, as shown and describedâ and the images it contains resemble Appleâs Powerbook G4 laptop, the Titanium PowerBook, launched by the company in 2001.
Telephone interface for a portable communication device
Awarded in Dec., 2010, U.S. Patent No. 7,860,536 describes âa method of using a portable communications deviceâ which âincludes displaying a first image of a rotary dial in a display of the portable communications device in response to a first contact by a user with a click wheel.â
The United States Patent and Trademark office awarded Apple Patent No. D421,976, which describes âthe ornamental design for a computer keyboard,â in Mar., 2000.
Computer interface having a single window mode of operation
Filed in Jan., 2000 and awarded more than five years later, in Oct., 2005, U.S. Patent No. 6,957,395 describes a system to âmanage the available space of a computer display in a manner which reduces clutter and confusion caused by multiple open windows.â
U.S. Patent No. D478,999 was awarded to Apple in Aug., 2003 and it describes the âornamental design for a staircaseâ which has been related to the glass staircases currently found in several of the company's retail stores.
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