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Apple recently filed an application in the US: 20130216740

INTERLOCKING FLEXIBLE SEGMENTS FORMED FROM A RIGID MATERIAL

I am confused by the contrasting elements of the description, such as this method of "creating a flexible structure from a rigid material".

  • In one regard it sounds like a method for taking a solid material sheet and slicing / piecing / processing it in such a way that it becomes a flexible material, like how a wooden chain is made.

  • In another regard it sounds like [a technique to produce] a phone case that is variably rigid or flexible based on something.

Is the language of this patent typical?


Feel free to re-word the question itself, if it can be asked better.

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In English this basically just means making something similar to a hinge. It describes using a geometric pattern to remove parts of the metals to make it flexible. This just means cutting it into a certain shape. I think prior art in this case could be a door hinge :D –  Steven Glick Aug 28 '13 at 14:10
    
I see what you're getting at. This seems significantly more complex, though. Is it in the 'vein' of this table patent –  New Alexandria Aug 28 '13 at 14:14
    
Yes, I know it does get more complex later on in the patent. The first few claims, however, are how I described above. I'm still looking into the rest of it. –  Steven Glick Aug 28 '13 at 14:18
    
I think they are referring to a method of creating an actual flexible sheet of metal. Its hard to tell for sure because of how they word things, but it seems that is what they are getting at... Also... I want one of those tables now :) –  Steven Glick Aug 28 '13 at 14:47
    
It is a a way of making a kind of a "living hinge". –  George White Aug 28 '13 at 15:27

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This patent is obvious-- it is a "living hinge," with the "unique" aspect that it is "with a laser." Such structures are routinely created in plastic mouldings-- hinges on boxes of baby wipes, strain relievers for wires, etc. This is an obvious extension of such plastic mouldings, but with a laser.

See "living hinges" at the bottom of this page: http://www.solidconcepts.com/resources/dg/injection-molding-design-guidelines/

Strain relief devices, as seen here: http://www.timbercon.com/assets/Uploads/fiber-optic-glossary/images/strain-relief.jpg

Laser-cut hinges, just like those in Apple's patent application, have been published on the internet before Apple's application date, so Apple's patent shouldn't get approved.

Here are a few: http://www.deferredprocrastination.co.uk/blog/2011/laser-cut-lattice-living-hinges/ http://makezine.com/2011/10/25/plywood-living-hinge-technique-for-laser-cutters/

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I'm understanding more from all the responses. Go great! You do not think that the specific geometry specs in the patent give them a claim? (e.g. because any one geometry is not inventive) Would it have worked if it were a design patent? –  New Alexandria Aug 28 '13 at 18:30
    
Also, welcome to Patents.SE! Look to see you around? –  New Alexandria Aug 28 '13 at 18:32
    
In fact "with laser" appears in only a few of the dependent claims and not at all in any independent claims. Whatever they think is novel, it is not that a laser is used. If the claims as filed are rejected they can try retreating to specific geometries in their application that might or might not be novel. –  George White Aug 29 '13 at 2:57

This is a picture of a "kerf bend" in wood. Material is removed to make a flexible portion from something inflexible. In Apple's case the geometry is different and more complex.

enter image description here

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