The following Apple patent application is published and pending examination:

Title: Reversible usb connector with compliant member to spread stress and increase contact normal force

  • Publication number: US20140235095 A1
  • Publication type: Application
  • Application number: US 14/183,254
  • Publication date: Aug 21, 2014
  • Filing date: Feb 18, 2014
  • Priority date: Feb 15, 2013
  • First named Applicant: Apple Inc.

Also note, the nearly identical patents US20140206209 A1 and WO2014116694 A2, Reversible usb connector. For the remainder of this document, only the first-listed patent application will be referenced, but the information provided is similarly applicable to these additional patent applications.

Prior Art

The following is evidence of prior art which should render this patent application invalid:

Item 1:

Patent US7094086, "Reversible universal serial bus (USB) device and connector"

  • Publication date: Aug 22, 2006
  • Priority date: Aug 2, 2004

Images and descriptions are nearly identical between this patent and the patent application in concern. Even if the claims are not identical, they are so close in both description and in variety of embodiments that this patent, recognized as prior art, is only trivially different from the ideas expressed in Apple's application.

Not only is Apple's patent application nearly identical, it is in many ways of inferior quality. In many cases, the 2006 patent has significantly more implementation detail, while Apple's application leaves out key information that is necessary to create a functional device. Example: Apple's Fig 11A, 11B, 15A, 15B and associated text describes a "crossover contact frame" design that would inevitably cause a short-circuit between all four pins via the receptacle's metal shell (this is bad). In comparison, patent US7094086 demonstrates a nearly identical embodiment in Fig. 3a-f and associated text, while providing one particular solution to the short-circuit problem.

Item 2:

Patent US7717717, "User-friendly USB connector"

  • Publication date: May 18, 2010
  • Priority date: Jun 26, 2009

This patent describes a specific implementation which is described in both the first patent (Fig. 4a-g in patent US7094086) and Apple's patent application (Fig. 14a-b). This patent was quite probably granted in error, as it clearly infringes on the patent in Item 1, but this does not excuse the Apple patent application from infringing on both of them.

Item 3:

Flipper USB, a product line of reversible USB thumb drives, Type A adapters, and male connector parts, covered by patent US7717717 (Item 2). This product has been in public view since 2010, as evidenced by the news articles linked on the Flipper USB website. To be clear, Flipper USB is a commercial product that implements the embodiments described in Fig. 4a-g of patent US7094086 (Item 1) and Fig. 14a-b of US20140235095 (Apple's patent application).

Any tips, suggestions, or additional information would be greatly appreciated!

  • What, exactly are you asking here, or asking for? Are you looking for additional prior art? Are you asking for advice on how to pursue action against the patent based on the prior art? Are you asking others to verify that the prior art is, in fact, applicable? Just saying "here's a patent, here's prior art, discuss amongst yourselves" doesn't tell us what you need. – Ben Barden Dec 8 '14 at 17:04
  • My goal was primarily to a list of prior art, and I am rather new to this so any additional information or feedback is appreciated. I did some more research and ended up submitting a "Third-Party Preissuance Submission under 37 CFR 1.290", for patent application 14/160,528 (US20140206209 , Reversible usb connector). – Cowdozer Jan 1 '15 at 6:39

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