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Apple Seeks Patent on Fused Glass Enclosures for Use on iPhones, iPads, iPods, Displays, and Televisions

Apple last week filed for a European patent (via Patently Apple) on methods for fusing glass pieces together to create various types of glass enclosures for a number of products. While the patent application specifically addresses the general concept of such devices, examples and drawings included in the application outline how the process could be applied to such products as iPhones, iPads, iPods, displays, and even televisions.

Three independent claims in the application describe Apple's use of fused glass to create housings to cover displays or other components:
1. An electronic device, comprising: a display; and a housing in which the display is mounted, wherein the housing includes glass structures that have a recess that receives at least part of the display, wherein the glass housing structures include a planar glass member fused with a peripheral glass member that extends around at least some peripheral edge portions of the planar glass member to form the recess.

11. An electronic device, comprising: an electronic device housing formed from fused glass members including at least first and second opposing planar glass members that are separated by a gap; and display structures inserted into the gap.

20. A method of forming an electronic device, comprising: polishing a planar glass member; fusing a peripheral glass member to at least part of an edge portion of the planar glass member to thicken the planar glass member at the edge portion; and attaching the planar glass member and fused peripheral glass member to a housing structure.
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Example showing an extruded glass enclosure with fused end cap

Further descriptions suggest that while glass display housings could be paired with enclosures made of other materials as on many Apple products, entire enclosures could be also be made of glass.

Of notable interest, Apple design chief Jonathan Ive is named as one of the inventors on the patent, along with Apple designers Peter Russell-Clarke and Mike Pilliod.

apple_fused_glass_patent_3
Hand-drawn figure from Apple's original U.S. filing showing a display and other components inserted into a fused all-glass enclosure

Interestingly, the European patent application cites as priority a U.S. application filed in January 2012. That application was quietly published on July 25 of this year following the expiration of the 18-month confidentiality period on applications, although the application did not specifically name Apple as the assignee of the rights. That application also included rather crude hand drawings for its figures, drawings that were translated into more professional illustrations for the European filing.

Top Rated Comments

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14 months ago
I'm amazed at how little I understand that patent jargon.

After following steps 1, 11, and 20, I've rendered Apple's next hit product:

Rating: 12 Votes
14 months ago
the new ifixit toolkit will include a hammer.
Rating: 9 Votes
14 months ago
So basically this.
Rating: 8 Votes
14 months ago
And talk about difficult to service...
Rating: 7 Votes
14 months ago

apple is worse than monsanto when it comes to patents..


All the companies patent.... for example, here's a new one of Google's...

Google patents the launching of apps when you unlock your screen! Draw a triangle, launch the camera app - draw a square, launch the phone app. So much different than clicking icons, huh?

http://vr-zone.com/articles/google-patents-functionality-to-launch-apps-through-pattern-unlock-on-android/49728.html (http://vr-zone.com/articles/google-patents-functionality-to-launch-apps-through-pattern-unlock-on-android/49728.html)

Tell me that this is a novel idea, and 'worthy' of a patent unlike the Apple patents.

The thing is - we just hear of Apple patents on here, not other company patents.
Rating: 5 Votes
14 months ago

Tell me that this is a novel idea, and 'worthy' of a patent unlike the Apple patents.

The thing is - we just hear of Apple patents on here, not other company patents.


You're totally right - because if another company is being an *******, we should applaud Apple when they sink to the same lows!

So next time Coke poisons a water supply in India does that mean we're all cool for Apple to just dump some heavy metal in the Chinese drinking water? Because you know, other companies are doing it.....

We need to be adults and realise that just because we like Apple as a whole and the great stuff it does, we don't have to defend everything it does.

We can hate the bad stuff Apple does and still be an Apple supporter.

In fact, if you truly want Apple to continue to improve as a company, that's exactly what you should do.
Rating: 4 Votes
14 months ago
Ok. I'm a big Apple fan but is fusing glass to make an enclosure really a novel idea?
Rating: 4 Votes
14 months ago
apple is worse than monsanto when it comes to patents..
Rating: 3 Votes
14 months ago
It's an idea, not a process.
The process they use should be patentable, not the idea of fusing glass to make an enclosure.

Should I be able to patent the idea of a laminated wood enclosure for a phone???

Processes, products, algorithms; NOT IDEAS!
Rating: 3 Votes
14 months ago
Am I missing something here or are Apple really patenting a glass box? I'm pretty sure I've seen them before.
Rating: 3 Votes

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