A Look at Steve Jobs' 313 Apple Patents

With Steve Jobs' resignation as Apple CEO yesterday, there have been many reflections on his career and the impact he had on shaping Apple, the technology industry, and beyond. The New York Times takes an interesting perspective on his attention to detail, noting that Jobs has been named as an inventor on a total of 313 Apple patents. Of those, Jobs appears as the lead inventor 33 times.

jobs glass staircase patent
Image from Jobs' glass staircase patent

Jobs' name appears not only on patents for iconic devices like the iPhone but also on a number of less prominent details ranging from the glass staircases found in some Apple retail stores to power adapters to cardboard packaging for various iPod models.

Mr. Jobs appears as the principal inventor or as one inventor among several on 313 Apple patents. Most are design patents that cover the look and feel of a product, rather than utility patents, which may cover a technical innovation like a software algorithm or computer chip.

Still, the number of patents is far larger than those granted to most other technology company chiefs, including those whose technical breakthroughs and inventions were instrumental to their companies’ success. Just nine Microsoft patents carry the name of Bill Gates, who was a co-founder of the company and its chief executive for more than two decades before stepping down in 2000. And little more than a dozen Google patents carry the names of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, according to a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Web site.

The New York Times has put together an interactive feature highlighting Apple patents attributed to Jobs. More than 200 of the patents attributed to Jobs also list Apple design guru Jonathan Ive, indicating the close collaboration between the two in creating the vision for Apple's products.

Top Rated Comments

MorphingDragon Avatar
145 months ago
313 patents? That's like Edison all over again..

Yes but Jobs didn't have Tesla to copy off. :D
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jmoore5196 Avatar
145 months ago
One of Steve Jobs' role models was Edwin Land. Land was the second-most prolific inventor in American history after Thomas Edison ... if you've work polarized sunglasses or used a Polaroid instant camera, you used something Land invented.

Jobs actually met Land a couple of times (if there were no other reason, that would automatically make Steve an object of my esteem) and - in my estimation - patterned much of Apple's product development over the past decade on the model Polaroid pioneered some decades before.

The difference: Jobs learned from Land's mistakes. The clear succession path - which did not exist at Polaroid until shareholders forced the issue - is an example. Apple will continue to innovate and be relevant; all of us who use Apple products have good reason to be thankful for Steve Jobs' tenure. He sowed the whirlwind of accomplishment that we'll see in years ahead. I think Jobs is right: Apple's best days lie ahead.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacSince1990 Avatar
145 months ago
Yes but Jobs didn't have Tesla to copy off. :D

No, he had Xerox ;)
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nskinsella Avatar
145 months ago
There is no such thing as a "lead inventor"

I've written and prosecuted hundreds of patent applications. You just have to list all the inventors. The order is legally insignificant.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
markcres Avatar
145 months ago
Glass staircase :rolleyes:
Could be a pervert's dream lying underneath while pretty girls in skirts walk up :o
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
razmaspaz Avatar
145 months ago
Pixar mainly creates movies out of Apple software. Moreover, Jobs is no longer owner of Pixar, Disney is.

Uh,
First off no, they don't create movies out of Apple software, they create movies using renderman, maya and a host of other 3D tools that Apple does not produce. They edit them on Final Cut. Additionally the tech that Pixar pioneered would have required a host of engineering and I'm shocked that Steve's name isn't on any of the patents. You think they didn't have to solve complex problems with render farms, 3d shading, digital mapping, or production process? He may no longer "own" it, but he was CEO for a long time. He doesn't "own" Apple either, but that didn't stop him there.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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