Apple patents Apple Watch Sport Band, Classic Buckle and Link Bracelet designs

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited April 2015
Just days before Apple Watch is slated to ship out to early buyers, Apple on Tuesday was granted patents for its unique Sport Band, Classic Buckle and Link Bracelet device accessories, protecting the innovative designs from potential copycats.


Source: USPTO


Assigned to Apple by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Patent Nos. D727,197, D727,198 and D727,199, all titled "Band," cover designs for three Apple Watch accessories that have since been branded Sport Band, Classic Buckle and Link Bracelet, respectively. The patents come one month after the USPTO granted Apple a patent for the Apple Watch's "Modern Buckle" strap.

Already well documented and available for try-on at Apple Stores worldwide, Apple's bands feature magnetic pegs that facilitate easy swapping and installation. In practice, users simply depress a pusher on Watch's casing, slide out the band and insert a new one.




Apple's Link Bracelet design shows off what is arguably the most intricate Apple Watch accessory to be offered at launch. Constructed from stainless steel, the band contains more than 100 parts, including an innovative spring-loaded butterfly clasp that, when closed, sits flush with surrounding links.

Unlike other link bracelets of similar design, Apple's product can be adjusted at home without tools thanks to a series of special spacer links that feature individual release buttons. Pressing the button detaches the link from its next door neighbor, granting wearers the ability to easily reconfigure bracelet length using nothing but their fingers.




For the sport version, Apple's drawings clearly outline a "fold under" design in which wearers fix loop size via a pin-and-tuck fastening system. Users first adjust the band to size, seat a large pin in the nearest hole and slip excess strap under the band. The design is tailored to prevent bands from flapping about, a good feature for active users.

Sport Band is made from fluoroelastomer, a dense but flexible material that feels surprisingly soft against the skin. According to Apple Store representatives, the fluoroelastomer recipe was strenuously tested to prevent rashes and other adverse skin reactions.




Finally, the Classic Buckle, like Apple's Modern Buckle and Milanese Loop, features traditional lugs connecting the magnetic peg system to a simple leather strap. Terminating one end is an oval-shaped buckle and tang, while the other section sports sizing notches spaced at regular intervals. A fixed hoop stays excess material.

Each of Apple's three strap design patents were applied for in August of 2014 and credit a number of inventors, including SVP of Design Jony Ive, designer Marc Newson and longtime employees like Jody Akana, Duncan Robert Kerr and Christopher Stringer.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    mac voyermac voyer Posts: 1,283member
    Those watch bands just might be the next billion dollar business.
  • Reply 2 of 30

    I read few days ago, that these bands are going to be the next iphone's cases..

  • Reply 3 of 30
    rmb0037rmb0037 Posts: 142member
    I love that link bracelet so much. Mainly because it's not a pain in the butt to take out a few links to make it shorter.

    I am curious though how they were able to patent the classic buckle. Unless this is just referring to the way it attaches to the watch itself?
  • Reply 4 of 30

    Yep.  Lots of 3rd Party bands coming out.

    Some of them quite ugly too.

  • Reply 5 of 30

    LOL

    well they are iphone cases that are ugly as well.

  • Reply 6 of 30
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member

    Do these actually work? Until there's some sort of 'made for ?Watch' program by Apple I'd be skeptical of any third party bands. Especially ones being announced now considering they don't have a watch or bands to reverse engineer what Apple has done. And if Apple has a patent on how the band next to the why couldn't they sue anyone making bands for the watch and not paying some sort of royalty to Apple?
  • Reply 7 of 30
    It's these kind of innovations - applied to the most simple concepts - that make Apple such an incredible company. No other watch or smart watch manufacturer thought of redesigning traditional watch bands to make fit and form easier on the wearer.
  • Reply 8 of 30

    The "D" means these are design patents. These are more like registered trademarks or copyrights than what is usually implied by "patent". They protect against copying the look and feel of an object, not how they work (an article patent) or how they are made (a process patent).

     

    It would be helpful if AppleInsider got into the habit of using the phrase "Design Patent" in their ledes, not buried towards the end.

  • Reply 9 of 30
    by submitting the patents to the USPTO before showing the Apple Watch to the public, Apple removed a defense play Google used against Appke in Germany. Google claimed since Apple showed technology to the public before submitting a patent for it, the technology could not be patented. The German court agreed. This time around, Google has to think of another way to do no evil.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    mejsricmejsric Posts: 134member
    rogifan wrote: »
    Do these actually work? Until there's some sort of 'made for ?Watch' program by Apple I'd be skeptical of any third party bands. Especially ones being announced now considering they don't have a watch or bands to reverse engineer what Apple has done. And if Apple has a patent on how the band next to the why couldn't they sue anyone making bands for the watch and not paying some sort of royalty to Apple?

    I had feeling that the patents is only protection for Samesung.
  • Reply 11 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,233member
    by submitting the patents to the USPTO before showing the Apple Watch to the public, Apple removed a defense play Google used against Appke in Germany. Google claimed since Apple showed technology to the public before submitting a patent for it, the technology could not be patented. The German court agreed. This time around, Google has to think of another way to do no evil.
    Ummm, that particular rule only applied to unique German rules governing IP. In the US there's a 12 month grace period I believe, not that it matters. Even then that was an outlier as Apple applies for patents on nearly everything they come up with whether a product is planned or not don't they? Apple's biggest issue is that a very high percentage of the patent claims Apple has chosen to assert in lawsuits, nearly every one as a matter of fact, have been found invalid in full or part when challenged.

    Apple's success comes from continued innovation and exceptional marketing chops. Lawsuits are a failed effort for the most part. The patents aren't as valuable in and of themselves as they'd might have wished.
  • Reply 12 of 30
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,409member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Ummm, that particular rule only applied to unique German rules governing IP. In the US there's a 12 month grace period I believe, not that it matters. Even then that was an outlier as Apple applies for patents on nearly everything they come up with whether a product is planned or not don't they? Apple's biggest issue is that a very high percentage of the patent claims Apple has chosen to assert in lawsuits, nearly every one as a matter of fact, have been found invalid in full or part when challenged.

    Apple's success comes from continued innovation and exceptional marketing chops. Lawsuits are a failed effort for the most part. The patents aren't as valuable in and of themselves as they'd might have wished.

    I see there is now a 'word' for this ...

    It's called "Negging" : Verb: Wrapping a putdown inside a few complimentary words.
  • Reply 13 of 30
    I was impressed by the bands when I was in the store for the try on. They are very precisely made and well-designed. While I have a watch toolkit for replacing traditional link bands, the push-to-release design was a welcome surprise!
  • Reply 14 of 30
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Ummm, that particular rule only applied to unique German rules governing IP. In the US there's a 12 month grace period I believe, not that it matters. Even then that was an outlier as Apple applies for patents on nearly everything they come up with whether a product is planned or not don't they? Apple's biggest issue is that a very high percentage of the patent claims Apple has chosen to assert in lawsuits, nearly every one as a matter of fact, have been found invalid in full or part when challenged.

    Apple's success comes from continued innovation and exceptional marketing chops. Lawsuits are a failed effort for the most part. The patents aren't as valuable in and of themselves as they'd might have wished.

    It still does not mean companies should slavishly copy just to get ahead.
  • Reply 15 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,233member
    It still does not mean companies should slavishly copy just to get ahead.
    That's correct. I don't think copying is the way to success myself altho many many companies would disagree with me and have money in the bank from doing so to prove it.

    Here's an article from about a year ago and things have not gotten any better in Apple patent claims since then.
    http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/04/in-49-months-of-holy-war-apple-has-not.html
  • Reply 16 of 30

    For usual patents (not the design patents of this article) I know the US rules: you must file within a year of public disclosure or any sale. I also know there have been attempts to bring US and foreign rules into better alignment during recent years, including on this grace period. 

     

    The practical issues of enforcing patents and the strategy of using them in a dispute is not straightforward. Neither side's hands are clean, and the patents involved are vague at best or are found invalid at worst. Having lots of patents is never bad, though.

     

    I know little about design patents. The big Samsung/Apple dispute involved four design patents among other patents. Apple prevailed on all four. The test for infringement is whether “an ordinary observer, familiar with the prior art designs, would be deceived into believing that the accused product is the same as the patented design.” 

  • Reply 17 of 30
    gatorguy wrote: »
    That's correct. I don't think copying is the way to success myself altho many many companies would disagree with me and have money in the bank from doing so to prove it.

    Here's an article from about a year ago and things have not gotten any better in Apple patent claims since then.
    http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/04/in-49-months-of-holy-war-apple-has-not.html

    No thanks for the link. I am not a fan of this guy at all.

    Moving forward, even with judicial courts around the world not allowing Apple's patents to deter competitors from copying, the court of public opinion has worked.

    Samsung cannot easily copy Apple's hardware and software designs without being called out about it. This is something that had not occurred before.

    I hope bloggers around the world keep the focus on Samsung instead of being silent due to payoffs or loss of Samsung advertising dollars. Even now as Samsung is removing its logo and name from the S6 phones and marketing materials in Japan hardly any Web site including this one is writing about it.

    If Apple did that there would be a tsunami of digital ink used to write about it.
  • Reply 18 of 30
    patsupatsu Posts: 430member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Ummm, that particular rule only applied to unique German rules governing IP. In the US there's a 12 month grace period I believe, not that it matters. Even then that was an outlier as Apple applies for patents on nearly everything they come up with whether a product is planned or not don't they? Apple's biggest issue is that a very high percentage of the patent claims Apple has chosen to assert in lawsuits, nearly every one as a matter of fact, have been found invalid in full or part when challenged.

    Apple's success comes from continued innovation and exceptional marketing chops. Lawsuits are a failed effort for the most part. The patents aren't as valuable in and of themselves as they'd might have wished.

    Patents are great for protecting the company's work.

    The fact that Apple is able to reduce or fend off lawsuits shows that they are indeed innovating and their patents are valuable. With the amount of money they are making, tons of trolls would love to discredit them, or make money off them. They have not been successful for the most part. Without a strong patent pool, Apple'd be sued much more often; and their products copied successfully.

    In general, attacking is harder than defending. The judge's time is also limited. Apple's IP assertions against Samsung was too many to be listed. The latter copied too much, causing even their partner, Google, to complain. In the end, Apple were ordered to shrink the list down to a few. So the anti-copy enforcement mechanism is also a problem, when the offender copy too much.
  • Reply 19 of 30
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    ttollerton wrote: »
    It's these kind of innovations - applied to the most simple concepts - that make Apple such an incredible company. No other watch or smart watch manufacturer thought of redesigning traditional watch bands to make fit and form easier on the wearer.
    Really? Look at the Sport patent, this's where the US patent system fails. Instead of patent the connector, they're granted for the band too...yeah, that band is so original /s.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,233member
    patsu wrote: »
    The judge's time is also limited. Apple's IP assertions against Samsung was too many to be listed. The latter copied too much, causing even their partner, Google, to complain. In the end, Apple were ordered to shrink the list down to a few. So the anti-copy enforcement mechanism is also a problem, when the offender copy too much.

    That's a misconception (or misreporting). Apple was not ordered to pare down the list of patents they wanted to assert. The law does not allow a judge to make that order. She could only make the suggestion. It was Apple's choice to do so in order to get the case heard more quickly.

    Anyway, the thread is veering off-course so we should probably discuss this in a more appropriate thread if there's an interest in continuing.
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