Apple has been granted a US patent on the design of its first iPad, nearly three years after the device's public debut.
Apple's original iPad design, now patented.
(Credit: US Patent and Trademark Office; Apple)
Among more than 30 patents granted to Apple, there's one standout: D669,069. Simply called a "portable display device", the pictured gadget matches up identically with Apple's first-generation iPad, a design that the company had kept around until the iPad 2, released in early 2011.
Apple filed for the patent on 26 January 2010 — the day before the product was first shown off at an event in San Francisco.
If you're doing a double take, saying "Hey, doesn't Apple already have a design patent for the iPad?" — you'd be right. But the patent that Apple has had since mid-2005 is more generic, missing features like the home button, volume buttons and a dock connector — all things that the first iPad came with. Nonetheless, Apple has used it as legal ammunition against Samsung in its efforts to get versions of the Galaxy Tab barred from sale in the US and other countries.
In its counter-arguments, Samsung railed against that 2005 patent, calling it "obvious" and pointed to prior art. That includes a newspaper tablet design mock-up by Roger Fidler from 1994, and the TC1000, a Microsoft Windows-based tablet PC from Compaq, made just ahead of Compaq being acquired by Hewlett-Packard.
Along with the iPad's design, Apple was granted two other design patents. One for the interface of its iBooks software (PDF) and another for the iPhone with a bumper case on it (PDF). The granted patents come just days ahead of a press event next week, at which Apple is expected to unveil a smaller version of the iPad.