updated 04:30 pm EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Application for 'foldable pouch mobile cradle' uses art from Apple's Smart Cover
A new patent application from Samsung has surfaced, in which the company is seeking to claim a patent on a new type of sleeve for tablets. While that would not be cause for concern in most cases, some of the art in the application makes a direct call to a familiar cover for Apple's iPads. In the filing, Samsung - which has been repeatedly accused by Apple and others of "slavishly copying" the iPhone maker -- introduces prior art in the form of Apple's Smart Cover.
Application 20140202889, first discovered by Patently Apple, is for a "foldable pouch for mobile terminal" that was filed on January 24. In many cases it could be considered standard protocol to seek a patent for a new type of pouch for a mobile device, but the way that Samsung goes about it is a little awkward.
In the first illustration of the patent application, prior art is called upon which clearly shows an Apple iPad using the Smart Cover folded up as a stand. Apple came up with (and patented) a design that was simple for a new wave of tablet PCs, but has since been copied by several companies. The Smart Cover may not offer the most overall protection for the tablets, but it makes use of a wake or sleep feature and can be used as a stand.
Anymode made a knock-off for Samsung tablets a number of years ago that caused Samsung to issue a statement on in an attempt to distance itself from involvement. Microsoft also has their own cover for the Surface, but it utilizes a keyboard on the inside without folding up to be a stand.
In an odd touch, Samsung points out that the pouch doesn't contain any sort of magnets or interaction with the tablet itself. Samsung calls to patent 8143982, which is for a magnetic attachment system, as something that can cause harm to a tablet PC because of the magnetic element. However, this also means that the pouch lacks a way to put the tablet to sleep when put in the pouch or wake up when pulled out. The company wants to create ouch "that does not have an electrical influence on the operation of the mobile terminal."
"Further, when storing and supporting the mobile terminal, without using a magnetic element, the foldable pouch hardly has electrical and physical influence on operation of the mobile terminal, and reliability of the foldable pouch can be thus improved," said Samsung in the application.
Two different configurations are shown for a horizontal based folding design or another that is capable of vertical and horizontal folds. It's stated that it could then support the needs of users at "various angles," while "having a simple structure and manipulation convenience."
It isn't the first time that Samsung has used the same prior art for a patent filing, either. Application 20140061071 for a "protective cover for supporting mobile terminal in dual direction and multi angle" features a design segmented folding areas for a snap-on plastic case. It differs in how it folds from the Smart Cover, as it can be folded vertically or horizontally along a grid. As with the pouch application, it calls to the prior art as a conventional support.
While there are some differences between the two patents and Apple's cover, it seems a bit on the nose that Samsung would include the Smart Cover as prior art in a filing, particularly given Samsung's denials of copying Apple. Given the legal troubles between the two companies over design, Samsung could benefit from being less conspicuous in its "inspiration."