Throughout the ongoing court battles between Apple and Samsung, many people have asked the question, “How can you patent a shape?” Well it looks like you can according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Apple has been awarded United States Design Patent #D670,286, for their rounded rectangle design of the iPad. While it is yet to be seen if Apple will use this as another bullet in their gun aimed square at the head of Android, it is definitely something that Apple will be keeping in their clip.
If you’re like many people wondering how this patent was ever awarded, Ars Technica has a great explanation where they explain the USPTO examiner cited many sources to support their decision to grant the design patent. Lea Shaver, Associate Professor at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law told Wired, “This design patent gives Apple no new advantage, because no one is out there trying to market an iPad lookalike.”
However, this is exactly what Apple asserted when suing, and winning, their case against Samsung with the iPhone. One of Apple’s main arguments was that Samsung purposefully and intentionally copied Apple’s iPhone design, which a jury found Samsung guilty of.
Seeing that the US patent system was already screaming for a big overhaul, in my opinion, this is just the icing on the cake.