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Old Aug 18, 2014, 09:53 AM   #1
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Apple's Rumored Reversible USB Connector Supported by Patent Filing, but Likely to Face Challenge




Several leaked photos in recent days have suggested Apple may be looking to move to a reversible USB connector for its next-generation Lightning cables, making it easier for users to plug the cables into their computers, chargers, and other equipment with standard USB ports.

As noted by Patently Apple late last week, the idea is actually supported by an Apple patent application filed in January 2014 covering just such a design. The application was published just a few weeks ago and cites as priority a provisional patent application filed by Apple in January 2013.

Apple isn't the only company with this technology, however, so it is unclear exactly how this situation will play out given that Apple's patent application was only assigned to an examiner ten days ago. A California company by the name of UltraTek already holds a patent for the reversible connector and is selling cables through major online retailers.

UltraTek first filed a patent application for its "User-Friendly USB Connector" technology in 2009 and was awarded the patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010. In the patent, the company describes a cable with two sets of conductive contact pins that allow it to be inserted into a USB port in either orientation.
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A new user-friendly USB (Universal Serial Bus) male connector is physically and functionally compatible to the existing and future USB female connectors. Unlike the conventional keyed, polarized and position dependent USB male connector. The new user-friendly USB male connector provides spare connections, eliminates potential connector damage and allows normal and opposite insertions to the USB female connectors.
More than just a patent, UltraTek is marketing its reversible cable under the brand name, Flipper, with distribution through TrippLite. Different configurations of the reversible USB cables can be purchased through retailers such as Newegg, TigerDirect and others for less than $10.

Given its resources, Apple would undoubtedly be able to overcome the existing patent protection on the concept of reversible USB connectors, either through licensing/purchasing the existing patent or finding a way to work around it. The existing patent is, however, rather broad in describing the concept of a reversible "Type A" USB connector of the sort apparently being considered by Apple.

Article Link: Apple's Rumored Reversible USB Connector Supported by Patent Filing, but Likely to Face Challenge
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 09:55 AM   #2
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Was plugging in usb cords difficult before?
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 09:56 AM   #3
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1st World Problems: Can't put the effort to see if you're plugging in the USB correctly...
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 09:57 AM   #4
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Someone's gonna say 'Apple should just buy the company' in 3... 2... 1...
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 09:58 AM   #5
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I have always hated USB connections. Honestly, Lightning >USB all day long. Its rounded, cannot get hung up at any angle, and works perfectly.

I long for the day usb/micro usb/mini usb DIE.

Raise your hand if you have damaged a charging connector on a device by wearing out the USB connector...
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 09:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by MaulRx View Post
Was plugging in usb cords difficult before?
Yes... Lots of people have trouble with it. When its dark is almost impossible.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 09:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by MaulRx View Post
Was plugging in usb cords difficult before?
Most people get it right on the third attempt.

----------

I'm confused as to how Apple's patent got approved when there was already a company selling the product?
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:00 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by MaulRx View Post
Was plugging in usb cords difficult before?
i know its a 50 - 50 chance of getting it in the correct way but i always seemed to get the wrong side. I will welcome this new version with open arms.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dlewis23 View Post
Yes... Lots of people have trouble with it. When its dark is almost impossible.
I guess....
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by coldsweat View Post
Someone's gonna say 'Apple should just buy the company' in 3... 2... 1...
Whatever is less expensive I guess: Sick the legal team on the matter or buy the company.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by thekeyring View Post
Most people get it right on the third attempt.

----------

I'm confused as to how Apple's patent got approved when there was already a company selling the product?
Is Apple's patent for the exact same thing with the exact same implementation?
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:02 AM   #12
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So Apple wants to make one end easier to use, yet the other end stick to their own proprietary plug
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:03 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by thekeyring View Post
I'm confused as to how Apple's patent got approved when there was already a company selling the product?
It hasn't been approved yet, it was just assigned to an examiner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlewis23 View Post
Yes... Lots of people have trouble with it. When its dark is almost impossible.
Trouble is if it's dark it will still be difficult aligning two rectangular shapes together. Magsafe USB would solve all these problems and would 'plug' itself in just like MacBooks do.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:03 AM   #14
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Am I the only one who can plug a USB cable in on the first try? In my experience, the side of the cable with the USB symbol (which you can physically feel with your finger) always goes in the upward direction of the computer.

This isn't rocket science people!
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:04 AM   #15
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A USB plug is a four-dimensional object.

Even when it's reversible you'll still end up putting it in the wrong way twice.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:04 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by MaulRx View Post
Was plugging in usb cords difficult before?
Plug in – doesn't work – turn around – plug in – doesn't work – turn around – plug in – does somehow work.

That actually happens a lot to me and others I know. And sure, it may not be a lot of time that a new connector saves, but why should we put up with this in the first place when it's technically perfectly feasible to build a reversible one? Also, it's really not about the time, it is about the unnecessary frustration. I swear, there's at least one person on this planet that's dead because of this.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:04 AM   #17
Serban
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so this mean Apple will use or not this type of usb in this fall?
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:06 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaulRx View Post
Was plugging in usb cords difficult before?
No, but it's irritating when you get it wrong. Multiply that frustration over every time you've plugged in a peripheral device, or you're fumbling in the dark for the port, and you've got a really big annoyance.

And it's not really necessary to go through all that because it seems they've had the technology to make them reversible for some time.

Yes, 'first world problems' and all that, but I definitely think it's a great thing to try and bring to mass-market.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:07 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRumors View Post
UltraTek first filed a patent application for its "User-Friendly USB Connector" technology in 2009 and was awarded the patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010. In the patent, the company describes a cable with two sets of conductive contact pins that allow it to be inserted into a USB port in either orientation.
So, Apple just assumed they invented something? Or do they think the original patent was defective and they can swoop in and steal the idea? Any theories from the Apple legion lying around here?
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:07 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by xero9 View Post
Am I the only one who can plug a USB cable in on the first try? In my experience, the side of the cable with the USB symbol (which you can physically feel with your finger) always goes in the upward direction of the computer.

This isn't rocket science people!
Unfortunately, on the back of my iMac, Mac Mini and Thunderbolt display the USB ports are on their side. On the big screens you can't see where you're reaching to, and I never seem to get the dang things the right way round! I for one welcome our new anyway-USB cable overlords, whether they be Apple or these guys.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:08 AM   #21
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1st World Problems: Can't put the effort to see if you're plugging in the USB correctly...
Yeah, I cannot wait for MacRumors to finally get back to reporting on plague and famine.

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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:08 AM   #22
Deedlez
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Originally Posted by SgtPepper12 View Post
Plug in doesn't work turn around plug in doesn't work turn around plug in does somehow work.

That actually happens a lot to me and others I know. And sure, it may not be a lot of time that a new connector saves, but why should we put up with this in the first place when it's technically perfectly feasible to build a reversible one? Also, it's really not about the time, it is about the unnecessary frustration. I swear, there's at least one person on this planet that's dead because of this.
Yup, this sums up my experience too - pretty much every day!
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:10 AM   #23
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So, Apple just assumed they invented something? And Samsung is the only patent troll?
Patent troll doesn't mean what you think it does.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:10 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by coldsweat View Post
Someone's gonna say 'Apple should just buy the company' in 3... 2... 1...
Apple should just buy the company.

But no really. Maybe they should.

But then hopefully release the technology for free to stop the moronic reversible USB standard that just got finalized which would add even more unnecessary standards to the already chaotic USB options...
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 10:10 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by jreuschl View Post
So Apple wants to make one end easier to use, yet the other end stick to their own proprietary plug
Haha, right? Classic apple thinking. Spoon feed the customer base mindless "upgrades" in between each "next big thing"

I was wirelessly charging my palm pre over 5 years ago. Want to improve the usb cord? Get rid of it.
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