Apple's Rumored Reversible USB Connector Supported by Patent Filing, but Likely to Face Challenge

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 18, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.
    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
  2. macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2012
  3. macrumors 6502


    Jul 20, 2014
    Frankfurt, Germany
    1st World Problems: Can't put the effort to see if you're plugging in the USB correctly... :rolleyes:
  4. macrumors regular


    Aug 18, 2009
    Lincoln, UK
    Someone's gonna say 'Apple should just buy the company' in 3... 2... 1...
  5. macrumors 68040


    Aug 31, 2007
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    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...:cool:
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 23, 2007
    Yes... Lots of people have trouble with it. When its dark is almost impossible. :D
  7. macrumors 68020

    Jan 5, 2012
    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?
  8. macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2013
    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.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2012
    I guess....
  10. macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    Whatever is less expensive I guess: Sick the legal team on the matter or buy the company.
  11. macrumors G5


    Nov 14, 2011
    Is Apple's patent for the exact same thing with the exact same implementation?
  12. macrumors 6502

    Dec 31, 2008
    So Apple wants to make one end easier to use, yet the other end stick to their own proprietary plug :)
  13. macrumors 603

    Jan 20, 2010
    It hasn't been approved yet, it was just assigned to an examiner.

    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.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 7, 2006
    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!
  15. macrumors 68000

    Apr 22, 2008
    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.
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2011
    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.
  17. macrumors 68040

    Jan 8, 2013
    so this mean Apple will use or not this type of usb in this fall?
  18. macrumors 68030


    Nov 23, 2011
    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.
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2005
    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?
  20. macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2011
    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.
  21. macrumors 68020


    Dec 9, 2008
    Yeah, I cannot wait for MacRumors to finally get back to reporting on plague and famine.

  22. macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2011
    Yup, this sums up my experience too - pretty much every day!
  23. macrumors 68030


    Nov 23, 2011
    Patent troll doesn't mean what you think it does.
  24. macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2011
    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...
  25. macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2012
    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.

Share This Page