New Apple "cube" patent hinting at mid-range headless Mac?

nagromme

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I've seen this here and there today--MacNN has it--and I can't believe this hasn't been jumped on in the MR forums. Unless I just missed it :)

It's only a patent, and those don't always turn into products. But it does seem like it MIGHT be for a new Mac Cube--which might be just what is needed between the Mini and the Mac Pro:

http://www.electronista.com/articles/06/09/08/new.apple.cube.patent

(I laughed at the "buy" link below the article :p )
 

arn

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Apr 9, 2001
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nagromme said:
I've seen this here and there today--MacNN has it--and I can't believe this hasn't been jumped on in the MR forums. Unless I just missed it :)

It's only a patent, and those don't always turn into products. But it does seem like it MIGHT be for a new Mac Cube--which might be just what is needed between the Mini and the Mac Pro:

http://www.electronista.com/articles/06/09/08/new.apple.cube.patent

(I laughed at the "buy" link below the article :p )
Isn't it just the old cube?

This application is a continuation of and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. .sctn.120 to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/323,641, filed on Dec. 20, 2002, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/880,676, filed Jun. 13, 2001 which issued Apr. 8, 2003 as U.S. Pat. No. 6,545,874, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

Edit: I see. "design that addresses flaws in the original Cube"... hmmm...
 

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nagromme

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Good question--the article says it was filed in May of this year, and discusses things like a fan, easier internal access (two panels) and maybe more slots, that the original Cube lacked.

But the diagram with the handle is very old-Cube-like.

So is this merely referencing an older related patent (on the G4 Cube)? Or is this actually THE old patent, merely resurfacing late and meaning nothing?

(Not that a NEW patent means anything--other than potential!)
 

arn

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nagromme said:
Good question--the article says it was filed in May of this year, and discusses things like a fan, easier internal access (two panels) and maybe more slots, that the original Cube lacked.
Hmm... ya. I didn't see the part about the improvements over the old cube. I guess we don't know if these were improvements that were designed back in the day or just in the past few months.

I hadn't posted it because I thought people were just getting excited about an old patent.... but maybe there's something to it.

arn
 

nagromme

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We need lawyers to explain all the ramifications of "continuation" :)

I'm sure Apple came up with lots of ideas for the original Cube that weren't used, yet still got a patent--so even WITH features absent in the G4 Cube, this still could be old news. But it sounds to me like it's new stuff added TO the old cube concept--and if things were added this many years later, there might be something new in the works.

I also find the idea basically plausible: there is demand for a mid-range headless, Apple KNOWS that... and so eventually I expect them to make one. The cube shape AND name would be a very Apple-like way to do that.

And just think... the Mini fits an awful lot... if that grew 4x into a cube, what could it fit? A better GPU and bigger HD surely... and maybe an UPGRADABLE, slotted GPU? People would love that. (Didn't the old Cube have a slotted GPU that some people did upgrade?)

Of course, even if it IS a planned actual product, we might not see it for a long time. Or it might get scrapped at any time.
 

iMeowbot

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Aug 30, 2003
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nagromme said:
Good question--the article says it was filed in May of this year, and discusses things like a fan, easier internal access (two panels) and maybe more slots, that the original Cube lacked.
The two older issued patents covered those possibilities too, even have the same illustrations. This latest continuation really just tightens up the language.

So is this merely referencing an older related patent (on the G4 Cube)? Or is this actually THE old patent, merely resurfacing late and meaning nothing?
It is the old patent, sort of regurgitated. Continuations are often land grabs, attempts to grab broader rights for existing inventions, and that's what is happening here. Some distinctive cube features (e.g. vertical drives) have been added, the new application is a little more general about the types of components that might appear in the box, and so on.

There were a couple more small threads on this in the past day or two.
 

arn

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iMeowbot said:
The two older issued patents covered those possibilities too, even have the same illustrations.
Ah... thanks for the clarification. I was trying to access the old patents, but could not figure out how to.

So... all old designs.

arn
 

iMeowbot

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Aug 30, 2003
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The easiest way to look up US patents by number is through http://www.pat2pdf.org

For a direct link, use http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=9999999 -- ancient numbers need to be zero padded up to the seven digits, it's OK to leave in the commas though.

For an ungranted application, it's easier to look up the application number (e.g. the 10/323,641 above) in PAIR. The published docs tab on that one shows that it was granted as patent 7042733.
 

aswitcher

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Oct 8, 2003
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As much as I want a Mac Pro Mini, a cube is not as versatile as a pizza box form factor, so I hope this just a tighening up by Apple to protect its patents for possible future designs.
 

nagromme

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Thanks--good detective work :)

I like a cube form factor, but am probably going for full tower and quads regardless.
 

balamw

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aswitcher said:
As much as I want a Mac Pro Mini, a cube is not as versatile as a pizza box form factor, so I hope this just a tighening up by Apple to protect its patents for possible future designs.
I'm sure it's also in part to keep others (i.e. Shuttle, AOpen) from making cube like SFF PCs.

(As iMeowbot suggests, continuations are often used to see how far an original application can be pushed, in particular with hindsight about where things have actually gone since the first filing, so they might have some specific target in mind).

B
 

FocusAndEarnIt

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May 29, 2005
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I bet they're just covering there butt's up with the previous design so no one else takes it, like someone else said. :)
 

Zwhaler

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nagromme said:
(Not that a NEW patent means anything--other than potential!)
Potential is what keeps me coming to this site 3 times a day :)