Patents Can Cover Non Earth-Shattering Inventions, Too

I recently read this blog post about a couple of patent applications that are owned by Apple that were recently published. The post discusses what the patent applications cover: one discloses a new process for manufacturing earbuds and headphones that result in a smoother outer layer–multiple parts can be seamlessly bonded together using this new process; while the other discloses a tool for deburring a rounded plastic surface.

The blog post struck me as interesting because just yesterday, I was speaking with a local business owner about how a patent can cover seemingly minor improvements in a product or its manufacturing process. The person I was talking to sells a fairly ubiquitous consumer product and assumed that patent protection was therefore unavailable to him. However, he had innovated during development of his product: The manufacturing process he created was unique and suited to his product. He also created improvements to the design of the product itself that allowed a new way to tailor the product for the consumer.

As those with experience in the patent field (including Apple’s patent counsel) know, a patent covering even small improvements can be extremely valuable.

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