Apple secures a new design patent for their Apple Watch

Written by Éamon Chawke | July 21, 2016

Design Rights

Apple has secured a new design patent from the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) for the Apple Watch to protect its design from being copied. The design patent was first filed with the US Patent and Trademark office in August last year to protect the rectangle with rounded corners design (pictured below).


According to three new patent applications, Apple is exploring smart bands that would add new features to the Apple Watch. Collectively, the applications show that the bands on the watch are to be powered by a tiny diagnostics port found beneath a door on the lower connecter of the existing Apple Watch. Apple’s overall goal is to make the watch as versatile as possible as the applications show various uses and possibilities for the watch (e.g. a GPS sensor, a camera, extended battery life or even an additional display).

These new applications suggest that Apple is working on numerous sensors, which can detect motion and potentially link with the iPhone to convert sign language into text or speech along with various other ambitious uses.


A new patent revealed that the Cupertino company may be working on a variety of sensors to detect and interpret hand gestures. Images shown in the application also suggest the wearable device could detect sign language and the paired iPhone would convert it to speech or text

The patent published by the USPTO reads as follows:

“Based on the detected movements, a user gesture can be determined. The device can interpret the gesture as an input command, and the device can perform an operation based on the input command … [The device can receive] user input commands through another means in addition to, or instead of, voice and touch input [such as] optical sensors, inertial sensors, mechanical contact sensors and myoelectric sensors”.

Briffa Comment

When Apple applied for its Apple Watch design patent for the rectangle shape with rounded corners, the application included references to the prior art of its competitors, including the Samsung Galaxy Gear, the Metawatch and the pebblewhich, along with more luxury items such as the $15,000 Hermes Carre H Watch which has a similar rounded square design. Despite some similarities, the USPTO concluded that Apple’s design was sufficiently novel and unique to warrant a design patent.

If you are considering an application for a patent or a design patent, either in the UK or in other jurisdictions, it is advisable to carry out prior art searches to assess the likelihood of a successful patent or design patent application. Briffa advises on patent applications and all other aspects of intellectual property law.

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