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Microsoft granted design patent for the Surface Touch Cover

Surface Patent

We’ve got quite the variety when you look at the sea of tablets, slates, ultrabooks, and convertibles we have now in the Windows 8 landscape. Crazy designs like the ThinkPad Yoga and Dell XPS 12 spring to mind when thinking of the different ways manufactures have differentiated themselves.

Microsoft threw a wrench into the traditional PC world last June when it announced the Surface family of devices. The Surface is also unique in its design and has recently been awarded a design patent for it's Touch keyboard cover and magnetic coupling.

Keyboard Patent

The keyboard is arguably one of the more unique aspects of the Surface RT and Surface Pro but you also have the VaporMg casing to the built in kickstand that helps the Surface stand out.  The main reason for the patent is the coupling the Surface offers to connect to an input device and the Touch Cover. That "click in" sound you get when you connect the keyboard is now covered by patent.

The patent was filed back in May 16 of 2012 and hopefully with its approval it will discourage other companies from making a play at copying the functionality and design of the Surface and its keyboards.

Source: USPTO, (2), (3) Via: Engadget

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Reader comments

Microsoft granted design patent for the Surface Touch Cover

57 Comments

Maybe it could be something else other than a keyboard. I just like the cover in general. It would have to turn the phone on and off, definitely.It would keep the screen clean like the iPad's smart cover, but without those damned lines.
It has me thinking now.
C'mon guys, what else could it do?

Otherwise known as the rumored "Surface Phone" with the keyboard us current Arrive users have been waiting for! ;-)

yes. as i had most of the HTC Microsoft mobile slide devices i cant wait to see a proper phone in slide mode. but wp8 is not ready for this yet. you cant even landscape the start menue

Would be cool to have an atachable mini touch keyboard for a WP, for those situations when you need to type a long email on the phone.
 

The current touch, and type for that matter, are not stiff enough to work in your hands and I can't imagine trying to use a 5 inch keyboard on a desktop.  However, employing the snap-in magnetic coupling would be cool with a stiffer keyboard where you had to type lengthy emails or make small edits to a word doc.  
 
All of this would be great with 5 inch and 6 inch phones, so I hope they open the OS up to 1080p so the OEMs can make larger phones to compete with the Android's state of the art.  

Good for them. They're always giving away their originality and exclusivity to other companies. Its nice to know they're holding this one back. Surface needs more accessories. (lots of protective covers like Otterbox cases for iPad. You can never be too overprotective of your mobile devices...yes I know it has vapor mag, I just feel it needs more protection)

Oh. Lol. Is it still too much to ask to have licensed accessories!? I like being unique and different.

Apple has a patent regarding Magnetic connectors , MS would've been infringing on it if it wasn't for the cross-licensing agreement.

As much I enjoy my L920, this is one piece of hardware that I would pick in a heart beat if Microsoft comes out with such beauty. I wouldn't mind a Lumia body type design.

I like the design of the cover. It really stand out the tablet with the other competitors. So it just right they they protect the design as not to be copied by the others.

Just fyi, the patent only covers the design bits that are drawn with solid lines. These images (and the corresponding patent) would only cover the magnetic dock, not the actual keyboard part

"hopefully with its approval it will discourage other companies from making a play at copying the functionality and design of the Surface and its keyboards."

LOL Go tell that to the Chinese. Or Samsung. Or any other company in Asia where the Laws of the West have little meaning :P

Hell, even Apple. One of cupertino's patents are "a device with a rounded rectangular shape with glass on top", which is basically EVERY smartphone out there.

Crap. I was hoping someone else would make an 11.6" Atom tablet with a surface-like kick stand and type cover. That's currently my ideal computer.

So, a keyboard that would, arguably, only be worthwhile on a Surface tablet has been patented?  No way?!  This really changes things!  If only the Windows Phone hardware grew an exorbitant amount we could pop one of these puppies on the side of it and type away!
Meanwhile at Apple, they are patenting the animation of changing pages on PDF files.

Watched NCIS tonight. Im a scene Ziva whips out a Surface to show a picture of someone. It was on the modern start page, she did a tap and had the picture up. TV time

I've used both and respectfully disagree. I was shocked at how great the Touch Cover actually was... And in case anyone hasn't noticed... i type a LOT. I'm about twice as fast on the Touch Cover as I am on the Type Cover. Difference is that with the Touch Cover you never hit two keys at once accidentally, thus less corrections. To each his own though. If you have long nails, I can see maybe the Type Cover being more appropriate. Also, Touch Cover doubles as a Frisbee!

+1.

I use my touch cover for emails, all day every day. And in a PM role there is a lot of email. I find it very accurate and I can type on it just as fast as on a standard keyboard, if not faster. The only thing I can type on faster is a touch screen, though that has less tactile feedback and a higher chance for errors.

I don't regret getting the touch cover but because I use my surface RT at work now I'm starting to need a type cover.

Actually I hope all manufacturers will copy that thing! It's the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to tablets. I would never have bought a tablet if it wasn't for how Surface did it. Naturally I'm still glad MS got this patent and hopefully they get some royalties from people who use the design or something.
 
And I want the exact same form factor in 2-3 years from here when I replace my Surface. Hopefully with another amazing MS product, but in worst case scenario anything that works the same way will do.

It wont be a problem to copy the touchcover, since the design patent only refers to the actual connection between tablet and cover. The idea of a touch-keyboard as a cover is NOT part of the patent. Has anybody actual read at least the first page?

It doesnt really matter. The connection and foldability is half of what makes it so good. Sure, it still needs the keyboard too but I dont want keyboards as a dock, I want it as it comes in the patent.

I love the kickstand, my thumbs are always free to touch te display when holding the Surface.
And the Cyan Touchcover, i absolutely love it! One love Microsoft!