Apple never ceases to amaze as they consistently solve everyday problems that we are not even aware that we have. The same holds true of a patent held by Apple titled “Dynamic Fit Adjustment for Wearable Electronic Devices” (Application Number 14/691,217), which addresses the inconvenience of ill-fitting watch bands and the tedium of properly adjusting watch band for activities throughout the day.
Apple’s patent application was officially granted on October 10, 2017 after being filed nearly two-and-a-half years earlier on April 20, 2015. The specific problem Apple intends to eliminate is that many watch bands and straps have a limited number of fit adjustment increments that leave many watch-wearers uncomfortable, and the individuals who opt for the types of watch bands that offer a more tailored fit have to deal with cumbersome hardware, such as a folding or snap-fit clasps. Apple’s patented solution is to shift the responsibility of finding and maintaining the ideal fit to the watch itself, which means future Apple Watches could include watch band systems that automate the fit of a watch band according to the desire and activity level of the wearer. The patent’s abstract states that this can be achieved through the use of “a tensioner associated with a wearable electronic device [that] can control one or more actuators that are mechanically coupled to either the housing or to a band attached to the wearable electronic device,” and Apple has alluded to the possibility of using shape memory wire that is capable of expanding or contracting in response to electrical signals, incorporating a fluid or gas-filled bladder system into the watch bands, or even using lugs that retract into the body of the watch to achieve the desired result.
Statistically speaking, prosecution for this particular patent application looked bleak upon filing. With the help of LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® patent prosecution software, we can see that Apple’s assigned art unit, Art Unit 3782, has historically allowed only 45.2 percent of the over 11,000 patent applications assigned to it in the past decade. PatentAdvisor™ also reveals that the patent data for Apple’s assigned patent examiner is only slightly more favorable – showing an allowance rate of only 51 percent of the 1130 patent applications this examiner has personally examined. Digging even deeper with PatentAdvisor patent analysis tools, one can see that the options for overcoming this patent examiner’s office actions are usually limited – only 4.7 percent of patent applications go through at least one appeal cycle with only a 44.7 percent chance of success, and only 16.7 percent of patent applications file at least one RCE with a 22.2 percent chance of immediate allowance. Furthermore, there are currently two other applicants that have filed RCEs for their patent applications that have been awaiting action for over two years. Apple, on the other hand, continues to impress us all by breezing through patent prosecution after responding to a single office action.
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