Mobile phones have evolved significantly since they first became a mainstream necessity. Not too long ago, cell phones were the size of cinder blocks, then they were scaled down into flip phones, until they eventually became less recognizable as phones and more like “everything devices” we use constantly. Recently, Apple, Inc.’s patent application for “Electronic Devices With Flexible Displays” has come into the spotlight because many suspect it will put the “flip” back into our smartphones.

Apple’s patent application describes devices with flexible screen displays that allow them to be opened and closed like books. The application highlights how OLED screens can be created to bend inward or outward, so that two ends of a screen can be turned inwardly towards each other, or outward away from one another. The patent further explains that this technology can be put to practical use by pairing the screens with casings that have flexible portions or bending regions that allow the body of a device to move along with its flexible OLED screen.

While Apple’s patent does not limit the use of their flexible screen displays to only phones (the patent makes explicit that the product “may be a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a cellular telephone, a wristwatch, or other electronic device”), many believe that the patent will be used to bring back the nostalgia of flip phones with an extraordinarily modern twist.

Apple’s “flexible displays” patent application was originally filed with the USPTO on September 22, 2016, and it was assigned thereafter to Art Unit 2622 (an art unit that typically handles patent applications dealing with televisions). Art Unit 2622 patent examiners grant only 68.5 percent of the applications they examine, making it a more difficult art unit to face compared to many others. Not surprisingly, Apple, Inc. has performed much better than the other applicants, having had an 88.5 percent success rate on their 160 Art Unit 2622 applications.

To date, Apple Inc. (one of Apple’s many business entities) has been named as assignee on over 18,900 USPTO patent applications. More impressively, Apple has managed to maintain an allowance rate of over 85 percent of the patent applications the have filed. Looking back five years, Apple Inc. has managed to successfully prosecute over 89 percent of their 8,842 filed patent applications, facing an average of only 1.4 office actions per application, averaging only two years and two months in prosecution per application. Moreover, Apple usually does prosecution right the from the start time and has only needed to file for appeal 1.9 percent of the time. Even when they do appeal, Apple has seen a successful outcome over 77 percent of the time. These impressive patent statistics are certainly a contributing factor to why Apple continues as a world leader in technology and innovation.

This analysis of Apple’s patent prosecution is made possible through LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® patent analysis software. PatentAdvisor™ provides patent prosecution tools that allow patent practitioners to gather data-driven insights for more informed patent prosecution strategies. With PatentAdvisor, patent professionals can follow Apple’s lead and stay ahead of the curve in both technology and patent prosecution.

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