Microsoft scores three patents for Surface Touch cover

Microsoft scores three patents for Surface Touch cover

Summary: Now that Microsoft's Surface keyboards are patent-protected, all it needs are a few more customers.


Microsoft has secured three patents covering the design of its keyboard Touch Cover accessory for the Surface tablet.

The US Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) granted Microsoft the patents on Tuesday based on applications it filed last May, about a month ahead of the tablet's official launch where Microsoft touted the magnetic covers as a key design innovation.

The Touch Cover is Microsoft's 3.25mm 'keyless' cover, while its Type Cover is a more fully-fledged 6mm keyboard  with mechanical keys.

The patents cover the "ornamental design for an electronic tablet with input device coupling", referring to the magnetic connector that allows users to "click" the keyboard in place.

The Surface RT was released in the fourth quarter of 2012 in some markets but in that time only managed to ship 900,000 units, according to IDC, offering it a tiny fraction of the otherwise rapidly growing category currently dominated by Apple. 

Microsoft's tablets launched at a time consumers began showing a preference for smaller screen and cheaper devices, like the iPad mini, at the same time as more phablets began to arrive. 

In February, Microsoft expanded distribution of the RT to 13 new countries in Europe, and released the Intel-based Surface Pro, however, it quickly faced supply shortages


Topics: Tablets, Microsoft, Patents, Microsoft Surface

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Microsoft scores three patents for Surface Touch cover

    Surface won't be around long enough for them to mean anything......period
    Over and Out
    • LOL!

      Your current logon won't be around long enough for you to mean anything,.....period.


      William Farrel
      • And you mean exactly how much?

        Given you record here, probably even less.
    • Definitely Your Viewpoint!

      You sound like you're hoping for the failure of the Surface? I've never understood this. Competition is good for the industry and leads to more consumer choice. I own an Ipad but I want to see the Surface do well. I believe we need at least 3 viable ecosystems.
      • Competition means ...

        that bad products fail. It does not mean propping up some 3 legged stool just to compete with 4 legged ones. If Surface fails, it fails. Someone else will provide competition.
        • I've never seen that.

          I've never seen a 3 legged stool propped up. I have seen 4 legged stools, and tables propped up, to keep them from rocking.
    • With patents

      They don't need the actual device to survive. They already demonstrated it, have few patens -- now can sue anybody who attempts similar design or as "royalties". No need to sell the Surface anymore.
      • or...

        Just sue and ban the product
      • Re: With patents They don't need the actual device to survive.

        Possibly. Except that, as long as they continue to actually make products as well, they leave themselves open to patent suits from others. And their record so far on these is not good: they have had to pay out typically hundreds of millions per settlement (Eolas, VirnetX) while collecting only peanuts in return (TomTom, HTC). Not counting the PR damage to customer perceptions of their brand.

        So the only safe way to run a patent-protection racket is to become a "non-practising entity"--a pure patent troll.
  • Did they also get a patent...

    ...for that "fuzzy" feel?
  • Microsoft scores three patents for Surface Touch cover

    Kudos to Microsoft. Now they can license this technology to others.
    • So let me get this right

      You are congratulating Microsoft for getting patents on a tablet keyboard? The fact that this thing does need a keyboard to be of any use doesn’t make it less of a success to start with given that it is supposed to be a tablet after all?

      I don’t think that a lot of manufacturers will want to license any tablet tech that comes from Microsoft given the “success” their products had so far…but hey, you never know what happens in a few years.
      • Keyboard is Optional

        I use a keyboard with my iPad IF I NEED to. I don't use it all the time but its nice having the option there when needed. I really think the OPTIONAL Surface keyboard is great. But its just an option. Not mandatory.
        • When I need keyboard ....

          I use a laptop or a desktop. I use a tablet as a tablet and a desktop/notebook when that is best.

          A tablet with a keyboard is a square peg in a round hole.
          • Someone is buying them...

            Even for the iPad. So, it seems there is a market for tablet keyboards.
          • Yep

            They are optional, the defeat the purpose of having a tablet and people do buy them. So we are all right for once, lovers and haters out there :P

            But I tend to agree more with D.T.Long that when I do need something portable for work that requires a keyboard I use an ultrabook (e.g. Carbon X1, no touch screen thank you).
  • Apple keeps making Macs

    Very few people buy them (in comparison to PC's), but I'm glad they still make them. But by the rants of the Microsoft haters on ZD Net, MS should stop making anything if it doesn't take off immediately. That has never been part of the culture of Microsoft and isn't likely to change.
  • What Patents

    So what are the patents? This is a really hollow article with just a general catagory.
    • I think this is it

      D678,891 Keyboard cover
      D678,890 Keyboard with cover
      D678,882 Input device with coupling
      D678,881 Input device with coupling
      D678,880 Electronic tablet with input device coupling
      D678,877 Electronic tablet

      Mostly about design and magnetic coupling.