On May 12, 2018 Patently Apple posted a report titled “Apple has been Hit with an 8 Count Class Action Claiming that the MacBook Pro’s Keyboard with its ‘Butterfly’ Mechanism is Defective.” One of the initial patents covering the butterfly mechanism came to light in a European filing back in April 2015.
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled “Low-travel key mechanism for an input device” which continues to support a butterfly hinge.
The patent published today contains a completely different set of patent figures and different patent claims.
One new patent claim (#27) for example states in-part that “the electronic device further comprises: a membrane layer attached to the keyboard substrate; and a dome switch coupled to the membrane layer and positioned in the cavity of the hinged structure.”
Another new patent claim (#28) states: “The electronic device of claim 21, wherein: the switch pin retaining features comprise multiple switch pin retaining features on each of two opposing sides of the switch housing; and at least one switch pin retaining feature on each side of the switch housing comprises a U-shaped pin retaining feature that includes an opening that faces another switch pin retaining feature on the same side of the switch housing.”
The U-Shaped pin is illustrated below in Apple’s patent FIG. 12. The older European patent didn’t present this patent figure nor mention it in its claims.
Whether the references to these new features found in the new claims will be able to resolve the current MacBook Pro Keyboard problem regarding the butterfly hinge is unknown at this time.
Apple’s patent FIG. 4 below illustrates a side view of a key mechanism depicting the attachment of the hinged structure to the switch housing when the key mechanism in a rest position.
Apple’s patent FIG. 11 below illustrates a bottom view of a third key mechanism; FIG. 12 depicts a top view of the switch pin retaining mechanism in FIG. 11; FIG. 13 illustrates a side view of the switch pin retaining mechanism in FIG. 11.
Below is a comparison graphic showing the assembly of the butterfly hinge in Apple’s 2015 vs. 2017 patent filings. The latest patent illustrates patent FIG. 2 and the 2015 patent is illustrating patent FIG. 20.
Apple’s patent application 20180137996 was filed back on Dec. 21, 2017. Whether today’s patent application relates to Apple’s second-generation butterfly hinge or is relating to what’s to come is unknown at this time.
Side Note: Our cover graphic illustrates Apple’s FIG. 19 which depicts a third example of a hinged structure that is suitable for use in a key mechanism. FIG. 19 illustrates cutout #1806. Apple notes that in some embodiments, the pattern of cuts can prevent contaminants, such as a liquid, from entering into the key mechanism and/or the keyboard assembly. For example, in some embodiments the tension in the cuts or apertures can be sufficiently high to prevent a liquid from entering the cutout. Apple’s Patent FIG. 19 wasn’t included in their European filing.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Those using abusive language or negative behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.