Apple has been granted a U.S. patent on the design of its first iPad, nearly three years after the device's public debut.
Among more than 30 patents granted to Apple today, there's one standout: D669,069. Called simply a "portable display device," the pictured gadget matches up identically with Apple's first-generation iPad, a design the company kept around until the iPad 2 in early 2011.
Apple filed for the patent on January 26, 2010 -- the day before the product was first shown off at an event in San Francisco.
If you're doing a double take saying "hey, doesn't Apple already have a design patent for the iPad?" you're right. But the patent Apple's had since mid-2005 is more generic, missing features like the home button, volume buttons, and a dock connector -- all things the first iPad came with. Nonetheless, Apple has used it as legal ammunition against Samsung in its efforts to get versions of the Galaxy Tab barred from sale in the U.S. and other countries.
In its counterarguments, Samsung has railed against that 2005 patent, calling it "obvious," and pointing to prior art. That includes a newspaper tablet design mockup from Roger Fidler from 1994, and the TC1000, a Microsoft Windows-based tablet PC from Compaq made just ahead of Compaq being acquired by Hewlett-Packard.
Along with the iPad's design, Apple was granted two other design patents. One for the interface of its iBooks software (PDF) and another for the iPhone with a bumper case on it (PDF). The granted patents come just days ahead of when Apple is expected to unveil a smaller version of the iPad at a press event next week.