Along with the two Surface Tablets, Microsoft also announced an uber-cool Touch/Type cover accessories for the Surface tablets. The Surface Touch Cover will contain an integrated multitouch keyboard and trackpad, and addresses the eternal dilemma of how to type a lot on a touch only device. At just 3mm thickness, it looks attractively sleek and even latches on to the Surface with a magnetic connector. This should ring a bell for sure for those who have used the smart case & other similar cases for iPad 2 & the new iPad.

Below is a YouTube video which demonstrates how Touch Cover works with Microsoft Surface.

Now have a look at Apple’s Smart case for iPad.

The only similarity between the two is the magnetic hinge which automagically aligns and then attaches the Cover with the tablet. Both iPad and Surface have some magnets built right inside. But there ends the similarity. Apple’s Smart Case can fold up and acts like a stand, while Microsoft’s Touch Cover stays stiff and double up as a multitouch keyboard.

The first thing I noticed when I read about the magnetic connectors in Surface, was to wonder how similar it is conceptually with the Smart Case for iPad. Immediately I started digging up Google and found this article on Patently Apple. Apple has indeed patented the smart cover technology which includes the magnetic connectors.


In addition to magnetic connectors, Apple’s patent for Smart Cover talks many more things in detail, including Smart Cover angles, activate from sleep and Hanger idea. The Magnetization Vectors section provides more details about how the magnetic attachment feature works.

Let’s be clear. I’m no expert when it comes to patents and I don’t claim to be one. There is a heavy chance of me missing something while comparing the features, specially when we are looking at a small part of the patent. I’m so bad that I can’t even tell if this patent has been approved by Canadian authorities or not. In case any of you know more about how (or how not) Microsoft infringes this patent of Apple, do let me know via the comments section below.

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Raju is the founder-editor of Technology Personalized. A proud geek and an Internet freak, who is also a social networking enthusiast. You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. Mail Raju PP. Follow rajupp


5 thoughts on “Microsoft Surface Touch Cover & Apple’s Smart Cover Patent

  1. No issue here. One magneticly connects and uses the light sensor to switch of the screen. Windows Tablet is a totally different design. It Magneticly clips in a different style, has 5 pins whch power the keybord and light. nothing will happen. Microsoft simply created another level which is inovation. Everyone carry on what you’re doing, nothing to see here lol.

    • Does patents deal with ideas or just execution? The execution seems quite different but the idea looks same. Isn’t it? Both of them have built-in magnets, as well as magnetic circuitry for automatic alignment of covers. Everything else is different.

      • As per my understanding -Patents deal with mainly execution – especially from a legal perspective. I do not see the same execution going on here.

        The only way to sue someone for idea is to actually claim damages for stealing the idea. In this case Apple will have to say MS stole their idea which might have caused them financial damages. Financial damages because of a cover is tough sell to the courts.

        I am basing this on previous patent case between Oracle and Google where Oracle lost because they could not prove financial damages to their company even though they held copyright.

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