Is Apple About to Copy Google?

Will making Terminator-style spectacles help Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) terminate Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) ? We may find out sooner than you think. According to a new patent filing, the Mac maker is investigating ways to build interactive glasses reminiscent of Google's own highly publicized efforts.

Found by the sleuths over at TheNextWeb, the patent is titled "Peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays" and includes technology for projecting images to users via twin LCD displays. Much more like traditional glasses than the open-eye camera style espoused by Google, in other words, as suggested by this clever graphic found at Gizmodo:

Source: Gizmodo.

But that's nitpicking. In each case, we're talking about wearable displays. Apple apparently sees just as much merit in this style as does Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who touted a Google Glass prototype via a skydiving publicity stunt at last week's Google I/O developer conference.

To be fair, patents don't always represent product development reality. That may be the case here, too.

On other hand, think about what the money flows mean. The very idea of Apple and Google investing in specs suggests there's going to be more capital allocated to the wearable Internet, and by extension location-specific Web services such as Foursquare and Yelp (Nasdaq: YELP  ) , whose stock has soared on continued enthusiasm for a deal that will put more of its data in the hands of iPhone users.

Through the looking glass
Would you wear enhanced reality glasses? Is the wearable Internet as big an idea as I'm suggesting? We don't yet know the answers to these and related questions, but either way, it pays to study potential disruptions like this one since, over time, the market rewards those that lead the rebellions, much like Apple has for years. We look for just these sorts of leaders in picking stocks in our Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service. Want in? Check out a 30-day trial subscription. If that's not up your alley just yet, you can still check out a free special report detailing the next trillion-dollar revolution.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. He also had a long-term call position in Netflix. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2012, at 1:21 PM, ViewRoyal wrote:

    Apple has patented many technologies, but many of them never get produced and sold as Apple products.

    If in the future, Apple does "copy" Google by making their own unique head-mounted displays, it is very unlikely that they will blatantly infringe any patents owned by other companies (as Google did).

    Apple is not always the first to market a type of product. Apple didn't make the first MP3 player,nor the first mobile phone. They just create products that supersede existing products technologically, and in usability.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2012, at 3:23 PM, JohnnyW12 wrote:

    Apple is as blatant a copier as anyone, so don't make them out as some kind of Good Guys. Sure, Google's Android rips off Apple's IP and Google should be scourged accordingly, but don't make out Apple as being above stealing when they think they can get away with it. Too many examples of when they have.

    As far as wearable computing, it's just a matter of time. The benefits will be too extraordinary when we get it right. Imagine: when you look at someone you'll see their name, their spouses name, etc.; never forget a name again. When you want to drive somewhere, a map overlay appears that shows you the way. When you are in a foreign country, a realtime translation is whispered in your ear.

    It will be the most astounding improvement to knowledge access in human history. Of course, Apple, Google, Microsoft and everyone else will be going for it.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2012, at 1:59 AM, AdamChew wrote:

    @JohnnyW12

    I can also see you walking into the river.

    And when you are driving I can see your car running into a ditch.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2012, at 10:35 AM, JOttoN wrote:

    You're doing a disservice to the understanding of the patent system. "Copying" per se is not illegal.

    The question is whether such "copying" violates the IP of another company.

    IF Google has a patent related to the Google glasses you have to examine the specific claims made in the patent.

    Then you look at the claims of Apple's patent filing and see whether those claims are different. If they are different Apple can be awarded a patent on those different claims.

    If Apple or Google produces glasses for sale, you can bet that every patent holder that thinks Apple or Google might infringe on a patent they hold will be looking very carefully at that product.

    What the public rarely sees is the licensing agreements a company may establish prior to releasing a product.

    For example, Company XYZ may approach Google and say your glasses infringe on my patent 123456789. If Google agrees that their product infringes, they have a decision to make. To either redesign around the infringement or establish a licensing agreement between themselves and Company XYZ, i.e., pay royalties.

    Every company that gets sued for patent infringement will claim it's a frivolous lawsuit. For that matter, anyone that gets sued claims it's a frivolous lawsuit. And every company that gets sued will trivialize the claim to make it sound frivolous. Hence, Samsung's claim that Apple didn't patent rectangles with rounded corners. Which has absolutely nothing to do with Apple's suit other than to make it sound frivolous.

    While your 2nd par, does make a distinction, you can tell from the comments that your readers don't get it.

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