While Microsoft's Surface tablets may not be exactly clicking with consumers, some of its design elements have won the blessing of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The USPTO granted a trio of patents today for the touch/type cover keyboard design on Redmond's tablet, including its "ornamental design for an electronic tablet with input device coupling," as Microsoft described the construct in its patent application abstracts. Apparently thinking it was onto something big, Microsoft applied for patents covering its tablet's keyboard design last May, roughly a month before the mystery event that turned out to be the device's unveiling.
The cover presented one of the key challenges Microsoft faced in developing the tablet. It had to be thin but durable enough to protect the screen. The team behind the tablet ultimately decided on using a removable keyboard cover that could stick to the screen via a magnet.
Since the first devices launched in October, Microsoft has sold more than 1.5 million Surface tablets, including about 400,000 Surface Pros, according to a Bloomberg report. The company had reportedly ordered about 3 million Surface RTs, with some analysts expecting Microsoft to sell 2 million RTs in its first quarter on the market.
However, despite booming sales in the overall tablet market, one analyst recently slashed his sales estimates for the Surface. Pacific Crest analyst Brendan Barnicle estimates Microsoft will sell 600,000 Surface tablets during the current quarter, down from an earlier projection of 1.4 million units.