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Apple secures 17 patents, including wireless sync

The company's new patents range from a single security model for booting a computing device to a design patent on its current iPod Shuffle.

Apple now owns the patent for this design.
Apple now owns the patent for this design.

Apple has secured 17 new patents.

The patents, which were first discovered by Patently Apple, include a host of technologies, such as digital-camera calibration and the way in which a computing device boots under a single security model. Even Apple's iPod Shuffle design, boasting an ultrasmall footprint, control buttons at the top, and a clip underneath, has been cleared for the company to own.

One of the more notable patents Apple has been granted is one related to wireless synchronization. Dubbed "Wireless synchronization between media player and host device," the patent allows Apple to add content to a media device -- presumably including a smartphone or tablet -- over the air, regardless of whether it's in a docking station or sitting in the user's pocket.

Apple acknowledges in its patent that several wireless-syncing technologies have predated its option. However, Apple's technology differentiates itself by the way in which it handles the data transfer, packages it up, and sends it off to the client device. Moreover, the company specifically says the patent relates solely to media transfers -- not operating-system updates.

"Although the media items of emphasis in several of the above embodiments were audio items (e.g., audio files or songs), the media items are not limited to audio items," Apple writes in its patent. "For example, the media item can alternatively pertain to videos (e.g., movies) or images (e.g., photos)."

It should be rather interesting to see how Apple uses the wireless-syncing patent. Several media applications allow for wireless syncing, and depending on the breadth of Apple's patent and the way in which it relates to online services, they could come into the iPhone maker's crosshairs.

Last year, for example, CNET offered up a walk-through for wirelessly syncing music files in Spotify with an Android device. Although the premise is the same, it doesn't necessarily mean that Apple might take issue with it, since the patent appears to be quite specific. Still, as Patently Apple points out, the company could use the wireless-syncing patent for defensive or offensive purposes.

One other interesting tidbit: Apple has patented how the Apple logo lights up when a MacBook Pro is opened. The patent also relates to any "illuminable portion" on a computer's housing.

Considering the sheer number of patent lawsuits running around the technology space, it's no surprise how important intellectual property has become to today's tech companies. Patents have also become a hot buy for several investment firms. Just yesterday, in fact, IP investment firm Pendrell acquired 1,300 patents. The patents related to everything from 4G wireless connectivity to e-commerce. Pendrell didn't disclose how much it paid for the patents.