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A Look at Steve Jobs’ 313 Apple Patents

With Steve Jobs’ resignation as Apple CEO last wednesday, there have been many reflections on his career and the impact he had on shaping Apple, the technology industry, and beyond. The New York Times takes an interesting perspective on his attention to detail, noting that Jobs has been named as an inventor on a total of 313 Apple patents. Of those, Jobs appears as the lead inventor 33 times.

Jobs’ name appears not only on patents for iconic devices like the iPhone but also on a number of less prominent details ranging from the glass staircases found in some Apple retail stores to power adapters to cardboard packaging for various iPod models.

Mr. Jobs appears as the principal inventor or as one inventor among several on 313 Apple patents. Most are design patents that cover the look and feel of a product, rather than utility patents, which may cover a technical innovation like a software algorithm or computer chip.

Still, the number of patents is far larger than those granted to most other technology company chiefs, including those whose technical breakthroughs and inventions were instrumental to their companies’ success. Just nine Microsoft patents carry the name of Bill Gates, who was a co-founder of the company and its chief executive for more than two decades before stepping down in 2000. And little more than a dozen Google patents carry the names of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, according to a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Web site.

The New York Times has put together an interactive feature highlighting Apple patents attributed to Jobs. More than 200 of the patents attributed to Jobs also list Apple design guru Jonathan Ive, indicating the close collaboration between the two in creating the vision for Apple’s products.