This week, Apple has been granted an abundance of new patents, and the US Patent and Trademark Office has also published several of the company's patent applications.

The patents include design patents relating to Apple's iPad and iPhone, the MacBook Pro's borderless display, a system that would allow iTunes users to sell or loan their content, advanced facial recognition and detection technology and more.

Apple was granted 10 design patents on Tuesday, including the design of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S and its exterior frame. Patents for the iPhone's back plate and the retail packaging for the smartphone, as well as several design patents relating to the iPad and its battery, were won too.

Additionally, Apple won a patent that covers an invention for managing notification service connections of mobile devices and displaying icon badges, reports Patently Apple.

Apple has also been granted a fourth patent for the iPad's Smart Cover, the MacBook Pro's borderless display, another clickwheel patent, a 3D movie browser or editor, and many more, equating to a total of 37 patents.

iTunes users could sell or loan content to others

On 7 March, an Apple patent filing was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, which covers a system that could allow iTunes users to sell or loan their songs, films and eBooks to other people.

The patent [via Apple Insider], titled "Managing access to digital content items," describes a system in which users could legally sell or loan their iTunes content to other users by transferring digital access rights. The original owner would no longer be able to access the content once the rights have been transferred.

"After the change in access rights, only the transferee is allowed access to the digital content item," reads the patent's description. "As part of the change in access rights, the transferee may pay to obtain access to the digital content item. A portion of the proceeds of the "resale" may be paid to the creator or publisher of the digital content item and/or the entity that originally sold the digital content item to the original owner."

Apple also explains that the system could allow the original owners to sell several copies of particular content to other iTunes users. Apple could restrict the number of times content can be copied, and this could differ depending on what kind of media is being sold.

Apple could put time limits and pricing restrictions in place for the system. For example, the owner may have to wait for a year or six months before they can transfer the rights to someone else for a minimum price.

As well as the iTunes-related patent, the US Patent and Trademark Office also published Apple patents relating to advanced facial recognition and detection technology for photo editing applications on 7 March, and a speaker system  with an integrated sound radiating surface, as described by Patently Apple. The speaker system (as illustrated in the image above) could be a speakerphone unit that is integrated within an iPhone or iPad for FaceTime calls. Apple's AirDrop Logo also became a Registered Trademark.

See also:

Apple files iWatch patent

Samsung tops patent applicants in the EU

Apple patent round-up: 3D OS X, Retina MacBook Pro design, haptic feedback