An astonishing forty-seven Apple patents were published by the US Patent and Trademark Office yesterday, running the gamut of new invention and technologies.

Perhaps attracting the most attention is a patent describing new Apple TV functions, including the use of a more versatile remote control, support for iChat, potential support for integrating broadcast TV programming into the Front Row interface and support for widgets.

Widgets could be for sports scores, news headlines, iChat sessions, effectively anything at all. Such support would be a major step toward transforming Apple TV into an interactive broadcasting medium.

Additional patents explain new tools for use inside an audio editor, a scrollbar enhancement for browsing data and methods for distributing files across networks to multiple clients.

Patents also exist for personalised search and filtering, card payment systems and remote control instruments.

Rendering, imaging, and other applications are also described within the hefty raft of patents, available for perusal through the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Apple last month confirmed a 33.7 per cent year-on-year increase in the company's research and development spending during its December quarter.