According to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple has renewed its exclusive rights to use alloys produced by Liquidmetal Technologies in consumer electronics products.
Cupertino first secured its Liquidmetal rights back in 2010, and in 2012 the company gained two more years of exclusivity. Though countless reports have mulled over the potential of a so-called “Liquidmetal iPhone” (pictured above), it seems Apple is more interested in using the alloy in its iOS devices' buttons and touch sensors.
MacRumors notes that Apple has now renewed its exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal in consumer electronics products, and points to a recent filing with the SEC. The filing indeed notes that Cupertino can use Liquidmetal alloys exclusively up until February 2015:
On May 19, 2014, Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc. (the “Company”) and Apple Inc. (“Apple”) entered into an second amendment (the “Second Amendment”) to the Master Transaction Agreement that was originally entered into on August 5, 2010 (the “MTA”) and amended on June 15, 2012 (the “First Amendment”). Under the MTA and the First Amendment, the Company was obligated to contribute to Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC, a special purpose subsidiary of the Company, all intellectual property acquired or developed by the Company from August 5, 2010 through February 5, 2014, and all intellectual property held by Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC was exclusively licensed on a perpetual basis to Apple for the field of use of consumer electronic products under the MTA. Under the Second Amendment, the parties agreed to amend the MTA and the First Amendment to extend the February 5, 2014 date to February 5, 2015.
Given that the oft-pressed physical buttons included on Apple's iPhones and iPads are some of the components most likely to break or fail over time, it clearly makes sense for Cupertino to investigate Liquidmetal for this purpose.
The deployment of Touch ID, in particular, means replacing an iPhone 5s handset's Home button is now far more expensive than it used to be. Most of us click this button countless times a day, and as such strengthening the component using Liquidmetal alloys sounds like a smart move – especially if Touch ID is set to launch on the iPad (as well as on future iPhones).
It'll definitely be interesting to see how Apple's use of Liquidmetal develops over the coming years. We'll be sure to keep you posted on this front.
In the meantime, see: Run And Gun As Canabalt Meets Super Crate Box In Chillingo's Bill Killem, Apple Can Now Retail And Market Products In Saudi Arabia, and Get Your Duct Tape And Swiss Army Knife Ready For MacGyver Deadly Descent.