Schematic cross-section drawing with numbers
“A connection between the first body 11 and the second body 12 may be maintained by an elastic force provided by the third body 13 or the fourth body 14. “

On May 26, 2016 the USPTO published a new patent from Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., directed to a foldable smartphone, as Patently Mobile recently reported.

Many remain skeptical of Samsung’s foldable technology plans. But the story has gotten considerable uptake, including in the Korean press.

The US patent application in question, titled “FOLDABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE”, has application number 20160147263. It claims priority to Korean patent application 10-2014-0163504, “접을 수 있는 전자 장치” (“foldable electronic device”), published by the Korean Intellectual Property Office on May 31, 2016.

The US application is classified under IPC subclass G06F (electronic digital data processing).

Korean abstract US abstract
본 발명의 다양한 실시 예에 따르면, 전자 장치는 접을 수 있는 하우징(housing) 및 상기 하우징의 내부에 배치 되는 적어도 하나의 전자 부품을 포함하되, 여기서, 상기 적어도 하나의 전자 부품은 상기 하우징의 접힌 상태에 서 상기 하우징의 접힘부를 통하여 외부로 노출될 수 있다. An electronic device may include a foldable housing, and at least one electronic component arranged within the housing. The at least one electronic component may be exposed to an area external to the housing through a folding part of the housing in a folded state of the housing. The electronic device may be transitionable between a folded state and an unfolded state. Activation of the at least one electronic component may be effected by the folding or unfolding of the electronic device.

I ran a comparison of the Korean patent application against an ad-hoc corpus of about 600 other Korean patent applications in category G06F. Using the TF-IDF metric, the most distinctive words were: 바디 (“body”), 케이스 (“case”), 보드 (“board”), 전자 (“electronic”), and 세트 (“set”).  Reflecting the general trend in the electronics sublanguage, all but one of these (전자, “electronic”) is a hangulization of an English word.

Some of the most distinctive two-word phrases in the application were 예를 들자면 (“by way of an example”), and 예에 따르면 (“according to the example/embodiment”).  The “들자면” phrasing is particularly interesting from a purely linguistic standpoint, since it is unusually conversational for a patent. Patents are packed with examples, so you might expect example-related phrases to be common.  But this phrase occurs in less than 0.2% of Korean patent applications.

Perhaps the most interesting phrase here is, however, the one in the title: 접을 수 있는 (“foldable”).  Korean patents directed to foldable technologies use a variety of terms to express this idea, including the simple causative 접다 (“to fold”, used here), the passive 접히다 (“to be folded”), verbal nouns formed from either of these, and the hangulization 폴더블 (“foldable”).

Here, in a nuance that cannot help but be lost in translation, the patent drafter has focused on the simple idea of what the user can do with the phone (fold it) rather than what the phone can do (be folded) or what the phone is (foldable).