A quartet of new Apple patent applications focus on retail product displays, including the iPad Smart Signs, locking 30-pin dock connectors, and dynamic signage content, all in-use now at the company’s retail stores. The applications advance patent protections already granted on several of Apple retail’s store design elements, and would prevent competitors from using similar tablet-based product signs in a retail setting. As first reported by PatentlyApple.com, the applications were posted by the Patent and Trademark Office on Thanksgiving day, and center on the Smart Signs that debuted in May 2011. Apple has been using acrylics for many years to display product information on its retail store display tables. But the product data was printed on paper and slipped behind the acrylics. The new acrylics incorporated iPads to provide a wider range of information, to allow downloaded updates, and to provide customers the ability to summon a Specialist for help. In the first patent application, Apple makes claim to an acrylic block design, its attachment to an iPad and the associated product dock. Two other patents related to special features of the acrylic iPad dock: an anti-theft, 30-pin dock connector for display products, and a low-profile 30-pin connector to allow compact attachment of the iPad. The fourth patent details the ability to deliver dynamic content to the Smart Signs based on their location in the store and the products being displayed. Download (pdf) the patent apps for much more detail: iPad dock, dynamic signage, locking 30-pin and low-profile 30-pin.