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Apple patent offers peek at E-Wallet icon... or does it?

Patently Apple is running another of its excellent, exhaustively detailed listings of Apple's recently awarded patents. In the description of one of the awards, the site pointed out what they believe is an icon for an "E-Wallet" app, possibly pertaining to a Near Field Communications (NFC)-based electronic payment system. We've been hearing a lot about Apple's involvement with ISIS and NFC payments, so it seems likely that the drawing in this patent description could be pointing out the name and icon for such an Apple app. Or does it?

For years, mobile app developer Ilium Software has marketed an application called eWallet. That term is even a registered trademark of Ilium Software, although I don't know if the trademark covers other spellings or interCappings of the name. While perhaps Apple is going to use a similar term for an electronic payment system, I'm wondering if the artist who drew the patent illustration wasn't just making a nod to a Ilium's long history in the mobile space.

While the artist's conception uses the term "E-Wallet" rather than eWallet, the icon is similar to that used by Ilium Software. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the artist simply borrowed the icon and app name for a long-standing mobile application to fill out a screen diagram. There are also only so many ways to draw a wallet.

Like the good folks at Patently Apple, though, we'd like to believe that the patent info is a hint of things to come in a future iPhone. What do you think? Is it an upcoming feature, a tip of the hat to Ilium Software's eWallet, or just a slow news day at TUAW? Let us know in the comments.

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