I noticed mentions of an invention by Apple in two newspapers published on Christmas Eve.
I first noticed it in the Daily Telegraph. Apple had published details of an invention which turned the sound down after an interval, so as to protect your hearing.
This is the Portable Audio Device Providing Automated Control of Audio Volume Parameters for Hearing Protection -- a long but useful title. The document includes drawings showing the principles behind the software. It follows heavy criticism by charities and others of the impact that MP3 players (and personal stereos ?) have on hearing if the volume is too high.
There was also an item in the Daily Mail, which referred to the "new patent". No, it's not a patent. It was only published in June 2007 (so why all the publicity on Christmas Eve ?) and is awaiting the grant of a patent, a very different thing. There's also the matter of where a patent is granted, as no worldwide patents exist. It is awaiting grant in Europe, Japan, China and Canada as well as in the USA. They, and not an application, give the actual scope of the allowed monopoly.
Personally, I think it would be easier if the devices were adjusted so the volume couldn't be turned so high in the first place.