Apple has filed a patent for an Integrated monitor and docking station for a laptop its been unearthed.

The docking station, which according to the patent drawings looks like an iMac, would allow a laptop to be slid into the design from the side and then acting as a desktop PC.

The patent, which was filed in July 2006 states that:

"A docking station comprising:a display; anda housing configured to hold the display in a manner that exposes a viewing surface of the display to view, the housing defining a docking area configured to receive a portable computer;wherein the docking area is at least partly obscured by the display when viewed from the viewing surface side of the display at an angle substantially orthogonal to the viewing surface."

In the filing, Apple stats the "traditionally a portable computer docking station requires a separate external monitor to be connected (e.g., by cable) to the docking station when a display other than the integrated display of the portable computer is desired to be used with the docking station.

"Often a significant amount of desk space is required for placement of this docking station and separate display."

"Attempts have been made to conserve the required amount of desk space by allowing the external display to be stacked on top of the docking station."

"However, the stacked combination still occupies a large amount of space and is cumbersome to move and transport. Therefore there exists a need for a docking station and display combination that is configured in a more efficient form."

The discovery of the patent has fuelled rumours further that Apple is about to release an ultra-portable laptop at Macworld later in the month. The laptop would then be able to use a docking stations DVD drive, have access to a bigger hard drive, and of course a bigger screen.