The patent application from Sony that popped up at the US Patent and Trademark Office this morning isn't quite the DualShock 4 that we've become acquainted with this year. While it contains many descriptors that apply to the controller Sony introduced alongside its PlayStation 4, it's also got a few extra bells and whistles that the current model doesn't include -- most notably, a microphone for tracking player location and a larger light bar that extends to the bottom of the controller. Apparently the light bar at some point could be "shaped to provide for a wide angle of visibility."
There's also a variety of trackpad versions, and the patent describes a slight outward curvature "which provides a tactile sensation by virtue of its shape" -- the DualShock 4 models we've used don't seem to feature this, but we'll need to revisit the controller to be sure. Further, the trackpad was apparently tested as a display screen as well at one point. "In one embodiment, the touch panel can be coupled with a display screen to provide a touchscreen interface as part of the controller," the application reads. "For example, the touchscreen might display an image which delineates regions of the touchscreen that correspond to various functionalities for the interactive application."
Beyond that, the patent dances around its connection to the PlayStation 4, as this was filed back in the end of June 2012 (it just published today). Make no mistake: this is very much a patent for the DualShock 4 long before the controller and its corresponding console were announced.