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back to article Apple blueprints warranty Big Brother

Apple has filed a patent application for a technology that could detect, time-stamp, and remember "whether consumer abuse has occurred in an electronic device." Apple's many patent filings usually focus on technologies that could benefit consumers. This one is aimed directly at benefitting Apple itself. The filing, "Consumer …

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Aside from the ongoing paranoid behavior of Apple....

.... this is something so innovative that they should be granted a patent? We are truly, deeply hozed.

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Flame

Alpha-geeks?

Watch them all go crying to mummy about this.

"Apple, sniff, won't let me open, sniff, my toy! Waaaaaaaa Waaaaaaaaaa"

This new thing by Apple might be a problem if people where forced to buy their products. But they're not. It's called choice. So anyone who buys their stuff and complains can shut it. If enough people get sniffy over this and don't by their products, then maybe Apple will change their ways. But I think most normal people won't give a stuff.

The wailing of Alpha-geeks is to be laughed at, not listened to.

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Big Brother

The Apple 'Black box'

Please Apple, if you're going to go with it, give us fair warning about a DoW* circuit! So, the next machine I buy will have not only a sticker on the screen (iPod) saying 'don't steal music', it will have a carefully placed, visible upon removal from the box, a black tear away sticker saying something like 'This machine has an internal 'Black Box' circuit inside. Please register for certification of ownership'

http://s2.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/Fm61BvJlShBSZqqO.thumbnail

* -Denial of Warranty-

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Actually no big deal

The iPhone already has some of this stuff built in, there's a water detector at the far end of the jack socket, and many consumer devices have had mechanical 'spyware' built in for decades. I used to work in tech support for a major electrical in the 70s, there were obvious and hidden seals that would be broken by attempts to open cases, strange headed screws and spring loaded screws that you couldn't put back in again, and a small device that would tell you how many hours operation the device had been used for - useful for detecting if domestic equipment was used to death in a commercial enviroment - for example a CD player.

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Alert

this patent and your warranty

I wonder how the warranty exchange will go after they start implementing this in their gadgets?

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FAIL

Hypocrite Jobs

So much for the kid who was a phone phreaker...

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The key word is "and"

"opening the casing or housing of a device AND adding, removing, or altering the internal components"

So just opening it isn't an example of abuse. Buggering about with the insides is.

Oliver.

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Stop

'scuse me, but Alpha Geeks

sure as hell wouldn't use Apple products. They go against the core mantra of the modder-geek (if it ain't broke it doesn't have enough features yet) and even in the event you discovered something useful or interesting you'd still need Apple's permission to write code to exploit it.

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WTF?

Hmmm....

So, "abuse" as in, "loading firmware not supposed to be on there" as in....jail-breaking? The want some line in law that says if you screw with our stuff, we find out, we decide whether to demand our pound of flesh.

I suppose it's their device, they have to support it if it's used according to the Apple user agreement, but surely if I buy a product and decide to tamper with it AND I accept I have then given up all my rights to complain when it doesn't work anymore, where's the problem?

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Not very new

Er, hate to point out the obvious, but a technology enabling one to determine if the casing has been opened has been available for several years now, the venerable 'sticker with WARRANTY VOID IF SEAL BROKEN printed on it'. Shouldn't this diatribe be levelled at all dastardly sticker-brokers, not just Apple?

(In fact I mean that entirely unironically. I hate those fucking stickers.)

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Closed system

....what else would you expect. This is precisely why I will never buy an Apple product, despite liking some of them.

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This is why I do not buy Apple

[quote]Ever since the iPod was introduced, Apple has been sealing up its devices tighter than a drum, making such traditionally user-serviceable parts as batteries inaccessible. iPods, iPhones, MacBook Pros - all are locked up tight.[/quote]

Here is a nifty solution then. Don't buy them. It works so very well.

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Anonymous Coward

Bernie Madoff Patents

Whenever you see a fluff patent like this and the company is not a troll, rather it's a large corp with no intention of using the patent to sue. Go look at the book value and try to guess how much of the book value is made up of stuff like this.

As soon as company accounts started containing 'brand values' and other non tangible assets, it became a game of getting as many 'assets' with vague values as you can, to fluff up the asset value. Patents on DLLs, patent of common business methods etc, all fit this bill. But it's no more real than those billions Parmalat pretended to have in the bank in the Cayman Islands...

Whenever these companies go out of business, it's like a big balloon popping, suddenly the fake asset valuations evaporate and lot of pensions disappear and other companies fail. So whatever value the patent office thinks it's 'creating' by issuing junk patents, they really need to keep it real.

They're ENRON patents, Bernie Madoff patents, thing pretending to have value when they do not have value.

And I don't think the Patent office can really pretend ignorance when it issues them. A guy got a patent for the wheel through the US patent office FFS.

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Anonymous Coward

Careful with liquids !

Hi,

Last summer my brand new Nokia N95 died because of "water related problems".

The only source of liquid I can think of is sweat. As I'm mot doing sports with my phone it must be the occasional humidity coming of a pocket that killed the phone.

Nokia replaced it under warranty.

I'm afraid that these "smart" sensors would lead Nokia/Apple to believe I poured water on my phone.

Then I will have to prove them my innocence, a nearly impossible task.

Don't expect me to buy one of the "tamper protected" Iphones.

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Jobs Horns

Just because..

you paid for something, doesn't mean you own it any more. Just like music, you have only bought the right to use it in the way specified by the manufacturer, not as you see fit.

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That's the end for apple

Jobs and his cult have declared war on the consumer in order to further their proprietary nonsense worldview. I know the reg has an irrational unthinking bias against open source and freedom but surely even the most hidebound capitalist stooge must see this latest insanity for what it is.

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But...

...will it blend? More to the point, it doesn't mention the specific act of "blending" as a type of consumer abuse it will detect. Ha! They'll never know.

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Jobs Horns

two things

Wasn't the EU about to outlaw devices where consumer replaceable parts like batteries weren't consumer replaceable such as the i-phone. If so then they wouldn;t be able to implement it on the current design.

Secondly if, as Spike Douglas says, there have been previous anti-intrusion detection methods (and i have seen things like these) then a patent should not be granted as there is a case for prior art (or whatever the prhase may be)

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Gates Horns

@Oliver Humpage

"So just opening it isn't an example of abuse. Buggering about with the insides is.

Oliver."

The other reason the anti-Apple-'tards are bleating is that they want to get a free replacement when they drop/throw/drive over their iPhone, or spill coffee on their MacBook.

Apple are just protecting themselves against thieves and liars, which apparently is a Big Brother attitude, according to the whiners. Check out the various forums for people trying to find out if there's a way they can lie about their dropped iPhone to get a free replacement under warranty.

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Nothing new

How many times have you seen a label over a screw hole that says that says "Removal of this label will invalidate your warranty". It is to stop idiots messing around with something that they have neither the knowledge nor the tools to work with. Of course, it is their decision, they have a choice - do it yourself and lose your warranty or let the company fix it. Fair enough, but you can't have it both ways.

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Stop

Opened cases

Because, on the 5th of January, I opened up the case for a quick nosey it does not then follow that a hardware failure on February 5th was in any way connected to the opening of the case, one month earlier.

But you just KNOW that it WILL be used as a way for the company in question to refuse to repair the item under waranty and for said warranty to be be immediately voided.

@ Oliver Humpage - Thank you for picking out a word and deciding that it is an important word...... I hope you at least feel a bit silly when AND turns out to not be a 'key' word at all and waranties are infact voided simply by opening.

Apple are just another example of what happens to companies when they reach a certain size, the normal rules that govern the customer/company relationsip are jetisoned. The company now has the upper hand and imposes its will on the customer. With size comes power, well percieved power anyway........

Don't be mad at them, just don't buy their stuff, they will either remember how to treat their customers or their revenue will drop. I doubt apple will ever go completely bust, there are enough fanboys and girls to keep then solvent forever.

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Bod

Where's the EU when you need them

So where's the EU case against Apple anyway regarding deliberately blocking the consumer from replacing the battery and force them to spend their money with Apple to replace the battery or more likely replace the whole unit?

But then I guess it's different for a Cult than for a real hardware/software manufacturer. In such a cult there is ultimate control by the cult leader of the consumer.

I'm waiting for the advert saying, "Mass cult suicide? There's an app for that".

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15 years ago .. prior art

I've seen HP Servers (and some desktops) with a hardware based, bios-linked trigger that indicates if the case has been opened.

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Morals aside...

Now they're trying to patent the tamper switch? Burglar alarms have been doing this kind of thing for decades.

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Jobs Horns

More apple profit protectionism

Aside from if this is patentable or not, this is just more revenue protectionism from Apple so they can cite "evidence" from some presumably infallible audit trail that you broke the T&Cs of the warranty on a faulty device. "BNIB, still shrink wrapped & faulty... oh well... you bought it you see... that breaks your warranty... I'm afraid [happy] that you need to buy a new one!"

It is the next logical step from the chips they put in Japanese VCRs in the '80s & '90s so they broke the day after the warranty expired.

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Remember You are Licensing ...

You only have a license to use this hardware, you do not own it. Apple may terminate this license at any time, should you

1) talk to the press

2) complain to apple

3) fail to worship St Jobs thrice daily

4) open the device

5) use unauthorised media on the device

6) allow the device the to burst into flames by turning it on.

7) fail to make your children fan(children)

8) allow your coolness level to fall below a level to be determined by apple

9) participate in any patent lawsuit against apple

10) participate in any class action lawsuit against apple.

oh sorry that's an iPhone

hell I'm surprised they haven't patented the "Mission Impossible" self-destruct as a feature.

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Err...hmm?

Some "abuse" is what I'd call normal wear and tear. A mobile should be able to survive getting dropped. OK, the case may break by the actual "phone" bit should survive. Anyone who builds consumer electronics incapable of withstanding the consumer is an idiot.

My mobile of choice? Lowest-end Nokia that does what I want. Just about unbreakable (they've even been driven over - try that with an iPhone!). Cheap as chips too, so if it does break I don't really care.

I can well accept that false warranty claims must be a headache but c'mon...Apple users are too dumb to change a simple battery? Please. And what will happen when abuse is detected? Will it explode in a ball of flames.

Oh, wait, no; they do that already.

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Gold badge

What happens if I claim warranty for broken detectors?

I can see the confusion already: device works, complain is that the detectors are broken. WTF?

That would be awesome to watch, I think..

:-)

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FAIL

No, having liquid and shock sensors is not necessarily reasonable

At least not in a phone it isn't. If the device had literally been submersed in liquid I might tend to agree, but more often it's the case that the device fails due to inadequate design to cope with the outside world.

Leave a phone stuck in your pocket in a humid club or up a misty mountain and it may eventually fail. Once it does the phone companies refuse to admit their designs are unable to cope with reasonable amounts of moisture in the atmosphere. What the hell happens in places like Singapore?

Same with shock sensors. If it was dropped out of a window I could possibly see their point. Falling off a desk or a mantlepiece, though? That's a standard operating environment for a phone, which is solid state anyway and should be able to cope with a large degree of shock.

Fine if restricted to a laptop, definitely not in the case of a phone.. Laptops don't get stuck in pockets and carried everywhere.

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Bronze badge

Warranty period?

Silly thought here, but I assume that there will be some wifi or similar link for the device so it knows when the warranty has expired. Obviously once this magic date has been reached then it will turn itself off and let you do whatever you like to the innards.....won't it?

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Happy

Jive ass?

Jive ass mo fo?

You been watching re-runs of I'm Gonna Git U Sucka again?

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FAIL

Prior art?

Most of my electronic components have a little sticker on them across the back which says something like "removal or damage to this sticker invalidates the warranty."

Works just as well, I'd have thought, and much less complicated.

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tampering isn't in the same category as the others

It doesn't say opening or tampering are abuse, but that abuse may -result from- such tampering. Subtle difference.

I suspect a significant proportion of warranty claims, especially the one in a million "exploding" devices (where a lithium battery has shorted out) for which Apple gets relatively enormous online bad publicity, are the result of tampering and re-assembly without all the original little bits of special sticky tape and/or glue and/or with loose screws/washers, solder blobs etc left in the case. Someone then buys it on eBay, drops it on a hard floor and it does indeed short out, instantly releasing large amounts of stored energy from the battery and "exploding".

People think it's clever to cover up the pink moisture detector with a tiny piece of paper, so that the Apple Store replaces under warranty the iPhone they dropped in the toilet. But unless Apple incorporates even more robust telltales, it's the careful and innocent who end up paying higher prices to subsidise the cheating bozos.

I'll take the concealed telltales plus excellent service over a miserable warranty claim experience designed to exhaust honest and dishonest claimants alike before coming up with a replacement gadget. And yes, I am a keen taker-to-bits of everything.

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Higher profits for Apple, lower profits for insurance companies

I foresee one outcome of this being a lot more electronic devices being "lost" or "stolen" or "dropped". Rather than claim back on warranty - or consumer laws, people who fiddle with their kit and break it will now just claim on their insurance, or credit-card cover. All that's happening is Apple are reducing their insurance costs, while keeping the goods the same price and passing on the risk to people who buy their stuff: a price rise by stealth.

@Oliver Humpage Three letters: ESD. Remember this is just phase #1. Next will come the idea that if it was opened, it should have been done by a qualified engineer, with a certified anti-static regime (read: Apple approved outlet). Otherwise opening will be deemed to have zapped something, which will void your warranty. This isn't such a new idea: we've all seen these labels on disk drives and no-one expects to take one of them apart on the kitchen table and be able to use it again afterwards.

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@Oliver Humpage

"opening the casing or housing of a device AND adding, removing, or altering the internal components"

I wonder if this covers changing batteries as well? Is that abuse? According to the wording it is.

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Dead simple

A) Don't buy them

B) (in the UK at least) a Warranty does NOT limit consumer rights - even if that is exactly how most companies try to use them. I had a repair for a disintegrating stylus silo on an XDA MiniS rejected because the water sticker had activated and this "invalidated the warranty". I pointed out that my repair had nothing to do with water, I wasn't applying under the warranty and if O2 REALLY wanted to stand up in court and claim it was I'd be happy to give them that opportunity. A manager promptly appeared apologising profusely etc. etc.

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Welcome

Not quite what it sounds like...

Two points:

- I have just bought one of the new MacBook Pros and they come with instructions on how to open them and change the memory or the hard drive - not something I've had on previous laptops, so they're not going too far in this direction...

- my understanding of this patent is it suggests detecting and shutting down the machine _while it's open_, and then restarting it once the case is sealed again. Now that may be a bit nanny-state-ist, but it's not an entirely stupid idea, and doesn't in any way stop you opening the machine and messing with its insides.

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Anonymous Coward

I've found a simple way round this.

I'm not going to buy any Apple products.

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Go

I never touched it

I used to repair electronic devices under warranty. A lot of these showed evidence of being opened. This was normally just where someone had had a quick look to see if a fuse had blown or similar. These were usually repaired without comment.

The ones that came back with missing parts, broken security labels, chips reversed in their sockets and connectors cut off, were a different matter. Most off these, according to the customer, had "not been opened" and had "gone wrong on their own".

These used to get returned with a sticker inside them saying "Remember what happened when Nero fiddled."

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Shock? Likewise.

Depends.

Any portable device should have some shock resistance. I would consider a portable device faulty if it couldn't handle a small fall.

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Linux

Ahhhhhh....

Yet ANOTHER reason to hate Apple. Will there ever be an end to the evil this company does? This obsession with control is getting out of hand.

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Jobs Halo

@scuse me, but Alpha Geeks

... not entirely true.

I modded my Mac Mini (early 2009 version) using the putty knife method. Stuffing it with a 320GB Western Digital Scorpio Black 7200rpm drive and 4GB of DDR3 Ram. It now zips along very nicely and make an excellent compact database and web server that you can keep in your office draw. This upgrade cost me a little over £100. Less than half the price it would have cost me if purchased from Apple.

Like others here I would be very pissed of with Apple it they went out of their way to prevent this type simple modding though.

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And if the sensors are faulty..

And if you are lucky enough to have an iphone that has developed a fault and the device has a faulty sensor claiming that you boiled it in a tub of lard whilst subjecting it to gforces equivalent of blasting it into space where exactly does that leave your warranty claim? Would you have to have the sensor examined at your own cost in order to prove that it was faulty?

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I may have said this before....

.... but when you hand over the reddies for a bit of kit, that kit is mine.

I own it.

If I want to open it, that is my choice.

Bugga them.

P.

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Just stick it in the microwave

That does not seem to be covered by the patent.

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Dead Mini?

This could kill off the Mac Mini, the only way to upgrade the memory is with a putty knife and easing off the top part of the shell (hardly a case). The price any Apple chop-shop charges to open and supply "authorised" memory would make it cheaper to buy a house.

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Alert

@Antidisestablishmentarianist

The alpha-geek angle in the article is short-sighted and doesn't invite immediate sympathy, but this is in fact a very serious milestone in consumer rights.

In ye olden days, buying something meant exchanging currency for the ownership of a product.

Apple has done wonders for DRM — I've bought several albums on iTunes that suffered an interrupted internet connection during download, now I have to buy them again and hope the connection remains steady in order to listen to them (even then, I don't own the music and have limited control over the actual product) — and we've come to expect that digital content delivery implement reservations about how the consumer can access the product they've 'bought'.

But this is a new level.

What's implied here is that the manufacturer can completely disable the product remotely if the user, without infringing on anyone's rights or breaking any laws, makes use of their purchase in a way the manufacturer doesn't like.

You might still sympathise with the manufacturer, but you've got to admit it's a new level of power to them.

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Boffin

Warranty only

I don't see why this is a big deal. If you want to take your iPhone apart, it'll almost certainly be to replace the battery. If the battery fails within the warranty period, then get Apple to pay to do so, why bother yourself? And if it's outside the warranty period, then it doesn't matter if it can detect you opening it, because there's no longer any warranty to void.

The only circumstances in which this would be annoying is if you just want to open it up to have a poke around. Most people (like myself) inclined to do this won't be too bothered about a warranty.

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FAIL

@ oliver

"And" is an ambigous word.

Today I went on a train AND had a chocolate bar.

Does that mean I had a choccy bar on the train or just simply had a choccy bar today?

So that could easily imply

You open the case, you go no further. (end of warranty).

You bugger about inside (no implication that you opened it).

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