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back to article UK Ministry of Defence eyes GPS patent payoff

A British patent is causing jitter in the GPS community, as the Ministry of Defence looking to satellite navigation vendors for royalties. The patent, Modulation signals for a satellite navigation system, describes “a method for generating a subcarrier modulation signal for modulating a further signal, the method involving …

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Facepalm

So, I merely imagine using GPS in the '90s?

Coz when I traveled, I often paid extra for Hertz rent-a-car to activate the GPS device in the vehicle... but the British Government invented the tech in the 2000's?

Is this sort of like where Australia invented WiFi?

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Facepalm

Re: So, I merely imagine using GPS in the '90s?

Australia didn't invent WiFi, the Media reporting on the story (as usual) took it completely out of context and the Politicians trumping it up had no idea at all what it was they were really going on about (as usual).

The CSIRO invented a technique that the IEEE, when designing the WiFi standard, used as part of that standard. The CSIRO just wanted what they rightfully were owed. Just like all the other patent holders with inventions in the WiFi spec.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So, I merely imagine using GPS in the '90s?

You've missed the detail - the patent isn't to do with basic GPS functionality, which as you say has been around for far longer than the patent. It's to do with a method to allow interoperability between GPS systems, which only came about when multiple GPS systems were on the horizon.

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Bronze badge

The US DoD project was initiated in 1973 and became operational in 1994. I purchased a handheld GPS in 1998. So what's with this patent cropping up in 2003?

Is the wheel still patentable?

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Facepalm

Commentards, commentards...

This does not attempt to patent all of GPS, just a new way of processing GNSS signals.

You cannot patent the wheel per se, because wheels have been around for ages. However if you found a new way to manufacture a wheel or such then you could patent that. For example, Dunlop got a patent for wheel with pneumatic tyre and likely some other person has since been awarded a patent for tyre with non-aquaplaning tread pattern or puncture proof side walls.

Those GPS receivers that use pre-2003 processing methods will not be impacted.

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Happy

Re: Commentards, commentards...

"wheels have been around for ages"

Ba-dum tsssh!

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Facepalm

Re: Commentards, commentards...

Just got that :)

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Stop

Modulation Error

Ok, so, loosely speaking the patent is for a method of transmitting digital data as a modulated subcarrier on a pre-existing carrier wave. Surely this has already got plenty of prior art involved, Software stored on magnetic tape for one example, early experiments in transmitting software for 8 bit home computers using radio shows or TV programs, NICAM stereo, FAX machines, SSTV using amateur radio, NOAA broadcasts would all use a variation on the theme. I've missed a lot of examples from the list as it would be way too long to document all possible prior art. It just seems to me that companies are more interested in what they can patent and make money from licensing than actually innovating.

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Anonymous Coward

You can't speak "loosely" with patents or you end up misdescribing them.

They aren't claiming to have invented and own the technique of subcarrier modulation itself, they are claiming to have invented one particular technique and method of subcarrier modulation, so all your prior examples of generic subcarrier modulation are not relevant.

(Unless of course you can first demonstrate that their claimed method is not sufficiently original and non-obvious to count as patentable, in which case the patent would indeed fall as being just another generic example of an existing technique; but you can't show that it's nonobvious just by pointing out other examples of similar techniques that work by different methods other than those detailed in the claims of the patent.)

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Anonymous Coward

To fellow Americans

What does it taste now to be at the other end of the stick ?

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Re: To fellow Americans

All it takes now is for a court in East Texas to find against the US DoD, for the British govt to stand up for the country and for the UK to enforce a judgement against the US military.

In other news the owners of the Titanic sue the iceberg for being in the way.

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Joke

"owners of the Titanic sue the iceberg"

Dude, you're infringing my patent for sarcastic comentard posts!

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It taste now to be

Delicious

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To fellow Americans

It is not the other end of the stick. That is an example of one of the differences between US business governance and UK business governance.

Laying submarine patent minefields under standard processes can cause anything up to and including FTC intervention and a DOJ "big red antitrust button". Conflicts of interest are taken fairly seriously in the US too. You cannot sit on a standards body committee and define standards without disclosing any IPR work in progress which may be relevant. On top of that, submarining something that is part of formal federal or state procurement process like this can in many cases get you a rap under some of the fraud statutes or even under RICO.

Compared with the USA UK business governance and especially commercial activities which relate to current (or privatized in the past) civil services are the Wild East. This example is not the first one I see (in fact such behavior is pretty much the norm in some places).

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Potentially

Pratt Ploughshare patent positions itself to make plenty of people perturbed.

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Thumb Up

Yeeee Haw!

At least now will those dumasses will get a clue on how flawed their patent system is.

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Unhappy

Re: Yeeee Haw!

No!

The system works perfectly... for lawyers.

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Re: Yeeee Haw!

It's spelled "dumbasses", brainiac.

And, yes, we have several clues that may turn into leads. However, we will all be dead and funky long before such a finely draped, upstanding thingamajig is turned on its head, into the supreme jigamathing you desire.

Until then, try not to stare.

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Anonymous Coward

There's no "b" in "Dumas".

Now obviously he forgot to capitalize the plural there, but clearly OP wanted to compare them to multiple authors of the Count of Monte Cristo. What did you think he meant?

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Facepalm

Do the individuals down-voting comments 2 & 4, also like to periodically find a hole in the ground, perform a head stand and get a passer-by to fill in said hole with a yellowy builders material?

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Bronze badge

Satnav manufacturers - this isn't Apple you're dealing with

Don't make them send the boys around to chase up the money.

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FAIL

Wow

A whole paragraph (the 2nd) and a link seemed to have been missed by a large number of people here.

Welcome to the Twiter generation.

All articles from now on to be less than 140 characters.

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Facepalm

Re: Wow

I think everything from the 2nd para *onwards* has been missed. The information *I* wanted was provided by the last one:

"The modulation scheme now claimed by the MoD was recommended for adoption by Europe and the USA back in 2006, by the GPS-Galileo Working Group on Interoperability and Compatibility."

So if UK.gov "wins" then GPS vendors will have the choice of "paying extra" or "not being compatible with the as-yet-non-existent Galileo system". Hmm.......

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow

Did you need to save a character or miss-spell "Twitter"?

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Bronze badge

This does involve the MoD

So if they display their usual level of competence it's safe to assume the majority of the defence budget will soon be spent paying GPS manufacturers to include the modulation scheme rather than the other way round...

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Bronze badge

Mistake...

"“a method for generating a subcarrier modulation signal for modulating a further signal, the method involving multiplexing or selectively combining portions for first and second subcarriers to produce the subcarrier modulation signal"

My GPS receiver doesn't generate these subcarrier modulation signals, does it? That would be the satellites' job. They maybe should have worded the patent method slightly differently....

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Ploughshares

yeah, forging swords into ploughshares is very peacenik, but if someone hits you on the head with a ploughshare you're just as dead...

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Like a boot kicking a cow mooing "Intellectual Property", forever

> Ministry of Defence

> looking to satellite navigation vendors for royalties

Already paid at least twice by the taxpayer. At least.

Taxpayer will now have to pay more because the cost will just be passed on by the licensee.

(Probably will finance sweetheart arms deal with Saudi Arabia which NATO will have to bomb in the next 10 years to glowing smithereens anyway.)

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Hang on...

The USPTO rejected a patent application?

Doesn't this go against their normal working practices or something?

Or is it because it wasn't Apple or MS applying for the patent?

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Anonymous Coward

British submarine sales

strike again

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