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back to article Hey! You! Get outta my cloud says Google with balloon broadband patent

Google has filed a patent application to make sure nobody else crowds the skies with high-altitude balloons carrying wireless broadband kit. Its filing published November 14, Balloon Clumping to Provide Bandwidth Requested in Advance, covers projecting a change in bandwidth demand; repositioning a Project Loon balloon or …

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Anonymous Coward

"Hey! McCleod! Get outta my ewe!"

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+1 for the giggle, but seriously, just how long have you been hanging on to that joke in the hope of an opportunity to ewes it?

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Anonymous Coward

I'd say it's at least a year that I've been trying to ram it in somewhere.

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And they expect to get it?

So I guess this 2002 article http://www.spacedata.net/news071902.htm (amongst others) won't be counted as "prior art". What a bunch of tossers. No doubt the patent will be granted, after which it will cost someone millions to get it thrown out again. USPTO, costing the US billions since they got converted from a service to a profit centre.

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Re: And they expect to get it?

This repeater has an uplink from 432.125 to 432.175 MHz, and a downlink from 145.925 to 145.975 MHz. Since the uplink band in shared with the radiolocation service, an experimental pulse suppression circuit is incorporated in the repeater to reduce the effects of wideband pulsed radar interference in the uplink. Developmental versions of this repeater have flown in high-altitude balloon experiments in Germany, and aircraft flight tests of the repeater prototype unit.

AMSAT NEWSLETTER dated Sept 1974

http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/satellites/sat_summary/ao7_2.php

In the early 1990s I help launch 20 experiments on balloons to 100,000 ft in combination with the Canterbury University. I made 2 Linear repeaters and one 2m FM input to 10m SSB output single channel repeater. The best contact was over 350 miles from Westport to Oamaru.

www.qrz.com/db/ZL3MH‎

http://www.dailywireless.org/2011/03/30/marines-use-balloon-relay/

http://kv5r.com/ham-radio/balloon-repeater/

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Re: And they expect to get it?

That's not how prior art works. The legalese gets dense, so a summary definition follows.

To be considered prior art the subject of the patent must be either:

- Already widely used to the point that an industry subject matter expert cannot identify a unique and substantial difference between the thing already in use and the patent subject. Alternatively, if the patent subject is deemed to be recognizable by the general public (i.e. You can't patent a refrigerator as an entire system, only a distinct part of it).

- Another patent with identical or nearly identical properties already exists, which is where the term 'prior art' comes from. It's actually an internal term for the USPTO. This is the most important consideration, if the patent office doesn't have it on file it is not considered to have prior art.

Prior art isn't what people think it is. When you're filing your application you want as much prior art as possible as you reference it in your application to demonstrate the unique properties of your invention. Prior art makes it easier to get your patent approved.

Just mentioning the idea in a paper or website doesn't count as prior art.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And they expect to get it?

@Don Jefe - I've just done patent training at the company for which I work - They are very specific about the fact that if someone has done it before or written it up, it is prior art. Also, they are very encouraging that if you have an idea which is probably not patantable, you write it up and publish it, in order that another company can't come along, patent it and try to extort money and/or a court case out of the inventors.

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Re: And they expect to get it?

Or this

http://www.carnetdevol.org/actualite-ballon/aerostat/usArmy.html

still praps it will stop fandroids claiming that google are something special

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And they expect to get it?

That's not how prior art works

I think the core discussion was about how this is NOT a new idea. Personally I hope Google fails in this patent effort, because the last thing I want during a major disaster is a company specialising in intercept holding back any effort to set up some comms to help the relief effort. Because that is what this idea is actually good for: quick setup of a comms net. Events is another area. I'm perfectly happy with someone making kit for this and earning money, not for a company to then leech because they patented the obvious - which brings us back to the original point: a patent must also follows some rules. Sadly, as far as I can tell, the USPTO doesn't check those either, thus giving birth to another ripoff industry. Just as if we don't have enough of those already.

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Re: And they expect to get it?

Yes, this patent is a bunch of already-invented hardware strung together is a way that ought to be deemed obvious. So it ought to fail should it ever be challenged. (I haven't read the fine print - if there's a truly novel concept in the details of the creation of a 'loon network, then my comment does not apply to that).

One of the ways that the patent system is broken is that patent offices issue patents on almost anything if the applican'ts cheque is good. Then if someone wants to challenge the patent, he needs very deep pockets to pay his lawyers. So it's a system for the benefit of the large companies that works against individuals and small companies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And they expect to get it?

"still praps it will stop fandroids claiming that google are something special"

Never gonna happen for fangurlz!

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Re: And they expect to get it?

I promise you guys you're wrong. The patent system works well for me and I've been through this several times. When you submit your application the reviewing agent will be a subject matter expert (officially anyway) in the applicable field. The first thing they do is check previous patents and see if the unique properties of your invention are different than the previous patents (prior art) if yours is different and in his knowledge of the field isn't aware of a conflict the application will be granted.

Now, if you've published your idea in a reputable journal or other approved source, there's a constantly updated list on the USPTO site, and you are sued by an IP holder you can cite that publication in your defense and challenge the validity of the patent. But that's difficult to do because of the following. I'll use one of my own patents as an example.

The patent is for a method of controlling the internal temperature of ceramic molds during the casting of a certain metal and some if it's alloys. The entire application is 400+ pages long including the supporting materials. The unique part for which I was granted the patent is 11 pages of that. The vast majority of the rest is the prior art of others that has been supplied to reinforce how unique my invention is. I am able to demonstrate that while others have done similar things, I'm doing it in a unique way. The more prior art you can dig up to validate your inventions uniqueness the easier it is to get a patent, the easier it is to license and the easier it is to enforce. The identification of prior art to cite in your application is where the bulk of your patent attorney's fees go.

So, even if the reviewing agent sees a description of something in an approved source but your invention is unique enough that prior art absolutely will not affect the granting of your patent. The reviewing agent can only use what is printed in that source, they can't extrapolate or make logical assumptions. Thus, describing a broadband networks lifted by balloons as in the article you cited would not derail my patent if I was doing something similar, but unique enough that the description on that site isn't the same thing.

I'll be the first to say that there are a lot of problems with the current patent system. A whole lot of problems. But at the same time there's a lot of misunderstandings by the public in how the system actually works. None of it is simple and it never has been.

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How do 'high-altitude balloons' and WiFi/ISM ...

work?

I and some colleagues, a couple of years ago, mounted some solar-powered TD-Link WiFi access points atop some mountains in Son La Province in north-western VietNam so some dispersed villages of the same ethnic group could communicate via a virtual 'landline' (phones on the wall).

These mountains were only around 2,500 metres high and we used TD-Link directional antennae pointing at different villages for the mountain/village links. As you might imagine, there is precious little in these areas and we were able to patch the software and even add RF amplifiers for one village without the 'authorities' even catching on what we had done.

Our links have now been continuously operational, without maintenance, since installation although we expect to have climb up those terrible slopes to change batteries within a couple of years. Speaks well of TD-Link reliability, too. The telephone switches for each village were refurbished Mitel SX10 and SX10E with custom built interfaces to the WiFi

My question is given that ISM bands are shared and power limited - how much of a footprint will Google achieve or will they use the re-allocated wireless “D-block” of 700 MHz spectrum?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How do 'high-altitude balloons' and WiFi/ISM ...

Sure you did.

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Re: How do 'high-altitude balloons' and WiFi/ISM ...

>These mountains were only around 2,500 metres high

To replace your virtual 'landline' the Google balloon will need to be very high or otherwise linked into a mesh, as a single point in the sky will not be able see or be seen in neighbouring valleys.

As for radio bands, I expect the patent application will make no real commitments, as what Google are wanting to patent is the platform not a specific implementation.

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Re: How do 'high-altitude balloons' and WiFi/ISM ...

the Google balloon will need to be very high or otherwise linked into a mesh

I was just thinking the same. If they don't set this up into some sort of MANET mesh this is unlikely to be very resilient.

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You need to read the claims - the background is interesting but can say absolutely anything (that the patent examiner thinks reasonable). It's only the claims that are being, err, claimed as novel.

There are two "root" claims, 1 and 9, both of which are predicated on something predicting a change in bandwidth demand for a specific future time period.

All their claims are based on one or other of these two and are thus more specific variants of the above - for example, as above, but with a flashing light on the balloon to indicate operational status to passing aircraft.

In other words they are not claiming that balloon data networks are novel, only those that adapt to, or are tasked with servicing, a predicted change in bandwidth demand in a certain location.

For it to be granted (ignoring bureaucratic issues), there must be no prior art teaching this aspect of it and the examiner must consider it a non-obvious combination of existing knowledge.

Of course they could just be filing it as a spoiler to prevent others from fling potentially similar patents.

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So dynamically predicting demand for a resource and then preparing the resource to be available to that demand would need to be a new novel thing, to get a patent? Aren't some city traffic light systems already doing this, not to mention the U.S. military?

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I bet it won't work with...

... any Windows Phones due to Google's "It's Not Finished Until It Doesn't Work On Windows Phone" policy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I bet it won't work with...

"... any Windows Phones due to Google's "It's Not Finished Until It Doesn't Work On Windows Phone" policy."

Yeah. Why are Google so scared of MS?

It it had nothing to fear there would be no need for this shit.

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Anonymous Coward

hypocritical

"Instagramming hipsters"

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