I patent ATP-powered neurally implanted communications devices. Your move, Apple.
And the patent land-grab continues unabated, with Apple filing patent applications to forestall anybody else trying to plug smartphones into fuel cells. As far as El Reg can tell, Cupertino hasn’t actually built a fuel-cell-powered-cellphone, so we presume its two patent applications merely indicate directions in its research …
Skimming through the patent language, this is so obvious, they might as well patent Kirchoff's Law.
"The fuel cell system of claim 6, wherein while regulating the charging current based on the value of the operational parameter, the controller is configured to: determine whether the value of the operational parameter is greater than or smaller than a set-point value; if the value of the operational parameter is greater than the set-point value, regulate the charging current so that the value of the operational parameter decreases; and if the value of the operational parameter is smaller than the set-point value, regulate the charging current so that the value of the operational parameter increases."
Wow. So the power supply monitors the operational parameter (known to earthlings as voltage) of the electron source, in order to provide a constant current. I mean, in my field of vision, I can only count five devices that do this. But none of 'em are plugged into a fuel cell, it's true.
Obviously, just like when they asked Samsung to build a non-rectangular pointy-edged tablet with a rough off-center screen surrounded by a logo-infested margin, they will helpfully suggest that competitors design their phones to ignore the state of the fuel cell and explode.
Exactly, ideas aren't patentable, inventions are. While you don't actually have to build one you have to show that you can build one. I guess Apple's reasoning is that because they can't package a 1968 Eldorado to fit in your pocket and fuel cells can be made that small makes it more practical but by some distortion of reality doesn't make it more obvious.
Sorry Apple, this doesn't pass the sniff test. Not only is it fairly obvious but it was probably done a long time ago in some combat theater by some quick thinking soldier with half a jeep and a bullet in the battery of his SCR-300... perhaps even my Grandpa. Cheers Gramps.
quick google revealed this http://www.gizmag.com/go/5325/ - which, while powered by metho, rather than 'hydrogen' is much 'the same' concept. Put fuel in, burn it (break hydrogen bonds and combine with oxygen), power lappie.
Similar stuff from Toshiba at CeBIT in 2007 here http://www.pcworld.com/article/157606/toshibas_fuel_cell_laptop.html including other consumer devices.
"As far as El Reg can tell, Cupertino hasn’t actually built a fuel-cell-powered-cellphone, so we presume its two patent applications merely indicate directions in its research."
You are in a position to patent a device in your imagination. No, this is preposterous and should not be granted. Working prototype where we are talking hardware patent application or no patent granted. This has nothing to do with innovation, this is quite simply yet another land grab by a patent troll seeking to poison the market to their own advantage.
The idea of a patent was to protect the inventor so he could recoup the costs incurred whilst developing the product.
The US patent system allows the likes of Apple to patent an idea and do sod all about developing it. If an engineer is unlucky enough to spend time and money actually inventing such a device, he will be lucky to see a penny when he comes to patent the working idea and find Apple own it.
The US patent system is killing invention, not assisting it.
At this rate it won't be long before the rest of the planet develops some bigger cojones and just ignores US patents (aka join China).
In other words tighten up on what can be patented *and* shift the burden of proof onto the applicant. The USPO's default position should that the patent is *not* granted unless the *applicant* can show that it is novel. The current situation where the patent office is drowning in a flood of micky mouse applications where *they* have to show due cause to reject the patent is the source of all the shite we are seeing today.
The USPO's default position should that the patent is *not* granted unless the *applicant* can show that it is novel
Correction your honour
IT should be:
The USPO's default position should that the patent is *not* granted unless the *applicant* can show that it is _WORKING_. No working prototype - no patent. No more "patent style numbered graph diagrams". Picture or it did not happen.
By the way, the usual "garage inventor" argument is invalid here, because garage inventors _ALWAYS_ try to build their stuff. It is "researchers" in large companies which invent mental concepts and patent them before they are built. As far as parity between big and small anyone who has had to deal with POC budgets in a big corp knows that it is often easier to build your prototype with your own money buying bits of eBay than to get the muppet in charge to allocate you budget and sign your requisitions.
This will solve it once and for all/
"The USPO's default position should that the patent is *not* granted unless the *applicant* can show that it is _WORKING_. No working prototype - no patent"
I said, about 3 - 4 postings earlier:
"Working prototype where we are talking hardware patent application or no patent granted."
I suppose the idea is as follows:
Boffin comes up with fantastic new invention in garden shed
He goes and gets a patent on it
He can now go to venture capitalists to get funding to develop the idea and bring it to market without worrying about them stealing the idea - they can't because he has the patent.
That's how it is supposed to work, but of course it doesn't work like that. Explaining this in lawyerspeak in a way that they can't find loopholes isn't that easy.
The story would be of a poorly-manufactured Chinese fuel cell going nuclear and destroying an American city, with Apple announcing that it was being mishandled at the time and was none of their fault, nosireebob.
The courts will then find in favour of Apple with the stipulation that they have to use another fuel cell supplier.
It will of course be granted.
Next patent application by apple 'beam me up Scotty'. Particle transportation between two iphone 69s that allow the transportation of the human body for communication purposes.
Filed in the USA it will of course be granted.
But what about a phone the can heat a hotdog?,
Yes Apple was granted that one and the patent on hotdogs..... Where?
In the USA of course where all the legislators have brand new...... Wait for it..... Iphones and ipads.
Long live the American Empire.
With the economic rise of China, India, South America and parts of Africa, who needs the hassle of dealing with the US Patent Office; F**k em and dont sell your new products in the US.
Eventually the US consumers will have a paddy because they cannot have the same shiny new toys as their neighbours in Canada and force the US government to sort our the patent mess.
If you've ever lived in both the USA and Europe and used a US dish-washer you'll already know what a protective market the USA is... My American friends could not believe my Bosch dishwasher would take dirty plates without any need for me to hand pre-rinse them before putting them into the machine. Whilst I can't believe anyone could call a machine which insists on such treatment "a dish washer".
In independent testing, eg by Consumers Union, most dish washers sold in the US do a fine job on dishes that have not been pre-rinsed. In fact CU considers that appropriate procedure and does not recommend any model that doesn't successfully clean their test dishes without pre-rinsing.
And the effectiveness of a dish washer is far more sensitive to how dishes are arranged, the quality of the water, and the type of detergent used.
One advantage of US models is that all or almost all come with drain grinders. Models sold in some other countries (Canada, for example) often do not, and so require periodic cleaning of the drain inlet to remove what's commonly known as "dishwasher cheese".
With the Bosch you do get to overpay extravagantly, though, so you still have that.
I haven't looked back, but I'm certain I remember reading *years* ago on El Reg some article about fuel cells and how people want to use them to replace batteries in things like mobiles. (Probably several such articles, TBH.)
Whoever wants prior art, throw El Reg into the Wayback Machine.
Older readers will remember when video was stored on mag tape. There was a TV program called Tommorrow's World that covered the pocket calculator, mobile phones, jam covered CD's and fuel cells. All of this predates the standardisation of TCP/IP.
Fuel cells where expected to power mobile devices because the devices used much more power than modern toys and the batteries were not as good either. It proved challenging because the catalysts were expensive (modern manufacturing techniques allow massive reductions in the required amount of platinum), also storing hydrogen was difficult (still is), other fuels poisoned the catalyst, oxygen supplies are inconvenient and air poisoned the catalyst.
Fuel cells were used on the space shuttles. (The space shuttles were re-usable manned space vehicles - honest - you can see 3.5 of them in museums). Space shuttles had liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for their rocket engines. The price of the catalyst was only astronomical, and the waste product of the reaction - water - was handy to prevent the astronauts from dying of thirst. I am not old enough to have watched the first man set boot on the moon. If the patent system continues as it is now, then I did watch the last.
If things go as I expect, we will get some standardised battery sizes which Apple will not use. If fuel cells ever become cost effective, they will come in standard battery sizes and be fitted as an after market upgrade for phones that are not welded shut. Apple can defend their fuel cell patents the way Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company defended theirs.
I am, and yes they had fuel cells for that.
As for the patent - this is shabby in the extreme. Many USA drug patents have had long lists of compounds which were only synthesised on paper but generally not reputable companies.
Even if I'd not seen examples of other mobile devices powered by fuel cells such as laptops ( and 12v supplies for motorhomes plus the Apollo capsule example this would be obvious in the patent sense anyway.
If Apple care to patent a specific design with some demonstrable advantage then that is patentable. But to just claim fuel cell power for mobile devices..........
They may well have had a turbine but at CEBIT in 2007 they demo'd a methanol fuel cell laptop.
They also demonstrated a methanol fuel cell powered cell phone prototype in 2009.
The Military have been using fuel cells for communication devices (radios, sat phones etc.) for a few years at least now.
All the above demonstrate prior art as I find it inconceivable that no other fuel cell user/manufacturer monitor current and voltage to determine cell state.
Perhaps Apple are different in that theirs has to be fed Lattes?
but, with any technology improvements are made in their use, design, control and safety. Any innovations in these areas can be patented. If you take the trouble to read a patent application, there are lists of references, many of the other patents and scientific papers.
If the application of the technology builds upon the work referenced then the USPTO is duty bound to grant the application unless that application is blindingly obvious.
So, if Apple have solved any of the plethora of issues around using Fuel Cells in laptops then they might be onto a winner. Don't forget that others can now come along and build upon the work that Apple has done. As long as that work is referenced in the patent application then they are 'good to go' and (in this case) Apple just have to sit back and let them go ahead as long as the difference to their work is sufficient. That is (sadly) a problem that the USPTO regularly mess up on a daily basis.
The overlapping of patents is a big problem.
One thing that many ranters (sorry posters) in forums like this forget is that the Patent process makes public the research(or not) being done by the company applying for the patent. Others can now dissect it and yes look for prior art (suggesting an idea in a story is not good enough unless there was a working prototype made...) or look for improvments and new applications of that tech outside the scope of the existing patent.
Just trying to bring a bit of balance to the debate.
> the Patent process makes public the research
What, "plug a powered device into a power source"?
That hardly qualifies as "research"...
> suggesting an idea in a story is not good enough unless there was a working prototype made...)
Actually - yes it is. Science Fiction counts as prior art if it covers the "invention".
And yet again the implication is that [COMPANY X] is "evil" for doing what the law and present business practices FORCE them to do. This shit has been going on for years—especially in the US, which has some very broken IP legislation.
So what's the IT industry's reaction? Complain about these practices on forums! Yeah! That'll work!
Don't like the law? CHANGE it! Stop whining about it in forums like this, as if it's even remotely constructive. Have you *read* some of the laws that have been enacted in recent years? Do you REALLY want these people in charge of anything that might have an impact on your ability to earn a living? If you want your nation's laws to change to better serve YOUR interests, the onus is on YOU to "do something" about it.
Because no bugger else will.
" If you want your nation's laws to change to better serve YOUR interests, the onus is on YOU to "do something" about it."
The problem is that our increasingly corrupt democracies are "owned" by the very big businesses that create the problem.
Until governments return to representing the people... until political parties are stopped from whoring themselves to big business in a way that places citizens below the interests of big business...... things wont change.
All we can do is rant here - and maybe boycott some brands Unlikely given the inability of much of society today to do without something on a point of principle.. but legislative action? in your dreams. Everyone involved knows the system is broken and corrupt, but thats the way those with the real power like it.
In my patent application I desire to give me exclusive rights to blood (figure 1) and obvious (figure 2), which are linked by a two-state-electrical line transmitting bullcrap. The resulting machinery and apparatus will be called a "Bleeding Obvious".
Indeed the American legislative system must be corrupted to the core if they don't stop this nonsense.
Apple are patenting combining a fuel cell with a conventional rechargeable battery in a portable computing device, with each being used to power the other (the fuel cell seems to need some power to bring it up on line) and the parameters of the cell being hooked into the charging system allong with those of the rechargeable.
Whether or not the US PTO should allow speculative patents is one thing, the combination of the two systems into an integrated whole being a novel idea is another.
EMILYCube 2500. Fuel cell, check. Battery, check. For powering mobile devices...well a command post could be considered a portable computing device.
Looks pretty prior-artish to me....
And the The portable JENNY fuel cell by SFC. OK, they both look a bit hefty to fit in a smartphone; but they look like they're for supplying much heftier supplies of power and I expect they can be scaled down to suit.
By the way...if all the battery is needed for is to kick-start the fuel-cell reaction off; why not just use a tiny supercapacitor instead?
DO check your facts first lest you look like an idiot. The silver-zinc cells on Apollo were NOT rechargeable and were designed only to be used durring the descent and landing stage. The fuel cells weren't set up to charge them and they weren't part of an integrated power system.
AIUI the USA changed the rules recently. Prior art no has no meaning and it is first-to-file that counts. So even then we all know what a fuel cell is, we can all buy them and can even have one built to our specs - if the patents have no been filed then Apple wins.
This changed was lobbied for long and hard in the USA. Land of the Free. Saviour of Capitalism. Glutton of the World.
It allows the mega-coprs to trample on the smaller companies who cannot afford armies of lawyers. This creates an entrenched super-elite has turns the rule of law into a weapon to prevent the power-balance being altered. This all has more to do with Communism (as was practiced in the old USSR) than Capitalism.
Heck, Americans are now glad they are continurally spied on and groped by state operatives when travelling. All to be Free, gawd-dammit.
> AIUI the USA changed the rules recently.
There was no de jure change; however, the USPTO has increasingly been asleep at the wheel.
> Prior art no has no meaning and it is first-to-file that counts.
Prior art most definitely does have meaning. However, the USPTO has simply been ignoring it (and those filing patents have increasingly been neglecting to mention the prior art they know about).
The upshot is that patents are granted erroneously - and to overturn them requires an expensive court case with a high burden of proof on whomever would challenge such a nonsense patent. So they persist, and the whole world suffers as a result.
are for shutting down innovation so that nobody can ever compete with the megacorps.
Any corporation big enough to have lawyers on staff is already doing what it wants in complete contravention to patents and international law. They don't even care enough to hide it now. What this means is that some guy in a shed will never be allowed to add a fuel cell to a phone even if the chances are good he will do it better and cheaper than Apple and treat his customers more fairly.
Corporations like Apple are so cowardly that they won't even compete with the cottage industries because they know in any truly free market they would be beaten effortlessly (on every issue of customer satisfaction and technical brilliance) by guys who don't even have lawyers. That's how Apple was founded! Wake Up.
The fact that today's youth and inventors are not scared of such broad patents shows just how little intellect it really takes to get yourself a degree these days. When human invention is signed off wholesale to 4 or 5 top megacorps who we know are evil, and nobody even cares, that's when we have a problem.
People claim to love Apple, but then exhibit an anti-invention anti-intellectual standpoint that is just shocking. Proof if you need it that these people haven't heard of Steve Wozniak before. They just want a phone that looks good when you dance around in front of a bluescreen waving the headphone cord around. Pathetic.
What chance does a man in his shed have of reaching a global market? He can't even afford to run the obligatory Google ads... He/She always needs to team up with some megacorp.
Even apparently "small" projects like Rasperry Pi have the backing of megacorps (and patent holders) like Broadcom.
Patents have been around for ages on just about everything. Think of something and there is or was probably a patent for it. And 99.99999% of them aren't Apple's.
Real numbers? In 2010 only 509 patent applications were made by Apple, that's about 0.025% of all worlwide applications. Microsoft on the other hand applied for 1740 in the same period, over three times Apple's amount.
Why is no one complaining about Microsoft then?
> I'm also a member of Groklaw
I thought you might say that.
> but never seen any recent mention of any patents Microsoft applied for there.
You must be reading a different Groklaw, then. Recent topics have largely been confined to Oracle vs. Google and software patents. But if you really want an article which specifically mentions Microsoft, just look for the Mosaid stuff.
> Also no mention
Yes, there is.
> somehow one of Apple's 149 makes front page news here
That does not make it an unimportant story. The fact that it is *so* daft is probably why this esteemed organ has picked up on it.
> You must be reading a different Groklaw, then. Recent topics have largely been confined to Oracle vs. Google and software patents. But if you really want an article which specifically mentions Microsoft, just look for the Mosaid stuff
None of which relates to recent Microsoft patent applications.
> That does not make it an unimportant story. The fact that it is *so* daft is probably why this esteemed organ has picked up on it.
But there are so many daft ones on Google's side. It's a shame no one talks about them. Here's one I picked earlier:
Google's Patent application 20110289516
"Registering an Event "
A computer-implemented method for registering an event includes detecting occurrence of at least one event to be registered in a sequence. The sequence is to have entries for occurred events, each of the entries being a number indicating at least one of the occurred events and being associated with an aggregation number reflecting a number of times the entry has been aggregated within the sequence. [...]
Sounds fantastically innovative, must be stuff coming out straight from Google's secret labs. Oh wait I probably did something similar myself.
Didn't Toshiba do this for many portable computing devices already?
Ditto, the T850 in Terminator movies.
There were enough comments before you typed yours that you should have known there was actually a storm of educated rage. Who do you think was envious of the ability to patent an idea which someone else has already demonstrated? We all have that ability, but most people can see that it stifles innovation and favors the big US magaevilcorps like crApple.
Let's report on Google's patent applications too!
and search Google as Assignee
MAINTAINING NETWORK CONNECTIVITY
"A network device may select between two or more network connections based on a determination of whether the network device can access general Internet resources "
Pure genius! Where would we be without Google's patent pending innovations.
long answer: bring your idea to market, only market in asia, europe and africa and avoid putting your product into the USA.
refuse to market your product in the USA, you'll still make millions....
I'm sure apple would still bring a lawsuit against you, but since you didnt break any law, surely you'd win, however I have to admit they'd still any dirty trick they could find...
> long answer
Actually, the long answer - the only answer - is for those who understand the problem to stand up and do something about it.
The USPTO won't do anything. The US government won't either. And let's not even joke about what the UK government might do.
So if we want this crap fixed, we need to do it ourselves. And that means each of us putting our hands in our pockets to fund a campaign to overturn as many bogus patents as we can find. Given the way the US justice system works, that will cost serious cash.
But if everyone who really means it puts in twenty quid, there'll be less than a ton in the kitty. :-(
So basically, Apple is scoring fuel cell patents as they innovate in an area where other handset makers are ignoring at the moment. Why shouldn't they be rewarded for their R & D efforts ?Eventually, the handset makers will climb aboard once Apple releases this tech on their platform. Sounds like this is an example of the early bird catching the worm
As others have said, this is old hat now so giving them a patent for something they haven't done anything to is taking the piddle. Going back eek, must be 10 years almost and IBM had the fuel cell powered Thinkpad, then Toshiba also. But what's this? many many years late to it, and it's now innovative. Prior art, prior use, prior everything. How is Apple allowed to get away with this crap!
Thats why they can manage to win obviously unwinnable patent claims in court and get to file obvious 'inventions' that have decades of prior art.
This is not unusual, other companies have done the same. Its not restricted to the USA either - UK banks own the UK goverment and manage to get them to do stupid things like bail them out for free with no payback AND allow them to continue to give vast bonuses, pay rises and pensions to the failed CEO's. The ECB recently 'lent' EU banks a vast amount of tax payers money, so the same banks could lend it to the governments of the EU for massive interest rates - paid for by the tax payers that fronted the money in the first place - leading to the banks making a huge killing for no risk - they would be bailed out by the EU tax payers who lent the tax payers money to them if the tax payer was unable to foot the bill, there is no better demonstration of the corrupt nature of ALL 'western' governments.
Don't bother throwing stones at the USA, its no worse than the UK or the EU. Instead start to wonder what a proper society would be like. Perhaps one where the majority shared in the wealth rather than 0.01% at 'the top' taking 97% of the wealth.
this patent is utterly useless, just like any attempt to patent the principle of interacting with a computer via touch, recharging a battery within a portable device or for that matter using electricity to power your gadget would be, as it fails the basic test of patentability: lack of obviousness or innovative step. Sure they may be able to patent a specific way of integrating a fuel cell or a specific method of refuelling but they will never be able to patent the use of a fuel cell.
Sorry, I do appreciate that American patent law is now the world's biggest ass, but this whole article sounded like someone stamping their feet and shouting "not FAIR!"
I do think something pointing out that patent applications like this should just be thrown out would be better slanted. Turning it into another lazy poke at apple doing what American companies do (they're not alone in acting like this)... Well, it's lazy trolling to get page hits and discussion forum commentaries (like me...) posting!
On another note... This is only an application. Isn't it? Do your irate rain dance when the thing gets granted. Until then, it's just another capitalist speculative blocking patent application.
Anyone got examples from the other hardware manufacturers? Motorola? Nokia?
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