Thank God, I thought the world had ended over the last few weeks or that I'd been cryogenically frozen.....
Apple are back in the news with patents.... I'm alive.
Apple is trying to patent wireless charging, claiming its magnetic resonance tech is new and that it can do it better than anyone else. This would be cool if its assertions were true. Apple's application, numbered 20120303980, makes much of its ability to charge a device over the air at a distance of up to a metre, rather than …
> "Think it up first then patent it without actually having built it, in the hope that technology advances far enough to make it happen... In the next 50 years."
Which is precisely what Tesla did not do, he built cool stuff without bothering too much with patents. Too bad his ideas still were decades ahead of the time. See http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla
They weren't decades ahead of their time. They just didn't work very well. The ionosphere hasn;t become any more reflective nor the ground plane more conductive since his experiments failed.
I do wish people would stop worshipping Tesla for the wackjob stuff he played around with late in his cereer. The stuff he did earlier is just as interesting, and actually works.
That someone demonstrated wireless power transfer does not mean a specific implementation is not patentable. For instance you might use directional beaming based on tracking the device location, to greatly improve the maximum charging distance.
The article title is deliberately misleading, this is nothing like what Nokia are doing - for once this sounds like a proper patentable idea and the issue is with the specific other company named.
The new bit you add to prior art to create a new patent must be more than just "neat" or "handy": the new bit must itself be *inventive* and "not obvious to anyone skilled in the art".
The seperate issue of patenting things you haven't (or as yet can't) make is yet another hole in IP law. But let's face it: IP law is starting to push the "collander" comparison further than you'd want a collander to go.
But it does... see a patent needs to be unique inventive and non-obvious.
Once Tesla showed this off (for free) to everyone... ANY patents resulting from just simple mundane alterations of the the basic idea and technology are not INVENTIONS.. or if you want to calm that, they are certainly OBVIOUS ones. Its same thing with all these RETARDED internet inventions.
Say you have a process ....something like associating a name with a number in a filing cabinet....
Then the internet gets invented (Internet was new and worthy of maybe a few patents) just because you now associate a name with number on internet does not make it worthy of Patent!!!!
That's the part these trolls don't get, and that our governments don't understand..... Patents are not just because you got there first. All the finger gestures in the world will be figured out and used eventually by every company... NOW that touch screens are cheap and popular. CRAPPLE does not get to PATENT and own this technology just because they have the cash to file patents.
I propose we make a change in the law and when a company files a patent where it can be shown that a simple search would have shown the prior art, or where the invention on review is an obvious one... the loose the patent and get a fine for filling a frivolous patent..... these funds would then be used to review more similar frivolous patents.
Crapple and certainly all the patent trolls would be bankrupt in 2 years time.
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Depends on your standard. The impact on the average person from Darwin or Einstein is fairly small. The practical applications are a bit of medicine from Darwin, nuclear energy and GPS from Einstein. They were both of great academic importance, but it doesn't filter down to day-to-day life. Tesla, however, invented the electric grid - he turned what may be the single most important technology ever invented from a laboratory curiosity into the power source for almost every technological item and industrial process that would follow. Never mind the wireless power dabblings: Three-phase power and his improvements to generator, motor and transformer design were the big ones.
re: Spurious tacking on of "on a mobile device". I'm getting pretty sick of this. From now on when Apple come up with a "new" patent for something "on a mobile device", I'm going to run their patent through this page and rush down to the patent office so I can patent the new invention "on a mobile device - in bed!"
In fact, I''d love to filter Reg Comments through the same script (just to preserve some slim semblance of sanity in the world) but it appears that it doesn't support entering URLs any more.
But did he "applying power at a distance wirelessly - on a mobile device"?
I'm fairly sure Tesla himself didn't, as iWhatever devices were a bit thin on the ground back then About as thin as common sense is at Apple's legal department. But let's test what he COULD have done.
/me wheels out a Tesla coil and positions it some distance from an iWhatever. What did the patent say, one meter?
*throws the switch* For SCIENCE
Whilst completely true about Tesla, this has never stopped large companies like Apple from patenting the obvious and in a way that obviscates it so the lamentable patent clerks will just tick it thru to approval.
Give it a few years and they will probably patent time travel as a means to obtain patents!
If it works better than QI and has benefits such as smaller coils or lighter coils then it's a good thing. But I doubt Apple can improve something as simple as induction. If they could then AC transformers could be more efficient too.
It just shows how far behind Apple are now, even Nokia and Palm beat them to market with wireless charging. Palm were one of the first with their proprietary system and Nokia are one of the first to release a QI based phone.
"It just shows how far behind Apple are now"
Sorry, now? Apple have rarely been first to market with a technology; what they do best is innovate around the user interaction side of things to make a technology that's already been invented far more usable for the average punter. They do this by designing very usable UIs, and/or locking it down so it works seamlessly with other Apple products.
Wireless charging will only really work if it either becomes so cheap you can get one for each of your devices, or they finally come up with a standard so your charger will work with all your stuff. Granting Apple a patent in this area won't really help with either of those.
Retina displays were way ahead of the competition when introduced. They had Intel produce a special lower power processor for the first Macbook air, using a smaller process than the rest at the time.
iPhone 5 uses a thinner combined touchscreen display.
iPhone was the first to use Gorilla Glass, Steve Jobs was looking for some decent glass for the original iPhone and Corning found a design they had sitting on the shelf for decades.
There are many other examples, you can't say Apple hasn't been on the cutting edge at times.
"hey Intel, here's a fat check, gimme some of your first production run on the new process"
"hey Samsung, here's a fat check to help you build your next LCD fab"
"hey Corning, here's a fat check, gimme some of that Gorilla glass that you didn't need my help coming up with"
I'm off to Innovate myself some MP3's at Amazon.
OpenMoko had 295ppi on sale a month after the release of the first iPhone, and that was an off the shelf lcd even then. I suspect Apple were waiting for mobile CPU/GPUs that could render smoothly at that resolution before they brouht it to the mass market with a catchy name.
As much as I liked your post and wanted to upvote it, I have an automatic habit of downvoting anyone who throw currency symbols into company names (Microsoft often gets a dollar symbol for its S) or adding letters to drag down the name (prefixing Apple with a C).
Its a habit I'm not planning to change either.
I enjoy constructive criticism of companies, not childish name calling.
I'm not sure that I like the idea of it. There's evidence (both for and against) to suggest that mobile 'phone signals are potentially hazourdous to health. Just try putting an egg on your mobile, and then call TalkTalk customer support (or anyone else that will keep you on hold for 30 minutes). Enjoy your egg.
I'm not sure I like the idea of all these 'waves' permeating my body every time I drive my car or sit in a Starbucks (ha, like *that's* going to happen).
I think it's a good job our eyes can't all these radio waves. It probably wouldn't be a pretty sight!
Yeah, I know what you mean! Although it could be worse - with all these visible light radiation emitting devices and contraptions in out pockets, attached to our ceilings, on the front of our cars - imagine how horrid it would be to have them all hitting our bodies as we walk around! It's a good job our eyes can't see all of those -
If you like your egg raw, you will enjoy it.
A phone will not cause heat to anything of that magnitude so you can cook an egg on it, nor pop a popcorn. Just so you know that youtube clip was a fake one.
Other than that I agree on that you should be cautious, as we have little clue of what various health issues we could get from various energy levels of electromagnetic radiation. We do know that visible light is even good for our health, but we also know that both x-rays and radioactive radiation are unhealthy. They are all based on the same physics, and all go under the name electromagnetic radiation.
Want to know more visit wikipedia
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Patents are about implementations, not the basic idea of doing something. Inductive coupling dates back to the days of Tesla and is well out of patent. Apple are claiming a particular method of wireless charging to power a set of peripheral devices like keyboards and mice at ranges up to 1 yard. This doesn't block anyone else from using wireless charging, just from using it for the same reason.
Other than that this coupling, and it's associated technology has been used, abused, recycled, and rehashed in countless ways for over a century, so the actual implementation would have to be pretty damn revolutionary to be patentable in an ordinary way. Simply sticking "mobile device" into various gramatically convenient spots doesn't make a new invention worthy of a patent. Outside the US, at least.
But we all know this isn't about invention, but the New Deal of Big Business, which is carving out your turf in IP territory, so that competition can be executed in the courts. Never mind the burden on the legal system(s) of various nations and the cost to the tax-paying punters without tax havens living in said countries.
So, like if there was a patent on an electric cable it would be legit to grant patents on electric cables to power devices? Hmmm
Methinks the PO should come up with a category of "vexatious patent applicant" and sin bin applications from such folk...
Inductive coupling being out of patent means not only that anyone can use it, but that it can't be patented again y someone else (or even the same person). Thus whether or not it's out of patent is irrelevant to the article - the fact that it exists (and has existed for over 100 years) is enough. At it's core, I believe the "implementation" of inductive charging is more or less the same across the board - there isn't a set of "Apple Physics" (tm) that work better than "Standard Physics" (tm) - Their method of coupling/blocking devices may be their own, but that's not the issue with this patent application. If you're referring to the ability to transfer power from a device to another (instead of a charger to a device) they might be on to something - but whether that's patentable (or is just an extension of the use of the original patent) is debatable.
As for "a particular method of wireless charging to power a set of peripherals", I believe that's pretty well covered by the standards that already exist, which cover various methods and materials being used - simply because Apple's patent is slightly more specific in describing the devices doesn't mean it's covering new ground.
Patents are about implementation but are also about novelty. Wireless charging is not novel unless the would-be inventor can show a significant improvement in some aspect of the process ( efficiency or safety ....). If they can they can patent THAT but it wouldn't cover wireless charging in toto
Inductive resonant coupling? Sounds an awful lot like a radio style tuned circuit so they'll not be able to do it for at least two reasons...
Actually, given that the patent attempts to confuse the matter by re-naming a loop antenna to "magnetic antenna" (look it up, it's in there... ;) ) you *can* Hold It The Wrong Way, as last time I checked the electirical EM field was perpendicular to the magnetic EM field, so presumably the "magnetic antenna" wouldn't work perpendicular to the magnetic field, or at vastly reduced efficiently if you don't position it juuust right..
The US patent office does no serious discovery when awarding patents. As a result they keep awarding dodgy patents.
From the US perspective this is great, as they get lots of international-lawyer-dollars into their economy. And due to the various treaties, extend technological colonialism.
Now where the documentation for my idea of putting a circular disk pivoted on a solid bar to counter-act rolling friction....
Yes indeedy. Apple can't really be blamed for playing according to the local laws.
If anyone should be declared a "vexatious patenter" it is the USPTO, which has been inflicting this crap on the rest of the world's patent offices for 20 years now. The RotW should impose a moratorium on honouring US patents until the US clean up their act.
You might want to check there's no prior art for this circular disk idea. Although I'm sure it won't matter to the USPTO. I can see it being very popular idea, revolutionary you might say... Better make sure you patent it for mobile devices as well, just to be on the safe side.
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Nicoli Tesla... Edison, articles from popular mechanics - in the 40's and 50's about electric cars charging at the stop lights...
Even articles in the 60's, etc., all the way through to now.....
Something about Electron Volt or some thing.....
Wireless recharging of consumer goods.....
When are we going to patent a way to kick Apple lawyers in the balls without getting caught and sued for the patent?
When are we going to patent a way to kick Apple lawyers in the balls without getting caught and sued for the patent?
"Transmitting kinetic energy into a (male) legal scholar's gonads as a way of signalling extreme disagreement with the activities of the recipient of the energy transmission."
There's plenty of prior art, so USPTO should award this patent to Apple post-haste.
If only electric car makers had thought of using induction charging for cars we, wouldn't need all these stupid cables and charging points from our houses and in the streets.
On a serious note, will your Apple i(nduction)Phone be alright in these car (et al) charging areas or will we see a spate of overcharged fanbois catching fire and exploding?
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Seriously, we get two articles on this patent in one day on el Reg, and it appears that in neither case have the authors actually bothered to read the patent, or if they have, they lack the technical competence to understand it. What we do get is the now very tired Apple bashing fest that is fast making technical commentary from el Reg on anything to do with Apple essentially worthless. This is sad, there was a time where el Reg was actually worth reading for such commentary. It no longer is.
1. The patent does not attempt to patent near field charging. Got that? Really it doesn't. The title alone should be a give away: "Wireless power utilization in a local computing environment" Note the bit about "utilization." It is a patent on how to use wireless power in an innovative manner.
2. The innovative bit about the patent is the re-radiating of power from one device to another, and a protocol for controlling this. Go down to the claims section and have a look. The claims is where the actual meat of what is patented is. The stuff earlier is explanation, it isn't what is claimed for patent cover. Indeed the rules of patents require that you cover any earlier contributing technology. If you see something in a patent that you have heard before, it is there, not because of some nefarious attempt to re-patent existing technology, but due to a requirement to place the new work in the context of what has gone before. Not doing this can cause the patent application to fail. Note that you can't be expected to cite provisional applications from competitors - they are secret until the patent is approved.
Seriously, this article is so bad it should be deleted. It is an embarrassment to both el Reg and the author.
"The innovative bit about the patent is the re-radiating of power from one device to another"
Let me get this straight: "re-radiating" is somehow better than just letting the end device pick up the power on its own? Recovery of radiated power by the re-radiator is necessarily inefficient, as is the process of "re-radiation" (whatever that may be). I guess it'll work as long as the battery in the "re-radiator" holds out.
Up to a meter, huh? I'll believe it when I see it work without something melting or the disc on my electric meter spinning faster than light.
//it's the one with "Secrets of Free Power" in the pocket, thanks
' "re-radiating" is somehow better than just letting the end device pick up the power on its own?'
Its better for Apple since it will let them make money off of someone else's patented technology. Someone else did all the hard work of developing it, and Apple just had to figure out a way for them to get in on it and make money off of it.
Other companies may have done the same, but Apple's the one most likely to sue over it.
And I'd like to know if WiPower's original patent includes something like this. As we've learned in a previous story (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/07/apple_loses_patent_case_facetime/), Apple's engineers pay no heed to the IP of other companies when developing products.
Sadly true. Seven thumbs down and counting. One assumes that the down-voters also lack the technical ability to understand what I wrote. I have come to the conclusion that there is a core group that will down-vote any comment that does not actually slam Apple, and even comments that are neutral to Apple will attract their down-vote. The stream of comments to this article that suggest that many see it as simply a forum for Apple bashing, and nothing more rather reinforces this view. It is becoming no better than YouTube comments.
There is certainly a hard core of commentators who are genuinely incapable of understandting technical articles, guilty of just scanning headlines for keywords (and as the headline is wrong too, this is not a good strategy) and commenting on what they think it said, or just troll.
I actually hope it's the 3rd option, as surely there aren't enough stupid people around for either of the first 2 to be correct, are there?
Unfortunately the Apple fanboi in you was so bright there was no need to confirm that 90% of your posts in the last 3 months are related to Apple or iProducts. I did it anyway and got a stalker badge to sew on!
Just waiting for Nintendo to come along and claim WiPower is a Trademark infringement...
thought wireless induction went back to the dawn of time - wot with galvani, voltz hertz, maxwell, gauss, marconi, tesla, eddison - to name but a few - might have patents on this or their respective businesses long after their earthly passing.
btw - isn't apple something you eat - not choke on when you see attempts to dazzle patent officials?
still apple has to try something - otherwise likely will run out of dosh in 10-20 years time - after all, what is there that apple could invent that anyone would want, let alone buy?
As the article points out, someone else already has a patent on the basic idea of wireless charging. In order to be able to do anything in that area without paying exhorbitant licensing fees Apple therefore has to try to refine and improve on what the other patents say and patent that improvement, however minor a detail it might address. They can then use their patent when negotiating cross-licensing deals with the other patent holders. Effectively it just gives them a bargaining chip to sit at the Consortium for Wireless Power table, it doesn't mean they're planning a patent war.
I have done charging with solar panels from sun. (still radio waves, albiet higher frequency) (very long range)
I have done charging with crystal sets. (medium range but very low power.)
It is obvious. But it may not be safe at higher charge rates.
The illustration from the patent app is a simple parallel resonant circuit. Tunable because of the variable capacitor. Uses an inductor with a core, presumably iron given the frequencies involved. Goes back to Marconi and before.
Magnetic coupling ain't new. That's how a transformer works. "At a distance?" -- depends on the distance. Air-gap transformers are pretty common in a lot of applications, particularly at RF. "Transfer of power?" Any audio or RF device does that. Only the power level varies.
Unless Apple has discovered a new law of physics there is nothing new here. At best it is a development of existing ideas and technology, not a non-obvious invention.
The USPTO is out of control and works only as a shill of the highest-paying entity. Time for major reform.
Mostly because I'm not that up on the patents that do exist and the finer points of the patent itself.
I just want that the next 26" 16x10 LCD monitor I buy can radiate a recharge to my cordless keyboard and trackball so that I don't get interrupted mid-incident call by having to change the damn batteries. I *like* cordless trackball and mouse that don't clutter desk with cords.
And -- I want the whole damn thing contained in the *batteries* themselves so I don't have to buy a proprietary keyboard and trackball......
On that note, off to the patent filing website.....
(D'oh for the obvious part)
>>"I just want that the next 26" 16x10 LCD monitor I buy can radiate a recharge to my cordless keyboard and trackball so that I don't get interrupted mid-incident call by having to change the damn batteries. I *like* cordless trackball and mouse that don't clutter desk with cords."
Wouldn't a cordless device which gave good early warning of low power (and/or had some motorbike-style 'reserve tank' approach) be a workable solution, at least to having 'surprise' running-out of power?
Surely it can't be hard for the device not simply to flash an LED, but to tell its driver wirelessly that it's getting low on power and only has N hours/days left, triggering some user-configurable warning to pop up on the screen?
If there's not enough demand for devices to do any of those things, one might wonder if there's enough to make wireless charging for other manufacturer's kit a feature monitor makers think worth adding to their monitors.
Try using any actual Apple mouse. They give you a warning message 2 days, 2 hours and 5 minutes before they stop working. I would still prefer a mouse that 'just works' without me going for the battery charger whenever the 2 hours left message comes on.
So how much of the power radiated by the transmitter is actually received and used for charging, and how much is sent off into space? The point of the close-contact stuff is that it allows fairly tightly controlled fields to improve the efficiency. If something is a couple of metres away then much if the radiated power is going to be absorbed by everything else in the room. I guess it'll help keep you warm in the cold season.
I may be mistaken (apologies if so) but I'd guess that Apple has a device of sorts that uses a well known observable and historic fact that things can be charged wirelessly.
Trouble is interference, charging the wrong things by mistake, making things run hot or even interfering with other devices into carrying voltages they should not have might also be historic problems?
If so, maybe the Apple has patented a way or a technology to avoid some of those undesirable results?
I guess time will tell.
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Patents are, and always have been, evidence of successful rent seeking. There *may* be some social benefit from the fact that the patent documents must disclose the invention so that others may build upon it (the alternative being to keep the invention a trade secret). My admittedly untrained observation is that many or even most most of the software related patents I have read tend strongly to obscure the nature of the invention, which turns out after study to be pretty obvious to anyone even moderately skilled in the arts of programming. Indeed, it has for some years been my opinion that a programmer who fails to infringe at least a patent a day is not being very productive.
I think the patent talks about distance charging, not inductive mat charging which has indeed been around for years. If I read this correctly it will be used for the Apple mice and keyboards, and will be integrated in future macs (but I could be wrong). Certainly nobody builds anything like that currently, and I don't know enough about the Wireless Power Alliance patents to see if they have anything similar. The older patents are certainly very different.
"Re: Did anyone look at the patent before commenting?" - if you mean the downvoters then bear in mind that that is The Register i.e. of course not. All those pages of technical information and all the mouth-breathers think that it simply say says:
<adopt caveman voice> "We Apple. We charge no wire. hur hur hur. We first."
OK I am worldly and wise but what I do know about, and what I am proficient in, is merely a matter of practice...
Some I practice much and some I practice little.
While I am sort of probably getting the term wrong, with that Apple patent theft / of that little diagram of the transformer coil and the capacitor, the term, "a charge coupling" transformer?" seems to fit the bill?
I have seen shit loads of that circuit in transformer design circuits.... Inductive coupling...
That circuit is as elementary as basic wire wound transformers, light bulbs, resistors,
Like a half wave pulse rectifier.......
This Apple patent scam is fucking crap. "Oh we are taking out a patent infringement on something that has been around since Voltair took a shit one Sunday morning, or was it when Layden took a piss in a jar on Monday morning?"
Ooooo this such bullshit................
There must be some 400,000,000 circuit diagrams in the last 200 years before the meat heads at Apple ever fired up their brain cell over the issue.
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