A perfect example of why the US Trade & Patent Office needs an overhaul.
Apple cofounder Steve Jobs shuffled off this mortal coil in 2011, but his name is living on in patent filings. The patient and endearing CEO is listed as a co-inventor in a US patent application that describes a handheld gadget remotely controlling a large boat. The filing sets out a system in which a tablet or smartphone can …
Thursday 18th September 2014 22:00 GMT J. R. Hartley
Friday 19th September 2014 16:25 GMT Ogi
Even Tesla developed a remote control boat.
Tesla patented it in 1898: https://www.google.com/patents/US613809 so we have 100+ years of remote control (boat, or otherwise) patents.
Ok, so the interface would have been non-touchscreen, but it was an interface, sending commands wirelessly, to a boat, which would then respond to commands and move about. Apart from a flashy touch-UI, a lot more power, and encoding differences, what is the difference in the basic premise?
Friday 19th September 2014 17:14 GMT GBE
The PTO has no control over who files what
The article is about an _application_ that has been filed. Blaming the PTO for that is like blaming you for the junk mail you receive.
It hasn't been granted. It hasn't even been examined.
It's just some bullshit that Apple sent to the PTO because one their IP attorneys had nothing better to do one afternoon, and wanted to chalk up another mark towards his quota.
If it gets granted, _then_ you can bitch about the PTO.
Thursday 18th September 2014 19:30 GMT Voland's right hand
Thursday 18th September 2014 19:39 GMT Mark 85
Thursday 18th September 2014 20:47 GMT westlake
Repeat after me.
Voland's right hand:
"Just grab any Sci Fi video from last 20 years (Stargate Atlantis comes to mind) and there will be at least one guy controlling a boat (OK, granted a space one) with a tablet."
Fiction is not prior art.
I have never understand why the geek finds this simple concept so difficult to grasp.
The screenwriter only has to suggest an affordable prop or special effect which will look plausible on
screen and won't bring the action and story to a screeching halt.
He doesn't have to engineer a solution robust and sane enough to trusted when remotely piloting a 60 meter yacht.
Thursday 18th September 2014 20:54 GMT Russell Hancock
Re: Repeat after me.
@westlake... You do understand that a patent filing is just a piece of paper right? They have not built anything, so it is exactly the same as the as the ideas in Sci-fi - just some ideas on paper!
In fact it is even worse than x sci-fi, at least they had something physical...
Friday 19th September 2014 08:13 GMT James 51
Friday 19th September 2014 10:22 GMT Anonymous Coward
Re: Repeat after me.
"Fiction is not prior art".
Not necessarily true. The Donald Duck Case is an example where fiction may be prior art in the patent world. The devil is in the details as usual. Does the patent describe a particular method which is also present in the fictional example, and so on.
Of more immediate interest is Jobs being named as a co-inventor. This implies that he personally made a contribution to the invention. If he didn't, then it would be grounds for rejection of the application, or even nullification if the application were ever granted. If the patent were to be challenged, then the defence team would have to provide evidence satisying the court that he contributed to the invention, otherwise it would likely fail.
And "running the company where the invention was made" doesn't count.
(And this is just an application, not a granted patent. The USPTO hasn't even reviewed it yet.)
Friday 19th September 2014 12:00 GMT Nuke
@westlake - Re: Repeat after me.
Wrote :- "Fiction is not prior art. ... [A screenwriter] doesn't have to engineer a solution robust and sane enough to trusted when remotely piloting a 60 meter yacht.
Neither does an applicant to the US Patent Office. All they need is a proposal on paper which can be a mere flight of fancy, let alone fiction.
Thursday 18th September 2014 19:50 GMT disgruntled yank
Thursday 18th September 2014 20:01 GMT Lars
Friday 19th September 2014 12:10 GMT Nuke
@Lars - Re: High time
Wrote :- "High time I patented .... a handheld gadget remotely controlling a small boat, and a large and a small train,
Ah ha! You forgot something - an aeroplane! Too late for you, I thought of it first. And a guided missile : Oh wait, they thought of that three-quarters of a century ago : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henschel_Hs_293
Thursday 18th September 2014 20:02 GMT Dan Paul
Already being done....does anyone ever check for prior art?
Maybe not specifically on a luxury yacht per se, but iPads and phones are already being used by several manufacturers for building automation control and I'm sure Crestron is already doing this for luxury recreational vehicles and homes.
There is little difference besides naming conventions between RV's and Yachts. The mechanical systems are the same.
Why are patent officers so lazy? Because they get paid on what they approve.
Time to change that!
Friday 19th September 2014 05:24 GMT T. F. M. Reader
Prior art candidates - in fiction and in real life
Fiction: Certainly either the late Desmond Llewelyn or MI6 or maybe Eon Productions have a reasonable claim to prior art because of that ill-fated - but remotely controlled from a cell phone - BMW Series 7 in Tomorrow Never Dies? Wheels or screws - there is little conceptual difference. The villain in Speed 2 only used laptops to control a luxury cruise liner, not cell phones, right? Disqualified, then.
Reality: Jim Clark's Hyperion was completely controlled by a network of SGI servers, and the interface was LCD touch screens. The touch screens were not called "tablets" at the time - so? The network was wired, I assume, but is it reasonable to insert the word "wireless" into something completely obvious and claim to have invented something?
Joking aside, whatever "innovation" Apple may claim here I can't see how this can conceivably be qualified as an invention. And you need to invent something for a patent, don't you? Oh... Sorry...
Friday 19th September 2014 07:30 GMT lglethal
Easy way to fix the Patent system...
There is one easy way to fix the US Patent system. When you submit a patent application, you pay the full amount and whether they approve it or not you lose the money. Allow one appeal for rejections. If the appeal is rejected, and someone wants to resubmit with additional paperwork, they pay again.
The USPTO would then have no reason to just approve anything that comes, because they get paid either way. It would also decrease there workload, as fewer cranks would be willing to stump up the fee knowing they were going to lose the money even if their patent was rejected. Simple and effective.
Friday 19th September 2014 07:34 GMT Anonymous Blowhard
Prior art? How about actual products?
"The electronic control system is coupled to, and receives information from, sensors that collect environmental information (e.g., wind speed, wind direction, water depth, etc.) and/or system status information (e.g., engine speed, transmission settings, etc.) for the vehicle (e.g., the vessel)."
This sounds like the functionality of the fifteen quid Bluetooth widget I bought from Amazon to receive "system status information (e.g., engine speed, transmission settings, etc.) for the vehicle" using the free "Torque" application on Android:
So the system monitoring is already performed by CAN-BUS and I think some aspects of remote control of vehicles (cars, aircraft, boats, ICBMs) via a tablet may be ruled out on safety grounds. Remote control of small vehicles by tablet/phone is already available:
Friday 19th September 2014 08:53 GMT Hellcat
Driving a fairly hefty boat by any sort of general consumer grade control device is pretty scary in my opinion. Tables and smart phones do crash, and it would be a shame if your boat crashed too because of it. We run a Raymarine ST60 system on our yacht. Despite the relative simplicity the modules are expencive; partly because they are built to be super reliable. Tablets just aren't stable enough to be relied on.
Friday 19th September 2014 09:02 GMT ZanzibarRastapopulous
The Price of Patents..
Can you imagine how expensive patents would be if the patent office had to ensure that each one was fully defensible in court with no overlapping patents or prior art?
The job of the patent office is to record who invented an invention and when they did it, not to ensure that they are unique, or even that they work.
Friday 19th September 2014 12:18 GMT Nuke
ZanzibarRastapopulous - Re: The Price of Patents..
Wrote :- "Can you imagine how expensive patents would be if the patent office had to ensure that each one was fully defensible in court with no overlapping patents or prior art?
Would not cost much if they demanded to see a working prototype before they granted a patent. The UK Patent Office used to do this.
Nor would it cost much if they employed some people with enough general knowledge to had already heard of the existence of stuff as commonplace as radio control. Christ, I became aware of radio control devices when I was still in a pushchair. Where the hell do the USPO find such unworldly people - from unexplored parts of the Amazon Forest or something?
Friday 19th September 2014 09:27 GMT Mage
Friday 19th September 2014 18:33 GMT John Brown (no body)
"What did Tesla use to control the remote controlled wireless demo model boat around 1897?"
Not sure about Tesla, but I remember seeing a working re-creation of the first(ish?) radio control on, (I think) the BBCs Reeth Christmas lectures many years ago. The transmitter was a spark gap generator and the receiver was a line of iron filings in a tube on a floating model airship. When the spark gap generator was triggered the receiver aerial picked up the EM which made the circuit by (I assume, It was a long time ago now!) routing the EM through a coil to make a small electromagnet thus operating a more powerful circuit which triggered the airship rudder.
After a few seconds on Google...
According the wikipedia entry on radio control "In 1898 at an exhibition at Madison Square Garden Nikola Tesla demonstrated a small boat which could apparently obey commands from the audience but was in fact controlled by Tesla interpreting the verbal requests and sending appropriate frequencies to tuned circuits in the boat."
The wikipedia entry on radio controlled aircraft has this to say "The earliest examples of electronically guided model aircraft were hydrogen-filled model airships of the late 19th century. They were flown as a music hall act around theater auditoriums using a basic form of spark-emitted radio signal."
Friday 19th September 2014 10:48 GMT Peter Simpson 1
Friday 19th September 2014 18:06 GMT Anonymous Coward
Re: Shiver me timbers!
Modern pirates would find a use, once they'd hacked the controller. And didn't Apple just 'improve' security by requiring your mobile number.. I mean using 2FA to your mobile device that's now controlling your yacht? Could making cloning more lucrative, or just more fun.
Also fairly certain there's prior arrrs in controlling via handheld trinkets, although they would have had sharp edges rather than rounded corners..
Friday 19th September 2014 12:26 GMT Terje
Is it waterproof?
I can just imagine the scene, expensive big yacht pulling up to a pier and suddenly goes full throttle and rams the small insignificant boats ahead.
Well captain care to explain what happened.
I was standing on the bridge wing to get a good look at the distances to the pier when a light rain started to fall.
Well.. the IPad got a little damp and decided to go full speed ahead.
Friday 19th September 2014 20:29 GMT Anonymous Coward
Patent system stupidity
I've been in engineering associated with the Mining and Marine sector for more than three decades in the UK, and I was brought up to believe that patents could only be submitted if they were innovative. My company has since been swallowed by a large Americon concern and we are now encouraged to submit patent applications on our work. I've held back on this, partly because I don't see that the work I do is innovative ... it's more derivative.
No more. This patent application is a derivative of a standard HMI control .. replace the HMI screen with a tablet and replace the hard wired communications with Wifi (i.e a derivative work) and you appear to have this application. I understand that this has not yet been granted but the very fact it has been applied for fills me with despair.