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Scary Smartphone Motion Control Patent Granted

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the can-i-patent-the-reuben dept.

Patents 163

An anonymous reader writes "On March 16th, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a very broad patent on motion control in computing devices, one that seems to cover any smartphone that uses a built-in accelerometer. It was filed in July 2006 and preceded by a nearly identical patent granted in 2004 after a 2001 application. So it predates many of today's popular smartphones — the iPhone, the DROID, the Nexus One, etc. What will happen if the company that owns the patent asserts it?"

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163 comments

To hack a patent... (4, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598364)

Here's how you hack a patent. From claim 1:

wherein the initial motion meets or exceeds an initial motion threshold; sensing a complementary motion of said computer device in a reverse direction to the initial direction

As long as the iPhone or Android do not use one threshold and are more generic than detecting reverse direction, they do not infringe on that patent. Whoever wrote that claim made it way too specific, and easy to work around it.

--
co-founders wanted [fairsoftware.net] .

Re:To hack a patent... (4, Funny)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598412)

Yeah that lawyer was a newb. The other patent trolls around the world are laughing and using your comments to generalize the next patent app for this very feature.

Re:To hack a patent... (0, Troll)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599930)

...wherein one or more motions meet, exceeds or else, none or more thresholds; sensing some, or no, motion of said device or a different one in a direction to another direction.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598442)

The "threshold" probably refers to the boundary of a dead zone [yahoo.com] that distinguishes sensor noise and vibration from intentional movements.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598506)

So then use multiple thresholds in your solution and it's a different thing.

However it is also very obvious, and accelerometer solutions has been around before the smartphones did appear.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599308)

How about "a bigcorp" reading all the patent applications about to be granted, looking for something clever that was patented by an independent individual but never put to market. This bigcorp then builds some device that are close - but not 100% identical. Bigcorp markets the product, waits to get sued. When sued, they simply argue "it's not entirely identical." Since it's an individual, they might just accept a relatively small settlement and maybe even sell their patent to bigcorp as going to court is very expensive.

I wonder if this is what Apple did with the accelerometer.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599438)

So then use multiple thresholds in your solution and it's a different thing.

So if I use two guns when commiting a felony, do I get around any laws about using a gun in the commission of a felony? I would have thought that would be construed as two cases of using a gun, not no cases of using a gun.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599674)

So if I use two guns when commiting a felony, do I get around any laws about using a gun in the commission of a felony?.

No, but if you patented the process of using a single gun to commit a felony, then using two guns would not be in violation of this patent.

Kinda like how Amazon was able to patent a "one click" process for selling stuff on the web, when there were already multiple "N click" processes in existence.

Re:To hack a patent... (3, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600610)

Note that the claim defines a "complementary threshold" for the forward and reverse motion respectively. So it already claims two thresholds which may, or may be not identical. Contrary to popular belief, the language of claims is actually quite precise and not made for obfuscation. It might seem obfuscated at the first glance, but so would a "Hello World" program in C to someone who only knows BASIC: "What the fuck is all this int main... crap about when a simple 10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD" would do?". You gotta learn the language.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598482)

Whoever wrote that claim made it way too specific, and easy to work around it.

You mean ::gasp:: someone actually applied for a patent THE WAY THEY FUCKING SHOULD??? Oh noes, they only claimed their invention...whatever shall they do???

Re:To hack a patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31598628)

not really

just because you take something patented in something else, does not make it a new patent by *gasp* saying

use patented process *IN* this new *TYPE OF DEVICE*

Re:To hack a patent... (3, Interesting)

nkh (750837) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598660)

Oh noes, they only claimed their invention...whatever shall they do???

You call it an invention, I call it an algorithm.

Re:To hack a patent... (2, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598860)

Because algorithms just get plucked out of thin air, right?

Re:To hack a patent... (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599004)

Unfortunately, algorithms are often dictated by mathematical properties of the world we are living in. When two people solve the same mathematical problem, it's not all too surprising that they tend to arrive at the same solution.

Re:To hack a patent... (0)

HopefulIntern (1759406) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599064)

Mod parent up! This is possibly the best/simplest argument I have heard for not copyrighting IP.

Re:To hack a patent... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599508)

Patenting.

Copyright stops you from copying his algorithm (specifically his code). Patents stops you from independently developing the same solution yourself.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599836)

Yeah... unfortunately, the behavior of mechanical devices are also dictated by mathematical properties of the world we are living in. You're drawing a distinction where there is no difference.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600118)

I'm not so sure about that. The behavior of mechanical devices is dictated by mathematical properties of the world we are living in, but what different mechanical devices of the same class try to do is to benefit from these properties in the best way possible, not unlike, e.g., different implementations of the same basic algorithm. It's like having a Wankel engine and an Otto engine: they both exploit the Carnot cycle, but the Carnot cycle can't be patented, just as, e.g., the effectiveness, and perhaps even optimality of stochastic sampling for many computing tasks. Yet the latter has been successfully patented by Pixar for the purpose of doing computer graphics. To me, that's like patenting the Carnot cycle for the purpose of moving cars around. It's really silly, and I'm very glad that I don't live in a country recognizing such silly patents.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599890)

When two people solve the same mathematical problem, it's not all too surprising that they tend to arrive at the same solution.

And yet, in many cases they don't. If people always tended to arrive at the same conclusion there wouldn't be, for example, a whole variety of different search algorithms and then subsequent variety of optimizations to those original algorithms.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600166)

But in general, for certain problems there is only one good solution. Often there is a best solution, and even more often it's obvious.

Imagine now someone patented binary search. It's not like it could not have happened, someone came up with the algo. Fortunately it was a scientist and not a lawyer.

Re:To hack a patent... (2, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600202)

What if someone patents a solution to a particular mathematical or computational problem that is provably optimal and no better can ever be found? Is such a patent supposed to stimulate "innovation" (whatever that means), when everybody knows that it can't be improved upon and if the other companies (e.g.) want to stay in business, they will have to use suboptimal algorithms or move somewhere else?

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600136)

Umm... pretty much, that's where I get mine. Why, where do you get yours? I mean, I'm all ears for a way that allows me to get an algo without pondering too much...

Re:To hack a patent... (2, Insightful)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600498)

Because algorithms just get plucked out of thin air, right?

Translation:

"I think algorithms are difficult to create. Anything that's difficult to create and used to make money needs protecting by patent. Therefore, software and business methods patents are legitimate."

Because the US patent system is perfect, right?

Listen - I don't disagree that algorithms are difficult to create. But if you're going to argue that position to legitimise their patentability, at least provide a means by which patent trolling can be avoided. I think you find you can't. Moreover, not being able to prevent such trolling does far more damage to the economy and creativity overall than simply disallowing software patents (as they do in Europe).

Re:To hack a patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31598950)

*Everything* is an algorithm. This includes mechanical stuff - they can be described as algorithms.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599630)

And I call it an idea.
Something that irrevocably has a human originator/inventor. But that can not be owned by anyone, because that is not fitting physics, but rather like asking what came before time.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600284)

And I call it an idea. Something that irrevocably has a human originator/inventor.

I would argue that not all ideas have human *inventors*. Quite often is a human being not an inventor, but rather a *discoverer*. What about the notion of a prime number, or the Fibbonacci sequence? The RSA algorithm? Am I supposed to believe that these things only sprung into being at the moment a math textbook was published? I find that hard to believe.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598744)

This was an "on a" patent. Buying things on the internet. GPS in a car. Accelerometer in a phone. They weren't trying to claim an actual invention, as accelerometers in wands and other computer controllers have been around for a long time. They were attempting to patent troll.

We'll have to see how this one turns out. But in general, it seems pretty safe to say that the patent system in this country needs a healthcare-sized overhaul.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598540)

Here's how you hack a patent. From claim 1:

wherein the initial motion meets or exceeds an initial motion threshold; sensing a complementary motion of said computer device in a reverse direction to the initial direction

As long as the iPhone or Android do not use one threshold and are more generic than detecting reverse direction, they do not infringe on that patent. Whoever wrote that claim made it way too specific, and easy to work around it.

-- co-founders wanted [fairsoftware.net] .

Or, as long as they don't sense the complementary motion in a reverse direction, with both the initial motion and the complementary motion being necessary to effect the system change.

Alternately:

wherein sensing the initial motion and sensing the complementary motion occur before the generating the at least one control signal

Generate a control signal after sensing the initial motion, but before the complementary motion and you're good, too.

Re:To hack a patent... (2, Informative)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598574)

An accelerometer only measure acceleration, a change in direction is a big acceleration. A big change in direction can cause the signal to clip, when this happens you get random data. You have to apply a transfer function; a lower limit threshold that is above the noise floor, and limit small movements, and a high threshold to prevent any clipping.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599694)

An accelerometer only measure acceleration, a change in direction is a big acceleration. A big change in direction can cause the signal to clip, when this happens you get random data.

111111111111111111111111111.... Not very random.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599840)

No? Woops.

/me goes to re-write his rand() function...

int rand()
{
return 0; // was 1;
}

Fixed.

Re:To hack a patent... (4, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598714)

Exactly right. Could at least the editors read the claims before posting nonsense like "cover any smartphone with built-in accelerometer"? This patent is not overly broad in any sense. It may be obvious - accelerometers are known, forward-back mousgestures are known, so the combination might lead the man skilled in the art to the subject matter of claim 1, but this patent in no way threatens "any smartphone".

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599542)

....this patent in no way threatens "any smartphone".

We'll find that out when the lawsuits begin.

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599878)

Could at least the editors read the claims before posting nonsense like "cover any smartphone with built-in accelerometer"? This patent is not overly broad in any sense.

Claim 1 covers any computing device which can be controlled by moving it back and forth, up and down, left and right, or turning it in both directions around any of the three axes. That's not overbroad?

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600516)

Claim 1, as I read it, covers one specific mode of input for computing devices, namely a forward-reverse motion combo of the device. Just the fact that such a motion combo can be detected by a device, as it is with many modern smartphones, is not enough to infringe. The smartphone must actually react to this combo - i. e. generate a control signal. So, if you leave out this specific input gesture, you can build motion controlled smartphones as freely as you wish. That's not broad in my view. As I said, on a first glance I would raise the question of obviousness in the light of known mouse-gestures, but that is another topic.

Re:To hack a patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599120)

So the patent is for a pedometer that uses the accelerometer in the phone instead of the old "clicking" ones that had a moving part? I was just thinking that "My Tracks" for Android (from Google) and the app that is similar on the iPhone (don't know the name but somebody I used to work with used it) should add in pedometer function to say not only "you went x miles at y speed and had z elevation increase" but add in "you took q steps" as well. Or am I reading it wrong on the motion and reverse?

Re:To hack a patent... (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599304)

Whoever wrote that claim made it way too specific, and easy to work around it.

You mean how all patents are supposed to be very specific?

Apple - part II? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31598404)

>> What will happen if the company that owns the patent asserts it?

If this means Apple is in trouble, I am all in for it.

motion detection? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598534)

A mouse can detect motion, does that mean that a simple mouse infringes on that patent ?

Re:motion detection? (1)

Chazerizer (934553) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598778)

Not as such. The method in question says specifically that the system involves PDAs and other such devices (claims 12-18 of the patent application). Additionally, as the conversation above asserts, the claims relate to reversal of motion in six directions. Since a mouse does not detect rotational movements or vertical movements (lifting the mouse off the desk does nothing), this would not constitute an infringement.

Re:motion detection? (2, Interesting)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599024)

I'm curious how this is legitimately patentable. I can understand patenting an accelerometer, and even understand patenting the software techniques for motion sensing (even if I disagree with software patents), but how exactly do you take two technologies that already exist, tie them together in an ever so slightly different way, and call it patentable? The only difference between this and something like the WiiMote is that the input from the WiiMote's accelerometer is transmitted wirelessly to the console base station. How does putting the CPU in the WiiMote itself, connecting the accelerometers with a wire instead of a signal, and allowing it to make phone calls somehow make it original enough to warrant patent protection?

It's like would be like patenting sticking a compass in a car and connecting the needle to the GPS system so the car can determine orientation. When no one had done it, it was new, but it wasn't exactly novel; no one had done it because there was no GPS to connect to. Similarly, motion sensing has existed for quite a while, but no one connected it to a smartphone because:

  • Smartphones didn't exist in any usable form until the last decade
  • Consumer friendly smartphones that might use the technology are roughly five years old
  • Power and space requirements precluded unnecessary add-ons until relatively recently

Patenting the techniques used to miniaturize it and make it battery efficient would make sense, but patenting the mere combination of technologies seems ludicrous.

Re:motion detection? (1)

urulokion (597607) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599686)

I'm curious how this is legitimately patentable. I can understand patenting an accelerometer, and even understand patenting the software techniques for motion sensing (even if I disagree with software patents), but how exactly do you take two technologies that already exist, tie them together in an ever so slightly different way, and call it patentable?

I haven't read the entire patent myself. But if what you are saying about it is true, then it's a dead duck patent. Using two patented things to together in an obvious way is exactly what KSR Internainal v. Teleflex case the US Supreme Court is about. If this patent is ever challanged in court, it's highly likely to be ruled invalid.

Re:motion detection? (1)

urulokion (597607) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599708)

Well fark. I had my options set wrong. First paragraph is supposed to be quoted from the GP. Second paragraph is mine.

Re:motion detection? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599676)

Not as such. The method in question says specifically that the system involves PDAs and other such devices (claims 12-18 of the patent application).

Not exactly... Each claim represents an independent invention (the dependent claims are read as if they had every element of the independent claim, plus the additional elements in the dependent claims).
Basically, if claim 1 is: A+B, and claim 2 is "Claim 1, plus C", then there are two inventions: A+B, and A+B+C.

This gives rise to a doctrine called claim differentiation. Because A+B+C is a different invention than A+B, then A+B must also include A+B+!C.

So, when claim 17 says "The system of claim 12, wherein the handheld computing device is selected from the group comprising: a personal digital assistant (PDA), a personal gaming device, and a wireless communication device," that means that claim 12 covers everything that's not a PDA, personal gaming device, or wireless communications device.

Additionally, as the conversation above asserts, the claims relate to reversal of motion in six directions. Since a mouse does not detect rotational movements or vertical movements (lifting the mouse off the desk does nothing), this would not constitute an infringement.

But that's the real key, so you're right about a mouse.

Patents (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31598562)

Patents are invalidated by proof of prior art. I work in R&D, and every so often, will publish in a totally obscure journal just to get something into the public domain - if it stays under the radar, I can still patent, and the prior art doesn't matter because I'm not going to sue myself over it. If nothing becomes of the technology in-house, another party may well patent it later, in which case I have lost the exclusive revenue, but I can pull out the journal article and invalidate the other patent, essentially leveling the playing field if there is indeed money to be made.

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599280)

Other companies would just patent every little thing to build up a very large patent portfolio rather than publish. Take IBM or Toshiba or any of those companies, that is exactly how they operate. Oddly Philips seems to patent some things and not others in their R&D group, when it would be more in their self-interest to patent it all.

I don't think so. (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600608)

As you said, if you publish patentable matter, no matter how obscure the journal, that matter becomes part of the public domain and is therefore not patentable by definition. Further, if you were to try to subsequently patent your published matter, your failure to disclose the prior publication in your patent application (c/w)ould constitute Fraud on the Patent Office, which is punishable by law. Finally, there is no journal so obscure it cannot be found by a dedicated searcher - and when found, your prior publication of your art would lead to the revocation of an issued patent, either through a FotPO charge, or through a petition for re-examination. Short story: if you want to patent, don't publish until after you file the patent app.

One way to solve a problem.. (1)

Vector7 (2410) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598576)

What to do if the patent is asserted? Hunt down the parties responsible and butcher them like cattle. I don't know anything about hiring assassins, but surely compared to the hundreds of millions (billions?) paid out in bullshit patent lawsuit settlements, buying the death of the head of every known patent troll company (and their lawyers) would be a drop in the bucket, and probably a net benefit to society aside. Imagine if RIM were run by the mafia - they'd have taken care of this years ago, and anyone left would be too terrified to troll patents today!

Justice, glorious justice.

Re:One way to solve a problem.. (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599364)

That's why we call it the BlackBerry. You pull some weird patent shit with it and we blacken yeh fuckin' berries with a billy club, capiche?

What about inertial navigation systems? (3, Interesting)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598612)

Inertial navigation systems use accelerometers as input to a computer for controlling its output (Navigation readings, autopilots, etc), and have been used in (civilian and military) aviation for decades. Doesn't that negate this patent as prior art? Or can you now patent the application of an idea to a market? Or am I misunderstanding how vague this patent is?

No danger here for the big boys (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598676)

FTA: "patent #7,679,604....belongs to Durham Logistics, a Las Vegas limited liability company about which I can find little information..."

>"What will happen if the company that owns the patent asserts it?"

My guess is Apple & Co deploy expensive lawyers & hammer Durham firmly into a small, smoking hole in the ground...

Re:No danger here for the big boys (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598754)

How so? It's more likely that Apple & Co will just pay that company.

Especially if that company doesn't make a single thing (except lawsuits), and thus infringes on zero patents.

How's that for patents encouraging innovation...

Re:No danger here for the big boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599040)

/runs off to patent that patenting patent technique for a patent

Re:No danger here for the big boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599220)

"How so?"

The usual: drag out the resulting lawsuit until the smaller company is bankrupt. Even if you are wrong and in violation, with enough money you can starve the smaller opponent to death.

Re:No danger here for the big boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599482)

The small company could have large pockets. Or even if it has financial trouble, other people could "rescue" it and continue the battle.

Re:No danger here for the big boys (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599618)

How so? It's more likely that Apple & Co will just pay that company. Especially if that company doesn't make a single thing (except lawsuits), and thus infringes on zero patents. How's that for patents encouraging innovation...

Well, the person who invented it get a bunch of royalties or a large sum for the patent, and are encouraged to innovate more.
Alternately, to avoid paying royalties or lump sums, Apple and others invent different ways to accomplish what they want, and are encouraged to innovate around the patent.

Sounds like it's pretty good at encouraging innovation.

Re:No danger here for the big boys (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599622)

You think it's likely that Apple will just pay? I think Nokia would disagree with you on that.

Mickey Mouse's Magic Wand (1)

rossjudson (97786) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598680)

After reading the patent I couldn't help but think of Mickey Mouse, Sorcerer, in Fantasia [google.com] . That's gestural control, and it's definitely prior art (if not in the patent sense).

I'd claim my pedometer as prior art. (4, Interesting)

Myrv (305480) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598702)

I had a pedometer in the 90s that used motion to record events, each motion event would trigger an update on the display, it was hand held when reading the display, and it was a computing device that would calculate distance traveled (not to mention history). Sounds like it covers just about every aspect of that patent.
 

Re:I'd claim my pedometer as prior art. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599088)

http://www.engadget.com/2004/04/12/checking-out-myorigos-tilt-controlled-smartphone/

Re:I'd claim my pedometer as prior art. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599560)

I had a pedometer in the 90s that used motion to record events, each motion event would trigger an update on the display, it was hand held when reading the display, and it was a computing device that would calculate distance traveled (not to mention history). Sounds like it covers just about every aspect of that patent.

You didn't read the claims of the patent, did you? I've never seen a pedometer that can independently detect at least six fields of motion.

Re:I'd claim my pedometer as prior art. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599862)

No, but the DEC handheld that had linux on it back in the mid 90's did.

Patents like this continue to show how badly broken US patent system is. Did we outsource this as well?

Re:I'd claim my pedometer as prior art. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31600368)

So, a pedometer can detect 2 or 3 fields of motion; then someone comes along and tries to patent the exact same function (but more generalized - a handhend computing device) by upping that number to 6 (more generalization - at least 6) they should be allowed to have a 17 year monopoly on the "invention?"

I read the patent claims, there really wasn't much to it - the claims are (1) obvious, (2) too general, and (3) just ideas which shouldn't be patentable. They fail to describe a specific "invention" being patented.

Re:I'd claim my pedometer as prior art. (1)

Myrv (305480) | more than 3 years ago | (#31600388)

From the patent, claim #1:

and wherein the initial or complementary motions comprise motion in one or more of at least six fields of motion including lateral x, y, or z motion or rotational x, y, or z motion

Emphasis mine. They aren't claiming you have to detect all six. The "at least six fields" part is just defining the set of possible motions to detect; not that you have to detect all six of them. At least that is my take on that line.

Re:I'd claim my pedometer as prior art. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599830)

Prior art isn't a very good defense [slashdot.org] . You don't have to find something that fits the description (which may or may not be related to the actual patent), you have to find something that matches all the claims. If your pedometer didn't do exactly what is in the claims section, it is not prior art.

In this case, if this company decides to sue an open-source project, it would be easier to find a workaround and publicize it far and wide, so everyone knows they don't have to license this patent anymore, they can just use the workaround. This sort of response would make patent trolls afraid of suing open source projects, because the potential money-loss is serious.

This particular patent is not very scary, and there is an easy workaround [slashdot.org] .

Scary smartphone motion (4, Funny)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598706)

When I first read the headline, I was expecting to read about a new phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard wherein the slide-out mechanism moves in a manner akin to Lovecraftian abominations, defying our understanding of the laws of physics and driving people irrevocably mad from the revelations, all while trying to text their friends.

But disappointingly, it's the PATENT that's scary, not the smartphone motion. Ah, well. I'll just have to find some other way to get those dang texting kids off my lawn.

Re:Scary smartphone motion (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599562)

wherein the [thing] moves in a manner akin to Lovecraftian abominations, defying our understanding of the laws of physics and driving people irrevocably mad from the revelations

Don’t worry. The patent lawyers will already do that.
On second thought: DO worry! Do worry very much!

Viva Las Vegas (1)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598798)

Quickie (sometimes drive-through) marriages and LLCs as far as the bloodshot eyes can see.
All that glitters is gold don't you know ... and somehow, I see the end of this drama ending in my wallet. :(

If that company tries to assert it? (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598876)

If it does have legs, Google buys that company and tells Apple to lay off of HTC or iPhone sales stop dead.

I wonder what the MEMS Manufacturers will do... (2, Informative)

KJSwartz (254652) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598884)

Got to wonder how aggressively the people like Analog Devices, Honeywell, Motorola (Freescale) will do to invalidate this patent, since they own the manufacturing process. I sincerely hope they look not just to invalidate this patent, but all other patents "owned" by these applicants as payback. What the [Obscene Gerund] were the Patent Office reviewers thinking?

Re:I wonder what the MEMS Manufacturers will do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599152)

What the [Obscene Gerund] were the Patent Office reviewers thinking?

Not the trolls stumping out but by the lawyers here.

Or,.. or maybe they're just morons [slashdot.org]

Re:I wonder what the MEMS Manufacturers will do... (2)

KJSwartz (254652) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599662)

Everyone should review the slashdot story on faxed Patent Submissions. Seems they are getting so many submissions they can't spend time to reorient upside-down applications. ALOT of postings were hillarious; the simplest fix is to rotate all pages 90 degrees in the fax machine. The Patent Office, by their rule, has to take them.

Motion (3, Informative)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 3 years ago | (#31598920)

"What will happen if the company that owns the patent asserts it?"

Easy answer. Negotiations will start.

Patent lawyers will sit down and debate the issues.

They will either agree and buy or license the patent or litigate and then win or pay a license fee.

Happens all the time.

Re:Motion (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599402)

And the end result of all this? Patent lawyers get paid, and someone may or may not pay something to someone else. The only thing that patent laws guarantee is the employment of patent lawyers.

Yeah, yeah, patent laws occasionally have good results. I just haven't seen one in a while - the wireless one was probably the last one. They're just being used as legal bombs to bludgeon someone into submission.

Re:Motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599866)

The end result is inefficiency. You've wasted tons of time and money investing in the human capital of all those patent lawyers, of all the time it takes to file and approve the patent, of all the negotiations that go on about X patent, of all the law school professors teaching said patent lawyers, and of all the other people who want to actually want to create the next product that uses an accelerometer.

It's all just a big waste.

Ignore them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31598972)

Time for everyone to take a stand. Ignore patent trolls, even with threat legal ramifications.

Tell them under no uncertain terms that they are known to be a patent troll and that you (we/us/everyone) does not recognize their claim.

When the system supports insanity, fuck the system.

business as usual (1)

sohp (22984) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599090)

What will happen if the company that owns the patent asserts it?

What will happen is the same thing that happens with any patent troll. The large companies that infringe will either cross-license their own patents back to Durham Logistics or pay royalties if the cost is reasonable. If the Durham Logistics demands too much, someone (again a big corporation) will buy the company, or sue them into oblivion and get the patents in the judgment. Small companies and individual entrepreneurs without deep pockets or a patent portfolio will be screwed, as usual.

Prior Art from DEC WRL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599182)

Consider this as prior art:

http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/Compaq-DEC/WRL-2000-3.pdf

What will happen (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599232)

"What will happen if the company that owns the patent asserts it?"

What will happen to a company that would assert a patent on the wheel? That is my answer to the question.

What Will Happen? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599276)

What will happen if the company that owns the patent asserts it?

Not sure exactly, but a few general truths will hold:

1. Giant corporations and fast attack hitmen will do battle.
2. Hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of dollars of our GDP will be redistributed to law firms.
3. Tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands of dollars of our GDP will pay the salaries of judges and court functionaries.
4. Some of the parties will give some of the other parties giant piles of cash in a settlement before the court passes judgment. (none of the parties want an actual precedent to be set -- clarification of laws only serves to reduce the effectiveness of spurious legal arm-twisting)
5. In recognition of the settlement in item 4, the parties will all get the right to participate in the fiat monopoly.
6. No natural person who actually invents things will benefit in any rational proportion to their contribution or to the leviathan sums of money that get hurled around.

The patent system may support the progress of science and the useful arts, but in its current form it only does so as a tiny fraction of the extent to which it supports the progress of barratry and the wasteful arts.

Do my car's seatbelts violate this patent? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599392)

OK, probably not because there's no "computer," but they do change their behavior in response to an accelerometer.

So do the emergency brakes on many elevators.

Where is the invention? (2, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599468)

I don't understand why when one person invents the wheel, someone else can 'invent' rolling it. Isn't rolling the wheel inherent to the invention of the wheel?

Re:Where is the invention? (1)

KJSwartz (254652) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599784)

I agree - these patent applicants weren't that unique. Freescale/Honeywell/Others had software to test these MEMS devices in one-and-more axis, with one-and-more motional references. Just-how-could-they-publish-their-specifications? And how can they perform product QA? By your analogy, the person who perfected the wheel rolled it along the ground, and somebody else took the credit.

Looks like it's Google's patent? (2, Interesting)

taskiss (94652) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599586)

From the patent application:
First: Note the question mark in the subject of this post. Then read the following;

Inventors: Uhlik; Christopher R. (Danville, CA), Orchard; John T. (Palo Alto, CA)
Appl. No.: 11/497,567
Filed: July 31, 2006

http://home.pacbell.net/cuhlik/cu_resume.html
Dr. Chris Uhlik
7/2002 to present, Engineering Director -- Google, Inc. Mountain View, CA

http://www.spoke.com/info/p2WHRbr/JohnOrchard
John Orchard, Dir Engineering, Vyyo Inc.

Re:Looks like it's Google's patent? (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599798)

OOOOOOO that mnakes it interesting. Isnt apple suing goolge for infringing patents? No wonder why google isn't scared. All they have to do is buy these paotents from one of the employees and google can realiate.

Re:Looks like it's Google's patent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31599996)

It's not. The original article notes that the patent was authored by a Google engineer, but that it's been assigned to that Vegas LLC.

Prior Art (1)

bpeikes (596073) | more than 3 years ago | (#31599986)

Wow. The patent office really sucks these days. When I was in University in the 90's there was a whole department which was working on alternative input devices which did just that. It would take about 10 seconds to find prior art. I suppose lawyers need to eat too.
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