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Apple Files Patent For Fuel Cell Laptops

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the 100-words-per-gallon dept.

Power 215

An anonymous reader writes "Apple Insider reports that Apple recently filed two patents for a new breed of fuel cell-powered laptop computers. The devices would eschew lithium ion batteries in favor of fuel cells that are capable of running for weeks without requiring a recharge. The patents are entitled 'Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device' and oeFuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device."

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Surely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469698)

The fact that people have been talking about exactly this sort of application for decades would make it not novel and thus not patentable.

Re:Surely (5, Informative)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469718)

The fact that people have been talking about exactly this sort of application for decades would make it not novel and thus not patentable.

The general concept may not be patentable, but specific working implementations may very well be innovative and patentable.

Re:Surely (5, Insightful)

calibre-not-output (1736770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469832)

More likely they're not innovative, but still are patentable.

Re:Surely (5, Insightful)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469884)

Innovative stuff shouldn't be patentable in any case, only inventions are patentable. Innovation != invention.

Re:Surely (5, Insightful)

GroundBounce (20126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469922)

That's not completely true, at least as the system works. If there is something sufficiently innovative that it is "not immediately obvious to someone trained in the field", then it essentially qualifies as an invention. Inventions can be small and limited in scope as well as large. The real problem is in determining what is innovative enough that it would not almost immediately occur to most people trained in the field as an obvious solution to the problem. It is a subjective test, and IMHO, too many patents are given for things that really shouldn't pass that test. Patents can always be contested, but, it is a long and expensive process, so bad patents have a way of sticking around.

Re:Surely (1, Redundant)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470292)

I'm not sure if there's a difference from what you said, but the threshold is that it "must not be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art". The level of training varies from art to art, and could range from an entry level shop worker in one field to someone with a MS or Ph.D. in a different field. The assumption is also made that one of ordinary skill in the art is able to access any necessary prior art to obtain the teachings necessary to arrive at the claimed invention.

Re:Surely (2)

myurr (468709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470426)

Maybe the solution to the patent problem isn't then to increase the difficulty of getting a patent, as the powers that be seem to be happy with the current system. Perhaps we would have more joy if we focussed on making it much much easier to have flimsy patents invalidated.

Re:Surely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470128)

innovation/invSHn/
Noun:
1.The action or process of innovating.
2.A new method, idea, product, etc: "technological innovations."

innovatingpresent participle of innovate (Verb)
Verb:
1.Make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
2.Introduce something new, esp. a product.

invention/invenSHn/
Noun:
1.The action of inventing something, typically a process or device.
2.Something, typically a process or device, that has been invented.

Per Google.

There is some overlap. The main difference is innovation includes new additions and improvements to existing things. So Invention - Innovation = can only patent something that in no way existed before. Effectively leading to two scenarios: 1) Effective destruction of the patent system or 2) The Patent Wars but now they are limited to only the big players/money can play as they can field the research for truly new ideas and fight the legal battles over whether LED lightbulbs are an invention or an innovation of Edison's old idea.

Re:Surely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469968)

What I think follows:

>> The fact that people have been talking about exactly this sort of application for decades would make it not novel and thus not patentable.

IMHO the fact one can immediately understand what that is makes it obvious and thus not patentable.

> The general concept may not be patentable, but specific working implementations may very well be innovative and patentable.

That's ok with me, as long as any judge understands the patent protects specific details but just that sole working implementation -- which renders any claim to patent any principle, law, method, procedure, recipe, knowledge (included here algorithms) etc. as bogus, which makes "intellectual property" an authentic oxymoron.

Alas, the expression itself ("intellectual property") is offensive to our intellects. It assumes the reader/listener has to be stupid (and also Politicians by extension in order to vote it).

Re:Surely (5, Informative)

Serpents (1831432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470040)

The general concept may not be patentable, but specific working implementations may very well be innovative and patentable.

There, a working implementation from 2006 [gizmag.com] and as far as I remember it was not the first one.

Re:Surely (5, Informative)

Serpents (1831432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470052)

Double post but this one [wired.com] is from 2002

Re:Surely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470398)

That's called "Prior Art" and since the Evil Borg Mothership has more money than the U.S. Tresury; chances are no one will launch a legal challenge.

Re:Surely (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470494)

That's called "Prior Art" and since the Evil Borg Mothership has more money than the U.S. Tresury; chances are no one will launch a legal challenge.

I thought Microsoft was the evil borg mothership. Was Apple assimilated?

Re:Surely (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470230)

"a working implementation" is not equal to the same thing.

Re:Surely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470450)

"a working implementation" is not equal to the same thing.

Correct - "working" being the key word here.

And WTF does "not equal to the same thing" even mean?

Re:Surely (3, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470444)

You don't understand how patents work ( or at least not how they are intended to work).

The idea is pretty much the following:

Apple makes a fuel cell for laptops that runs on fuel A, using technology X. Now other companies can either license the patent from them, in which case they benefit for having invented it, or they can try to create a different type of fuel cell which doesn't infringe the patent. So say they go for the second option, creating a fuel cell running on fuel B using technology Y. Now, at least in theory, society has two types of fuel cells, and can use 2 types of fuels.

There's a lot of reasons why this may not work out in practice of course, and hence the patent system is supposed to have limitations such as obviousness and prior art, in order to stop abusive patents. Unfortunately the patent office and courts have proven unable to enforce that.

Re:Surely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469802)

I agree, I'm doing everything I can to stop this nonsense. And stop calling me Shirley!

Re:Surely (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469830)

The fact that apple succeeded in getting the patent is an indicator that yet again slashdot is making a patent issue out to be something it isn't, and that the patent doesn't cover anywhere near as much as the headline claims it does.

Re:Surely it's already done (4, Interesting)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469966)

Better than that it has already been done http://www.gizmag.com/go/5325/ [gizmag.com] . Do people at the patent office not know how to Google an idea, cause i'm betting the apple innovation department knows how. Its not something that's even deserving of a patent if they actually invented a new type of fuel cell then sure give them a patent but just putting the word it infront of laptop is the reason the whole patent system is a joke.

Re:Surely it's already done (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470162)

I'm honestly shocked that nobody has patented "fuel cells on a laptop" before. That's the sort of obvious fluff that you'd expect to have been patented the moment some greedy little bastard learned of the concept of fuel cells.

Re:Surely it's already done (5, Funny)

Scragglykat (1185337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470314)

But has anyone patented using power cells in a robot designed to infiltrate human colonies and assassinate them from within? I think not.

That's not how patents work or why they exist (5, Informative)

F69631 (2421974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470322)

The history of patents dates back to 15th century Venice. Venice had a lucrative glass-blowing industry and major artisans had different kinds of trade secrets that related to the craft. Each artisan vigorously guarded their own trade secrets and often took those to the grave with them, so the technology didn't progress. So, they came up with a system: Artisan could claim their method of glass-blowing as patently original, have no longer the need to keep the method secret and would not take the method to the grave with them. Everyone won.

In those days, patents weren't for "Glass-blowing". That's a concept. They were for "A very specific method of glass-blowing, that the artisan had researched themselves (or learned from their master) and would otherwise have to keep secret". That much still applies to the modern patents (abominations such as "1-click shopping" being an exception). The patent isn't "The concept of using fuel cells as batteries". It is "Using specific type of fuel cells for laptop power in a specific and non-obvious way". It doesn't matter that someone else has used fuel cells for batteries before.

(FWIW: I think that there is still need for a system like that, so I also support software patents in cases where the patented idea is non-obvious enough that it probably wouldn't have became "public knowledge" in the next 20 years without the patent. This could well apply to specific encryption algorithms and stuff like that.)

Re:Surely it's already done (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470582)

Better than that it has already been done http://www.gizmag.com/go/5325/ [gizmag.com] . Do people at the patent office not know how to Google an idea, cause i'm betting the apple innovation department knows how. Its not something that's even deserving of a patent if they actually invented a new type of fuel cell then sure give them a patent but just putting the word it infront of laptop is the reason the whole patent system is a joke.

So, you're going to do something about it, like send a copy of that publication to the Examiner under 37 CFR 1.99 [uspto.gov] , right? Or are you just going to complain impotently?

Go Apple! Now fuel cells will be viable in 20yrs (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470000)

Well, not sure I like fuel cells or the market that Apple is going for here. There may be a silver lining here in that this may delay the entrance of these for the main stream for another 20 years!

Re:Go Apple! Now fuel cells will be viable in 20yr (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470036)

I like your line of thinking on this. It would be interesting if you were to cite your source indicating that fuel cells at that scale are 20 year away from being consumer ready.

Still, this falls clearly under "obvious." Half of the discussions of fuel cells I have seen talk about laptops and the rest about data center backups or other.

Please, someone accept my money. Form a patent buster group and bust these patents and then lobby for removal of other patent laws which accept software as patentable among other problems with the industry. Please make it so that patent trolls cannot possibly exist. I don't have a lot of money, but I have a few bucks I would gladly share to help clean up this mess.

Re:Go Apple! Now fuel cells will be viable in 20yr (1)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470366)

I think it means another 20 years of patent wars. And after 20 years, companies can finally deploy these cells.

Re:Surely (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470148)

But this is a fuel cell on a computer!

Re:Surely (4, Insightful)

beh (4759) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470172)

People have been talking for decades about the sort of application that a cure for cancer could have...

Will that prevent patenting one, once you would come up with a way to _actually_ make one _work_?

The patent never revolves around the idea of putting a fuel cell into a laptop - it's about the HOW you do it...
You may not like that Apple files for a patent for this, but the problem is that Apple, like all companies needs to also look after the interests of its shareholders - if you create a solution and NOT attempt to monetize it, how will your shareholders react? May you even run the dangers of running into a liability for not pursuing profits (after all - that's what _for profit_ companies are for).

For what it's worth - seeing how Apple, Motorola, and other companies are cross-suing each other for patent violations, we should end up with far more attention on how to solve the patent crisis (and, no, I don't think just ditching patents is the way to go - just like there are bad reasons for patents (trolling readily springs to mind), there are also good ones (like preventing a large company from wiping out a small start-up who came up and patented a brilliant solution to a problem).

Re:Surely (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470222)

The patent never revolves around the idea of putting a fuel cell into a laptop - it's about the HOW you do it...

Get laptop, insert fuel cell. I'm sure that took billions in R&D.

Re:Surely (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470234)

You're missing the point.

People have been talking for decades about using /EXISTING TECHNOLOGY/ to make laptops run on fuel cells.

This has even been prototyped before. The technology has been there for a minimum of 15 years now.

If apple was patenting the fuel cell, or even some specific technology that made it possible to run a laptop on a fuel cell, this wouldn't be a problem.

The problem here is that all of the tech already exists and apple is simply patenting "Running a laptop on a fuel cell".

Re:Surely (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470316)

But are there working portable fuel cells already? This patent suggests Apple has developed the first one. If they have, it's a valid patent. Of course if they're just trying to patent an idea instead of actual technology, then it shouldn't be allowed (but probably will anyway).

They're at it again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469710)

F#c@n patent trolls, i'm gonna get a patent on breathing air, water and all the other existing elements..... and forbid the apple board on breathing anything else but solid diamonds....
They're bastards...

Re:They're at it again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469760)

Oh yeah! i'm going to get a patent on farting, then i'm gonna sue your ass!

Re:They're at it again (2)

Antarius (542615) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470012)

Too late.

The Australian Government is well ahead of you. With the passing of the Carbon Tax, they've finally been able to achieve that Holy Grail of taxation; Taxing the air we breathe.

Re:They're at it again (2)

mrbester (200927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470310)

Dammit Cohaagen, give dose people ayuh!

Post jobs world may be positive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469714)

lets hope they play nice and licence the tech....

Re:Post jobs world may be positive (4, Insightful)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469790)

lets hope they play nice and licence the tech....

This is Apple we're talking about - since when did they play nice? We're talking about a company who tries to stop anyone else making a flat rectangular computing device with a touch screen after all...

Re:Post jobs world may be positive (2)

skovnymfe (1671822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469850)

A flat rectangular computing device with rounded corners and a black edge around a touchscreen. Not just any flat rectangular computing device. :)

Re:Post jobs world may be positive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470200)

That sounds like an advert for "M&S" ( a major retailer in the UK).
For several years they used the phrase 'not just any...' in their advertising.

Some shyster lawyers will be contacting you shortly.

Re:Post jobs world may be positive (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470446)

> We're talking about a company who tries to stop anyone else making a flat rectangular computing device with a touch screen after all...

No, they're the company who idiots on Slashdot like to suggest are a company who tries to stop anyone else making a flat rectangular computing device with a touch screen.

*sigh*
The once brilliant Slashdot has become another site that is no longer worth visiting.

Re:Post jobs world may be positive (2, Funny)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470484)

We're talking about a company who tries to stop anyone else making a flat rectangular computing device with a touch screen after all...

The real tragedy is that the moderation system here only goes up to +5 Insightful, because what you just said could be the most original, never before seen, most insightful comment anyone has ever constructed, and I've never seen it repeated here a thousand times before. How did you come up with that all by yourself? We've read your other comments which are quite dull and usually annoying flamebait, unlike this one... be honest... you were coached by someone, weren't you?

Patent the future (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469716)

Quote: "But the company also notes there are challenges in creating hydrogen fuel cell systems that are portable and cost-effective". So, in case somebody manages to create a viable solution, he better keep in mind that Apple thought about it first, so he better forget about it. Oh and BTW nobody else can do that, not because Apple did it first but beause Apple *thought* of making it first.

Re:Patent the future (3)

hlavac (914630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469732)

This patenting of general ideas is so wrong... Patents should require a working prototype - it's not a problem when it is developed in secrecy...

Re:Patent the future (1)

PIBM (588930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470282)

There has been quite a lot of prototype and working versions, but not by apple..

Re:Patent the future (4, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469794)

Except for all the people actually developing fuel cells for higher density portable applications such as cell phones and computers that have been talking publicly about this exact usage for over a decade now...

I tried to read the patent, but after the billionth self-reference, my eyes went cross and I still can't see straight. Maybe I could tolerate more of that junk if it wasn't almost 3 am. Even so, I can't really say I could find anything interesting in the articles that hasn't been done or published before. Of course, I can't believe a patent examiner would think than any implementation of <power source> employed to power <device> isn't bloody obvious. Now the <power source> or <device> might be unique, but that isn't what they are patenting.

I won't exclude the possibility that I'm too bloody tired to make heads or tails of this, so I'll leave it to those of you who aren't half asleep, and can read legalese and the like without wanting to strangle someone. :) Nite

Re:Patent the future (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469892)

Just skimmed the patent, so not going to make any judgement on the patentability of this. Certainly the first few claims look fairly broad but this is normal. Somewhere down in the sub-claims, there could be something new and inventive.

A couple of points though. This is just the published patent application - it has *not* been granted yet, so Apple certainly havn't succeeded in getting the patent. Also, from even a very quick search in a couple of online databases , there appears to be a load of prior art in this field as you'd probably expect. I'd expect the USPTO will find at least some of it. Chances are that either Apple won't get this at all, or they will end up with a very limited patent to a particular feature needed to make this work and not a general 'fuel cell in a laptop' patent.

Finally, check out the fuels they're proposing. Good luck getting a cartridge of sodium borohydride, or lithium aluminium hydride on an aircraft. Patented invention does not necessarily mean commercial uptake of invention.

Re:Patent the future (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470078)

Well that hasn't stopped others from trying fuel cells in various devices like cameras [engadget.com] , naturally followed immediately by some company patenting the implementation. [photographybay.com]

But their implementation is new. See the fuel cell also powers the attached flash. Well there's something that isn't immediately obvious to anyone who has used a point and shoot cameras, attached a GPS receiver to a camera which is powered through the connector, or used a lens with an autofocus motor / VR system in it. You're saying you can use one device to power the other? Say it ain't so! How novel.

Re:Patent the future (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470102)

I tried to read the patent, but after the billionth self-reference, my eyes went cross and I still can't see straight. Maybe I could tolerate more of that junk if it wasn't almost 3 am. Even so, I can't really say I could find anything interesting in the articles that hasn't been done or published before. Of course, I can't believe a patent examiner would think than any implementation of employed to power isn't bloody obvious. Now the or might be unique, but that isn't what they are patenting.

It seems that in the first patent, you don't just connect power source to device, but the power source is capable of producing lots of information about its state and transmitting it to the device, to which the device can react, and the device can tell the power source exactly who much power it wants and control the operation of the power source.

This would be for example different from your usual AA battery, which doesn't give any information about its state, but just produces some voltage until it runs out of power and the voltage drops down.

Re:Patent the future (1)

PIBM (588930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470340)

The voltage varies depending on the remaining charge, and is thus a message from the power source telling how much power it has left. Depending on the instantanneous resistance shown from the device, the power source will react instantly producing more or less power (higher current for the given voltage) thus being message sent from the device to the power..

Re:Patent the future (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470176)

Not new. I was planning a device that's only become possible due to advancements in battery and electric motor tech made over the last few years. Nothing innovative, it's always been theoretically possible but only recently became practical.

There were patents on every concept involved going back to the freaking 70s. Oddly enough I saw a very unambitious version of my idea released onto the market yesterday, pretty expensive too.

Surprise (0)

no-body (127863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469728)

That Apple has not yet a patent on a power cable
a - from power outlet to external power supply
b - from power supply to device

It's getting boring after a while. Not sure how the idiots filing those patents are feeling about themselves....
 

Re:Surprise (2)

tdc_vga (787793) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469854)

Re:Surprise (1)

PIBM (588930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470358)

I though it was pretty clear he was going after the lolz of this one!

Re:Surprise (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469856)

Actually, they do [uspto.gov]

Re:Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469864)

Can't be bothered to google, but they have probably got a patent on the magnetic coupling. They just need to work backwards from that.

Dichotomy (2)

Sitnalta (1051230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469740)

I hate this because it means Apple wants to start selling consumable fuel cartridges.

I love this because it means I won't have to play retard roundup with power outlets and adapters when traveling.

Re:Dichotomy (4, Informative)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469798)

Trichotomy: You'll hate it again because you can't find the apple power you travel or the one reseller over charges. Oh you better be getting there by cruise ship because NO way would these be allowed on a plane.

Re:Dichotomy (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469858)

An external battery pack has about 80% of the energy of a hand grenade stored in it and can get past the, uh, highly trained TSA agents. Heck, you could probably carry a hand grenade on if you put an Apple logo on it.

Re:Dichotomy (3, Funny)

mythar (1085839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469970)

Picking up terrorist demographic with patent for "Hand Grenade System to Power a Portable Computing Device".

Re:Dichotomy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470302)

iBoom

"NO way would these be allowed on a plane." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469874)

Which would be very silly, because it is pretty much impossible to create an energy dense object (a battery) which does not explode/burn/etc. But hey! what do airport security know about that?

Re:"NO way would these be allowed on a plane." (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469990)

Well there's a difference between something like coal which is very energy dense and burns and something like natural bas which is not very energy dense comparatively but poses a much greater explosion hazard.

Please call me when the TSA stops allowing jet (coal) jewelry for airline passengers.

Re:"NO way would these be allowed on a plane." (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469992)

The right question to ask is: what do battery packs have to do with the airport security theater [wikipedia.org] ? Nothing. Can they sell you battery packs at airport shops after the security checkpoints? Yes they could, but there are too many sizes and not all computers have user serviceable batteries. How inconvenient. Compare that with the ban on water and the sales of water bottles in airports. If we end up with a small set of standardized sizes for fuel cells (like for A, AA, AAA batteries) then I bet that we'll quickly be faced with the choice of whether to buy a fuel cell in the airport shop or when we arrive at destination. No fuel cells allowed across security checkpoints. Just wait for the first terrorist plotting to blow up a plane with a fuel cell. That [wikipedia.org] was all they needed to start this insane and very profitable ban on water back in 2006. I wonder if terrorists still laugh thinking about how successful they been with such a small effort or feel sorry for making those western businesses still more profitable.

I beg your pardon for posting this as AC.

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469744)

I think i will fill a patent for a computer powered wind... and a phone recharged by kinetic energy... so in the future anyone with this idea will have to pay me royalties... this is not a Columbus egg... its the natural evolution... i think that patents are really getting to become a store in the gear of evolution... i mean they are not inventing the Portable computer nor the fuel cells... the are just joining 2 technologies in a natural evolution way...

Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469792)

That's like giving a patent to put a battery in a radio .. whether it's lead acid or lithium , it's a battery
It's like patenting using a fork to eat. Or putting batteries in a radio. One more ridiculous patent that will only stiffle innovation
and im not sure there aint prior art , we heard of fuel cels in devices for years. This is over the top obviousness.

Help science and the advancement of science , reform patent law and the patent office quick.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470154)

I haven't read the patent. But TFA summary (and we all know how accurate those are) describes:

a new breed of fuel cell-powered laptop computers

So, its possible that Apple has developed some new technology in the area of fuel cells and/or laptops that makes this practical. You'd still be free to use the old school fuel cells in laptops without infringing on these patents.

danger, Will Robinson ! (5, Funny)

swell (195815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469820)

Isn't it enough that Apple products are already prone to fires and explosions?

Re:danger, Will Robinson ! (0)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469828)

Flammable liquids or gases right in your lap. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:danger, Will Robinson ! (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469940)

A fuel cell running that long is likely a based on a solid and oxygen and not on a liquid.

Re:danger, Will Robinson ! (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470080)

You usually just use the oxygen from the air (although using pure does boost performance), its the hydrogen that is the issue.

Re:danger, Will Robinson ! (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470212)

Well, if they indeed try to use a hydrogen cell then it is ceertainly stored in a metal hydrid storage, and neither as liquid nor as gas.
However I doubt yuo can store somewhere in a notebook enough hydrogen to power a laptop for a week or longer.
Hm ... I looked a bit around 1kg H2 holds roughly 50kWh of energy.
In a 250g metal hydride storage you can store roughly 20g H2 which is the equivalent of 1000Wh.
That would power a laptop roughly 25h.
There is an idea floating around to use NH3 as storage, as a liquid. But you would need a process to get H2 from it to use it in a fuel cell.

Re:danger, Will Robinson ! (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469868)

That's probably the only feature they won't try to patent. But probably have considered it anyway at some point.

Re:danger, Will Robinson ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469980)

You're reading a bit too much into word "fuel". Fuel cell that aims to generate electricity is optimized for electron generation, not for burning to generate heat to turn a piston/rotor.

o_O (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469866)

How, oh how is that patentable?

Go fuck yourself. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469872)

I will make one just like yours. If you try to sue me for that, I have the legal right to kill you.

Recharge? (4, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469886)

Woo hoo. Apple are back to removable batteries.

Run on fuel cell patents? (1)

mythar (1085839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469936)

Fine. I've got "Fuel Cell System to Power a Sexual Empowerment Device" and "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Sexual Coupling Device".

I'm going to be rich.

Re:Run on fuel cell patents? (2)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470578)

Don't forget to cite the Apple patents. Sounds like they are interested in screwing customers too.

Not just talked about, Toshiba demonstrated it (4, Interesting)

gb7djk (857694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470014)

Toshiba have demonstrated fuel cells for laptops since at least 2006. They may not be pretty, but the principle should not be patentable (at least by Apple). http://www.pcworld.com/article/157606/toshibas_fuel_cell_laptop.html [pcworld.com]

Re:Not just talked about, Toshiba demonstrated it (4, Informative)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470048)

Toshiba have demonstrated fuel cells for laptops since at least 2006. They may not be pretty, but the principle should not be patentable (at least by Apple).

http://www.pcworld.com/article/157606/toshibas_fuel_cell_laptop.html [pcworld.com]

From an extremely quick glance, Apples patent seems to be for a failry specific implementation of a hydrogen driven system, not Toshiba's methanol driven system. Also the patent diagrams illustrates a number of elements required in their design, so I would guess that it is their complete implementation that they're patenting not the general principle.

Re:Not just talked about, Toshiba demonstrated it (1)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470136)

so I would guess that it is their complete implementation that they're patenting not the general principle.

Do you think that would stop them filing injunctions for anything that even remotely resembles a generic fuel cell?

Re:Not just talked about, Toshiba demonstrated it (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470618)

Toshiba have demonstrated fuel cells for laptops since at least 2006. They may not be pretty, but the principle should not be patentable (at least by Apple). http://www.pcworld.com/article/157606/toshibas_fuel_cell_laptop.html [pcworld.com]

Apple's patent claims require a bidirectional communication link between the portable computing device and a controller on the fuel cell, and that doesn't appear to be there for the Toshiba implementation. It's prior art (because it's in the art, and it's prior), but it's not anticipatory prior art (a single publication or device that discloses each and every element of the claims). Now, combine that with smart batteries, and you might be getting somewhere...

Re:Not just talked about, Toshiba demonstrated it (3, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470640)

Sorry to say it a bit bluntly, but you like so many others have obviously not a single clue about what a patent is, and what it is for.

A patent is for very specific inventions. Now of course the idea of "putting a fuel cell in a laptop" is of course not patentable, and that's not what Apple patents. From the first glance that I have the core of the patent revolves around the fuel cell itself, they did something innovative to it to make it suitable for these very small scale applications as for example in laptops. It being Apple, laptops of course are the first application they think of. But the same tech might be used to power your phone, or when scaled the other direction to power your car, who knows. But afaict it's the fuel cell where the invention is in.

There is no way Apple or any other company will be able to patent "fuel cell powered laptop". They can only patent a very specific way of doing this, or a very specific fuel cell implementation, so specific that if a patent is written incorrectly changing the voltage of your implementation may already circumvent it.

They should file lawsuits already, too . . . (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470054)

. . . against as yet unknown potential infringement parties, who shall be named later. Then they could get the courts to ban competitors' products from store shelves, even before they are produced.

See, the system is efficient and does work, if used correctly.

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470070)

This is an "on the Internet" patent all over again. If you have a fuel cell that is small enough and powerful enough to power a laptop, using that fuel cell to power a laptop is OBVIOUS. If you don't have a fuel cell, this patent is worthless.

Granting this patent disincentives the development of fuel cells, because the benefit accrues to Apple instead of the actual developer of the fuel cell.

patending tomorrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470082)

Tomorrow, I will patent fuel cell technology to be used on everything electronic and consumes power.
And I will sue everyone else out of civilizations' reach, even if they utter the letter 'fuel'
Am afraid to think what will happen next.

Prior Art ... (1)

garry_g (106621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470094)

I could swear I saw reports of companies building experimental Notebook fuel cells years ago ...

Re:Prior Art ... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470514)

I could swear I saw reports of companies building experimental Notebook fuel cells years ago ...

did you? OK, well... in order for your comment to be on topic, you must tell us, please... how exactly is that prior art? I'm afraid that your complete lack of understanding what prior art is does not qualify you for commenting in this discussion. Back up... try again, please. If you must, since this is an Apple-related summary, feel free to troll for karma points.

Re:Prior Art ... (1)

garry_g (106621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470608)

Well, it may be the first time APPLE is doing it, but others have been there, done that ...

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Panasonic-Fuel-Cell-Prototype,6516.html [tomshardware.com] (2008)
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/29/lg_chem_fuel_cell/ [theregister.co.uk] (2005)
http://news.cnet.com/2100-1008_3-1022130.html [cnet.com] (2003)

If any patent office employee granted a patent on the idea of using a fuel cell in notebooks, they are obviously incapable of doing a simple google search and should therefore be fired for being unfit to do their job ...

imagine a beowulf clus... (2)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470100)

oh wait, apple patented the beowulf cluster.

Seriously? (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470146)

Seriously? Are we going to post every single story about a major tech company filing a patent for something? Or are we just going to do it when Apple files a patent because "they are teh evil!!"? I mean, come on! "Major tech company files patent for new tech - news at 11!" Uh. Yeah. Happens _literally_ every single day.

One of the worst non-stories I've seen in a while...

Re:Seriously? (1)

mrbester (200927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470370)

If they have actually _made_ a laptop powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that resembles the diagram and can demonstrate it (it doesn't even need to work, just exist) then I have no problem with them patenting it as that is the point of patents. If all they've got is a picture then they can sod off as they are trying to patent something that doesn't exist or might be made in the future in order to leech fees.

Yay for patent idiocy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470152)

* Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device
* Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device
* Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Hairdryer
* Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Gnat Squasher
* Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Motorized Dildo
* Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Food Processor
* Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Power Drill

Why do I feel like punching someone in the face?

It's a discrete system (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470410)

The power supply is a discrete subsystem and should not be construed as sufficiently integral to the device it powers to allow such a broad patent. Will Apple now patent the replacement of a substation transformer to extract royalties from the power company?

previous and next patents.. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470418)

Previous Patent: USAGE OF REGENERATIVE BRAKE POWER FOR SYSTEM RESTART IN START-STOP OPERATION OF FUEL CELL HYBRID VEH...
Next Patent: INTEGRATED SYSTEM FOR ELECTROCHEMICAL ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM

-----

it's official, the patent system is just a joke. a computer could generate these patent titles and a monkey could do the write ups.

Re:previous and next patents.. (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470584)

it's official, the patent system is just a joke. a computer could generate these patent titles and a monkey could do the write ups.

Yes... but you are well aware you only belive this to be true regarding Apple patents. Except for anything Apple does, the patent system is broken just fine. If Apple tries to use it, then it is broken beyond recognition and just another tool for Apple's world domination. Seriously... Microsoft, Google, Samsung... could pen the same EXACT patent, and no one would care because beating up the retarted pulsy kid just doesn't have the same interest it once did, and it is now a vastly more popular activity to impotently conspire against the star quarterback homecoming king, who got the pro contract and is skipping college... but don't be so quick to judge the jock... that "jock's" accumulated AP credits put them at graduate level technologies... yes, I am saying that compared to everyone else, Apple's devices are now years ahead and no longer have legitimate competition. It only makes sense that Apple would be the first to take a bite at the Apple of unpatented technolgies as they're they ONLY technology manufacturer with a successful brand that could actually, conceivably bring a quality and finished product to market in the near future utilizing this patent. Once you remove your blind hatred of all things Apple (we call this 'bias'), you will see this is true... and its a shame because Apple fans are annoying... but lets not make it about them because... no matter how annoying Apple fans get, it will never effect Apple products.

Re:previous and next patents.. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470622)

a computer could generate these patent titles and a monkey could do the write ups.

Oh sure, give our jobs to the monkeys. This is a down economy sir. Shame on you!

Not new, not innovative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470518)

New I'd seen it before..

Here's 2006 Toshiba's Fuel Cell powered laptop...

http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/toshibas-laptop-fuel-cell-patience-is-a-virtue.html

There were a lot of others working on it, prototyping it.

This patent app needs to die, along with Apple.

Smart move (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38470600)

If a patent troll had gotten hold of this patent they would have... oh wait.

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