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Suing Over... Fans?

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the i-wish-I-could-make-this-stuff-up dept.

Patents 166

NiceGeek hooked us up with an amusing story about assorted legal wackiness surrounding CPU Fans. Apparently one company is suing another because they are (gasp) stealing advanced fan technology and violating patents! Horror! The sad part is that its probably true. Someone needs to write a perl script to take this story, and s/x/y/g the names and technologies, and then feed every company and technology into it. Then create an archive of every possible violation lawsuit. Then patent the idea, and sue anyone who violates it. Just cut me in for thinking of it ;)

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and this is just a commodity item! (1)

Wansu (846) | more than 13 years ago | (#436393)

I bet you I can find a piece of electronic equipment which uses the same technique they've patented and was made 15 years ago. For crying out loud! We're just talking about a little go-to-hell fan here. What sort of future litigation will result over design similarities that really DO matter?

Why on earth is this "wacky"? (1)

HEbGb (6544) | more than 13 years ago | (#436396)

From the article, it sounds like there is a legitimate grievance against a possible infringer. Taco, what is so special about fans that you consider them to be trivial and unpatentable?

A lot of expensive development goes into making good fans, and the company involved has every right to defend their IP. As an engineer, I'm disgusted that you would be so quick to trivialize it.

Of Toilets and Engineering... (1)

Bilbo (7015) | more than 13 years ago | (#436397)

> Take for instance the toilet. I couldn't live without it, yet its design has been around since ancient Rome.

Ever looked inside a modern flush mechanism? These babies are an example of some serious engineering! Not rocket science, but still some pretty sophisticated design, not to mention tricks of manufacturing. (BTW, working with precision ceramics can be a bitch!) Look at the parts in there and I'll bet you will find a half dozen or so US Patent numbers stamped in them. Yes, those simple looking ceramic fixtures now do the same work as their 20 year old cousins, but with less than 1/5 the waste water, and probably 1/100 the water that was used by the Romans. Sure, the concept of internal plumbing has been around since the Romans, but they had a lot to learn about water conservation and the mechanics of quiet, reliable, inexpensive, self regulating, automatic shut off valves.

Just because something looks simple doesn't mean it was obvious to create in the first place!!

--

Re:This has to be the stupidest thing I've ever he (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 13 years ago | (#436399)

Uh, why not go after the company that makes the infringing fans instead of the companies that use them?

Because the infringing fans are likely made in Singapore, or some other country that doesn't give a rat's arse for patents. Going after Creative and nVidia allows them to sue under US patent law.

Someone almost did. (1)

superdoo (13097) | more than 13 years ago | (#436401)

Auto-Slashdot [bbspot.com]

Re:Patents? What defines a patent? (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 13 years ago | (#436403)

You can't patent the Venturi effect (I hope), but I garantee you that all the applicable carburetor parts designed by Suzuki, Yamaha et al are patented. They put R&D money into designing them and they were subsequently patented. That's how the system is supposed to work.

I can infer how to make a fusion reactor from a high-school textbook. That doesn't mean I can patent one.

-B

patenting "i'm gonna patent foo" (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 13 years ago | (#436405)

OK, finally the eternally redundant "I'm gonna patent air" post has made its way into a story. Can we kill that crap forever?

Hey, I'm gonna patent "I'm gonna patent" posts and refuse to license it just to save valuable moderator points squashing those posts! It's repetetively redundant!

Boss of nothin. Big deal.
Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

Random Slashdot page (1)

Anopheles (43442) | more than 13 years ago | (#436406)

Someone needs to write a perl script to take this story, and s/x/y/g the names and technologies, and then feed every company and technology into it.

I found this last night on BBSpot. [bbspot.com] It's a Random Slashdot story generator. Good for about 10 good laughs, about 3 deja-vu experiences, and for fooling that gullible newbie about 4 times...

why not transliterate? (1)

maraist (68387) | more than 13 years ago | (#436410)

What ever happened to that old and lovable transliterate (of the sed veriety) y/x/y/? Have we all become too lazy to use anything other than a reg-ex?

-Michael

Re:I patent... the stone hammer! (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 13 years ago | (#436411)

What about the fanin my car? That gets pretty hot. I had another car where the fan did run constantly while the car was running. Just like a cpu fan. You really think that this is a new idea?

Re:Laugh all you want.. (1)

polymath69 (94161) | more than 13 years ago | (#436413)

> some sort miraculous processor that creates 'little' or 'no' heat,

Umm... Crusoe?

--

Alternative uses . . . (1)

Kreeblah (95092) | more than 13 years ago | (#436414)

Somehow I get the feeling that the company that makes these fans is misusing their own products. Imagine this: company executives are in a boardroom with a huge fan on the wall. One of the blades is painted a color. They turn off the air conditioning and wait for the fan to stop.

Corporate lawyer: Yes! Sue for asinine reasons! Let's see here. Who can we sue?

VP of marketing: Hmmm. We have competitors. Let's sue them for patent infringement to increase our marketshare.

Nvidia's Microfans (1)

CaseyG (97275) | more than 13 years ago | (#436415)

The very small fan on my LeadTek WinFast card (GeForce 256 DDR) kept it perfectly cool...

...right up until the fan seized up, and the card overheated to the point that the whole screen went purple.

I think Sunonwealth is justified here -- ADDA made an inferior product using stolen technology, which could ruin the reputation of microfans in general if they aren't forced to stop.

-c.
--

It's really too bad (1)

tarlek (103211) | more than 13 years ago | (#436417)

That all these corporations are more interested in patenting anything that has anything remotely similar to their business. You would think that they would be better off on actually creating something worth patenting, rather than trying to patent the "all new" and "better than before" e-toaster (Patent Pending) Plug it in to any 120VAC (USA Only) outlet and a new 'Toasterable' PC (available soon) and you can watch "color video" of your toast toasting!

From us (1)

RainbowSix (105550) | more than 13 years ago | (#436418)

Well we can't sue anybody, but we can sure complain [uiuc.edu] about it.
--------

RTFC (1)

L. J. Beauregard (111334) | more than 13 years ago | (#436419)

Read The Fucking Claims. The article names the patents in question. Remember that the claims are the "code" of the patent, and everything else is something more like comments.

Here are the claims for the patents in question:

These are for particular ways of building fans -- not miniature fans in general. How long have we been cooling 486s with miniature fans?
--
Ooh, moderator points! Five more idjits go to Minus One Hell!
Delenda est Windoze

Re:Why the hostility Cmdr Taco? (1)

banbeans (122547) | more than 13 years ago | (#436421)

an electronic controlled pro grade r/c servo is prior art to all 3 of these claims. They have been around for a few years. Older servos just use a potentiometer the newer ones use something simular is not identicle to what they claim to patent

Re:Why the hostility Cmdr Taco? typo correction (1)

banbeans (122547) | more than 13 years ago | (#436422)

never post when your out
of it on nyquil sheesh.

an electronic controlled pro grade r/c servo is prior art to all 3 of these claims. They have been around for a few years. Older servos just use a potentiometer the newer ones use something simular if not identicle to what they claim to patent

My Patent (1)

spudwiser (124577) | more than 13 years ago | (#436423)

I'm going to patent Bringing Large Oxygen Waves Into Normal Greenhouse Heat Aspirated Realtime Datasystems. It's high time that all these engineering pirates pay for the amazing innovation of BLOWINGHARD. I'm tired of my meelions being squandered by the malicious people who refuse to pay an honest dollar.

Re:Why the hostility Cmdr Taco? (1)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#436424)

Obviously nVidia and Creative must not agree with you, then. After all, they seem to think that it's worth a premium to buy the Cadillac of fans instead of the run of the mill ones. Certainly there are a lot of overclockers who think that the absolute best CPU fan is worth spending money on. It may be that GPU makers are now pushing the limits to the point that they have to push their chips to the very limit in order to get the performance they want, in which case the very best fan may be more necessary than luxury.

In any case, the fact that the patent is being infringed is indirect evidence that it's actually a good idea. After all, people are much more likely to try to steal good ideas than stupid ones. The fact that a company is willing to risk litigation by infringing on a patent rather than just working around it suggests that the idea is worth copying.

Not as bad as it seems? (1)

faust2097 (137829) | more than 13 years ago | (#436426)

Did it occur to anybody that Sunonwealth might have actually developed a fan, using its own resources, that is technically superior to its competitors? It's not like they're suing for the idea of putting a fan on a graphics card [like the originial writeup packages it as]. Also, they're suing the 2 companies for importing the violating fans into the juristiction of US Patent law, as the offending fan manufacturers are outside of said sphere of influence. I think this is getting bad spin because nVidia and Creative are popular companies for geeks.

Re:Why the hostility Cmdr Taco? (1)

zaius (147422) | more than 13 years ago | (#436429)

The patent itself may not be frivilous... but isn't the concept of attaching sensors to a fan a little frivilous in itself. It make make the cadillac of CPU fans... but mine does just fine thank you.

I guess if the sensors were to see if the fan was movign at all would make sense, but if you really need to know exactly how many RPM's your CPU fans are pushing, you need a life.

Re:This has to be the stupidest thing I've ever he (1)

top-dog (158356) | more than 13 years ago | (#436433)

Seriously, these fan designs do NOT require innovation. Having something that you can't live without doesn't make it innovative. Take for instance the toilet. I couldn't live without it, yet its design has been around since ancient Rome. (The Japanese may not agree. I have seen toilets from Japan that wipe for you, play a little music, and spray your behind with perfume so your rear does in fact smell like roses. By the way, I believe that these toilets are patented. http://www.theimageworks.com/toilet/toiltftur.htm :)

Take two fans in your system of the same size but different manufacturers - they are identical. In fact, I wouldn't be suprised if the design isn't public domain. If you want to see a fan that takes some real engineering, take a look at a 480VAC variable pitch axial blade design which we use to recirculate the air in our reactor containment building. Better yet, take a look at a helecopter blade. Axial design with collective pitch control AND individual pitch control, not to mention attitude control, etc...

I'm sorry, but I have to agree. They are just simple fans.

Re:Hmm (1)

mickonline (158719) | more than 13 years ago | (#436435)

Well, at least it would put an end to the court of Appeal.

Personally, I think clubs aren't quite the way to go. The arguments would just be heavy and blunt. Now with swords, you have the cut and thrust of debate, the deadly riposte, the parry, the defensive stance etc.

mick

Re:Hmm (1)

mickonline (158719) | more than 13 years ago | (#436436)

>> The point being, of course, is to thin their numbers.

I don't suppose we could make elections work the same way? Though that is really just going back a few centuries.

>> It can't be any worse than it is now.

What, the legal system or the WWWF?

A tool is not void of responsibility for its use (1)

mickonline (158719) | more than 13 years ago | (#436437)

Obviously, the law suits would not exist without the business CEO's deciding to start one. However, the methodologies, culture, and tradition of business within the legal profession only encourages such actions to be taken. If lawyers didn't accept such silly cases, then the CEO's wouldn't think it was possible to try them.

I patent... the stone hammer! (1)

coupland (160334) | more than 13 years ago | (#436438)

It almost makes me want to know what is in the fan that warrants a patent in the first place. "Round thing with blades on the end spins and wind comes out the other end." Isn't the general idea kinda simple?


---

Roshambo! (1)

Narmi (161370) | more than 13 years ago | (#436439)

You know, I kick you in the nuts, you kick me in the nuts. Who ever goes down first wins.

I say ADDA kicks first. I have experienced a 75% failure rate with Sunon fans, compared to 0% with ADDA fans!

Re:Roshambo! (1)

Narmi (161370) | more than 13 years ago | (#436440)

Whoever goes down first LOSES, not wins.

My bad.

Re:The sad thing is . . . (1)

spyrral (162842) | more than 13 years ago | (#436441)

Actually, I think one of the humor sites(maybe segfault.org) has already created a random slashdot story generator that creates stories just like these.

Re:Now hang on. (1)

Suidae (162977) | more than 13 years ago | (#436442)

I don't see how nVidia is sue-able any more than I am for having a card that uses the fan

The fact is, you ARE just as sue-able for this as is nVidia.

Welcome to the US, where anyone can sue anyone for any damn thing they please, and the defendant either looses or spends boatloads of money to defend themselves.

Laugh all you want.. (1)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 13 years ago | (#436443)

...I dont know about you, but until they come up with some sort miraculous processor that creates 'little' or 'no' heat, Fans are damn important! I've got about thirty of them of various sizes with a 5 foot radius of my head, and the ones that buzz, die or otherwise suck (as opposed to blow?) are the bane of my existence.

Lets hear it for the fans! ..but lets *not* hear it for the lawsuits..

Re:This has to be the stupidest thing I've ever he (1)

Dyolf Knip (165446) | more than 13 years ago | (#436444)

Going after Creative and nVidia allows them to sue under US patent law

And, as a bonus, lets them get bitch-slapped by two large companies who are not actually breaking the law and have lawyers drooling at the prospect of of getting time in a courtroom.

--

Re:Why the hostility Cmdr Taco? (1)

hawkear (172947) | more than 13 years ago | (#436449)

...but if you really need to know exactly how many RPM's your CPU fans are pushing, you need a life.

Actually, if fans drop below a certain rpm, they become useless. They're still moving, but at a crappy rate. If you have a sensor that can measure the speed of your fan, then the motherboard can determine if it is a safe speed, and take appropriate actions. For example, my Abit KT7-RAID has a sensor on the CPU fan, and I can set a flag in the BIOS that will send an alarm out and shut off the computer if the fan drops below 200 rpm. That's a pretty useful feature, as I don't want my Athlon to fry...

btw - i do have a life (last time I checked).

Re:suing? (1)

krenshala (178676) | more than 13 years ago | (#436450)

again - shouldn't corporations be doing business rather then suing?

Whadaya mean? Aren't lawsuits considered a form of revenue? (From the actions of various companies/persons lately, I'd have thought everyone was trying to earn money that way.)

krenshala

krenshala

Re:suing? (1)

_ganja_ (179968) | more than 13 years ago | (#436451)

*cough* Rambus *cough*

Re:I patent... the stone hammer! (1)

_ganja_ (179968) | more than 13 years ago | (#436452)

wooa dude, do you work there? :-)

Bad joke (1)

_ganja_ (179968) | more than 13 years ago | (#436453)

A fan company that blows, kinda fitting really.

Re:Try the /. Story Generator (1)

_ganja_ (179968) | more than 13 years ago | (#436454)

Even with the correct spelling mistakes and typos. Very impressive!

Re:Try the /. Story Generator (1)

_ganja_ (179968) | more than 13 years ago | (#436455)

Oh, one problem it doesn't repeat stories... If it was a true /. story generator it would show 90% of all articles twice.

The best way (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#436456)

The best way to settle all of these law suits is for all of the lawyers to fight it out with clubs and other blunt objects

In a DeathMatch.

This solves two problems

Too many law suits

Too many Lawyers.

Remember, lawyers most often get paid for their time in court, getting ready for court, etc. Therefore, it is in their best interest, not the interest of their clients, to have long and protracted legal disputes. They get paid either way.

Hmm. Maybe we could setup a live Quake level out in the middle of the desert of something. I bet people would even pay to watch!

-1 Redundant (1)

BeerSlurpy (185482) | more than 13 years ago | (#436458)

I agree that the creative (or not so creative)uses lawyers have found for patent law lately are a little offensive, but I dont think each occurrence is newsworthy in itself.

We live in a society which has patent laws and copyright laws. It therefore follows that people will use them to further their interests and keep down competitors.

Is this a sneaky way of gettting the laws changed? "yes yes we'll change the laws- now just stop whining"

2cooltek (1)

yardgnome (190624) | more than 13 years ago | (#436459)

2cooltek.com [2cooltek.com] . All your cooling desires, satisfied in one place. And if you want a shock, check out the high-output 120mm fans and the Black Label 80mm fan. So loud, it's hard to be heard over them, but if you want high cfm, they're the way to go.

---

So what? (1)

perlyking (198166) | more than 13 years ago | (#436462)

I'm not sure this is even a story, things like this happen all the time, theres not much to interest the average geek here. Now if they were using GPL'd fans and refusing to release the blueprints.... :-)

Rambused? (1)

KurdtX (207196) | more than 13 years ago | (#436464)

Wow, it looks like the lawyers have come up with an equivalent to getting Delled.

I wonder if you could patent that (the process of patenting a technology and then suing anyone that resembled your patent)?

Kurdt

Re:I''m an idiot (1)

atrowe (209484) | more than 13 years ago | (#436466)

Sorry but I've got a patent on crappy fan puns. You all owe me royalties.

You should be getting your cease and desist letter in the mail soon as well.

Re:Fan tech (1)

Gaijinator (218180) | more than 13 years ago | (#436470)

Ok, I believe you! They're nice fans! I like them too! Though I'm not all that sure a business can patent "well-made products" or "products that last X hours." Of course, I could be wrong...

My Complaint about Sunonwealth (1)

fatmantis (218867) | more than 13 years ago | (#436471)

Before I say anything else, let me remind those that want to support Sononwealth's action that it's unquestionably astounding that it has found a way to work the words "piezocrystallization" and "crystallographically" into its commentaries. However, you may find it even more astounding that it maliciously defames and damagingly misrepresents everyone and everything around it. There's a word for that: libel.

Notice the abrupt shamelessness of Sononwealth's legal complaint. The two things I just mentioned -- the way that Sononwealth is chomping at the bit for a chance to trivialize the Intellectual Property issues, and the fact that as conscious, sentient beings aware of our actions and capable of response, we must invite all the other companies who have been or are about to be harmed by Sononwealth to continue to express and assert their concerns in a constructive and productive fashion -- may sound like they're completely unrelated, but they're not.

The common theme here is that we must carve solutions that are neither scary nor headlong. Our industry depends on that. In the end, you probably can't find one good reason why Sononwealth should endeavor in new litigation forcing anyone (who isn't one of their shills) to live in an environment that can, at best, be described as contemptuously tolerant. Thank you.

Sheesh! There's trade secrets in fan design? (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#436472)

I thought the biggest advance in fan design was ball bearings and teflon-coated rotors. Either way, I have a total of 11 fans in my system, and I'm trying to sneak two 3.7" fans in somehow. I also plan to make a wood faceplate for my computer.

just dont sue... (1)

zephc (225327) | more than 13 years ago | (#436473)

... over the REAL fans [fanboy.com] !

-----------
MOVE 'SIG'.

Patent office employees (1)

alen (225700) | more than 13 years ago | (#436474)

I wonder what the qualifications are for working in the Patent Office? With the millions of patents out there and so many being applied for every day, how do they keep track of what is legit? How can they tell if someone is trying to patent an "invention" that already exists.

On fan patents... (1)

zhensel (228891) | more than 13 years ago | (#436475)

I really don't see anything wrong with this. I just bought a Taisol heatsink/fan for my new computer that had a patented fan clip (to attach it to the heatsink). While it was hardly out of the ordinary, it was a novel design that went beyond the normal screw-on method as far as noise production and ease-of-use go. Having attached and removed the fan several times, I can certainly call it a worthwhile patent. The method is probably something that any dedicated hacker could come up with, but no one did. That is what patents are for. From the descriptions that others are posting, it seems that this is a simple, but useful modification to fan design. What's wrong with the patent? If I came up with a bankable idea, I'd sure sue if someone ripped it off. Now, some patents are frivilous (1-click-shopping), and some are rediculous (Rambus claiming that RAM produced following an industry standard in which they were part of the formative group violates their patents). This is a genuinely good use of the patent system though.

Re:Fan tech (1)

ideut (240078) | more than 13 years ago | (#436479)

Thanks for taking me so seriously. It's very flattering.

You drifted from the topic somewhat. Never mind.

Re:Fan tech (1)

ideut (240078) | more than 13 years ago | (#436480)

And CmdrTaco is "just a programmer."

I wouldn't go quite so far as to call Taco a programmer.

Re:Software patents are the enemy, folks... (1)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 13 years ago | (#436481)

I would half heartedly agree, but RAMBUS thinks they are responsible for SDRAM. Thats bad news.
Bad Patents are out enemy.



Fight censors!

in related news... (1)

deft (253558) | more than 13 years ago | (#436483)

In related news, Boeing aircraft has been served with notice that it's various helicoptors, including the AH-64a Apache gunship, are in violation of patents.

Sunonwealth Electric Machine sells smaller versions of these fans that Boeing has incorporated into their "helicoptors".

Boeing has alledgedly been attaching these larger fans atop the boxes and flying about.

Brilliant! (1)

suwain_2 (260792) | more than 13 years ago | (#436485)

I really think someone should do what is proposed -- predict thousands of potential lawsuits, and then patent them. Also, patent the process of a talented sports team winning. It may sound like I'm dripping with sarcasm, but I'm dead serious! Maybe someone will finally decide to fix the system when the winner of next year's Superbowl is sued and forced to forfeit due to a patent violation! Granted, this is a bit extreme, but you get the idea...

The way things are going, these things might actually be accepted and patented...
_________________________________________________

Well this blows. (1)

derf77 (265283) | more than 13 years ago | (#436486)

Some how, I have a feeling that a whore in the Neatherlands can contest the patent due to her prior art. All this patent stuff really sucks.

Re:suing? (1)

lou2112 (265869) | more than 13 years ago | (#436487)

perhaps i should restate my last comment... shouldn't corporations be more focused on working for the customer than working for themselves, i.e. keep legal issues behind closed doors and keep customer satisfaction as the number one concern? it just seems like a more logical solution to me, but perhaps i'm being naive.

suing? (1)

lou2112 (265869) | more than 13 years ago | (#436488)

again - shouldn't corporations be doing business rather then suing?

Re:suing? (1)

lou2112 (265869) | more than 13 years ago | (#436489)

any corporation concerned more with its own success than customers' happiness is going to fail. it's economics. the customer is always right, else s/he won't come back.

Hmm (1)

Brandonr17 (304889) | more than 13 years ago | (#436492)

Yes, I'd like to copyright the circulation of cold air over something hot... Oh! Then .. then i'm going to copyright arobic resperation. Anybody want to go in with me on this?

I once worked at a fan factory (1)

robert-porter (309405) | more than 13 years ago | (#436493)

Will you actualy save money hiring a lawyer to protect your fan inovations. Lawyers cost alot of money, fan technolodgy, not so much I would think.

Re:Fan tech (1)

FlashfireUVA (315550) | more than 13 years ago | (#436495)

Hmm, let's break this word "programmer" down, shall we? It would imply by it's root that it is one who "programs." In the current context, it would be one who writes code that get compiled into programs. So, by writing this web board in Perl, CmdrTaco is indeed a programmer.

Now, if it was originally stated that he was a Computer Scientist, then you would be correct in your statement that CmdrTaco is not a Computer Scientist (well, as far as I know ... Taco may have indeed graduated with a CS degree).

Not all CS grads are programmers (some go into that branch of hell known as "consultancy") and not all programmers need to be CS grads (recall the COBOL "boot camps" that would teach you how to "fix" the Y2K bugs in 6 weeks w/o any prior coding experience).


-FlashfireUVA
*insert favorite witticism here*

Good faith (1)

pra9ma (315554) | more than 13 years ago | (#436496)


"'While we prefer to resolve these types of disputes without litigation, we felt we have no other choice but to assert our intellectual property rights in courts. In addition to filing the lawsuits, Sunonwealth has sent major computer and electronic equipment manufacturers and distributors letters demanding that they cease and desist from infringing Sunonwealth's patents.'

Sure its nice to poke fun at what may seem as minimal as a fan after all, you could just open up your case, slide it next to an air conditioner or create your own jigsawed case with multiple fans blowing from all sides.

Fact: this company has every right to sue since they have the patents over the product.

Fact: they did try to resolve it without resorting to going the legal route which did not work.

Fact: ADDA has created a 'misleading public record' of the patent case filed against ADDA

If it were your own thought which someone was stealing and you were losing money you would be just as upset, so why parody the company for being concerned over what ALL companies underlying factor is business.

irreverency [3520147914]

You mean a script like this, Taco? (2)

Sludge (1234) | more than 13 years ago | (#436498)

I mean this link here [bbspot.com]

Apollogies if this was on slashdot already, I must have missed it.

*snicker* (2)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 13 years ago | (#436499)

Are you kidding? To lawyers and corporations, lawsuits like this are a breeze. As long as they get paid, they'll be "fans" of this.


-----------------------------
1,2,3,4 Moderation has to Go!

Re:suing? (2)

Juggle (9908) | more than 13 years ago | (#436501)

What are ya a communist? You think we designed this legal system for fun or something?

[God, I hope someone else has a sense of humor like mine]

Re:Lets not go overboard... (2)

Surak (18578) | more than 13 years ago | (#436504)

Wait a minute...reading what is supposed to be "patented", these are things that have been in common use for quite a while now...they patented something that could be learned in any basic course on physics.

Besides, isn't this fighting over something that's pretty stupid anyways? I mean, who really pays that much attention to their CPU fans anyways? No matter what kind I buy, they seem to last about a year and then the bearings go out in them in. And most of these off-the-shelf pieces of crap you buy at CompUSA or Best Buy or places like that don't even have CPU fans. They're able to get to that sub-$1000 price point by cutting corners, and one place they cut corners is the CPU fan...they just put a nice big heat sink on it and hope that'll be good enough. They figure if your system has random crashes and you're buying one of those (meaning you usually a consumer), you won't give a rats ass...most of those pieces of junk have random crashes, hangs, reboots, BSODs, etc. because of inadequate CPU cooling.

CmdrTaco's cut (2)

turg (19864) | more than 13 years ago | (#436505)

but if the patenter gave CT a cut, they would be acknowledging the existance of this story -- which would be prior art.

Re:Now hang on. (2)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 13 years ago | (#436506)

Ahhh. Doh! That is, indeed, very stupid.

Presumably ADDA simply don't have enough money to make suing them worthwhile. Next time I'll save some bandwidth for vital Napster traffic.

Dave

The sad thing is . . . (2)

AntiFreeze (31247) | more than 13 years ago | (#436509)

The USPO issues patents for business ideas.
Taco, just rewrite your idea starting with "The method of . . ." and submit the patent.

If you think I'm kidding, you are sadly mistaken.


---

Its really simple. (2)

Restil (31903) | more than 13 years ago | (#436510)

As patents go.

If you build a mousetrap you can patent it. Nobody else can DUPLICATE your mousetrap and sell it while the patent is active. However, it does not prevent anyone else from creating their own mousetraps or even improving on your model. You can't patent the concept of a mousetrap, only the exact mousetrap.

You can't patent an icon, although I could imagine granting a patent for a specific icon design. Mac icons are typically different than windows icons. If its THAT damned important, then fine. Patent the damn thing. But I can still create my own icons. They can still serve the same function. You can't deny me that.

A specific algorithm? I suppose. All algorithms that produce a specific effect? Nope.

Of course, this probably isn't the way it is, and its not even the way I'd like it to be. But it does to some degree make sense.

Then again, I'm in the process of installing windows, so my mental condition at the moment is questionable, so please disregard this comment.

-Restil

Patents? What defines a patent? (2)

tomcrooze (33802) | more than 13 years ago | (#436511)

These patents are based on things that can be inferred from a high-school textbook. It's true that some of these lawsuits/patent wars are simply silly.

Let's say that I heard about the Venturi effect in a physics course. Can I go patent the Venturi (sucking/swirling) effect in motorcycle carburetors, and force Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Harley-Davidson, and other motorcycle makers to pay me for royalties?

Tell me this isn't similar to using heat sinks with waves and cutouts so as to increase surface area and heat dissipation efficiency?

Re:Hmm (2)

lizrd (69275) | more than 13 years ago | (#436513)

What, the legal system or the WWWF?

Ok, you know that you're a geek when you can't type only 2 W's in a row. :)
_____________

Software patents are the enemy, folks... (2)

twivel (89696) | more than 13 years ago | (#436519)

Ok guys, other than bad business practices, like rambus being on a standards committee and not revealing their patents, hardware patents aren't the problem.

Hardware patents indeed provide a meaningful purpose still - and they promote innovation. They provide investors with a return on their money for developing new hardware and financing the setup of a manufacturing plant.
Software patents are our enemy. If we want people to listen to us, we have to at least be consistent. --
Twivel

This has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard (2)

Kreeblah (95092) | more than 13 years ago | (#436520)

Not on one count, but on two. First, who cares? They're just fans. Second:

> Sunonwealth Electric Machine Industry's suit stems from alleged patent violations of one of the company's competitors, which sells miniature fans that Creative and nVidia incorporate into graphics cards as GPU coolers.

Uh, why not go after the company that makes the infringing fans instead of the companies that use them? It makes no more sense for them to go after Creative and nVidia than it would for them to go after the consumers that use the cards with the offending fans.

Re:The best way (2)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#436522)

The best way to settle all of these law suits is for all of the lawyers to fight it out with clubs and other blunt objects.

This is just stupid. Lawsuits like this are not generally the fault of the lawyers; they're the fault of the business guys. The lawyers don't just say, "Hey, let's sue somebody today." Their bosses decide to sue somebody as a business decision, and they send the lawyers to do the dirty work. If you make lawsuits into deathmatches between the lawyers, all you'll get are big, hulking, dumb lawyers who look like they belong in the WWF and are good at pulverizing people. If you really want to cut down on suits like this, make the CEOs duke it out when the companies get involved in a lawsuit. They're the ones who are making the decision to sue, after all, so you want them to suffer the consequences of frivolous lawsuits.

Remember, lawyers most often get paid for their time in court, getting ready for court, etc. Therefore, it is in their best interest, not the interest of their clients, to have long and protracted legal disputes. They get paid either way.

Not really. Most corporations have their legal people on staff, so they're going to collect their salary whether they're in a lawsuit or not. We're not talking about personal injury lawyers, here. When that isn't the case, the plaintif's attorney's often get a percentage of the settlement rather than an hourly fee, so they get the best return on their time if they get a fast settlement, rather than a drawn out case where they might wind up with nothing.

Re:Now hang on. (2)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#436523)

nVidia isn't being sued because they're making infringing fans, but because they're buying fans from a company (ADDA) that is allegedly infringing another company's patent (Sunonwealth).

Not quite. nVidia and Creative aren't being sued for buying the fans, they're being sued for importing them. Reading between the lines a bit here, it sounds as though ADDA is probably making and selling the fans in a country that has very weak, if any, patent protection. If they don't directly do business somewhere that does have strong patent protection, Sunonwealth can't get results by suing them directly, because they won't be able to collect on any judgment that they win. The article makes it sound as though that's already happened, in fact. Instead they have to go after the companies that buy the fans and import them into countries that do have strong patent laws. This is like suing a company that imports illegal copies of DVDs; you can't sue the people doing the copying because the country where they're based will laugh at you, so you have to go after the importer.

making do without fans (2)

_|()|\| (159991) | more than 13 years ago | (#436525)

fans cool your processor. Try making do without them.

Fans cool the latest 50 W processors from AMD and Intel. Fans cool overclocked beasts like the NVIDIA (TNT|GeForce) [12] Ultra.

The G4 Cube makes do without a fan. My K6-3+ can probably do without one, although the power supply is not immune.

Re:This has to be the stupidest thing I've ever he (2)

Dusabre (176445) | more than 13 years ago | (#436526)

They're just fans...well those fans cool your processor. Try making do without them. And a lot of people make a living designing and building the fans. Fans are just another of those millions of tiny mechanisms that make modern life just about about bearable.

Hmm (2)

glowingspleen (180814) | more than 13 years ago | (#436527)

That would be great, but if all the gigantic muscle-bound highly paid killers became lawyers, who would play professional sports and entertain us?

Unless of course we just televised the deathmatches...yeah, that's entertaining enough. And we'd always have the XFL to fall back on (heh)

Re:Hmm (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#436528)

Personally, I think clubs aren't quite the way to go. The arguments would just be heavy and blunt. Now with swords, you have the cut and thrust of debate, the deadly riposte, the parry, the defensive stance etc.

The point being, of course, is to thin their numbers.

or maybe we could have truth in advertising by deciding all court cases in the WWWF.

It can't be any worse than it is now.

This might even have potential

Re:Of Toilets and Engineering... (2)

RadioHacker (235787) | more than 13 years ago | (#436537)

Yes, those simple looking ceramic fixtures now do the same work as their 20 year old cousins,
but with less than 1/5 the waste water, and probably 1/100 the water that was used by the Romans.


Yeah, but I bet the Romans didn't get skid marks...

Re:Patents? What defines a patent? (2)

TekkonKinkreet (237518) | more than 13 years ago | (#436538)

Usefulness, obviousness, and absense of prior art. Is there a clear application, is it trivial, and has someone else already discovered it?

Unfortunately the process pits domain experts and highly paid lawyers against underpaid patent examiners with an impossible mandate.

So would somebody please suggest a workable alternative, perhaps akin to peer review?

Not everyone at once, now...

Re:Lets not go overboard... (2)

popular (301484) | more than 13 years ago | (#436539)

I don't know if there is anything particularly special about Sunon fans over other brands, but I do know that Panasonic's Panaflo line of fans, particularly the 80L1A, manage to consume less power and pump more air than any other fans, decibel for decibel. It has something to do with their *cough* patented bearing technology.

Some specialty cooling shops carry most/all of their lightweight plastic line, and you can probably find a bunch of the heavy duty aluminum ones at surplus stores like Ax-Man [ax-man.com] in the Twin Cities area. Ooh, I love that place.

--

Now hang on. (3)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 13 years ago | (#436541)

We are not talking about a couple of people in their back rooms making water cooling kits, flogging them across the net and suing each other over - I dunno - a proprietary hose clip or something.

This is nVidia who are having their arses kicked. What they've done is pulled a fan apart, copied it, and made their own to save, what, US$0.10 per unit on graphics cards that are US$200 - 300 - upwards? And don't forget these things are a shedload more expensive outside the US.

Tightarses, honestly. Fuck'em. Sue their sorry backsides off.

Dave

Re:I patent... the stone hammer! (3)

adolf (21054) | more than 13 years ago | (#436542)

Obviously, you've never used a Sunon fan. I got one in the power supply of the XT I purchased in 1987. It has been spinning more-or-less continuously since that time, without episode.

Not all fans are that good. My last (and I do mean -last-) purchase of a pre-made PC included PSU and CPU fans which each died within two months of use.

I have no doubt that a 7-year-old is capable of designing and building a fan which does in fact work. I have a great deal of doubt that such an apparatus would continue to work 14 years later.

There are at least a few things about metallurgy, magnetics, lubrication and airflow which are neither obvious nor easy to understand, but are certainly required for engineering an efficient, well-designed, and long-lasting fan.

Those who believe anything different are those who are entirely responsible for the fact that most fans sold as computer parts today are complete shit.

Well I can't say... (3)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#436543)

that I'm a very big fan of this!!! oh, I kill me!

Re:Now hang on. (3)

moonsammy (65351) | more than 13 years ago | (#436544)

Did you read the article? nVidia isn't being sued because they're making infringing fans, but because they're buying fans from a company (ADDA) that is allegedly infringing another company's patent (Sunonwealth).

I really don't understand how it is that nVidia and Creative can be held liable - the court has not yet found in the plaintiff's favor, so the two companies buying the allegedly infringing fans aren't breaking any laws. Using bad judgement maybe, but that's all. Can the people who *use* cards with allegedly infringing fans also be sued? I don't see how nVidia is sue-able any more than I am for having a card that uses the fan.

The patents (3)

Argy (95352) | more than 13 years ago | (#436545)

"Sunonwealth has made huge investments in developing..." blah blah blah.

I'm don't really understand what their patent covers, but my best guess is the idea of making notches on a circuit board with which to align and mount a small fan and associated sensor (and I'm not sure what the sensor does, except that it can turn the fan on). It would be interesting to have a company representative translate their patent claims into language a layperson could understand.

5,967,763 [164.195.100.11] Positioning devices for a sensor element of a miniature fan

A positioning device for a miniature fan includes a coil seat including a number of annularly spaced poles each having a radially extending stem and a circumferential arcuate section. Each stem has a winding wound therearound, and each arcuate section has a first end edge and a second end edge. A circuit board is securely connected to the coil seat and includes a sensor element mounted thereon. The sensor element is located on a vertical line extending from one of the first end edge and the second end edge of one of the poles.

6,109,892 [164.195.100.11] Positioning device for a sensor element of a miniature fan

A positioning device for a miniature fan includes a coil seat having an axle tube, an upper polar plate assembly, a lower polar plate assembly, and a winding mounted between the upper polar plate assembly and the lower polar plate assembly. A circuit board is mounted to the axle tube and includes a sensor element for activating a rotor. The sensor element is located on a vertical line extending from an end edge of the lower polar plate assembly along a direction parallel to a longitudinal axis of the axle tube.

6,114,785 [164.195.100.11] Positioning device for a sensor element of a miniature fan

A positioning device for a miniature fan includes a coil seat having an axle tube, an upper polar plate assembly, a lower polar plate assembly, and a winding mounted between the upper polar plate assembly and the lower polar plate assembly. A circuit board is mounted to the axle tube and includes a sensor element for activating rotor. The sensor element is located on a line extending from an end edge of the upper polar plate assembly along a direction parallel to a longitudinal axis of the axle tube.

Re:This has to be the stupidest thing I've ever he (3)

L. J. Beauregard (111334) | more than 13 years ago | (#436546)

It makes no more sense for them to go after Creative and nVidia than it would for them to go after the consumers that use the cards with the offending fans.

35 USC section 271 [cornell.edu] (a):

Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes,
uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

(emphasis added)

Yes, if this patent holds up in court, Sunonwealth could theoretically sue you for using one of the cards with one of the fans in question! It's just not usually practical to sue the end users.


--
Ooh, moderator points! Five more idjits go to Minus One Hell!
Delenda est Windoze

Re:I patent... the stone hammer! (3)

top-dog (158356) | more than 13 years ago | (#436548)

I'm sorry, but you can hardly call the speeds at which these fans rotate as "high speed." (Now if they only would make a turbine fan for a processor, that would be cool. :) ) Any 7 year old with a miniature motor kit could build one of these fans. Also, what is the most unreliable component in your system? The hard drive... The monitor... The processor or memory... No. The numerous fans throughout your system. I don't know how many fans I have replaced, but I can assure you it is more than the combined totals of the hard drives and memory. Do you work for these guys? Sorry. Your comment makes a small fan sound like an engineering feat, when it isn't.

Fan tech (3)

yardgnome (190624) | more than 13 years ago | (#436549)

We take them for granted, but just think about what a chipset fan does...Runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (at least mine does), makes almost no noise, and only wears out after several years. That's at least 17,250 hours of use, continually spinning at 7200rpm.

Now consider that out of all the fan manufacturers, Sunon is well-known as a one of the best, supplying not only normal fans, but also ultra-high-output and/or super-quiet varieties.

Scoff scoff, just a fan.
And CmdrTaco is "just a programmer."

---

Predatation (3)

RandomPeon (230002) | more than 13 years ago | (#436550)

I don't think anyone agrees that patents should be completely abolished

Some people would disagree.

Either way, the real issue is the predatory practice. I patent something, wait until everybody else uses or develops the same technology and then I slap them with an infringement lawsuit.

This is pretty much blackmail, because it's not like the defendants can change the technology. They invested an awful lot of money in a technology they can't use anymore and they'll have to pay through the nose in 'royalties' to the so-called innovator.

This may not be the case here, but there are way too many examples. Rambus allowed SDRAM to become a memory standard and then decided it had a patent on it. AltaVista has just discovered it owns the very concept of a search engine. BT has decided after decades that it invented hyperlinks and is entitled to compensation from everybody. Gaming the system has gotten out of hand. Anytime some company sues the entire industry there's something suspicious up.

rsg (4)

startled (144833) | more than 13 years ago | (#436551)

Someone needs to write a perl script to take this story, and s/x/y/g the names and technologies, and then feed every company and technology into it.

I know it's been mentioned before, but there's something better-- it covers far more than just patent lawsuits. That's right, folks, the slashdot story generator [bbspot.com] .

Lets not go overboard... (5)

smoondog (85133) | more than 13 years ago | (#436553)

I know that there are some wierd patent lawsuits on /., but where do we draw the line between good business and unfair maliciousness? I don't think anyone agrees that patents should be completely abolished, so somethings are patentable. Although it seems a little late for pushing for patent violation on the fan issue, we should definately try to keep in mind that some patents are real and should be respected.

-Moondog

Why the hostility Cmdr Taco? (5)

Carnage4Life (106069) | more than 13 years ago | (#436554)

I think it's rather insulting for Taco to assume that there are no innovations going on in the world of PC components and simply lump these patents with the other crap we've seen on Slashdot (i.e. Altavista search engine patent, Amazon 1-click, etc). That said, I suggest reading the patents and deciding if they are frivolous or obvious to you (after all you make hardware right?).
  1. US5967763: Positioning devices for a sensor element of a miniature fan [delphion.com]

  2. US6109892: Positioning device for a sensor element of a miniature fan [delphion.com]

  3. US6114785: Positioning device for a sensor element of a miniature fan [delphion.com]

Now it looks like they patented various iterations of a sensor element attached to a fan. To me it seems frivolous on the surface, but since I'm not into PC components I'm not a 100% sure since evrything seems obvious in hind sight.

What if they DESERVE the patent??? (5)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 13 years ago | (#436555)

Has ANYONE (ok, I know at least one person has) considered the possiblity that Sunonwealth has actually patented new and significant technology, and that's what they're trying to protect? Is it just SLIGHTLY possible that ADDA, who has a really big black mark in the patent law courts already, might have infringed a valid and worthwhile patent again?

Come on people, at least find out what the patent is about before damning a company to the lowest depths of hell for defending it.

Re:I patent... the stone hammer! (5)

Dusabre (176445) | more than 13 years ago | (#436556)

What about constant operation high rotation speed motor coupled to heat resistant framework and resilient blade? What about a mechanism that is constantly working to keep your processor working, hardly ever breaks and doesn't shatter into millions of pieces despite spinning round and round for years exposed to temperature extremes. This is your typical piece of high quality engineering that you may believe anybody can make because its concept is so simple, but its the implementation that requires a professional and patentable approach. Engineers and designers deserve some respect, patents are the legalised form of that respect. I don't see any patented software or idea or obvious prior art silliness in this story, it really shouldn't be on slashdot, unless normal patent law suits are slashdot worthy.
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