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Apple Patents Wireless Charging

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the puts-the-cancer-right-in-your-ear dept.

Patents 253

GabriellaKat writes "Via El Reg: 'Apple is trying to patent wireless charging, claiming its magnetic resonance tech is new and that it can do it better than anyone else. This would be cool if its assertions were true. Apple's application, numbered 20120303980, makes much of its ability to charge a device over the air at a distance of up to a meter, rather than requiring close proximity. The Alliance For Wireless Power, which also touts long-range juicing, will no doubt be comparing Apple's designs to its own blueprints.'"

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253 comments

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Worlds Gone Mad (4, Interesting)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177347)

Haven't they seen that there are already wireless charging standards???

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (5, Funny)

Leinad177 (2708661) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177353)

"Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal"

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (3, Informative)

Issarlk (1429361) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177357)

Your point being?

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177905)

being if they pull it off, kudos to apple.

I Don't Want To Be Part of Your Fucking Ecosystem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178127)

"Music, movies, TV, and podcast subscriptions. All tied up in Apple's little ecosystem. A very pretty noose to keep people chained to its hardware.

Imagine, just for a moment, that your Sony DVD player would only play Sony Movies' films. When you decided to buy a new DVD player from Samsung, none of those media files would work on your new kit without some serious fiddling.

That's the walled garden that so many companies are now trying to drag us into. And I think it stinks.

On a mobile phone network in the UK, you can use any phone you want. Hardware and services are totally divorced. It promotes competition because customers know that if they have a poor experience with HTC, they can move to Nokia and everything will carry on working just as it did before.

But, if all of your contacts, entertainment services, and backups are chained into HTC - well, then you're just shit out of luck if you want to move.

I want to see a complete separation of church and state here. Hardware should be separate from software. Software should be separate from services.

I want to watch Nokia movies on my Samsung hardware running Google's Android, and then back them up to DropBox.

That's how it works - more or less - in the PC space. I don't understand why it doesn't in the tablet and smartphone space? Why would I buy a tablet that only worked with content from one provider? Whether that's Amazon, Microsoft or Apple - it's setting up a nasty little monopoly which will drive up prices and drive down quality.

I know, I know. The mantra of "It Just Works". I'm mildly sick of having to configure my tablet to talk to my NAS, and then get the TV to talk to both of them. That situation isn't just due to my equipment all coming from different manufacturers - it's mostly due to those manufacturers not implementing open standards.

http://shkspr.mobi/blog/2012/11/i-dont-want-to-be-part-of-your-fucking-ecosystem/ [shkspr.mobi]

Researchers Find New Mac Keylogging Trojan on Site (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178299)

"Dockster is a recently discovered Mac-based malware program that functions as a keylogger, among other things. It’s also a trojan, which means it can hide on a host computer quietly recording every keystroke before it contacts a remote server for further instructions. Dockster is considered “low risk,” but it has been found embedded on gyalwarinpoche.com–a site dedicated to the Dalai Lama."

http://betabeat.com/2012/12/researchers-find-new-mac-keylogging-trojan-on-site-about-dalai-lama/ [betabeat.com]

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177369)

It really doesn't matter if it's been invented before or whether it's original or in fact even an invention at all. Indeed none of the rules that should apply to patents actually apply to patents.
All that matters is that the overworked patent-checking drone at the patent office puts hit stamp of approval on it and you're ready to retroactively sue anybody into a settlement deal.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (5, Funny)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177457)

Great. With a bit of luck my new pending patent "Wheel" is on the way to be approved.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (4, Funny)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177481)

That could work [newscientist.com] , though having a patent as prior art might make it easy enough top find that even a patent clerk can.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (4, Funny)

dimeglio (456244) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177599)

If it's a better wheel, I'm really excited but I've got a feeling you're being sarcastic.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177627)

Great. With a bit of luck my new pending patent "Wheel" is on the way to be approved.

Apple has the patent, it's called the continuous rounded unicorner.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177727)

You forgot to include "for mobile devices". That's why their claim is valid.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (2)

stepdown (1352479) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177761)

You jest but there was an Australian patent [wikipedia.org] granted for a "Circular Transportation Facilitation Device" in 2001.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (4, Funny)

flappinbooger (574405) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177883)

Great. With a bit of luck my new pending patent "Wheel" is on the way to be approved.

call it the iWheel and make it look all hip and trendy and you might have a chance there.

Just not too hip and trendy or Apple might whine about it and sue you.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178337)

This must be the square wheel with rounded corners.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178473)

I'm sure there are lots of patents on wheels. With a little bit of thought, you could probably come up with a lot of ways to make wheels perform better in certain situations, such as having more strength for less mass. Just a quick search yielded a bicycle wheel [google.com] patented in 2002. But that's OK, with me, because its' a specific way of arranging the spokes, more precisely, with spokes from each side meeting at the same place on the rim. Anybody else is free to use the old method of arranging the spokes. That's also why I'm fine with this Apple wireless charging patent. It describes a specific method of charging devices wirelessly. None of the old methods infringe because they don't use the same method. Anything you, or I can come up with that improves on their method is also not in violation of the patent. Sure Apple has some stupid patents, but this isn't one of them.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178049)

How are they going to sue Nikola Tesla? Cad of a man, inventing the whole damned concept 100 years ago.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (5, Interesting)

l3v1 (787564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178357)

- U.S. Patent 0,685,954 - Method of Utilizing Effects Transmitted through Natural Media - 1899 August 1
- U.S. Patent 0,685,953 - Apparatus for Utilizing Effects Transmitted from a Distance to a Receiving Device through Natural Media - 1899 June 24
and so on and so forth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nikola_Tesla_patents)

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177371)

Apple's patent application was filed in November 2010, before the alliance was established

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (3, Funny)

bjwest (14070) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177451)

So this [wikipedia.org] never happened because "the alliance" had yet to be established?

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (4, Informative)

Dupple (1016592) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177571)

Really doesn't matter when the application was made. It still hasn't been granted.

WiPower got a patent on this stuff that's unpatentable back in 2008

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=8,169,185&OS=8,169,185&RS=8,169,185 [uspto.gov]

Surely there was enough prior art for that patent to be questionable as well

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178355)

How about MIT in 2007 [mit.edu] ? This one works over two meters. Would Apple be guilty of patenting an inferior implementation?

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177373)

Haven't they seen that there are already wireless charging standards???

Of course they've seen them, now they want to own them. This is how it worked before.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177383)

Standards are for losers. Winners force proprietary systems into the market to further enhance their dominance.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (3, Insightful)

pbjones (315127) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177459)

worked for MS, should work for Apple.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177817)

Nice try at changing the subject, fanboi

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177895)

Maybe you should point out the patent numbers so we can verify your claim chucked from left field.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (2)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178163)

He wasn't talking about patents, he was talking about closed proprietary standards such as office documents (even OpenXML isn't that open) , or the HTML rendering behaviour of IE.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (5, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177561)

The fact that there are wireless standards doesn't mean no-one can come up with a new way of doing this, and subsequently patenting it. Also they do not patent "wireless charging" which, in itself, would be hard to patent - they patent a method of wireless charging using some magnetic coupling trick. And they claim they have a new way of doing this, and as such it may very well be innovative and patentable.

But well, like the summary and your outright uninformed comment the rest of the discussion here will be "patent troll hurr hurr". The first few comments that I see here are already like that, predicably.

I skimmed through the patent text, can't tell what is new and what is old. That part would require quite some deeper study, and requires understanding of the whole field. Sensationalism like from El Reg and copied by Slashdot is simply stupid. If you have read and understand the patent, and there is nothing in it that was not invented yet at the application date, please come back and let me know exactly why the patent is faulty. Please also send the same comments to the patent office, so this application may be rejected.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (3, Insightful)

mrbester (200927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177625)

"That part would require quite some deeper study, and requires understanding of the whole field."

Something the patent office never claims to have, even when presented with it. So this will get approved and the merry-go-round can start again.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178105)

The patent office of course can not hire experts in every single field. Vetting patents is difficult, and with technology getting more and more advanced it's getting harder to know all the little details. Having them know everything there is to know about everything, that's impossible and not reasonable.

The way it should work (don't know actual practice) is that if there is a real issue of not being innovative, then third parties may notify the patent office of just that, including relevant references and explanation, and the patent office invalidates the patent if they think it's indeed so.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (-1, Flamebait)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177917)

The problem is that Apple is a patent troll, meaning they will use their legitimate and illegitimate patents alike to batter competitors over the head with. If Apple gets this patent it will create a chilling effect on the tech industry, where any innovator will have to consider the cost of defending themselves against Apple's basically infinite legal resources.

We need a new rule that once you become a patent troll all your patents become invalid and you don't get to play any more.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (5, Insightful)

nyctopterus (717502) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177977)

The problem is that Apple is a patent troll [...]

No, Apple is a patent bully. They make products, or intend to make products, that utilise their patents. They also make that vast majority of their money on actual products, not litigation. Neither of these things is consistent with a patent troll.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178427)

Correct. It should also be clear to everybody with a rational noodle at this point that Apple intends to seek a monopoly in the smartphone space by means of the State apparatus (chiefly the unworkable patent process). Judging by the way they're behaving in Europe, any imposed regulation due to this status will pushed off and perhaps half-implemented over time (there's more profit in paying the piddling fines and pushing ahead with vigor).

The current system incentivizes this type of behavior. Any ethical restraints about exploiting this system that Apple had in the past have long since left the equation.

Those who see Apple as the scrappy underdog of 1995, working hard to bring UNIX and open standards to the masses, are trading alertness for nostalgia.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178001)

I skimmed through the patent text, can't tell what is new and what is old.

The new part is the phrase "on a smartphone".

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (2, Interesting)

kenorland (2691677) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178087)

There's nothing technically new in Apple's patent. What the patent is about is using a well-known wireless charging technique to charge a wireless powered local computing environment (as opposed to some other kind of device).

Apple basically missed the boat on wireless power, and now they are trying to grab whatever ridiculous patent they can to have a little bit of leverage.

Hopefully, the rest of the industry will tell them to go take a hike on making compliant products, and then sue Apple into oblivion for violating existing patents.

Lazy people trying to make others do their work (0, Flamebait)

gavron (1300111) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178137)

"I skimmed through the patent text, can't tell what is new and what is old."

Clearly you're not someone who should be evaulating patents.

"...please com back and let me know exactly..."

No. YOU come back and let US know exactly. YOU chose to post here. If you have nothing new to add other than you're lazy, unqualified, and unable to evaluate the talent, you're surely not going to elicit everyone else doing the work to "come back to you" and "give you" the results.

Troll elsewhere. When you have something to contribute y'all come on back here.

Ehud
Tucson AZ US

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (4, Insightful)

subreality (157447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177565)

Sure, but patents are for methods, not ideas. I don't know if this patent is a legitimately a new method for wireless charging, but it doesn't matter if other techniques already exist.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178063)

But it's supposed to be for something novel - not just a minor tweak.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178141)

Wireless charging from up to a meter away is hardly a "minor tweak".

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1)

subreality (157447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178159)

But it's supposed to be for something novel - not just a minor tweak.

Why place a lower bound on the degree of novelty? If you patent a minor tweak that no one needs then everyone will just ignore your method and use the original one - which your patent doesn't cover.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1)

Gerinych (1393861) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178419)

That's not the point. The point is, if Apple gets this stuff patented, they could sue other companies for patent infringement because their way (ie. the way everyone else is doing induction charging right) is too similar to Apple's designs. And they could win because the courts are too stupid to understand modern technology.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177701)

I wonder if Tesla could be shown to have produced prior art?
Wouldn't that make funny headlines to rub Apple in the manure?

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178463)

The fact that you probably seriously entertained this way of thinking just shows how little you understand about the patent system. And I'm not talking about the trolling aspect of it either. Even with very narrow definitions in play there is no doubt that what Apple is talking about couldn't have been worked on by Tesla if they are using this as an integration with modern Apple devices.
 
Too many Slashtards with too many opinions and too little thinking. At least you weren't modded up like some asshats around here who displayed (in flying colors) that they have no clue what they're talking about.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177971)

there are already wireless charging standards???

Yes, but they aren't Apple's. Hence, we must need new ones.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1)

Mindbridge (70295) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178111)

I have not looked at the patent application, but based on the description, it appears to me that Apple is trying to patent something similar to what WiTricity [wikipedia.org] is doing, rather than what Tesla has demonstrated. From the WiTricity wiki:

Unlike the far field wireless power transmission systems based on traveling electro-magnetic waves, WiTricity employs near field resonant inductive coupling through magnetic fields similar to those found in transformers except that the primary coil and secondary winding are physically separated, and tuned to resonate to increase their magnetic coupling. These tuned magnetic fields generated by the primary coil can be arranged to interact vigorously with matched secondary windings in distant equipment but far more weakly with any surrounding objects or materials such as radio signals or biological tissue.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178175)

Indeed. Karl Benz set the standards for the ICE and, damnit, it should never be questioned or improved on.
 
I wonder if you're one of those twits who looks at Apple's new releases and cries "Where's teh innovationz!??!?!?111?!?;11?!"
 
Keep your hypocritical head in the sand pal, just like a million other goose stepping fandrones.

Re:Worlds Gone Mad (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178369)

I guess actual products like the Palm Touchstone were just figments of my imagination.

20120303980 Patents (1)

AltF4ToWin (1976486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177393)

Apple owns 20120303977 of them.

Re:20120303980 Patents (2)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177499)

That is not how the american patent numbering system works. The last 4 digits(2012) are the year the patent was filled.

Re:20120303980 Patents (4, Funny)

worip (1463581) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177573)

?ew era, tfel ot thgir gnidaeR

Re:20120303980 Patents (3, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177811)

Clearly he has his endians mixed up.

One little, two little, three little endians, four little, five little six little endians, seven little, eight little, nine little endians, ten little endian bytes.

--
BMO

Re:20120303980 Patents (5, Funny)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178011)

One little, two little, three little endians, four little, five little six little endians, seven little, eight little, nine little endians, 0x0A little endian bytes.

FTFY

Re:20120303980 Patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177649)

Meanwhile, in the year 3980...

Re:20120303980 Patents (1)

AltF4ToWin (1976486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177801)

Touche, America.

Re:20120303980 Patents (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177831)

It all began innocently enough on Tuesday. I was sitting in my office on that drizzly afternoon listening to the monotonous staccato of rain on my desktop, and reading my name on the glass of my office door--"regnaD kciN."

--
BMO

Crystal Radio (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177435)

Wow. In the first claim, they actually claimed a patent on a Crystal Radio. OK - they added the bit about detuning the receiver to identify it to the transmitter, but that technique has been used in just about every RFID product in existence.

Does the USPTO actually employ anyone with an IQ above 50?

Re:Crystal Radio (3, Funny)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177445)

Yes, he's the guy collecting the patent fees.

Re:Crystal Radio (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177465)

The guy spending the fees you mean. The collector doesn't need to be smart. In fact it's best if he's not, otherwise he can start to get creative - one for me, one for you, one for me....

Re:Crystal Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177547)

Does the USPTO actually employ anyone with an IQ above 50?

Do you really need to ask?

Re:Crystal Radio (1, Informative)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177585)

Are there any AC's with an IQ above 50? This is probably the stupidest comment that I have seen here. If you have no clue whatsoever on how patents work, refrain from making these comments. Not all claims have to be unique and innovative, they just describe the complete working and outline of a device.

Re:Crystal Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177635)

This is probably the stupidest comment that I have seen here.

I can see you are new here. Take your time.

Re:Crystal Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177637)

Great, so if I describe the complete working and outline of a wheel I should get a patent on all wheels?
Super.

Perhaps you should clarify what you were trying to say or refrain from posting yourself.

Re:Crystal Radio (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178155)

Someone did get a patent on the wheel [ipaustralia.gov.au] , although they know for a fact it won't stand up in court.

Re:Crystal Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177643)

It's pretty clear you've not read the claims.
They are idiotic. The rest of the claims involve connecting it to a power supply and having the keyboard and mouse in the charge area.

Re:Crystal Radio (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177833)

Have you ever filed a patent? Each individual claim MUST be novel (unique) and not be obvious.

In this case, they slapped two aspects together in one claim, which I suppose does make that claim unique (combination of tuned energy coupling, and reverse comms channel by RF load). But is it non-obvious? Marconi himself observed that variations in the receiver could be observed at the transmitter, To any person versed in the field, this would qualify the combination of the two as 'obvious' and hence invalid.

And yes, I have filed patents (but only in semiconductor physics), and I have built RF powered bidirectional comms devices. And I also 'discovered' that tuning the coils improved energy transfer. And I also detuned the receiver to communicate back to the transmitter. But did I file a patent on it? NO. Why not? Because there was nothing novel in what I did. (And believe me - the university's IP people would have definitely required that I file, if even one person at the department thought it was in any way patentable.

Re:Crystal Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178195)

Here are the rules:
1. USPTO employees must have an IQ 2
2. USPTO employees must accept any claims from Apple.
3. USPTO employees must collect as many fees as they can.

Patent Troll (1, Insightful)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177471)

Is any of Apple's current product capable of wireless charging? Did they develop any of the technology, as in doing the research?

Re:Patent Troll (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177743)

It is only a Patent Troll when they sue while they don't have any products.
That is why a troll is dangerous because you can not sue them back for violation of your patents.

Since Apple has been sued for making products that cover someone patents, they are by definition not a patent troll.

Also Apple has not yet sued anyone for using wireless charging either. And maybe they sue after they have released their own product.

Re:Patent Troll (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177793)

These days patents are only used for stopping others from doing something.

Re:Patent Troll (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178231)

That is all that patents have ever been used for since their inception. It is their primary function. Their side effect is spreading of knowledge (the eventual purpose).

Re:Patent Troll (2, Interesting)

KillaBeave (1037250) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177805)

Is any of Apple's current product capable of wireless charging? Did they develop any of the technology, as in doing the research?

Nah. The new Lumia and Nexus 4 can do wireless charging. Those happen to be Microsoft and Google's flagship phones. Apple's phones don't do it yet, so they want to sue this competitive disadvantage out of existence. I guess they are unable to compete otherwise ...

If you own AAPL ... it may be time to start selling it off and taking your gains.

Re:Patent Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178435)

Apple patents tech when it's reasonably well developed, not when it's brought to market. Often there are years between patent and product, if any product ever comes out of the research. There's a community of Apple fanatics who read every patent they file to try to anticipate future product releases, usually not very successfully. For example, Apple designed a connector for the old "clippy" iPod Nano where you'd clip it into a little bar, and there would be power/data contacts on the clip and the bar. Said iPod Nano design has since been retired, without getting a clippy dock.

Yes, they do research and development. Their expendature is on the order of a billion dollars per annum.

120 years late? (0, Redundant)

PincheCobardeAnonimo (2737159) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177487)

Tesla was wirelessly transmitting power 120 or so years ago. Search "tesla wireless power transmission" Oh, but he wasn't charging a cellphone. And it's Apple. Never mind, patent granted...

Re:120 years late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177539)

Have you actually taken the time to read the paten application and its 'claims'?

If you have not done so then please stop trolling.

If you had taken the time you might have actually added some information to the discussion.

Here is a question for you.

Toyota have a whole buch of patents relating to Automatic Transmission (CVT). They were not the first to demo this technique so how could the USPTO grant them patents on something with so much prior art?

One part of the answer is that they have improved the methods by which the optimum transmission efficiency is meansured and controlled.

I would expect that the same applies here. It seems that apple have found a way to regluate the charging of multiple devices that is different to other methods. But that fact alone won't stop the trolling of anything Apple do.

Re:120 years late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178093)

It seems that apple have found a way to regluate the charging of multiple devices that is different to other methods. But that fact alone won't stop the trolling of anything Apple do.

Or fanboi's like you from coming on here and posting multiple bitchy responses.

Different isn't the measure they have to live up to. It has to not only be different, but in a significant fashion, and not only that but in a way which is non-obvious to an expert in the field of study.

Maybe they have something truly patent worthy- I don't know. But Apple is well-known for firing off a slew of patent applications in the hopes that one squeezes past the clerks and sticks long enough for them to sue the competition. Usually they can get some kind of injunction against a competitor just long enough to take away a market advantage, then when the PTO and courts finally toss the patent in the trash Apple shrugs and walks off. The intent is usually not to actually gain a legitimate patent, you see, but rather to (ab)use the patent process as a tool to gain a market advantage or eliminate a shortcoming.

The reason we're seeing so many of these types of stories (not just regarding Apple) lately is because the rules are changing very soon. It will quickly become a "first to file" system instead of the current "first to invent". As it stands right now, as long as Apple can show that they had something in secret prior to anyone else, they can patent it even if someone else has already been granted a patent, and not only get control of the other patent but sue others for infringement. Even when it's not likely that they'll actually be able to take a case that far, as I stated earlier the goal is to gain an injunction against competition to either gain a market advantage or eliminate their own disadvantage. In this case, they are latecomers into the wireless charging and I would bet good money that we soon see a suit to halt sales of the competition's new wireless charging cell phones... by the time the courts finally invalidate the patent, Apple will have their own device ready to sell. And on the off-chance the courts uphold it they'll make a ton of money off the others' products. It's a win-win situation. But very soon they won't be able to use such tricks, such applications will be thrown out because of existing patents, and it'll just cost them money. So they're rushing to hit as many products as possible before the deadline.

Re:120 years late? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177575)

Please explain exactly how Tesla's invention is covered by the claims in this patent. That would be enlightening.

Re:120 years late? (5, Informative)

michael_rendier (2601249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177699)

Tesla's main secret with most of his work was harmonic resonance. The Tesla coil is a resonant coil, and his studies were clear that resonance would increase the distance that wireless transmissions could occur. One of his experiments used this very concept, and caused some damage to a power plant in Colorado Springs...resonating and amplifying the electricity collected from the earth moving through it's own atmosphere and discharging it into the ground in such quantities that it burned out a dynamo at the local power plant... http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/ll_colspr.html [pbs.org]

Re:120 years late? (2, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177731)

Please explain exactly how Tesla's invention is covered by the claims in this patent.

No. Really, every so often a patent comes up in my area of expertise where I think "hmm that sounds interesting or realy basic", and I take the effort to plough through. An example being google's ridiculous unlocking using face recognition patent. After ploughing through some very obfuscated and incredibly turgid language (I posted a point by point rebuttal on /. about that one) I find that my suspicions are confirmed and the patent is stupid, obvious and not even remotely new using even the most generous interpretation possible.

I know a fair bit about electrical and electronic engineering, but not enough to make ploughing though the patent anything other than exceptionally time consuming.

Given the general ridiculousness of patents, the propensity of large companies like Apple (by no means the only offender, but the one in question in this case) to submit patent applications on trivial things, and the VERY long history of wireless energy transfer at this point, I feel that the default position is that the patent should have never been awarded or even applied for and the onus is on anyone else claiming otherwise.

That would be enlightening.

Possibly, but if you've ever read a patent, they are usually anything but :)

Re:120 years late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178075)

Basically they have stolen the boots off a dead man.

They can also patent time travel (2)

PhilDEE (1016409) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177515)

Let me fire up my somewhat used Tesla coil.

What will they call it? (2)

ipquickly (1562169) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177569)

My money is on:
Apple 'Reality Distortion Field'.

Apple (1)

ArrayIndexOutOfBound (694797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177639)

Aggressive bitches. What about Nokia 920?

Why not just make microwavable devices . . . ? (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177673)

You know, just pop them in the microwave @1000 Watts for five minutes, and they are then fully charged. You have to remember to turn off the device first.

We already have microwavable popcorn, and microwave ovens can also be used to warm small pets, and almost every household has one already. US military specs probably already require microwave proof equipment, so those components could be used. All you need to do is to make a battery that can be charged by microwaves. Well, it sure will get hot in the oven, so maybe the heat will help somehow. Batteries always get hot when charging, so it's the heat that charges.

Maybe.

But please don't tell Apple! They will patent the idea! And then we will all have to buy iWaveOvens to charge our devices!

Not again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177677)

You're most likely a horrible person if you still support this company.

Title should be "US Patent office grants Apple..." (0)

olddoc (152678) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177691)

I'm disgusted at Apple for trying to patent this, but I am even more troubled by the US Patent Office for approving and granting them the patent. It is the Patent Office that needs to be reigned in here, along with Apple and all the other tech companies trying to patent rectangles and lights placed in PCs.

Scratching my head in utter disbelief (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177751)

I know for sure that there have been body-implantable MEMS devices described in scientific articles dating back to the early '90s. I cannot believe Apple can get a patent on something so old and, at this pint, so obvious.

I am starting to suspect that the USPTO is biased pro-Apple

Re:Scratching my head in utter disbelief (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177795)

They can get a patent on this because it is not the same method as the earlier ones. It is not a patent on "wireless charging". It is a patent on a specific method of wireless charging. That is how patents work.

The up to a meter claim. (2)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177819)

This would require a fairly large 'transmit' antenna.
The problems with near field charging are well known.
The field cannot be focussed effectively, due to the nature of the magnetic field.
the field production efficiency is limited by the size and weight of the transmitter.
Every metal object in the field (which may extend behind/underneath the charger) will 'short out' the field, and take some energy.
Resonance is not magic in any way at all.

For every arrangement of coils, and random debris (keys, ...) in the way, there will be an optimum frequency that results in smallest loss.

As an analogy - you're trying to power a device by jumping up and down on a trampoline, and having a reciever of that motion somewhere on the trampoline.

Other large masses will disrupt the bouncing, and reduce the fraction of power going into your device.

Re:The up to a meter claim. (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177847)

Look up the thread where I reference the TED talk.

--
BMO

As many pointed out Tesla did this a 100+ ago (2)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177821)

Without thoroughly reading their patent application it's impossible to know if there's an actual innovation involved. Although he wasn't charging batteries Tesla was using this process to power devices and over a greater distance than Apple. There's no proof his power transmission tower was ever operational but he was powering a type of florescent light in his workshop using a wireless power source very close to what they just patented. My concern is the process was well known for over a hundred years. I know there were plans to build a length of roadway with embedded coils in LA to power electric cars a couple of decades ago. Multiple car companies have discussed charging cars in garages using this process. Doesn't common knowledge fall under prior art? The equipment may be patentable but the process itself should not be given how established the concept has been for a very long time. It's a little like patenting a process for extracting electricity using photons to split off electrons when photovoltaic cells date back to the 1800s. Long established concepts and processes should not be patentable.

Re:As many pointed out Tesla did this a 100+ ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178459)

"The equipment may be patentable but the process itself should not be"

It's a good thing that they filed a patent on the equipment and not the process, then.

Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177935)

would be so proud!!!

My Get Rich Quick Plan (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178003)

I am going to patent 'obnoxious patenting' and sue Apple for all its worth. Gonna buy me a shiny new jury foreman too. Oh the world is not enough!

Re:My Get Rich Quick Plan (1)

AltF4ToWin (1976486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178333)

Don't forget to patent 'soul stealing' before Apple figure out that's a feature of their new products.

What's next? (1)

jennatalia (2684459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178307)

Wireless breathing?

TFApplication (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178417)

"Without thoroughly reading their patent application it's impossible to know if there's an actual innovation involved."

I know it's considered crass to read the application, but I took a 20 second look at the claims (the claims define the scope of protection). Many posters seem to have spent an order of magnitude longer to express disgust than it would have taken to figure out that this isn't a patent application directed to wireless charging per se.

There are three independent claims.

One independent claim requires that "the device [to be charged] tunes the resonance circuit to at least one of the resonance frequencies of the NFMR power supply and subsequently de-tunes the resonance circuit to provide a device identification to the NFMR power supply using a change in a resonance circuit load factor".

Sounds at least basically clever to me.

The other independent claims are:

3. A battery charging circuit, comprising: a first node arranged to receive wirelessly provided power; a short term charge storage device having a first charge capacity; and a long term storage device having a second charge capacity, wherein the second charge capacity is substantially greater than the first charge capacity, wherein the long term storage device is charged by, (A) storing charge corresponding to the power wirelessly received at the first node into the short term charge storage device, (B) when the stored charge is equal to about the first charge capacity, then passing the stored charge from the short term storage device to the long term storage device, and (C) repeating (A) and (B) until the charge stored in the long term storage device is about equal to the second charge capacity.

and

5. A method of wirelessly transmitting power, comprising: creating a first coupling mode region of an electromagnetic field within a near field of a power supply transmit antenna; coupling the electromagnetic field and a receiver antenna of a first receiver device within the coupling mode region; creating a second coupling mode region of the electromagnetic field different from the first coupling mode region within a near field of a transmit antenna of the first receiver device; coupling the electromagnetic field to a receive antenna of second receiver device in the near field of the transmit antenna of the first receiver device; wirelessly delivering power from the power supply to the first receiver device by way of the power supply transmit antenna using the first coupling mode region of the electromagnetic field; and wirelessly delivering at least some of the power wirelessly delivered to the first receiver device is wirelessly by re-transmitting the at least some power to the second receiver device by way of the first receiver transmit antenna using the second coupling mode region of the electromagnetic field.

In the grim future of /. (1)

Hillgiant (916436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178487)

All posts will have the words "patent" and "Apple".

... Well except for the crudely disguised ads.

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