Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Jun 2012 21:23 UTC
Legal So, the next venue of patent trolling has just been opened. Apple has patented - quite specifically - the wedge shape of the MacBook Air. Not the general design or impression, no - just the wedge shape. This is interesting, because that wedge shape? Hit prior art in 3.2 seconds: the Vaio x505 from 2004. A wedge-shaped, superthin (for its day) laptop - exactly what Apple's design patent claims the company has invented.
Order by: Score:
Whatever happened to the Vaios?
by vaette on Thu 7th Jun 2012 21:31 UTC
vaette
Member since:
2008-08-09

Don't have the time at the moment to look through the patent, and one really should before commenting. These summaries are often misleading.

This however raised another question for me. What happened to Sony? They had those ultrathin and ridiculously desirable Vaios for so many years, why aren't they at the top of the heap of the ultrabooks? The only thing they didn't already do a decade ago was the price. Was it just greed that cost them this market? Something else?

Edited 2012-06-07 21:33 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I can say from my own experience with Vaio laptops is that, while the specs are top notch and the visual design is usually beautiful and unique, the hardware itself is often prone to failure. From failing SODIMM slots to cooling fans that seize up, to LCD inverters that burn out in a few months (fixed when the industry in general moved to LED backlighting), to keyboards that stop responding...

I've had to diagnose and/or repair every one of those issues on Sony laptops over the last eight or so years, the most recent being my sister's old VGN-CS215J that required a new cooling fan a week after it was out of warranty.

I realize that my view might be somewhat skewed as I obviously only work on laptops that need work, but with other brands it's almost always a software issue or damage directly caused by the owner, i.e. dropping a laptop on the corner which cracks the screen, or the cat getting on the keyboard and ripping keys off (thanks, Dad). With Sony devices it's almost always hardware failing prematurely.

All that said, when you have a Vaio running smoothly in front of you it's computing bliss!

Reply Score: 2

bornagainenguin Member since:
2005-08-07

Morgan posited...

I can say from my own experience with Vaio laptops is that, while the specs are top notch and the visual design is usually beautiful and unique, the hardware itself is often prone to failure. From failing SODIMM slots to cooling fans that seize up, to LCD inverters that burn out in a few months (fixed when the industry in general moved to LED backlighting), to keyboards that stop responding...


Don't forget the tricks they played with their various bundleware and crapware in the install which somehow combined with drivers and made the only way to get a clean install to kill the restore of the image and then delete the files before they were installed while in safe mode. SONY is a pain to deal with. I always tell people to avoid them whenever I can.

Not to say that the hardware issues weren't problematic as well, I had a friend who had a SONY laptop fail recently (it was a gift) and it was the LCD screen IIRC, just that there were a whole wreath of problems there in the software as well. What should we expect from the company who brought us the musical rootkit?

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

What should we expect from the company who brought us the musical rootkit?

Not strictly the same company... some people tend to see Sony as this monolithic evil empire, but it's more a relatively loose consortium, with various divisions often almost infighting.

So, yeah, we have shitty software on their laptops or audio rootkit ...and OTOH among the best console libraries of software (also from internal studios), the very nice Sony Vegas (yeah, bought - but they could destroy it in the years since; instead, it greatly improved), or portable audio players (plus mobile phones, e-book readers & shop) which are among most open ones.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

or the cat getting on the keyboard and ripping keys off

What the?...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by smashIt
by smashIt on Thu 7th Jun 2012 22:05 UTC
smashIt
Member since:
2005-07-06

i could be wrong, but didn't the psion netbook have a wedge-like profile?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by smashIt
by M.Onty on Thu 7th Jun 2012 23:58 UTC in reply to "Comment by smashIt"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

I'm staring at one, and its more of a lump shape. A nice lump.

Reply Score: 1

Utility Patent
by umccullough on Thu 7th Jun 2012 22:09 UTC
umccullough
Member since:
2006-01-26

Obviously, it doubles as a cooking utensil:

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/81825167/

Reply Score: 3

USA uncompetitive
by project_2501 on Thu 7th Jun 2012 22:25 UTC
project_2501
Member since:
2006-03-20

The original point of patent protection was to incentivise innovation. To ultimately make the USA an attractive place for business and economic growth.

What we have now is the patent system abused - allowed to be abused by an incompetent patent office - which is stifling innovation and making the USA increasingly unattractive for businesses.

If this continues at the crazy pace this is - the USA will become unattractive, prhibitive for business. At that point the USA will initiate change but probably not before. It'll be the point when US citizen look beyond their borders and see more innovation, choice and economic activity in other countries which have a more sensible approach to patents. They'll look at their own and and realise that an economy of a few super-patent-laden monopolies is not giving them what they thought they deserved as US citizens.

Reply Score: 9

RE: USA uncompetitive
by zima on Thu 14th Jun 2012 23:56 UTC in reply to "USA uncompetitive"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

What we have now is the patent system abused - allowed to be abused by an incompetent patent office

Maybe not incompetent... they were directed - a little less than a decade ago by the then-current US administration, IIRC - to make a profit as an institution (instead of, as is sane for public institutions, to make a "loss" by itself but to bring societal benefits which more than outweigh institutional costs). So of course they'll going to grant tons of frivolous patents, that's the only way for them to be profitable.

It'll be the point when US citizen look beyond their borders and see more innovation, choice and economic activity in other countries which have a more sensible approach to patents. They'll look at their own and and realise that an economy of a few super-patent-laden monopolies is not giving them what they thought they deserved as US citizens.

Don't count on it too much. It's a place already with tons of myths about their "exceptionalism" which don't quite measure up to reality, the "land of opportunity" with its "American dream" ...while, in actual measure of this stuff (social mobility), the US is at the bottom of developed countries (some of the countries popularly derided in the US, so called "nanny states", are at the top BTW).

A place of http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/ratrace.html myths - seems they sort of value "few super-patent-laden monopolies" ...which give conditions where people can dream that they will be one of the few who end up on top.

Reply Score: 2

Maybe...
by thavith_osn on Thu 7th Jun 2012 23:17 UTC
thavith_osn
Member since:
2005-07-11

...Apple just need to "try this on" to protect them against people suing them in the days ahead.

I know Apple has a history of going after people, don't get me wrong, but they also get taken to court as much as anyone else too, so sometimes buying protective clothing is a good idea.

However, on the surface, without delving too deep into the reasons, I'd say this was a crazy move. Maybe the guy in charge of patents at Apple needs to keep his job, so keeps patenting anything that moves?

Reply Score: 1

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Thu 7th Jun 2012 23:20 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

Isn't there more interesting or important news to report than more of this obsessive posting about "patent trolling"? I swear there's more whining about that on here than anything... At least it certainly seems that way.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by Morgan on Fri 8th Jun 2012 00:53 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Where have you been the past few weeks? Thom got off his patent troll tirade a while back; most of the news recently has been Raspberry Pi, Google, Metro, Metro, Metro, Google, and a little Azure.

That said, I don't fancy the second installment of Return of the Patent Trolls either.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by Beta on Fri 8th Jun 2012 15:07 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
Beta Member since:
2005-07-06

Isn't there more interesting or important news to report than more of this obsessive posting about "patent trolling"? I swear there's more whining about that on here than anything... At least it certainly seems that way.


The more patents on basic design elements from a decade a go, the less news we get about new thingsā€¦ because they are all in court, waiting to get approval from a Judge rather than the community.

Reply Score: 6

The "wedge shape"?
by smilie on Fri 8th Jun 2012 00:11 UTC
smilie
Member since:
2006-07-19

Of any computer or electronics? I seem to recall a wedge shaped computer in the 1980s. I know there was a wedge shaped stereo system component in the late 1970s.

Reply Score: 4

Disco Institute
by kwan_e on Fri 8th Jun 2012 00:49 UTC
kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

So Apple are the people behind the Disco Institute! It all makes sense now.

Reply Score: 5

Not the only prior art
by Lorin on Fri 8th Jun 2012 00:52 UTC
Lorin
Member since:
2010-04-06

There are many different computers in the Chinese markets from companies like Sony, Toshiba, Asus and some local stock which has a wedge design. Gather up the evidence to aid whoever Apple tries to extort from next.

Reply Score: 2

Apple will loose in the end
by moondevil on Fri 8th Jun 2012 05:56 UTC
moondevil
Member since:
2005-07-08

Apple is trying to avoid a second coming of what happened with the company against the PC.

These type of tactics won't help in the long run.

Apple is no different than Microsoft. Some contributions to open source contributions and a UNIX based OS don't make the company suddenly a better citizen.

They only did it, because it was a way to improve their market share. Now that they have enough awareness, they don't care any longer.

Reply Score: 4

ZenBook as well
by OSNevvs on Fri 8th Jun 2012 10:22 UTC
OSNevvs
Member since:
2009-08-20

Asus ZenBooks have a wedge design as well. Most ultrabooks I have seen do. What's next? Apple registering the rectangular shape for computer screens as a patent?

Reply Score: 2

RE: ZenBook as well
by viton on Fri 8th Jun 2012 13:58 UTC in reply to "ZenBook as well"
viton Member since:
2005-08-09

Seems you forgot that Zenbook and ultrabook concept in general came after Macbook Air

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: ZenBook as well
by Morgan on Fri 8th Jun 2012 19:08 UTC in reply to "RE: ZenBook as well"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Zenbooks yes, but I remember Dynamism.com selling ultrabooks at least a few years before the MBA was even announced. One in particular that I was interested in had a flip-up DVD drive under the keyboard; you lifted the keyboard itself via a latch and inserted a disc. The entire laptop was under four pounds and had a very fast processor/graphics combo for what it was and for the era. And it was wedge-shaped. It was either a Sony or Fujitsu if memory serves.

That was in 2006, the year I first heard of Dynamism.

Reply Score: 3

New motto
by Soulbender on Fri 8th Jun 2012 11:03 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

So I guess the new company motto is: Don't innovate, litigate.

Reply Score: 4

proposal
by martijn on Fri 8th Jun 2012 14:39 UTC
martijn
Member since:
2010-11-06

I propose that every company that claims that a patent of a competitor is not innovative at all, and is proven right before the judge, may choose a patent of its choice from the competitor. If proven wrong, the competitor may have one of his.
This will reduce the pile of patents greatly.

Edited 2012-06-08 14:45 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Prior Art
by quackalist on Fri 8th Jun 2012 16:52 UTC
quackalist
Member since:
2007-08-27

Just a mo, does it matter how many computers or the like had a wedge shape...after all, it's a shape like most other geometric shapes known and used in all sorts for millennia.

How can one patient a simple shape of anything?

Thought...has anyone patented rectangular box computer ;)

Reply Score: 2

Joke
by hackus on Fri 8th Jun 2012 21:08 UTC
hackus
Member since:
2006-06-28

At first I thought it was a joke.

Apple one day is going to wish it spent money on R&D instead of litigation.

I don't buy apple products as I can't stomach the contracts it negotiates with suppliers....for example...reducing the protein in workers lunches to save cost.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Joke
by redshift on Sun 10th Jun 2012 04:52 UTC in reply to "Joke"
redshift Member since:
2006-05-06

I don't buy apple products as I can't stomach the contracts it negotiates with suppliers....for example...reducing the protein in workers lunches to save cost.


I am sure you are typing this on a finely crafted keyboard that uses no cheap third world labor.

Foxconn manufactures products for many companies including:
Acer Inc.
Amazon.com
Cisco
Dell
Hewlett-Packard
Intel
Microsoft
Motorola Mobility
Nintendo
Nokia
Samsung
Sony
Toshiba
Vizio

Reply Score: 1

Comment by redshift
by redshift on Sun 10th Jun 2012 04:41 UTC
redshift
Member since:
2006-05-06

Pythagoras calls bullshit on that patent.

Reply Score: 1

just a pointless inflammatory post
by kristoph on Tue 12th Jun 2012 06:54 UTC
kristoph
Member since:
2006-01-01

Thom has either (a) not bothered to read the actual patent and is totally clueless or (b) has read the patent, understands it, and is just posting this for fodder's sake.

This is a design patent, equivalent to a community design and similar design rights. It prevents blatant copies of the authors design. It's not a 'wedge shape' patent or whatever.

Prior art is determined thus ...

"The degree of difference [from the prior art] required to establish novelty occurs when the average observer takes the new design for a different, and not a modified, already-existing design."

The Vaio obviously looks different and is not prior art. The patent similarly applies only for virtually identical designs.

Just as a point of interest Apple references the Sony Vaio (the X505 specifically) in the patent document along with referencing a bunch of similar designs patents. This is done to note that the are similar but different design patents already established.

Reply Score: 2

Amiga 500 & Amiga 1200 Prior Art
by zhulien on Tue 12th Jun 2012 23:01 UTC
zhulien
Member since:
2006-12-06

Amiga 1200 = prior art... same with Amiga 500... google them, read the newstand publications if you still have any...

Reply Score: 1