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Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby KenoLeon » December 22nd, 2015, 3:53 pm

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Scrooge Keno here with a super interesting and depressing tale of the current state of the patent system and what it means to an inventor:

How ‘Hoverboards’ Epitomize Our Broken Patent System

( google "How ‘Hoverboards’ Epitomize Our Broken Patent System" if you hit the paywall )

On the not so depressing side, If you read between the lines you can almost glimpse how the hoverboard came to be ( I would still like to know how those wireless neck headphones came to be though)

I also think this answers this other thread quite nicely:

Are patents worthless if you can't afford to protect them ?

-K
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Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby bepster » December 22nd, 2015, 4:48 pm

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Oh I heard about this just today on my commute home on the NPR Planet Money podcast.
Quite interesting.

Btw, amazing podcast and definitely one of my favs.

Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby iab » December 22nd, 2015, 5:31 pm


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I give no sympathy to the "inventor" of the hoverboard if he indeed infringed upon Segway's patent for a stable two-wheel vehicle.

And yes, lawyers cost a lot of money.

Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby yo » December 22nd, 2015, 6:08 pm

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Why do they call them hover boards?

These are hover boards:

Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby KenoLeon » December 22nd, 2015, 8:37 pm

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@ Bepster: Planet Money for the win, been listening to them since they started, one of the best ( as in wholly sheep that's crazy) things I listened this year was their podcast on Netflix Management style :

Hard work is irrelevant

@ Iab:

Hard to tell, on one hand the hover boards inventors patent claim is a bit too specific and hinges on cost,form factor and steering:

A need exists for a two-wheel self-balancing vehicle that provides independent wheel control, is light-weight and compact, is easy and safe to use, and that may be made in a cost-effective manner. A need also exits for a two-wheel self-balancing vehicle that is more maneuverable and more ergonomic (functioning more naturally with the bio-mechanics of a user's legs and body) than prior art devices.

Furthermore, turning (in segways case) is achieved through a handle bar structure that ascends from the platform upward toward the chest of a user



Inventists Patent


Segways on the other hand is a hugging grabby elephant of a patent and covers a lot of embodiments, yet I think leaves wiggle room for the hoverboard, you be the judge:

Segways Patent


@Yo: Let us have this mass delusional moment :)
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Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby iab » December 23rd, 2015, 9:26 am


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Segway's claim is broad. I'm no lawyer, but I'd say they have a case and it would make it past discovery.

Inventists saying their invention is "small" is meaningless. And since Segway's independent claim does not include mention of their "handlebar", Inventist's lack of a "handlebar" is also meaningless.

1. A vehicle for carrying a payload including a user, the vehicle comprising:
a. a platform which supports the user;
b. a ground-contacting module, to which the platform is mounted, which propels the user in desired motion over an underlying surface;
c. a motorized drive arrangement, coupled to the ground-contacting module; the drive arrangement, ground-contacting module and payload comprising a system being unstable with respect to tipping when the motorized drive is not powered; the motorized drive arrangement causing, when powered, automatically balanced operation of the system wherein the vehicle has a present velocity and a maximum operating velocity, determined by a requirement of acceleration to maintain balance and, in operation, has a balancing margin determined by the difference between the maximum operating velocity and the present velocity of the vehicle;
d. a balancing margin monitor, coupled to the ground-contacting module, for generating a signal characterizing the balancing margin; and
e. an alarm, coupled to the balancing margin monitor, for receiving the signal characterizing the balancing margin and for warning when the balancing margin falls below a specified limit.

Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby KenoLeon » December 23rd, 2015, 1:33 pm

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@iab :

No expert patent lawyer either...I totally agree that Segways patent looks better , but why wouldn't they (Segway) just file for reexamination ? ( ie revoke inventists hoverboards patent). On the greater sense, there's been a number of self balancing wheels which I am not sure Segway ( while it was under Dean Kamen) went after, so now that it is under Chinese ownership and they want to aggressively litigate for money, might be a factor.

Will update if I hear on a resolution....
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Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby iab » December 23rd, 2015, 2:40 pm


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Segway could very well be trying to invalidate the Inventist patent. I have no idea. But while their claim is broad, I'd bet it can be circumvented.

As for how aggressive you are with your IP, you are correct, money matters. We recently had our lawyers in to give us patents 101. I believe they said the average to pursue someone infringing is $600K. Obviously there are high-dollar cases to raise that average, but figure your cheapest lawyer bills at $225/hour, it ain't cheap.

And holy sweet baby jesus, there is no job as dull as patent lawyer. Personally I'd rather work on our assembly line.

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The plot thickens:

While I was doing my laundry I was hearing a podcast on the origin of the hoverboard by the awesome folks at Planet Money:

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2015/ ... board-life

So it turns out (go listen if you don't like spoilers), that the influx of hoverboards, ( I think they should be called zoomers) is a bit of a watershed moment in how products come to life, the process is something along this lines:

1. A western company innovates (segway)
2. An inventor tries (unsuccessfully) to build on this innovation
3. Chinese engineers use excess capacity and homebrew technology to bring to market a facsimile in an open source way, they copy the essence of the product, but adapt it to what their factories can do and change the design in order to circumvent or at least delay infringing patent litigation.

It is both fascinating and a little troublesome, not sure the current patent system is up for the task or whether this will be the norm rather than the exception in the future....

Edits: added the patent bit to point 3.
Last edited by KenoLeon on January 18th, 2016, 2:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby iab » January 15th, 2016, 9:00 am


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Goes to what you want IP to be.

I am for patents as it is not an unlimited monopoly, it ends in 20 years. But as any intelligent design system, it has flaws to be exploited.

I am not a fan of copyright. Too absolute. Too perpetual.

Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby NURB » January 16th, 2016, 8:32 am

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I'm guessing Segway didn't have this in mind.

http://www.cnet.com/news/hoverboard-unb ... iery-fail/
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Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby Mr-914 » January 18th, 2016, 7:53 am

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I feel there are more crap products on the market than ever before. Including this one.
Ray Jepson

"The key to success in this business is to find a boss who doesn't care." - Mike Rowe

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I feel that designers within the system like to think that we are moving towards less products with more quality, (That specific quote appears more than once in Breaking In) , while on the street, the system seems to be producing ( as you point out) more products at a lesser quality, with little concern as to what designers think.

Why is it crap ? and I am not talking about the attached issues like the patent infringing or the probably negative environmental footprint,factory conditions etc,etc.

Let's say I describe it to a 10 yr old from the past, the recent past:

Hey kid, in a few years we are going to have a 2 wheeled motorized board that can fit in your backpack and you can zoom around town on it, you can recharge it, it is almost affordable, (about the price of your video game console), your dad will hate them and think they are crap,and wait, you can connect them to your smartphone and stream your songs, it has speakers and lights, be careful though, some cheap ones explode.
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Re: Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

Postby Mr-914 » January 19th, 2016, 8:11 am

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I'll phrase it a different way, it feels like consumer products are getting polarized between luxury, well designed product and use-at-your-own-risk extremely inexpensive product that has bad design (if any) and a poor user experience.

I somewhat understand it, I buy those products all the time. If I need something but I know I won't use it often, why not roll the dice? However, it probably is making consumer product like airlines. Only cheap-horrible and expensive-good will exist.
Ray Jepson

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Yes, I agree, we as species don't precisely embrace the happy medium. I think a lot of it has to do with competitive advantage, both in design and in commerce in general, the legal system (patents,taxes etc) plays heavily into this.

But what a time to be alive ! :)

tothesunsetonourhoverboards.jpg
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