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Antec patently upset

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Oclocker 12th April 2004, 16:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pope
http://www.bit-tech.net/article/128

Vent your spleen here about whether you think Antec is in the wrong, or maybe if you wish they'd nicked Macro's design instead!

Antec are taking the pish big time - as a modder I stuck LEDs in fans years ago - proving that may be difficult - but the patenting idea is crazy now - will someone patent breathing?

April 1, 2004 date of Overclocker cafe article?
The_Pope 12th April 2004, 16:15 Quote
I'm sure we'd find that no manufacturer would enter the great expense and commitment required to launch a product without protecting themselves through some sort of patent application... what grates is their claim to have invented the idea, and their pursuit of people who are potentially doing no more than they did originally...

And the Overclocker Cafe article is dated 8th April - it's the letter from Antec that is dated April 1st. And I think in this case, that was just a random Thursday, and the guy had work to do! :D
Oclocker 12th April 2004, 16:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pope
I'm sure we'd find that no manufacturer would enter the great expense and commitment required to launch a product without protecting themselves through some sort of patent application... what grates is their claim to have invented the idea, and their pursuit of people who are potentially doing no more than they did originally...

And the Overclocker Cafe article is dated 8th April - it's the letter from Antec that is dated April 1st. And I think in this case, that was just a random Thursday, and the guy had work to do! :D

Yes but a Patent is designed to protect an original unique idea/design.
webchimp 12th April 2004, 17:28 Quote
Does this mean that a person couldn't buy a fan and a bunch of LED's and "combine" them without infringing the patent?

If selling the fan and light(s) separately for self assembly gets around the issue I don't think it will be long before we see fan and light "kits".

On the whole it seems a rather bizarre course of action fo Antec to have taken. Fan lights are purely decorative, the light serves no real function, it's rather like Ford suddenly deciding to patent fury dice.
TMM 12th April 2004, 17:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by webchimp
Does this mean that a person couldn't buy a fan and a bunch of LED's and "combine" them without infringing the patent?
Sure you can do it all you like... but you can't SELL them

I don't blame Antec.. but maybe going a little far with this one
Oclocker 12th April 2004, 18:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMM
Sure you can do it all you like... but you can't SELL them

I don't blame Antec.. but maybe going a little far with this one

Well I do - I almost certainly wasn't the first to do it - so Antec have no right to claim the idea!
coorz 12th April 2004, 20:44 Quote
Crazy move by such a big name in modding business. Well their LED fans suck bigtime anyway.
m2c4u 12th April 2004, 20:53 Quote
Back in 2001 I started a thread on gideontech about this mod, there are some working links on page3 of the fan in action. More evidence that they didnt "invent" this led fan, they simply used a alternative method to acheive the desired effect.

http://forums.gideontech.com/viewtopic.php?t=608&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
Bindibadgi 12th April 2004, 21:34 Quote
I was wondering when this would come out. I swear either someone on here or PCmods did it first, and it was reviewed on here first.
BoogerBomb 12th April 2004, 22:11 Quote
I still don't understand why a company like Antec who caters to the computer enthusiasts out there, which comprise of most of the modding community, would do something that they know will piss off their customer base. This is a really stupid move on Antecs part and it will backfire on them. There are too many other companies out there who will be more than willing to pick up the customers that Antec is going to lose all so they can control a $3 market.
Oclocker 12th April 2004, 22:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoogerBomb
I still don't understand why a company like Antec who caters to the computer enthusiasts out there, which comprise of most of the modding community, would do something that they know will piss off their customer base. This is a really stupid move on Antecs part and it will backfire on them. There are too many other companies out there who will be more than willing to pick up the customers that Antec is going to lose all so they can control a $3 market.

Istill find the April the 1st date a bit suspicious :)
Manitowic999 12th April 2004, 22:29 Quote
Antec should let their name sell their products. I buy Antec fans because I know they're of good quality. I don't think a company should have to strong-arm other companies to get you to buy their product. But it all comes down to the patent, if they got it first, they win. :(
The_Pope 13th April 2004, 03:15 Quote
I had a great little email from Cliff Anderson of www.fanbus.com:
Quote:
Antec was one of the first out the box with many commercial products that came from the mod community. I invented the fan controller in 1999 for computers, but failed to patent. If I'd known then what I know now, I might have been rolling in dough. You can't fault them for business sense, but you can sure fault them for their lack of inventiveness. Maybe if it didn't cost thousands (many thousands) for a patent (at least for one that will do you any good in a lawsuit), more individuals would be getting wealthy off their ideas...


Unfortunately, here are a couple of snags:

1) Applying for a patent involves government and patent office fees that can total around US$1,000. You are also likely to need the help of a patent lawyer etc in order to make your application water tight, and you also need to fund comprehensive research to weed out any "prior art" or previous patents similar to yours. This will increase your costs to between US$2,000-10,000 :|

2) You have to apply for the protection afforded by a patent in each territory that you wish that protection. In plain english, if I applied for a patent in Britain, that does not protect my invention from manufacture in China and sale in USA. This would explain why Antec's original patents cover Taiwan & China - the two most likely countries of manufacture, and the subsequently USA - probably the largest market for their product.

3) Even if you hold a patent, it's going to cost you a load of dough in legal fees to pursue any company thought to be infringing it. In the perfect world, they would either contact you first, or when you point it out to them, they would agree to some sort of licensing deal. In reality, the Big Fish is likely to just steam ahead, safe in the knowledge that the Small Fish lacks the funds to chase them. >:(

It's something of a tangent, but there's a great quote from this page (http://wwwhome.cs.utwente.nl/~schooten/patents/) which relates to the on-going debate about software patents:

"Patents do not protect the ideas of creative people, but only increase the power of large companies."

Though you *might* take comfort from this news: http://www.photonics.com/todaysheadlines/XQ/ASP/url.lookup/id.4630/QX/today.htm

:D
Pookeyhead 13th April 2004, 08:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oclocker
Well I do - I almost certainly wasn't the first to do it - so Antec have no right to claim the idea!

actually.. they have every right. Whoever patents it first, gets the right to do just that. That's the law. If someone thought of it first, then they should have patented it it.

In real life however... I think you can expect everyone to just carry on making LED fans as usual. Just a company flexing some muscle.. I wouldn't take it all too seriously, and you will almost certainly be able to buy LED fans made by anyone else I would think. PLus.. there's nothing to stop you making your own.

WHy is everyone so amazed by this? Sure.. they weren't the first to put a LED in a fan. However, it would appear they were the first to PATENT it... which just means whoever DID first put a light in a fan... was an idiot for not patenting it! Seeing as it costs relatively little to do, whoever did invent it is probably kicking themselves now.

Plus... i doubt ANtec have the rights to it in all territories. ALl manner of comapnies own patents on things that are clearly not their inventions... it means little in practice.
metarinka 13th April 2004, 09:12 Quote
Patent or not, I feel It destroy's the modding spirit. This all sorta ties into the pre-mod shananigans. You see it again and again where people from bit-tech and other sites come up with some sweet Ideas. Then company capitalize on them. I dont think it would be healthy to stop these companies, but when they start throwing patents at them, trying to claim they are the only ones who should make them. thats bogus. These companies offer some quality products and I know I wouldn't want to have to make every LED fan I wanted in my cases nor would I want every fan to be antec brand. Claiming ownership over these pretty common knowledge mods, is just wrong.
ouija 13th April 2004, 09:42 Quote
They can try what they want, no-one will be able to prevent people from creating similar effects "on the cheap". That's what modding is all about. Just look at bard's illuminated vandal resistant switch. Not patented, I know but what if it was?
Oclocker 13th April 2004, 10:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookeyhead
actually.. they have every right. Whoever patents it first, gets the right to do just that. That's the law. If someone thought of it first, then they should have patented it it.
.

Whats right and the law rarely tally thesedays. Patent law was designed to protect unique inventions not obvious things like LEDs in FANs - I did my first one just before I started baybus.co.uk years ago - I also sprayed a fan blade with chrome paint and got a damned nice effect - did I patent that - nope and it would be ludicrous to do so. You wait someone will patent breathing through the mouth .. So we will have to breathe through our noses ALL the time. Heaven help anyone getting a head cold.

Patents are getting out of control..
Blackshark 13th April 2004, 19:50 Quote
Unfortunately the US Patent system is now woefully short of being adequate. If you think this example is bad you should check out New Scientist and Scientific America where the examples are horrific.

Not being American I have not tried this, but any Americans out there give it a go. I am almost sure its a winner, patent breathing. I gaurentee that the US board will pass it through and then you can take everyone to court.


There are very few, if any, checks done. There are currently three different, international patent formats that are not compatible. Logging in on the three systems, the search criteria are completely different in format. Its no wonder its a mess.

Forgive Antec, if they tried to use the patent they would lose. It is unfair of them though since some individuals will not know the above and assume that Antec will sue and possibly they might stop producing their own LED fans. In effect, a bit like MS and Lindows. MS can tie up Lindows with so much red tape, that in effect, Lindows becomes alost a frozen asset.


Grrr, I must jump off the soap box

Regards all
Cliff A 13th April 2004, 20:47 Quote
As The Pope noted, a patent can set you back almost 10,000 US dollars, with no guarantees of protection. It is oftentimes hard to tell the potential of a product in its infancy. When I invented the original fanbus, it was a wood block with a few wires and a molex connector. I considered patenting it after I had sold about a hundred of them. 2 grand for a design patent (which basically protects only what it looks like, not its function), over ten grand for a utility patent (that is actually supposed to protect the "function" if you wil).

At any rate, if a product is in the public for more than a year, no one can patent the utility. At least, they're not supposed to. You may see a lot of "patent pending" signs on things, but it really doesn't mean jack.

So what's the solution?

Be a better businessman. Sell so many of your products that a little competition doesn't matter to your bottom line. If your product is better, and cheaper, then people will buy it, patent or not. These large corporations are in place to get products to market fast, before the novelty of whatever product they are selling dies off. A successful inventor not only has to have a good idea, he has to know who to talk to. If I had known companies exist to manufacture stuff (and they don't really care what they are manufacturing) I would have approached one of them to make my fanbus' and baybus'. Then they would make them and I would profit. Don't assume you have to have a patent in hand before you approach a manufacturing company. Most of these electronics firms just want to make stuff. That's how they stay busy. Borrow the money to make a few high quality prototypes, and then pitch it to a company like Antec (or half a dozen others), and skip the patent. By the time people start making things to compete with you, you've already invented something else ;)

My two cents...
macroman 13th April 2004, 20:58 Quote
Total agreement cliff ;)
Pookeyhead 14th April 2004, 10:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by metarinka
Patent or not, I feel It destroy's the modding spirit. This all sorta ties into the pre-mod shananigans. You see it again and again where people from bit-tech and other sites come up with some sweet Ideas. Then company capitalize on them. I dont think it would be healthy to stop these companies, but when they start throwing patents at them, trying to claim they are the only ones who should make them. thats bogus. These companies offer some quality products and I know I wouldn't want to have to make every LED fan I wanted in my cases nor would I want every fan to be antec brand. Claiming ownership over these pretty common knowledge mods, is just wrong.


I agree completely... it DOES, but the fact still remains, that they were the first to patent it, so that patent belongs to them. Plus.. if you're bothered about the modding "spirit", then make your own. Buying a pre modded fan is not exactly in the modding spirit either.... is it? Them owning the patent doesn't stop you from making one.. it's easy... clear fan.. 4 LEDs... Voila! Instant LED fan.
Pookeyhead 14th April 2004, 11:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oclocker
Whats right and the law rarely tally thesedays. Patent law was designed to protect unique inventions not obvious things like LEDs in FANs - I did my first one just before I started baybus.co.uk years ago

If you can prove that, then you've nothing to worry about. The fact is.. it takes about 5 minutes to make a LED fan: Solder some ennameled copper wire; wire 4 LEDs; drill some small holes... add a bit of glue; Job Done.

Even if US patent laws DO say, as someone suggested, that breathing is now patented, I'd like to see them enforce it. Same with fans... they'll never be able to enforce this... it's silly.
Gordy 14th April 2004, 13:16 Quote
An interesting thread here

http://www.moddershq.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=495&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

With a comment from "antec" could be anybody but looks legit.
TMM 15th April 2004, 06:54 Quote
i don't think they were trying to make a big stir like all you guys are argueing about..... THey are just trying to get rid of big competition from coolermaster me thinks

who cares, there is always going to be cheap imitations on the market, this is what antec wan to get rid of ;)
Blackshark 16th April 2004, 22:35 Quote
Pookey,

I didnt say some one had patented breathing, but rather that I would not be suprised if it did not sail through if someone tried in the US.

European patents (inc. UK) have to, when you are taking two ideas and joining them together (ie. not an original concept) come up with something unique that is more than the sum of the two halves. I doubt anyone could patent the generality of a fan with a light source attached.

Now, that strobe Fan is a more unique idea, stick a programmable chip on it and connector for a serial/usb port and that is easy (as easy as it gets in patents) to produce as a patentable idea.


Just my two penneth

Tim
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