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Microsoft Patents Your Rights Online

Microsoft Patents Module-Based Smartphone 101

edumacator writes "It seems Microsoft is working on an interesting concept for smartphones, or maybe they are just adding to their patent war chest. From the article: 'A recent Microsoft patent describes a smartphone with a slide-out section that can house one of several modules, including a QWERTY keyboard, a gaming pad, a second display or a battery pack. Even better: The modules work wirelessly when they aren't docked in the smartphone's slider. Another useful way the modular smartphone concept could be used: The keyboard can be used as a controller while the smartphone acts as a TV-connected media hub.'"
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Microsoft Patents Module-Based Smartphone

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  • Handspring Visor (Score:5, Informative)

    by HomerJ ( 11142 ) on Monday September 26, 2011 @01:18AM (#37512364)

    Didn't Handspring--now defunct--already do this like 12 years ago? There were all sorts of devices for their PDAS, including a GSM module.

    • Re:Handspring Visor (Score:4, Informative)

      by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Monday September 26, 2011 @01:29AM (#37512424)

      The name for that interface was Springboard
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springboard_Expansion_Slot [wikipedia.org]

      in an ironic way, also the name of the homescreen in iOS
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpringBoard [wikipedia.org]

      Quick, someone tell Handspring to sue Apple :)

    • Didn't Handspring--now defunct--already do this like 12 years ago? There were all sorts of devices for their PDAS, including a GSM module.

      When has that stopped anybody before? The lawyers will just try to find one little thing which is different and claim that it's new and patentable.

      A decade ago we got a million patents that said something like "that thing everybody knows about, but on the internet." Now we're going to get a million patents that say something like "that thing everybody knows about, but on a mobile device." Because hey, adding that extra element lets you try to claim that nobody has ever done it before. And the patent office

      • by foobsr ( 693224 )

        Making a computing device modular? Who could have ever thought of that? (People in the 1950's, that's who.)

        Computers were quite modular these days, just not exactly portable (or even moveable).


      • Personally I'm all for it, let them do "in a cell phone!" like they did "on the Internet!" and let them go nuts with it. why? Because the quicker the entire system is completely saturated with BS patents the quicker the whole thing will fall down like a house of cards and hopefully we can get some damned reforms, that's why!

        The ONLY way we are gonna get any kind of reforms after citizen united is if supermegacorp gets so buried in patent bullshit that they can't even release a single product here for having

        • The ONLY way we are gonna get any kind of reforms after citizen united is if supermegacorp gets so buried in patent bullshit that they can't even release a single product here for having it tied up in court for a decade.

          There is a major flaw in this strategy, which is that parasites are sticky.

          Let's say we keep issuing ever more bullshit patents. Some coven of asshats the likes of Intellectual Ventures will acquire a few thousand of them and then extract several hundred million dollars each in settlements and lawsuits from shaking down the companies that actually make stuff. So then they've got a fat wallet and a proven business model -- what makes you think they aren't going to spend a billion dollars a year lobbying Cong

          • by Björn ( 4836 ) *
            Excellent points.
          • Did you miss the "supermegacorp buried in bullshit" part of my theory? If Apple can't bring in a single iPhone, if MSFT's customers can't bring in a single windows based anything, all because the trolls have taken over the courts, who do you think has more money, IBM,MSFT,Apple, etc or the trolls?

            The ONLY way you are gonna get real reforms now that citizens united means they can just write a check (and we have a member of SCOTUS taking bribes) is by having supermegacorps like Apple, MSFT, Sony, Google, etc,

            • Did you miss the "supermegacorp buried in bullshit" part of my theory?

              I did not. The trouble is that that isn't what will happen. Nobody is really going to get a permanent injunction against the iPhone and then try to enforce it permanently. Especially not bidirectionally -- if you have an injunction against them and they get an injunction against you then you're both better off to sit down at the negotiating table. It's all just leverage in negotiating royalties or cross-licensing agreements. And it's largely a zero-sum game -- for every loser there is a winner who will be t

              • Uh huh, explain that to Intel who got away with bribery for 7 years and then only had to pay a pittance compared to the massive profits from owning the market for that length of time. or tell that to the DRAM and LCD manufacturers, who also got to own the market for quite some time and then pay a pittance compared to the massive profits they made.

                I hate to break the news to ya friend but bribery and collusion on a massive scale goes on every day, it is just the DoJ doesn't have any teeth anymore and all t

    • Yes, but my first thought was the BUGbase:

      http://store.buglabs.net/ [buglabs.net]

    • This sounds pretty much identical to the tricorders, especially the ones used by the medics that had a small wireless module that they could use for scanning specific points.

      It's often said that Life immitates Art, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't meant to mean Corporations patent sci-fi entertainment creations.

      Or does someone have a patent on flying cars and warp engines?


        • by RingDev ( 879105 )

          Two things:
          First - That thing is BAD ASS!!! I want one

          Second - That patent appears pretty specific and applies to one precise implementation of dual-rotor elevation control. The MS patent appears much more vague, effectively allowing them to patent ALL such devices.

          If the flying car patent did not have the rotors drawn in, and instead had black boxes labeled "lift providing system here", I would be just as irate with it.


          • by foobsr ( 693224 )

            ad 1st: and it is not exactly a new idea, I wanted one myself when I was still a child, see here [roadabletimes.com]

            ad 2nd: but it is a stolen idea


        • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

          awesome how it has hot rod style mufflers sticking out the side.

    • That's too freaking generic. You can't patent the modularization of hardware or software. Cars are modularized, computers are already modularized. This is stupidity. So, Microsoft is what "filing first" for every freaking idea while understanding that they can modify later when/if they are rejected?

      Utterly moronic.

  • It's unlikely to be for anything else. Not that this is particularly innovative, but they want to have a government enforced monopoly on the concept to secure it exclusively for their own mobile OS.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did you just suggest that Microsoft is creating wireless batteries for smartphones?

  • Prior art? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lisias ( 447563 ) on Monday September 26, 2011 @01:20AM (#37512378) Homepage Journal

    http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/16/view/5578/modu-modular-mobile-phone.html [designboom.com]

    (and this is just the first link of a google search [google.com.br]...)

    • by SmlFreshwaterBuffalo ( 608664 ) on Monday September 26, 2011 @02:17AM (#37512628)

      (and this is just the first link of a google search...)

      That's the problem. They did a search on Bing and didn't find anything.

      • Didn't the recent changes in patent law make it easier to submit prior art on a filed patent? Anyone know the procedure to submit this product as prior art?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      Hasn't the "First to File" rule changed all this in the USA? Whether or not prior art exists is now moot, it is the first to file a patent that is the important thing. So if those designers did not patent their idea, they are out of luck.

      Please someone, correct me if I am wrong in this.

      • Re:Prior art? (Score:4, Informative)

        by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Monday September 26, 2011 @04:27AM (#37513092) Homepage

        Prior art still exists, it just has to be published. From the act:

        A person shall be entitled to a patent unlessâ"

        â(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; or

        â(2) the claimed invention was described in a patent issued under section 151, or in an application for patent published or deemed published under section 122(b), in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date[3] of the claimed invention.

        The thing is that before when two inventors claimed the same patent, you'd go to court and try to find private documents, witnesses, etc. to prove you had invent it first. Now, if you didn't publish the work publicly, it's the file date that counts.
        This has you can see saves a bunch of time; whether it's more or less fair is arguable.

    • Microsoft didn't patent modular phones, but a specific design that uses a slider to store the modules. At least theoretically, you can't patent an idea, only an implementation of it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    battery pack ... "Even better: The modules work wirelessly when..." *sigh*

    • by ppanon ( 16583 )
      I guess it uses Tesla-style stratospheric wireless power transmission :-)
      • by Adriax ( 746043 )

        My next cell phone could come with a 100' tesla tower?
        Awesome! Allied forced aren't getting anywhere near my ore refinery now.

      • by atisss ( 1661313 )
        I guess it will have SMB password hashing weakness which will allow me to hack and drain bypasser's wireless batteries.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I want the wireless battery pack to power my next phone too!

    • Sadly, the current state of wireless power is that it isn't 100% efficient (which is kinda obvious). So you probably don't want to shave 25% battery life off of your mobile...

  • This is what will happen alot... prior art? pft just apply for the patent, let the lawyers sort it out later
    • First to file changes absolutely nothing with respect to prior art requirements. Prior art is still prior art, whether patented or not.

      The only case where first to file vs first to invent matters is when there are two patents for the same thing, and priority needs to be determined.

  • Genius! Microsoft finally gets around to patenting the springboard [wikipedia.org].

    They must think we all have alzheimer's. "Don't worry, that was more than a decade ago. Nobody is going to remember."

    • All that matters is that someone will have to pay either their lawyers or Microsoft big piles of money if they intend on doing something like this.

      • ???


        Alternately, they'll spend a lot of money pursuing this in court and prior art will trip them up. At least, if there's any justice left in the world.

  • With the current rules in obtaining a patent, can anybody grab hold of a patent for everything that you see in Sci-Fi films even though that it still does not exists?

    • Not really, for two reasons.

      1) To have a valid patent, you need to make an enabling disclosure. i.e. describe it in enough detail that someone can make it. If it's inner workings are just fiction then you can't really describe how it works.

      2) Even if there is enough information in your sci fi film to actually make one, the film itself is prior art.

    • I'll patent the launch loop. It will make me a millionaire.

  • The OGO had something similar with it "Clips" that slid in and out. There was all kinds of things you could slide out. There was even a bottle opener, a tiny tiny blue tooth hand set so you didn't have to hold the whole phone to your head, a slide out blue tooth camera, one that was just to add some flashing lights for fun, etc.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2159119,00.asp [pcmag.com]
  • Oh wait, it's not general purpose, so this must be patentable !

  • Ma! Where the heck is my remote, pad, camera and goddamnit battery! For Christ sakes! I just cant go to skooll looking like some retarded iPhone user!
  • http://www.engadget.com/2008/12/26/how-would-you-change-sony-ericssons-xperia-x1/2#comments [engadget.com]

    Do a find in page for the word "bottom" or "slide" or "pop out"

    Btw I am sure I made the same comment other places and also with and without the LCD aspect .. however engadget doesnt have an easy way to wade through or search through comments to find the earliest one..

    • Unfortunately, I don't think a comment on a forum counts as prior art. In fact, anything on the internet is suspicious, since anything could have had its time stamp tampered with.

  • The article is pretty terrible in terms of hiding the link to the document they're referring to, but I can only assume they mean their first link. It's to a patent application, which is not a patent . Maybe someday it will become a patent, but not today.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Pretty much a pointless patent app, why because mobile smart phone gains it usability from basically being an all in one appliance, the docking station is still considered more of a hindrance than a benefit. Just what is needed more bits to loose and buy again and again and again.

      This smells more like a patent that is targeted at all devices, not just phones, a back-door to future prevention of competition high cost bluff lawsuits. Did they nominate size limits, or would it extend to tablets and even lar

  • Immediately thought of the Fujitsu F-04B [youtube.com]. I guess since that wasn't released on this side of the Pacific, they think it doesn't count.

  • Here are a couple of videos from MS Office Labs [istartedsomething.com] with their vision of what MS products might look like in 2019. Check out the second vid at about 2:05 to see a modular phone system in action.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      That video was pretty, but disappointing. Basically, except for full colour e-ink and edge to edge displays, Microsoft thinks that in eight years things are going to be the same as they are today except that we'll all have bought a lot more Microsoft devices.

  • This is precisely what (now defunct) Israeli startup Modu tried to develop. They failed, but their patent portfolio was acquired by Google.

  • This is an application, not a patent, and the original journalist is either ignorant or being sensationalist (you decide). Here's a link from the article to the published app:

    http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220110230178%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20110230178&RS=DN/20110230178 [uspto.gov]

    A quick check of the USPTO website's "public PAIR" using the application serial number 12/726252 (right off t

  • So, Microsoft is pattenting a drawer?
  • So, I guess the old formula:

    (old patent) + "on a computer"

    is now:

    (old patent) + "on a smartphone"

    Guess i got to keep up with the times.

  • Although it's a good idea to offer modularity instead of trying to fit everything into a phone this method looks very limited, working only with one electronic module.

APL hackers do it in the quad.