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Apple patent application  (Source: Apple Insider)

Apple patent application  (Source: Apple Insider)
Apple is looking to create, lighter, more efficient devices using fuel cells

Apple is interested in making fuel cell-powered mobile devices, according to Apple patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

According to two published Apple patent applications, called "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device" and "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device," Apple is looking to build lighter and smaller mobile devices like MacBooks (Air, Pro) by replacing current batteries with a fuel cell system.

This may not come as a surprise to many, since Apple has filed other patent applications for lighter hydrogen fuel cells. Those patents, which were brought to light this past October, described a building process where multiple fuel cells are connected by a power bus in a parallel pattern, and a voltage-multiplying circuit is added for additional voltage to the stack.

Now, Apple hopes to utilize these lighter, more efficient fuel cells in its mobile products in an effort to promote renewable energy sources and offer devices with the ability to run for days or even weeks without refueling, according to the patent applications. The devices will also be lighter and less bulky due to the lack of traditional batteries.

The first patent application, "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device," states Apple's case for wanting to use fuel cell technology in their devices. While current fuel cell technology for mobile products requires the user to carry a fuel cartridge for recharging purposes, Apple wants to integrate fuel cells right into their electronics.

The second patent application, "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device," describes how the fuel cell system would work with a rechargeable battery where one would power the other when necessary, and vice versa.

"This eliminates the need for a bulky and heavy battery within the fuel system, which can significantly reduce the size, weight, and cost of the fuel system," said the second patent application. "This fuel system includes a fuel stack cell which converts fuel into electrical power. It also includes a controller which controls operation of the fuel cell system."

One challenge will be creating a hydrogen fuel cell system that is cost-effective, according to Apple.

Both patents were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010.

Sources: CNET, Apple Insider



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not again Apple
By lagomorpha on 12/23/2011 10:59:16 AM , Rating: 5
Given that this idea has been around for years and has generally been considered to be too obvious to patent I really hope Apple doesnt manage to sue everyone else and generally take credit for the hard work of the rest of the industry again.




RE: not again Apple
By michael2k on 12/23/2011 11:21:51 AM , Rating: 4
Did you read the article? An integrated hybrid battery-fuel cell was Apple's second patent; how many of those do you see? The point is that the patent should cover the implementation, not the idea.


RE: not again Apple
By nolisi on 12/23/2011 11:52:19 AM , Rating: 5
In this case, the implementation is simple- a connection for power plus a bidirectional communications connection (based on the image). Many devices connect to their power source in the same manner. Why should this implementation be patentable? Should other manufacturers be forced to only connect to a fuel cell via a power line only? Or maybe two monodirectional communications interface, thereby complicating the circuitry of other manufacturers implementations.

If there was something unique about this implementation, I might agree. But Apple seems to be on a path of patenting the most basic implementation they can get away with to force other manufactuerers to license or sue.


RE: not again Apple
By dgingerich on 12/23/2011 2:22:23 PM , Rating: 3
If you think this is patentable, I should patent the idea of running crosshatch style when mowing a lawn to improve the appearance of the lawn, then sue all the people who use it without paying me a royalty.

There are patentable new ideas, and the technically "patentable" engineering implementations of things. This is definitely one of the latter, and the biggest reason why we need a full out overhaul of the patent office. It's not that the laws in place aren't good enough, it is that the patent office itself is granting patents that should never be granted.


RE: not again Apple
By nocturne_81 on 12/24/2011 5:22:18 AM , Rating: 2
You have to keep in mind that the USPTO basically only accepts applications.. The process of investigating prior art/patenting is supposed to be done by the filing party (or their attorney) prior to the filing. The USPTO doesn't actually research nor enforce any patent.

We've created another rubber-stamp agency in the name of the almighty 'free-market', putting any actual control in to the hands those who have enough cash to hire a team of lawyers to do their evil bidding.. Meanwhile, I still chuckle at all the 'professional' conservatives around here who take any opportunity to complain about 'big government' and how regulation ruins a free market.


RE: not again Apple
By lewisc on 12/24/2011 3:24:59 AM , Rating: 1
Completely agree with the above. If Apple manage to implement this idea in a new, efficient and cost effective way, why should they not be entitled to patent that application? R&D is expensive; companies (whomever they may be) should be allowed to protect their designs, as without that protection they have no incentive to innovate.

At least in this example there is clear evidence of Apple trying to bring an implementation of a new technology to the market, rather than engaging in defence of more dubious patents. This is a demonstration of what the patent process is for.


RE: not again Apple
By lagomorpha on 12/24/2011 3:59:51 AM , Rating: 4
But that isnt what happened. Companies working on fuel cell technology have been working on the tech hoping to one day sell to laptop and cell phone manufacturers. Apple came along, patented the most obvious implementation, and is going to attempt to troll the entire industry as is usual for them. Apple has brought nothing to the industry yet expects to gain the most.


RE: not again Apple
By nocturne_81 on 12/24/2011 5:28:49 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, looking at the two diagrams given with the filing.. The height of it's complexity is pretty much centering around elementary electronics mixed with basic common sense.. You could simply swap out 'fuel cell' for 'battery', and they'd match hundreds of patent applications leading back decades.

So, I wonder what would have happened if Reese's patented the obvious combination of peanut butter and chocolate.. Apple, you got some chocolate on my peanut butter... *reaches out an open hand, pantomiming a request for payment*


RE: not again Apple
By Close04 on 12/26/2011 5:38:59 AM , Rating: 2
I just hope that they can hire some real engineers and make a Hydrogen fuel cell that's safer than their exploding Lithium cells... And that's no easy feat. Just think of the Hindenburg. If they could have used Lithium to get that monster in the air I bet we'd have had no "Oh the humanity" :). Hydrogen isn't a toy for marketers like Apple.


Idea?
By wiz220 on 12/23/2011 12:25:25 PM , Rating: 1
Has anyone patented the patent process yet? Perhaps if someone did that they could sue Apple for not paying a licensing fee for writing and filing a patent application. Or maybe they could obtain an injunction banning Apple from patenting anything.




RE: Idea?
By drycrust3 on 12/23/2011 1:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
I want to patent the full stop / period in IP addresses and at the end of a sentence when it is used on a website.

The stupid part about Apple's patents is there is a suspicion Apple claim a patent covers things that they hadn't thought of when they applied for that patent.
For example, the words "menu animation" don't appear anywhere within Apple's patent they say covers it (and the examples look suspiciously unlike menus). Because there may be no standard words to mean some new device or whatever the words used in a patent may not actually be what are later the agreed words to mean that thing. But when you ask which bit they claim covers "the thing" no one knows.
So when you have a claim that a patent covers something that isn't mentioned within it, and no one can supply details of which part of the patent covers this something, then doesn't it sound like the authors of the patent didn't actually think of "this something"? And if they didn't think of it, then maybe they didn't actually invent it!


RE: Idea?
By Tony Swash on 12/23/11, Rating: -1
RE: Idea?
By nolisi on 12/23/2011 4:06:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's a big boys game and big boy rules.


The big boys game is product development and sales. Lawsuits over obvious ideas is crying to mommy so that she can take the other boys toys away.

Apple is getting all this attention because they've been filing the most suits and their late CEO was on a crazed mission to destroy a "stolen product" as if he nor Apple never theived an idea before. Plus, they're trading blows with another big player (Google). One could say everyone is obsessed with Google given their dominance of almost everything internet.

That gets more attention on the market than say, an IBM whose CEO who keeps quiet and publishes primarily cleaned up press releases about things. You only started hearing from Oracle's Ellison for the same reason.


RE: Idea?
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/23/2011 5:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One of the popular misconceptions about Apple's patent campaign is that the outcome they are seeking is to ban competing products
LOL, I sure would like some of the drugs you are on. They aren't trying to ban the competitors products? LOL! Samsung changed the design in, what was it, Germany? Apple then tried to get the NEW design banned but, you are right, they aren't trying to ban the competitors products. You are something else.


RE: Idea?
By B-Unit on 12/23/2011 6:19:32 PM , Rating: 3
Lets be fair, he said 'Although they will seek bans and injunctions where it tactically suits them'

Of course, 'whenever and wherever they can' seems to be what tactically suits them.


RE: Idea?
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/23/2011 6:50:39 PM , Rating: 2
When they start trying to ban a NEW design, IMO, they are just out to get rid of them plain and simple. They don't like the competition and it's showing.


RE: Idea?
By Tony Swash on 12/23/11, Rating: -1
RE: Idea?
By Tony Swash on 12/23/11, Rating: -1
RE: Idea?
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/24/2011 9:49:28 AM , Rating: 2
You can explain it how ever you like, it's obvious they are trying to get the competitors removed from the market. When they try to get a NEW design banned as well, it's quite obvious at this point. But as usual, you'll come up with some half cocked story trying to push your way on people to try to convince them this is good. It's not, plain and simple.


RE: Idea?
By spread on 12/24/2011 3:11:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple put a lot of effort into making very distinctive products and having a very distinctive brand


By blatantly stealing like in this example of a fuel cell battery.

quote:
Although a ban might fortuitously (from Apple's point of view) temporarily prevent one or more of their competitors from selling in various markets they know that there is absolutely not the remotest chance that they could prevent their competitors from selling competing products for any length of time, or even permanently.


You speak as if you work for Apple. You don't work for Apple. You don't benefit by their patent. You don't benefit by talking about their patent or talking about Apple. Apple doesn't even know you exist.

You're like a rabid sports fan when they talk about "their team". Oh this season we went all the way to the championship. My team is so great, my players did really well meanwhile completely oblivious that they're on the sidelines looking in. A psychologist would have a field day with you Tony. Crazy old man.


RE: Idea?
By Tony Swash on 12/24/2011 6:39:06 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
By blatantly stealing like in this example of a fuel cell battery.


Whether that is true or not it does not invalidate my argument which was not about how Apple did stuff but why. You appear to have missed the point.

quote:
You're like a rabid sports fan when they talk about "their team". Oh this season we went all the way to the championship. My team is so great, my players did really well meanwhile completely oblivious that they're on the sidelines looking in. A psychologist would have a field day with you Tony. Crazy old man.


Generally in my experience when people start attacking people personally it's because they have run out of ideas to use in retort but want to say something to cover that up.

By the way when did supporting a sports team become something despicable?

What's more mentally healthy, posting comments about stuff you own and like or posting comments about stuff you don't own and don't like? You tell me.


RE: Idea?
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/24/2011 11:01:47 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
You're like a rabid sports fan when they talk about "their team". Oh this season we went all the way to the championship. My team is so great, my players did really well meanwhile completely oblivious that they're on the sidelines looking in. A psychologist would have a field day with you Tony. Crazy old man.
Not really an attack because he is spot on, but you think whatever you like. Keep sucking on that Apple tit. Maybe one day you will realize they are just a company and don't give 2 shits about you or your thoughts.


RE: Idea?
By spread on 12/24/2011 8:44:32 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Generally in my experience when people start attacking people personally it's because they have run out of ideas to use in retort but want to say something to cover that up.


You're right. I attack because we can't have a respectful discussion. You're full of lies and bull and you have no respect for others. Why should I have respect for you? If you want proper discourse you earn it by doing the same. Be respectful and people do the same.

quote:
By the way when did supporting a sports team become something despicable?


When it becomes a defining characteristic of your life.

quote:
What's more mentally healthy, posting comments about stuff you own and like or posting comments about stuff you don't own and don't like? You tell me.


It's far beyond stuff you like. When you make statements like "Apple rescued me", you reach a new level of... worship.

It's funny because you don't see this with other brands. Microsoft fanboys are pathetic but shit like this: http://www.theapplecollection.com/Collection/objec...

That's just messed up. Replace all those tattoos and body modifications with Microsoft logos. Looks pretty insane doesn't it? Like this: http://stereogum.com/img/zune_tattoo2.jpg

That's a Zune tattoo, a Microsoft trademark for their media subscription service.


RE: Idea?
By spread on 12/24/2011 9:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
Also Merry Christmas.


RE: Idea?
By nocturne_81 on 12/24/2011 5:43:13 AM , Rating: 3
Don't even start about the 1980s... Apple accomplished then what is now the major framework for all software patent arguments today -- the legal opinion that object code is no different than source code; an opinion that's constantly hurting the commercial/enterprise software community (but not the open source, at least yet).

The argument is that the result is more important than the method used to get there, a ridiculous notion to any programmer.

To expand upon your later point, though.. Apple in no way cares about product differentiation it seems by their actions.. Honestly, I don't own a smartphone -- I still talk to people with my mouth rather than my thumbs, and honestly don't see the need to be 'connected' when I can get away from my desk.. But from what I know of Android users -- the last thing they want to do is be confused for an iPhone user, that is.. at least if they based their purchase off of Android-fanboy sentiments rather than choosing a product that fits their needs and demands.

I mean... Tony.. if you were holding a brand new iPhone 4s-gs-sts-xt or whatever they want to call it, and somebody walked up and said 'hey! is that the new nexus?!', wouldn't you be insulted? It works the other way just as much..


RE: Idea?
By Tony Swash on 12/24/11, Rating: 0
RE: Idea?
By topkill on 12/26/2011 9:21:35 PM , Rating: 1
@Tony,

How can one person be such a total TOOL??? Have you read about ANY of Apple's patents and suits in the last couple of years? They even asked the German court to give them the exclusive right to sell tablets in Germany!

Seriously dude, if you're that stupid then just STFU. If you're an Apple "plant" spewing disinformation on blogs then I could possibly understand your statements. But you're arguments are too stupid to make sense if they ARE paying you. ROFLMAO


RE: Idea?
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/27/2011 9:55:45 AM , Rating: 2
He doesn't get it and never will. He doesn't think they are trying to ban the competition even when it's RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS EYES.


Not the first.. again..
By nocturne_81 on 12/24/2011 5:13:15 AM , Rating: 2
Using an existing technology, in an existing method.. getting tired of this garbage.

Don't blame the USPTO, though.. Our congresspeople dictated the laws under which they operate, and they have no ability to actually research or enforce patents.

I actually came up with (what I thought was) a great idea years back.. I contacted a lawyer friend who referred me to a patent attorney, who basically said they'd take a $8k check and would take care of everything. Now, it's the lawyers job to then do a patent search, to make sure there is no prior conflicting patents, after which they can submit the patent application stating that they have done all the necessary research. In my case, my lawyer actually advised me that my idea was already explicitly patented, but stated that they could file the patent regardless as the USPTO doesn't actually check anything on their own -- they just take the filers word for it. My attorney even outright told me that he'd fight on my behalf to undo the work of the original filer, as long as he got paid of course.

In the end, I cut my losses and lost my retainer in exchange for absolutely nothing -- though, maybe I should have stuck it out by the sound of it.




RE: Not the first.. again..
By topkill on 12/26/2011 9:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't that disgusting? I'm glad you chose the "high road", but our species seems to be full of bottom-feeders who would have pursued the patent.


Already been done
By troysavary on 12/24/2011 5:49:30 AM , Rating: 2
Product too, not vague concept. And it was done 6 years ago.
http://www.gizmag.com/go/5325/




Apple
By rich876 on 12/25/2011 10:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
Apple wants to wants to put a crimp on any new technical ideas so it can rule the world.




Other considerations...
By Adam M on 12/27/2011 7:23:21 PM , Rating: 2
We all know that Apple is patent hungry and more then willing to take credit for work ultimately belonging to someone else. My concern is a little more short sighted. I have read reports of current phones from Apple and others dramatically heating up to the point of catching fire. I can imagine the havoc fuel cells could reek in peoples pockets. Early adopters may want to boost their insurance coverage too.




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