Print 13 comment(s) - last by jonnyGURU.. on Apr 18 at 1:18 PM

Yoshi says suit is shameful and calls for boycott of company

Last week DailyTech reported that Ultra Products Inc. had filed suit against most of the big name power supply makers over alleged infringement on its modular cable design used on some of its computer power supplies.

The initial suit was filed against 22 different companies seeking compensation for damages and for legal fees Ultra incurred. It turns out that not only did ultra file a suit in district court, but it also filed a suit with the International Trade Commission.

Ultra can hardly claim to be the inventor of the modular power supply since hobbyists have been creating their own modular power supplies for longer than Ultra has held its patent. DailyTech contacted Yoshi DeHerrera of The Screen Savers fame for comment and Yoshi had this to say.

While I can't say for sure the exact date that "Modders" started making modular power supplies. I do know I was inspired to make my own modular power supply as part of an On-Air segment that aired on TechTV's The Screen Savers in early 2004 long before Ultra received their Patent. The version I did looked very similar to one that Ultra ended up filing a Patent for. Is this a coincidence? Who knows? I think it is very likely that someone at Ultra saw the segment or someone else's project and used that idea as a basis for "their" patent design. I don't claim to be the first person to do this mod, and I doubt I was.

It is a trend I have seen over and over. Companies see someone else's non-patented idea and then file a patent for it. If someone chooses to freely publish ideas to the public and not patent them, I feel it is wrong to then later grant a patent to someone else for the same idea.

In the "Modding" community people do projects for fun and generally freely share their work with the world. We usually do not care if someone else repeats the projects we do. After all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. What does get under our skin is when someone follows our ideas; then claim credit for coming up with the idea, and try to sue others for using the same idea. I feel that this is about the lowest and least honorable thing someone can do.

It is a shameful statement about our society that people without an original idea or a basic sense of right or wrong can freely manipulate our legal system to take money from others that don't claim to have originated ideas/designs that were openly/freely provided to the public. Those that do this know what they did, but guilt doesn't seem to be an issue for them.

If we do not want this behavior to continue, boycott all products made by companies that conduct their business in this manner. Fight them were it hurts, in their bank account. After all this seems to be the only thing they care about.

Yoshi DeHerrera
A simple modder who proudly FREELY shared his ideas with the world.

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Prior Art
By oab on 4/15/2008 7:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I suppose that would count as prior art, but I'm sure that in 2004 it wasn't any sort of unique idea, IIRC, Ultra had just released their first modular PSU at that time, and as cool as it was, it only meant that people didn't need to home-brew their own.

Although, as much as people say that modular PSU's are the bees-knees, I have one, and it never saved me ANY wiring space in my case, and is just as cluttered as a regular one. It's got a bit of a "cool factor" going, but why didn't Ultra sue those competing companies the second they were granted that patent?

RE: Prior Art
By qwerty1 on 4/16/2008 3:01:37 AM , Rating: 2
but why didn't Ultra sue those competing companies the second they were granted that patent?

Because, like all of these types of lawsuits, Ultra in this case wants to milk money out of the defendants. All Ultra would accomplish by suing early on is incur huge legal fees.

RE: Prior Art
By qwerty1 on 4/16/2008 3:02:20 AM , Rating: 2
blah wrong reply spot... can't fix

RE: Prior Art
By jonnyGURU on 4/18/2008 1:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
I couldn't find who you were replying to so I too will reply in the "wrong spot".

Who's to say there wasn't comminication with these other companies as soon as Ultra earned their patent? We're speculating that there wasn't, but I had read in news pertaining to this case that initially Ultra had sent out letters to the different manufacturers telling them to pay a licensing fee or stop making the product. So after a year and a half with no response to these letters, you would expect Ultra to throw their hands up in the air and say "oh well"?

RE: Prior Art
By TomZ on 4/16/2008 11:55:40 AM , Rating: 2
Although, as much as people say that modular PSU's are the bees-knees, I have one, and it never saved me ANY wiring space in my case, and is just as cluttered as a regular one.

I agree, and there's also the disadvantage of the additional voltage drop and power loss due to the additional connectors. When your're pulling tens of amps off a rail, a few hundred milliohms can really make a difference.

RE: Prior Art
By clovell on 4/16/2008 5:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
Good question. Maybe they were hoping to resolve it quietly - hence the letters to the companies. Or, maybe they were building a case for later...

RE: Prior Art
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2008 11:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
Although, as much as people say that modular PSU's are the bees-knees, I have one, and it never saved me ANY wiring space in my case, and is just as cluttered as a regular one.

Really ? I have the OCZ Modstream and I couldn't be more happy. There is simply WAY less clutter than any PC I have ever built before. There are only 4 cables coming out of my PSU, and 3 of those are hardwired into it for PCI-E and motherboard power. I will never go back to a traditional PSU.

But I notice a lot of modular PSU's don't wrap the cables in a tight and stylish UV reactive plastic like OCZ does. They are still the plain jane mess of wires with a modular connector PSU interface. So maybe they still clutter.. I donno.

go yoshi!
By nugundam93 on 4/15/2008 11:19:19 AM , Rating: 3
well said, yoshi. and i hope people take the lead and hit those greedy companies where it hurts the most - their profits.

RE: go yoshi!
By mindless1 on 4/16/2008 6:07:32 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed, well said. And boycott Ultra - though frankly, I often feel anyone with two marbles in their head would've already avoided 75% of Ultra's product line because of how craptacular it's been. They had a select few from a certain manufacturer that were better than average but now let's just hand them their hat and show them the door.

RE: go yoshi!
By porkpie on 4/16/2008 10:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
There's ALREADY a process to handle people who sue based on frivolous patents that have prior art.

It's called the legal system. The companies lose their suits, waste a bunch of money, and wind up getting countersued for damages also. Problem solved.

RE: go yoshi!
By clovell on 4/16/2008 5:03:47 PM , Rating: 2
That's what I thought, too.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2008 11:53:40 AM , Rating: 2
LOL.. I mean.. do any of us have anything in our pc cases with ULTRA stamped on it ?? Before these articles I have never even heard of them. And certainly would never consider buying on of their PSU's.

That's still not prior art
By jonnyGURU on 4/18/2008 12:18:41 PM , Rating: 2
Uggh... Yoshi, why didn't you read the patent prior to commenting?

What you and Performance-PC's did are not prior art to the Ultra patent because they do not fit the description of what Ultra patented. The patent is for connectors on an interface board (specifically they say "PCB") on the PSU housing that allows direct DC to DC connection with the computer's peripherals. "Modding" a PSU to have "modular" cables is not the same. No PCB, no interface board...

I swear, it seems people see the word "modular" and assume that this patent is all encompassing of anything that had removable cables prior to it. The claims are actually much narrower than this.

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