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Ultra Modular PSU  (Source: Ultra Products)
Ultra patented the modular power supply in a computer, and is now seeking triple damages from competitors

For many PC enthusiasts and case modification fans out there one of the best inventions ever was the modular power supply unit. Modular power supplies allow a user to remove an unnecessary cable from the business end of the power supply if its not in use, reducing the clutter of a computer case.

Ultra Products Inc. was the first to patent this technology in 2004.  The USPTO issued to the patent in November of 2006 under U.S. Patent Number 7,133,293. Since then, the company issued 22 confidential written warnings to various power supply manufacturers informing them that they allow users to breach their patent for "Personal computer power supply installed within a case of a personal computer."

Ultra filed the suit in the United States District of Florida Orlando Division and named as defendants no less than 22 of the top power supply makers. Named in the suit as defendants are Antec, Inc., Channel Well Technology Co. Ltd., Channel Well Technology Co. U.S.A., Inc., Corsair Memory, Inc., Enhance Electronics Co. Ltd., E-Power Technology/PCMCIS, SPI Electronic Co. Ltd., FSP Group USA Corp., Koolance USA, Mushkin, Inc., OCZ Technology, Sea Sonic Electronics Co. Ltd., Silverstone Technology, Inc., Spire-Bytecom Fanner Corporation, Tagan Technology Co. Ltd., Tagan Technology Co., Thermaltake Technology Co. Ltd., Thermaltake, Inc., Topower Computer Industrial Co. Ltd., Topower Computer U.S.A., Inc., Zalman Technology Company Ltd. and Zalman USA, Inc.

Unlike most other patent infringement lawsuits, Ultra Products is not seeking an injunction against the 22 other companies.  Ultra argues that since the other manufacturers were informed in 2006 and early 2007 (shortly after the patent was granted) they willfully infringed on Ultra's intellectual property. Thus, Ultra is seeking up to triple damages against the power supply manufacturers -- the maximum allowed by law. 

Ultra Products, for many years synonymous with the TigerDirect house brand, could not reached for comment.

Several of the other companies named in the lawsuit agreed to speak off the record.  One manufacturer claims that the patent granted to Ultra will likely not hold up in court. He says, "The U.S. patent office does not have the manpower to examine cases to an extensive degree anymore.  The examiners rubber stamp everything that isn't easy to contest and let the courts figure it out afterward."

This may have some truth to it, as another patent describes a "Computer with modular power supply assembly in separate bay" issued to Hewlett-Packard in April 2000.  Several episodes of the now defunct TV show The Screen Savers discussed the merits of modular power supplies as early as 1999.

Three of the largest manufacturers named in the suit banded together in early 2007 after receiving the original notifications from Ultra in early 2007.  This coalition claims it spent more than $250,000 in a prior art search, but would not disclose the results of that search to DailyTech.

Unfortunately the case is more convoluted than that.  Another defendant in the lawsuit, whom also wished to remain nameless, states, "This isn't so much a case of Ultra versus power supply manufacturers.  It's actually a case of Ultra versus end-users. By putting a modular power supply inside a computer, the end-users violated Ultra's patent."

The argument goes that power supply manufacturers aided end-users in this violation by selling hardware that allows end-users to violate the 7,133,293 patent.

Of the 22 companies named in the suit, seven were unaware Ultra had even filed against them as of April 9, 2008.

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By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 1:23:18 PM , Rating: 2
If putting a modular power supply in a computer constitutes a patent violation, and people who make make modular power supplies are accused of "HELPING" users violate patents, does it not follow that the makers of computers also helped? Either way I think some are just trying to shift the blame.

RE: hmmm
By mattclary on 4/10/2008 1:47:22 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, not sure I get this either.

Is it just me, or did SCO start a trend by threatening to sue end users?

If I buy something that violates a patent, I did not violate the patent, the company who manufactured the item (and made the money) is the one who violated the patent.

RE: hmmm
By aharris on 4/10/2008 1:58:15 PM , Rating: 3
My thoughts exactly.

Go ahead, sue me for damages I caused by NOT buying your currently unknown product.

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 2:01:35 PM , Rating: 2
They were the first company i got a modular power supply from. It worked great I have to admit, was kind of tough fitting it in my case, but that was an odd shaped case though.

RE: hmmm
By Andrevas on 4/10/2008 3:44:34 PM , Rating: 2
that's funny, my Ultra I bought when the modular PSU came out died within a few months.

RE: hmmm
By jbzx86 on 4/10/2008 3:55:46 PM , Rating: 3
My ultra modular PSU is still running strong. I have used it for 3 years. I think you all have really dirty A/C power coming into the house or I got a gem.

RE: hmmm
By rcc on 4/10/2008 4:23:07 PM , Rating: 2
You got a gem. This is one of those makes that works for hours or years, and you can't predict which.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/2008 5:10:04 PM , Rating: 2
one of those makes that works for hours or years, and you can't predict which

I think that pretty much applies to most products up there. But yeah, some PSU models have a failure rate that reminds me of the 360.

RE: hmmm
By Samus on 4/11/2008 2:45:22 AM , Rating: 2
I have an Ultra PSU. Works fine.

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 4:26:43 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't get the first release of it, they might have worked out the defects by the time I got around to getting mine.

RE: hmmm
By Omega215D on 4/11/2008 3:20:53 PM , Rating: 2
Odd... I bought a modular power supply from MadDog MM back in 2005... I'm wondering if they worked with Ultra.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 2:07:27 PM , Rating: 3
I think patents and criminal law are two different realms.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 2:27:06 PM , Rating: 4
Your right, it's not hard to make up random ridiculous cases. But that is just what they are, random and ridiculous. Can we try and keep things applicable.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 2:41:20 PM , Rating: 4
When someone buys a product, they can however use it for it's intended purpose. In this case, using the Modular PSU to supply power to the computer. The Manufacturers are at fault here, not the end users.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 2:47:06 PM , Rating: 3
Speed limit laws are again, in the criminal realm.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 2:58:31 PM , Rating: 3
I entered the following google search "is speeding a crime"
The second listing was.

Is speeding a crime? |
Is speeding a crime? Good Lord! If you don't know that is a crime...please don't get behind the wheel of a car...or a lawn mower...or a bike.

But either way, it's still not an applicable scenario. The ferrari is, as a product, a transportation device. Just because it is capable of going over the speed limit on a road that is controlled by the government, does not mean that is it's intended purpose.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By onefastfreak on 4/10/2008 5:35:03 PM , Rating: 2
Gonna have to back up Murst on this one... Speeding is a "tort" not a "crime." The difference is small, but it's similar to the difference between going to criminal court or civil/small claim's court. The guilty party could still be guilty-it's just a matter of what code they're violating.

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 5:58:50 PM , Rating: 2
hmmm, well then it is under the relm of torts then.

RE: hmmm
By whinystan on 4/11/2008 12:48:40 PM , Rating: 2
Completely wrong.

Speeding is an act forbidden by statute or ordinance and generally a violation of that speeding law results in a civil forfeiture. It is not a tort.

I said "generally," as there may be circumstances, such as when the vehicle exceeds some very substantial speed (such as >30 or 40mph over the posted speed limit) or if there are aggravating factors present at the time the person is speeding (maybe DUI, children as passengers, speeding through a school zone) when the violation is no longer a civil forfeiture violation but becomes a criminal traffic, misdemeanor, or possibly even a felony violation; this will vary significantly from state to state.

RE: hmmm
By 4wardtristan on 4/10/2008 9:34:35 PM , Rating: 2
in Australia if you go to far over the speed limit, (like really crazily over the limit) you can get sent to jail...

the courts would rather see you loose your license for say 5+ years, but it is still possible to go to jail for speeding..

that's inside the "criminal realm", isnt it?

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/11/2008 2:09:44 AM , Rating: 1
Who cares what happens in Australia. There are also countries that stone you to death adoultery. That doesn't mean its a crime in the USA.

RE: hmmm
By mattclary on 4/10/2008 3:08:53 PM , Rating: 3
Do you REALLY think you should be able to be sued because Sony violated a patent when they made your TV set?

While the definition of a patent actually does preclude "use", would you advocate I do a patent search before purchasing a product to ensure I would not be infringing on a patent? Your argument is sounding a bit ridiculous.

What Is a Patent?

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. The term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. US patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US possessions.

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 3:31:11 PM , Rating: 2
Using your same quote,
power supply adapted for installation within a computer case

The power supply you bought was indeed configured for use in a case.Maybe not your case, but A case.

The PSU manufacturers created a product for the intended use in a computer. If you can't see how the manufacturers are to be faulted, but instead the end users, then you are blind.

RE: hmmm
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that there was prior art, servers have used PSU with modular connectors for many years prior to Ultra's patent. Thus, just because a manufacturer makes it PS2 sized (form factor) that doesn't necessarily mean it would go into a (P)ersonal (C)omputer.

Based on prior art and the inevitability that PC supplies would be modular eventually, (fact is, almost every PSU for anything anywhere has some degree of modularity) the Ultra patent should've been rejected and now held worthless.

RE: hmmm
By mattclary on 4/10/2008 3:33:45 PM , Rating: 2
The power supply, as I received it, was not configured (or "adapted") for installation in my computer case. I had to make the adaptations myself.

So, what tools did you use? Soldering iron? Wire cutters? Jig saw? Dremel tool?

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:35:27 PM , Rating: 1
It wouldn't be impossible to make a PSU adapted to suit the vast majority of users' cases, because most are fairly standard and don't deviate much in dimensions or # of drives. AFTER Ultra's patent more people started using video cards with external power connector but even today Intel integrated video is still the most popular - no addt'l connector needed for that.

To some extent, modular cabling is not to combat the claimed need but rather because PSU manufacturers have been fairly daft about the number and length of leads needed in the most common configurations. It is true some might have an unused cable or two, but not very many and wire ties can easily secure those out of the way for pennies a piece.

RE: hmmm
By Suomynona on 4/10/2008 3:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
Just because a PSU company manufactures a modular PSU, it doesn't mean that users are allowed to do whatever they want with it.

It's hard to tell whether you're trying to be a "devil's advocate" troll or if you actually believe the crap you're saying. So it's okay to buy a modular power supply if you just use it as a paperweight, but if you actually use it to provide power, you're infringing a patent? It's a product with only one purpose, using it for that single purpose isn't exactly "doing whatever you want with it."

All of your analogies are completely irrelevant. We're talking about a product that is specifically designed for a single purpose. If that design itself infringes a patent, then only the manufacturer is liable.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 3:21:01 PM , Rating: 2
The suit is about manufacturers making a product that infringed on Ultra's patent. The end user bull crap is just trying to shift the blame.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 3:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
Your right, the suit is about the Manufacturers making a product that's intended use violates their patent.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/2008 4:07:32 PM , Rating: 3
You're acting like doing something like that is somehow illegal or infringing.

I guess you've never seen a radar detector in a store or in someone's car. The intended use of the product is to alert you of police scanners so that when you're speeding, you slow down.

Hell, there's a radar detector out there what will pay your speeding fines if you're caught (as a guarantee). Selling a product that will enable you to do something illegal is completely legal in the USA (guns, pot equip, etc). It is your responsibility to know what you can and cannot do w/ the product. Its called responsibility .

Attempting to blame something on the manufacturer in a case when it was you who violated some law is studpid. Maybe the people who share music online should point their finger at Limewire when they get a RIAA notice?

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 4:25:02 PM , Rating: 2
You're acting like doing something like that is somehow illegal or infringing.
I'm not, Ultra is. That is why they filed the case.
The radar detector does not enable you to break the speed limit. That would also be getting into the criminal aspect of law. Nice that you know how to try and switch the topic to copyright infringement, instead of patent infringement. Different rule sets apply to each.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/2008 4:33:46 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not , Ultra is

So you agree that the manufacturer should not be held responsible if a consumer uses their product in such a way that infringes on another person's patent?

I could have swore you were arguing the opposite in your 10 previous posts.

Also, as to your last comment about switching topics... I believe all of the follow statements are valid:

If a consumer uses a product in such a way as to violate a copyright, the manufacturer of the product should not be responsible.

If a consumer uses a product in such a way as to infringe on a patent, the manufacturer of the product should not be responsible.

If a consumer uses a product in such a way that results in commiting a crime, the manufacturer of the product should not be responsible.

Because I think all of the above are valid, I've used examples of each to clarify my point. It was never my intention to change the subject.

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 4:48:45 PM , Rating: 2
What I am arguing is that the user is not at fault when they purchase a product and use it as intended by the manufacturer.

Ultra is arguing that the manufacturer is at fault.

You completely fail to realize that patent and copyrights and criminal law got by different rules. You keep trying to make all of them the same. The subject is about patents. NOT COPYRIGHTS. So yeah, you are switching the topic.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 5:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
See my reply further down. A floppy drive is not part of the case.

RE: hmmm
By jonnyGURU on 4/11/2008 10:27:20 AM , Rating: 2
You are correct.

FUD works because of ignorance. Read what we're arguing here in context:

"Another defendant in the lawsuit, whom also wished to remain nameless, states, 'This isn't so much a case of Ultra versus power supply manufacturers. It's actually a case of Ultra versus end-users. By putting a modular power supply inside a computer, the end-users violated Ultra's patent.'"

A DEFENDANT said this. Not Ulta, not a lawyer, it's not what the lawsuit is about... but throwing such a statement out there into the public forum for everyone to gnaw over is nothing short of ingenius for the spin factor of the situation. To throw that out there makes this an everyone vs. Ultra issue. Brilliant! But alas, the cease and desist letters were sent out to manufacturers... not customers. Apparently the letter stated "stop making modular PSU's or start paying us a licensing fee". Apparently the defendants didn't stop or didn't pay. So let's say Ultra wins this whole thing.. all of the way.. what does that mean to the customer? Nothing. Because it's the manufacturer that will have to pay the unpaid licensing fees for the products already shipped and sold. The customer already owns the product and it's the defendant that sold it to them, knowingly infringing on a patent.

Will this effect the customer long term? Absolutely, but nobody's busting into your house and taking your computer apart. What would happen, again worst case scenario, are those who want to maintain making modular power supplies would have to pay a licensing fee for the patent and this in turn will raise power supply prices. OR... heaven forbid, Ultra just decides to keep the license for themselves and be the sold distributor of modular power supplies. The latter is VERY unlikely on MANY levels though.

RE: hmmm
By JustTom on 4/10/2008 10:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with your analogy is that the intended use of modular PSUs violates Ultra's patent (assuming it is a valid patent).

RE: hmmm
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
You're splitting hairs. Essentially the issue is whether it can be reasonably held that the user used the product as marketed, what it's intended or only purpose was. Gun manufacturers don't sell a product that states "kill your ex-wife" on the box, they can be used without a death. What else is reasonably powered by a standard ATX PSU? Nothing, except (at least somewhat adhering to) ATX compliant computers. PSU won't even turn on fully until ATX spec is replicated to pull down the PS-On logic turn on signal.

RE: hmmm
By BioHazardous on 4/10/2008 5:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
Murst, I cannot honestly believe you're sitting here trying to argue about this and yet you seemingly have no idea what you're really talking about.

For some reason you continue to think that you can make an argument by using an analogy that doesn't even follow the same type of law. I can assure you that intellectual property law with the interpretation of patents and copyrights do not have the similarities you are suggesting they have to criminal law.

It is not an end user's responsibility to research patents to make sure the product they are using was properly authorized for production by the patent holder. Even if there is a patent that was issued that doesn't mean they have a right to monetary compensation. It all depends on the interpretation of the patent in a court of law.

It is nothing short of absurd to think an end user should be responsible for researching a database of archaic patents that potentially have no merit and wouldn't hold up in a court of law before they purchase a product.

I also cannot believe somebody actually ranked your last post up instead of down. You clearly have no concept of the laws in the United States.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/11/2008 2:20:22 AM , Rating: 2
It is not an end user's responsibility to research patents to make sure the product they are using was properly authorized for production by the patent holder

I'm not arguing that (read my posts). I'm saying that the product, as manufactured and sold, does not infringe a patent. Its when the user installs it that the patent is infringed.

Suppose someone patented NaCl (its a stupid example, but just listen me out). You go to the store and buy Sodium and you buy Chloride, which are both manufactured by company "A". If you mix these ingredients together to create NaCl, should company "A" be responsible for the patent violation? They sure as hell didn't sell you anything that infringed a patent. It was your action that infringes on the patent.

The same applies to the PSU in this case. Lets ignore the fact that the patent is complete trash and assume that it is valid. The PSU manufacturers, when they create and box the PSU, did not violate the patent. It can only be violated by a specific installation. Why should they be held responsible, considering that their product does not violate the patent? It is your method of installation of the PSU that violates the patent.

RE: hmmm
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:49:56 PM , Rating: 2
That is not necessarily correct. The product is manufactured to do a specific thing, is unsuitable for anything other than powering a computer (so the word "personal" is the real factor). The PSU is marketed, sold, selected for purchase based upon it's described function intrinsic to what it is.

For example, can one reasonably argue a bowling ball is not intended to use when bowling? I'm sure there are other things one might use it for but it was sold based upon description of it's intended use.

RE: hmmm
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:46:28 PM , Rating: 2

If I were to violate a patent (or hundred) making an exact duplicate of an XBox, would it be sane to say it wasn't my fault if it's only technically infringing in operation because the user plugged it in and turned it on? Of course not, the real question here is the validity or merit of the patent itself.

RE: hmmm
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:38:02 PM , Rating: 2
The suit is about Ultra stipulating a specific use becaues they knew there was prior art in non "personal computer" systems which their patient couldn't hold up against.

You could argue that the PSUs others made were expressly for personal computers, but this is not always true, an ATX PSU might be installed in a workstation or server which is arguably not a personal computer.

RE: hmmm
By themadmilkman on 4/10/2008 4:44:16 PM , Rating: 2
I did read the patent.

Your reading of the patent doesn't seem to move beyond the bold title on page 23. But in the 2nd paragraph on the same page under the heading "FIELD OF THE INVENTION" we read:

"More importantly, one embodiment of the present invention relates to a power supply ADAPTED FOR INSTALLATION WITHIN A COMPUTER CASE..." There is no statement requiring the power supply to actually be installed for a violation of the patent.

Even more importantly, in the actual court filing, on page 18, we find this:

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Ultra prays for a judgment:
1. That Defendants have infringed the '293 Patent;

Even further, the statement in the article is from a defendant, and really doesn't make any sense. The statements about aiding and abeting seem to be more about seeking enhanced damages than about violating the actual patent.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 5:00:56 PM , Rating: 2
The link I see takes me to a 29 pager.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: hmmm
By borismkv on 4/10/2008 3:19:00 PM , Rating: 2
The specific wording of their patent is "Personal computer power supply installed within a case of a personal computer"

The have absolutely no legal grounds to sue PSU manufacturers based on the wording of that patent, as the majority of Modular Power Supplies are actually sold outside of the case. They are therefore arguing that, by building a computer with a Modular Power Supply in it, you're violating their patent. And since they really would have to sue just about everyone who has ever built a computer (information that is impossible to find) in order to actually have a case, they are suing the PSU manufacturers for *enabling* infringement on their poorly prepared patent.

But in reality, yes, if a PSU company manufactures a modular PSU, and I then purchase it, I have every right to do whatever I want with it. I own it, I paid for it, I get to do what I want with it, assuming that what I am doing is not unlawful (This is why fair use is such a huge thing in the world of copyright). Even then I could only be charge for the crime that I committed. And since there is no law that currently prohibits the construction of a personal computer, there really is no grounds. This is another reason that Ultra can't sue everyone who's ever built a computer with a Modular PSU in it. Basically, their patent lawyers royally screwed up when submitting the patent, and now they're trying to find a way to fix it.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: hmmm
By borismkv on 4/10/2008 3:43:46 PM , Rating: 2
Might I suggest never using the phrase, "By that logic" ever again in an argument? It's a completely idiotic rhetorical trick that does nothing but destroy any form of discourse. What it does do is prove that you really don't fully understand the concept of the word logic.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/2008 4:10:47 PM , Rating: 1
Might I suggest never using the phrase, "By that logic" ever again in an argument?

Right... and your comment provided an amazing amount of insight to this discussion.

RE: hmmm
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:54:07 PM , Rating: 1
The PSU as sold is clearly intended for a specific purpose. Using a product as suggested by the manufacturer is not the buyer's fault. IF Ultra's patent is held as valid and enforceable (which I feel it shouldn't be) there is no other reasonable use of the product. I suppose some would say use as a boat anchor or door-stop is a better use for some Ultra PSU, but that's not what anyone describes the (other manufacturers') product fit for in order to sell it.

RE: hmmm
By callmeroy on 4/10/2008 3:48:58 PM , Rating: 1
Your examples are way off base they aren't even based on the same subject.

this is the one the person said "If I buy something that violates a patent, I did not violate the patent, the company who manufactured the item (and made the money) is the one who violated the patent."

How is that "logic" REMOTELY close to your absurd examples? The guy you are trying to pounce on as illogical its talking about the consumer being blamed for violating a PATENT and you use examples of product misuse...they are two completely different things. Might as well have a steak and ask why doesn't it taste like chicken.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/2008 4:17:46 PM , Rating: 1
talking about the consumer being blamed for violating a PATENT and you use examples of product misuse...they are two completely different things

Most reasonable people would probably say that using a product in a way that violates a patent would be classified as misuse.

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 4:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
The use as directed by the manufacturer.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/2008 4:47:46 PM , Rating: 1
I just looked up my Antec NeoPower instructions, just to see the "use as directed by the manufacturer".

For example, step #12 instructs me to hook up molex connector to a floppy drive. It doesn't say "if you have a floppy drive, use this connector". Therefore, if you were to follow the instructions word for word, you would actually hook up the PSU in such a way that would not infringe on the patent, since the PSU would not be adapted for your case.

You would have to not follow the instructions to infringe on the patent.

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 4:55:36 PM , Rating: 2
That takes nothing away from the PSU being intended, and adapted for use in a case.
Secondly, a floppy drive is not part of a case.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/2008 5:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
Umm... what?

So if a floppy drive is not part of the case, that means neither is the motherboard, graphics card, cd drive, fans, etc.

What exactly do you think PSUs are used for if not to power things that are installed in the case? I'm not sure what type of case you're using, but my case does not require a power supply to function. Its just sheets of aluminum.

The patent is all about connecting the power supply connectors to items in the case. Are you confused and think the patent is about mounting a PSU in a case?

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 5:08:21 PM , Rating: 2
So if a floppy drive is not part of the case, that means neither is the motherboard, graphics card, cd drive, fans, etc.

That is correct. Those pieces are not part of the case. I'm glad to be able to make this revelation to you.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/10/2008 5:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, if you want to play semantics on that, fine. I should have refered to the various components in the case instead of bundling it into one word.

But, what exactly do you think the patent is about?

Because I think its pretty clear that it is about being able to customize the connections going out of the PSU to your various items installed in the case.

From your most recent replies, I'm getting the feeling that you think the patent is about something completely different.

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 5:33:39 PM , Rating: 2
You're calling me on playing semantics when you were the one who pulled out the crap about your PSU not meeting intended use criteria because your instructions say to connect to the floppy, without a caveat for those without floppy drives.

RE: hmmm
By MightyAA on 4/10/2008 7:26:33 PM , Rating: 2
You don't get it. The use of a PSU isn't what the lawsuit is about. It's that they came up with the feature that you could remove the unneeded cables. This makes their PSU more desirable than their competition. Then they warned their competition about infringments. The competition saw this feature as valuable, and they copied it without paying Ultra royalties for the idea... Even better for Ultra is that feature isn't an industry standard, regulated standard, or necessary for that industry. It is simply a secondary feature that gives the product a sales edge. They marketed it and sold it as beneficial to system builders as something you wanted inside your rig.

The other manufacturer's chose to ignore the patent and can't even claim they unknowingly did it (they were notified). They probably offered it so they too could profit from the added benefit.

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/11/2008 2:24:57 AM , Rating: 2
They didn't patent removable connectors. They patented the method of installing the PSU w/ removable connectors. It is a pretty big difference.

RE: hmmm
By mattclary on 4/10/2008 3:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
Really wish these rating could go below -1...

RE: hmmm
By Alexstarfire on 4/10/2008 8:48:13 PM , Rating: 2
You, and the other guy that posted a similar example, have flawed logic. You are looking at the acts that people do, in both of the examples it is to break the law, and not the actual product. Neither product, a gun and a copier, break any laws by themselves. They don't break any patents either. A person has to be put into the equal to use said items to break the laws. That is far different from the actual product breaking the law. The modular PSUs that these other companies are making are breaking the patent without the help of any individual. That is why the manufacturers are at fault.

As a side note, I think the people who comment on DailyTech are becoming stupider. I can't believe the amount of posts that I read and think "what a /r/-tard."

RE: hmmm
By Murst on 4/11/2008 2:27:27 AM , Rating: 2
The modular PSUs that these other companies are making are breaking the patent without the help of any individual

Wrong. The patent isn't about how to make a PSU. The patent is about how to install a PSU. The PSU, as it is sold to you in a box, is not installed and therefore does not violate the patent.

RE: hmmm
By mattclary on 4/11/2008 11:43:00 AM , Rating: 2
By "adapted for installation within a computer case", they mean, "A power supply you would actually use in a computer case, and not, say... a freaking diesel generator that sits in your back yard.

You are just so full of crap. Can't decide if you are just trolling or are genuinely stupid.

From the patent:
More particularly one embodiment of the present invention relates to a power supply adapted for installation within a computer case for receiving AC current from an AC current source and providing DC current from the power supply to a component disposed inside of the computer case via a removable cable attached to the power supply

RE: hmmm
By AntiM on 4/10/2008 1:47:55 PM , Rating: 5
I suppose so. Plus, the company that made the screw driver that enabled you to install the PSU is also libel. If you bought the PSU from an online dealer, then your credit card company(or Paypal)aided you in violating the patent. Is there no end to this BS litigation? It seems like there's a new one every day. I'm getting sick of it.

RE: hmmm
By drebo on 4/10/2008 2:28:41 PM , Rating: 3

Two different words, two very different meanings. Please use the correct one next time.

RE: hmmm
By borismkv on 4/10/2008 3:45:46 PM , Rating: 2
You know what he meant from context. The point of language is communication, obviously what he meant to communicate got through, therefore it doesn't matter. Don't be a Grammar Nazi.

RE: hmmm
By rcc on 4/10/2008 4:30:29 PM , Rating: 2
We need grammer Nazis. Words have different meanings and spellings for a reason. And while you can often figure out which one is intended from context, it often results in misunderstanding. i.e. miscommunication.

RE: hmmm
By i3arracuda on 4/10/2008 5:17:45 PM , Rating: 4
You misspelled 'grammar'.

RE: hmmm
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 5:29:05 PM , Rating: 2

RE: hmmm
By rcc on 4/15/2008 5:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
You are absolutely correct. And because you mentioned that, next time I'll pay closer attention and get it right.

See, it works.

RE: hmmm
By Misty Dingos on 4/10/2008 2:07:47 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think it will take a TV lawyer to kill the concept that the guys that made the power supplies didn't violate the patent, it was the guy that bought it and stuck it into his PC. You would need a Hollywood writer as the judge to make that fly.

And if it were the case, why hasn't Ultra filed suit against all the owners of these errant power supplies?

Now just a question here. The standard under which the Ultra power supplies and the other modular power supply makers built their power supplies to, does it have anything to say about modular cabling? If it doesn't couldn't Ultra (and the others) be in violation of advertising that their products are standard products? I don't know what false advertising charges would do to their bottom line but I know it couldn't be good.

RE: hmmm
By jtemplin on 4/10/2008 9:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think more so than shifting blame, the purpose of what he said was to mobilize public opinion to support the defendants and villify the plaintiff. That was my take on the quote. I felt like he was trying to appeal to people by saying, "Look not only are they saying we did something wrong, technically they think you are at fault too". Don't know if I really care but just my $ .02.

The patent system is flawed.
By MrPickins on 4/10/2008 1:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
How much of the courts' time are we going to waste before we decide to overhaul the patent approval process?

As it is, it's far too easy to obtain the "rubber stamp."

RE: The patent system is flawed.
By Owls on 4/10/2008 1:29:28 PM , Rating: 5
I hereby invent "modular clothing". Only wear the layers you need!

I accept checks, money orders, and paypal.

RE: The patent system is flawed.
By rdeegvainl on 4/10/2008 1:32:37 PM , Rating: 3
You forget that in the future everyone wears jumpsuits. You are only furthering the rate at which humans shift to these wonderful one-zees.

RE: The patent system is flawed.
By afkrotch on 4/10/2008 1:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
Ya, these patent lawsuits are crazy nowadays. It is in bad need of an overhaul.

Also it's not a waste of the courts' time. They get money and that money goes back into the government.

Can we sue the PSU companies too? I mean, they didn't place a warning label on the box that using the product constitues breaking the law.

RE: The patent system is flawed.
By mmntech on 4/10/2008 2:21:36 PM , Rating: 2
The problem these days if that companies and individuals are too often resorting to law suits as revenue tools. Business in the toilet and it's your fault? Don't take the blame, sue everyone! Just ask the RIAA.

The entire system of tort law is what really needs an overhaul.

RE: The patent system is flawed.
By johnsonx on 4/10/2008 2:32:37 PM , Rating: 2
tort reform is the modern third rail of politics

RE: The patent system is flawed.
By darkpaw on 4/10/2008 3:39:16 PM , Rating: 2
If tort reform is the third rail, social security and medicare reform is the on coming train.

RE: The patent system is flawed.
By mcturkey on 4/10/2008 2:20:31 PM , Rating: 2
The rubber stamp solution to the patent approval process is patent pending. My lawyers are already working up the documents for the lawsuit that will be filed upon everyone who has every had a patent approved.

RE: The patent system is flawed.
By Garreye on 4/10/2008 3:46:40 PM , Rating: 5
Ya we really do need an overhaul. No company should be able to get a patent on something as obvious as this. In essence the Ultra patent is for adding a connector to a wire; real ingenious....They should have applied for a patent for the electrical outlet while they were at it.

You actually use a modular PSU? hah!
By EricMartello on 4/11/2008 2:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
I would recommend staying away from "gimmick" PSUs, which include so-called "modular" PSUs and PSUs with multiple power rails. Neither of these are ideal if you are looking for stable voltage with the ability to power modern CPUs and graphics cards.

RE: You actually use a modular PSU? hah!
By HOOfan 1 on 4/11/2008 2:33:41 PM , Rating: 2
"gimmick PSU's with multiple power rails"

You mean the ones that actually adhere to the ATX specifications?

By HOOfan 1 on 4/11/2008 2:44:36 PM , Rating: 2
RE: You actually use a modular PSU? hah!
By jonnyGURU on 4/11/2008 2:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but since when is a failsafe for short circuit protection and adherence to multiple safety and formfactor guidelines a "gimmick?" What's a gimmick is the Kool-Aid that people are feeding people telling them that single +12V rails are "more stable". There's no more or less stability one way or another because the act of splitting a +12V rail neither adds nor subtracts and kind of regulation or filtering. Don't believe the marketing folks. They'll tell you anything to sell a product.

RE: You actually use a modular PSU? hah!
By EricMartello on 4/12/2008 2:07:57 AM , Rating: 2
Failsafes? Ummm...there is no enhanced safety in splitting a single +12V rail into multiple current-limited fact, it reduces safety by forcing people to "balance" the load among the rails, which most people don't.

In many cases the split rails are wholly inadequate for their application, since 20-30A max current is not enough for modern CPUs and GPUs. It is better to have a single, high current +12V rail, period...sometimes standards are not well thought out and this particular aspect of the ATX standard was botched up. Average manufacturers will blindly follow it, while good ones will improve upon it.

By HOOfan 1 on 4/13/2008 2:08:08 AM , Rating: 2
Where do people get all of this load balancing nonsense? There is no need to balance loads and there is no trapped power. People seem to want to believe this type of FUD because a manufacturer like PC Power and Cooling says so.

BTW 20 Amps of 12V power is 240 Watts....there is no consumer level PC CPU or graphics card out there that will pull 240 watts.

There certainly are MANY MANY great power supplies out there that have multiple rails. There are also MANY MANY high end rigs out there running happily on multi-rail PSUs

By jonnyGURU on 4/14/2008 9:52:00 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I'm sorry Eric. You really just don't get it. Like HooFan points out, there is no "balancing" loads and in most cases no "trapped power". This is marketing BS. Actually, there is BS on both sides of the fence, like when folks that split up +12V rails tell you that you'll have cleaner more stable rails, and some people tend to believe either one or the other. But if you use your head, you have to wonder: If this marketing was based on fact, why is there contradicting professional opinions? Why do most companies split the +12V rail while only a handful offer single +12V rail units? It's when you actually do the research or have the personal experience to actually know why and how the +12V rail is split you can actually discuss this intelligently and realize that most of this marketng we're reading is a bunch of twisted half-truths made to convince us to buy one product over another. Take a look in the Anandtech forums, in the power supply sub forum, and you'll find an FAQ about single vs. multiple +12V rails. There's no FUD there because nobody is trying to sell you anything.

RE: You actually use a modular PSU? hah!
By EricMartello on 4/12/2008 2:01:47 AM , Rating: 2
Hoofan, thanks for linking to a PDF are as worthless as your reply.

Modular CPUs are not adhering to any kind of standard, and are purely gimmick.

Splitting the 12V rails may be part of the ATX standard, but it is not executed as intended. The reasoning behind multiple rails was to prevent overloading a single +12 lead, but since the current for the multiple leads is drawn from the same point, splitting them is pointless.

You might have three +12V rails that can deliver 20A each - the power requirement for a 8800GTX is more than's more like 30A. I am sure our resident douche can dig up another PDF --- or better yet, a BMP --- to find the exact amount required.

There are some manufacturers that disregard that shortsighted addition to the ATX standard by providing a single +12 rail with a full 60A available - i.e. PC Power & Cooling.

RE: You actually use a modular PSU? hah!
By HOOfan 1 on 4/13/2008 2:10:35 AM , Rating: 2
30 Amps of 12V is 360 Watts. An entire system run with an 8800GTX would pull maybe 420Watts

You obviously know nothing about Electricity..

have fun wallowing in your ignorance

RE: You actually use a modular PSU? hah!
By HOOfan 1 on 4/13/2008 2:15:34 AM , Rating: 2
Whatever, as I have said before when debating this topic.

It is not my place to try and change peoples' minds when they really want to believe something.

You have a right to your opinion and a right to spend your money how you see fit and pick a PSU how you see fit. All in all neither of our opinions is really worth spit and neither will change a single thing about the way PSUs are made or ATX specifications are layed out.

See ya around

By jonnyGURU on 4/14/2008 9:53:59 AM , Rating: 2
You do have a right to your opinion. But if you have no factual information to base your opinion on, you really shouldn't be debating it. That only works for religion. ;)

Prior patent?
By karielash on 4/10/2008 2:17:10 PM , Rating: 5

funny, this patent granted in 1999 (not to the Ultra) describes exactly what Ultra Patented.

Method of making personal computer power supply systems

and interesting subsection

'The power supply system further includes an integrated PC receptive module for providing an interface with the O/P cable. The O/P cable further including an integrated O/P cable plug module on the second end for plugging the O/P cable into the integrated receptive module, wherein the integrated O/P plug module being in electric connection to each of the cable groups. The O/P cable of the power supply system may be conveniently removed and separately designed and manufactured for connection to different types of the personal computers.'

RE: Prior patent?
By darkpaw on 4/10/2008 2:25:21 PM , Rating: 4
Now I don't know who is going to feel stupdier, Ultra or the other companies that paid $250k for a prior art search when you managed to find the information instantly!

RE: Prior patent?
By michal1980 on 4/10/2008 3:12:54 PM , Rating: 1
I haven't read the full text of the other panent.

But just glancing at them there are differences.

And the ultra patent might still stand.

the 1999 pantent is focused on making custom cables to invidual companies/end users. The modular part is that one power supply can come with a custom made plug to me all the customer cpu devices. IE just one large plug.

The Ultra patent defines a system where an end user can plug in as many/ as few connections as needed.

both are modular but, both also unqiue.

RE: Prior patent?
By karielash on 4/10/2008 3:21:47 PM , Rating: 2

They are very specific in the full text that this is a method of using a PSU and cable system combined and interfacing the two in a modular fashion to allow multiple computer subsystems to receive power from the PSU, I think the two (if you read both side by side have some significant commonalities).

I would certainly be screaming prior art at the judge.

RE: Prior patent?
By michal1980 on 4/10/2008 4:06:15 PM , Rating: 1
Alot of patents have commoniality.

Alot of work is based on prior work.

The 1999 patent, could include ultras idea. But ultra looks like it took it one step futher. To the idea that the end user can pick and choose his connectors, and that the connectors can INDIVDUALLY be connected. The 1999 patent, looks like its just so that a company can make the full blown wiring harness modular. IMHO, ultra's idea while, similar to the 1999 patent, Still a unique idea.

alot of patent work is based on making previous patents better, if you can prove your idea is both better/different then previous work you can get a different patent.

You can also do this to get around a patent. If a patent is too specific, and for example,states something is for 1-2 inches. But you find that 3 inches works better, you could get around that patent, and maybe get your own.

What is the Patent Office thinking these days.
By rcc on 4/10/2008 4:38:45 PM , Rating: 2
Ignoring who came up with it first, or why, etc. This isn't a technical marvel that needs protecting. It's putting connectors on both ends of a cable, something the world has been doing for a very long time. How does the fact that it's in a PC change things.

It's not even a sound technical advance, particularly for power wiring. More connectors mean more resistance means lost power/ineffeciency. Sure it's a small amount and doesn't really matter in your average PC, and it's cool to get rid of cables, but it is less efficient and introduces a couple more (at least 4) failure points.

By ketchup79 on 4/10/2008 6:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
This is one of the craziest things I have ever heard. First of all, it makes no sense that ultra could get away with damages from power supply manufacturers, when, according to the working of the patent, we are the ones breaking the patent, not the manufacturers.

Secondly, ultra should not have this patent. It seems the took an existing HP patent, and patented how to connect it. Since there is really only one way to connect a power supply (inside a case) this patent should have never been granted (or I could personally patent how to install a non-modular power supply, could I not?)

Third point, and I'll quit. This patent is not reasonable. I believe a big part of our legal system is deciding what is reasonable, not just reading a patent (or law) and deciding right or wrong based solely on the text in front of you.

I normally just read DT without posting, but I just had to speak my mind on this one.

By jonnyGURU on 4/11/2008 10:33:23 AM , Rating: 2
It seems this time you read DT, posted, but didn't read anything pertaining to the subject at hand.

The working of the patent does not have the customer "breaking the patent". It IS the manufacturers "breaking the patent". The whole "customer breaking the patent" idea came from a comment from a defendant. The lawsuit is against the manufacturers, and if they win the manufacturers will be forced to pay for knowingly infringing on the patent. I didn't knowingly infringe on the patent. I didn't get a registered letter in the mail telling me to stop using my power supply. The manufacturers got the letters and chose to not comply or, at the very least, nullify the patent.

Secondly, actually read the HP and Ultra patents side by side. You do not have prior art simply because two patents share the same words. Both patents have claims that are narrow enough to describe design, application, etc. If you have time, read the 17 PDF's over at the US ITC. Not only is it the patent, but there's discussions of prior art, application, market viability, time-lines, etc. It's a full days of reading... but there's a lot of neat stuff in there.

By ketchup79 on 4/11/2008 5:23:17 PM , Rating: 2
No, I read it, and the patent specifically states "methods of installing power supplies." (which is where the user comes in) I just didn't interpret it the way you did.

By jonnyGURU on 4/11/2008 5:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just how "I" interpret it. You read it, or at least that part of it, but read it out of context and/or didn't understand the rest. They define the specific application of the unit to help narrow the claim. This eliminates infringement on other patents that could be considered prior art like a redundant PSU or PSU for a server or an external PSU, etc. By defining the "device" patented and then explaining it's application including the method of installing and the application of the power, they narrow the claim. What's patented is NOT a method of installing which would then make the customer the one infringing on the patent. It's the device manufactured by the defendant installed in this fashion for this application.

By michal1980 on 4/10/2008 1:45:23 PM , Rating: 1
Patents general protect some of the more 'obivous' ideas of the time. But there generaly obivous after being created.

And while it sucks to be other companies, If ultra did come out with the patent first, they do have some legal rights to their modular power supply idea...

Just because others think its good, doesn't mean they can just copy.

By MrPickins on 4/10/2008 1:51:28 PM , Rating: 2
This may have some truth to it, as another patent describes a "Computer with modular power supply assembly in separate bay" issued to Hewlett-Packard in April 2000. Several episodes of the now defunct TV show The Screen Savers discussed the merits of modular power supplies as early as 1999.

It sounds like this idea was already obvious before the patent was filed. It should never have been granted, IMO.

By michal1980 on 4/10/2008 2:14:43 PM , Rating: 1
if HP had one in 2000 thats one thing. Then talking about it on a tv show.

If you look at the patent. Not just the article, If the patent stands, they have good grounds for a law suit.

In this case, ultra created the product and patented it. Its not like some of those stupid, "I invented a method for device input" patents on a product that never exsited until someone else made it. Two complete different situations, one you get sued for using an idea no one ever 'used' before. The other you get protection for creating a new product.

By Penti on 4/10/2008 5:15:53 PM , Rating: 2
Dude it doesn't really matter if they created a product or not, patents is just a description of a "invention". You don't patent a product you manufactured.

In this case it's like patenting the use for a connector for video that's attached to a panel on the back of a TV. It's not like when you need a license for using the HDMI connector, it's like a license is needed for any DC-connector on a panel attached to the PSUs wall in any PSU inside a computer.

Patents aren't for products as i said it's for inventions, and new inventions that can be useful in real life applications. The invention is often just a small part of the product, not as a whole.

By 306maxi on 4/10/2008 3:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
Thing is though they've waited a fair while to pipe up about it! If they'd got the patent and at the first sign of someone infringing upon it kicked up a fuss I could understand. But this is the blatant "lets think of an idea which is obvious, get a patent and then wait till a lot of companies with a lot of money are infringing and then sue" school of business practice and it's not cool.

Think of any idea, get a patent and protect it by all means. But don't do it this way.

Trying to patent obvious prior art...
By kilkennycat on 4/10/2008 4:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
About 15 years ago I was designing electronic instruments with modular power supplies. You know, those removable power-supplies with secondary-voltage high-current Molex sockets mounted to the power-supply circuit board to which you plugged cables from the remainder of the instrument. Or alternatively the modular power-supply and its attached connector plug-mated with a motherboard. And bulkhead-mounted pass-through power plug and socket connectors are nothing at all new. I had a quick look at the patent. Seems just a trivially simple combo of prior art. The fact that it is used within a PC instead of on an aircraft, a ship, an electronic instrument or otherwise should be totally discounted in assessing its original-idea worthiness. The US legal system is cluttered up with patent-trolls attempting to milk patents that have zero new-idea value. Lay the blame at the door of the US Patent Office which has failed to actively discern "that which is obvious to those versed in the art" and has also failed to thoroughly research public-domain (never-patented) prior art before granting a patent.

RE: Trying to patent obvious prior art...
By jonnyGURU on 4/11/2008 10:01:16 AM , Rating: 2
But there is no "obvious prior art". It seems to me that everyone that reports and/or comments on this issue failed to even read the patent since every example of prior art that comes up seems to be almost anything that has the word "modular" in it.

The patent is not simply for the concept "modular power supplies" or even modular power supplies as they are used in a personal computer. If it was, then even very obvious and recent prior art like Hank Baron's Performance-PC's modular would be considered prior art.

You have to look at the specifities of the patent. The device is used in a PC, so bench PSU's and instument PSU's don't count. The modular interface has to be on the housing of th unit. Ok, so Performance-PC's is out. There has to be two or more connectors. Ok, so the Yu patent is out. The connection on the housing has to deliver direct DC output to the peripherals of the computer. Ok, so the interface of a redundant power supply is out. See where this is going?

That said, the same things that narrow this claim may make it easy to beat. We don't know until we see the outcome of this case. But I do have to wonder one thing.... If, as the article states, "the patent granted to Ultra will likely not hold up in court" and "Three of the largest manufacturers named in the suit banded together in early 2007 after receiving the original notifications from Ultra in early 2007. This coalition claims it spent more than $250,000 in a prior art search" then how come when Ultra "informed in 2006 and early 2007" the other manufactures, why did they not try to nullify the patent then? So in a sense, the defendents are guilty, at the very least, of "willfully infringed on Ultra's intellectual property". So even if the patent is found to be bunk, the other companies did not do their due diligence beyond "research". Sure, one of the companies form a cosortium of sorts and spent almost a quarter of a million doing "research", but if that research was valid, why not nullify the patent? Would it have cost THAT MUCH MORE? Because now, they're going to have to spend a HELL OF A LOT MORE in defending themselves against this in court.

By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 8:18:17 PM , Rating: 2
There doesn't have to be "obvious prior art", rather only prior art that makes it obvious.

The vast majority of switching power supplies in every other product are modular, it is glaringly obvious that it would happen in a PC as well. Similarly, it is obvious that someone would eventually put an AC power switch on the back of one because of prior art in other devices, and a fan inside to raise the tolerable power density.

Why not nullify the patent? It would be like chasing ghosts, to try to hunt down and invalidate the (deemed invalid if ever scrutinized much) gross volume of patents filed by every squatter out there. Take a simple idea for power and search for a patent on it, it's amazing how many worthless patents there are that stand at any given moment. It really is an almost blind rubber stamp these days.

By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 8:22:21 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, to a designer or integrator the modular connectors are an obvious option and one used for many years with switching PSU, it's only the layman end users it wouldn't be obvious to and they don't count because they didn't make the product.

Heh, what do you want to bet there's some patent out there for making a power supply by "populating a copper covered fiberglass board with discrete electronic components" or something to that effect? It's really crazy how badly the patent system is abused.

By MonkeyPaw on 4/10/2008 2:23:09 PM , Rating: 3
Honestly, I can't believe this "detactable cable" concept took until 2004 to patent, and that it's even patentable in the first place. Over the years, how many of us have installed a PSU and thought "I wish I could disconnect this totally unused cable instead of tucking it out of the way"? It seems like such an obvious concept that it's hard to believe that anyone could get credit for "conceiving" this idea. In practice, a modular PSU is no different than a car stereo, which has used modular connections for decades. Sure, it costs a few extra bucks to impliment, but no real IP went into this.

By Spyvie on 4/10/2008 3:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see how the concept is any different from the detachable power cords that have always been a feature of computer power supplies.

By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 8:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
Internal (within exterior product chassis) switching power supplies almost always have a modular connector. PC PSU were one of the rare exceptions. Everything from your TV to washing machine to (insert random product here) have this, it was inevitable/obvious that it happen in a PC.

Where else does it f***ing go?
By FITCamaro on 4/10/2008 3:10:19 PM , Rating: 1
Personal computer power supply installed within a case of a personal computer.

Where does would the power supply go in a personal computer? Outside the case? How does this crap get granted patented status?

Can I get the patent for a personal vehicular power supply installed somewhere on the body of a vehicle? Meaning I could force every automobile manufacturer to install the battery on a skateboard that gets dragged behind the vehicle so as to not violate my patent.

RE: Where else does it f***ing go?
By Swaid on 4/10/2008 5:11:49 PM , Rating: 2
Whew, I can't be sued. I don't have a "Personal Computer", I have a "Public Computer". It just might be hard for the public to have easy access to it, sitting behind a "Personal (firewall) Network" and behind my "Personal Steel Security Front Door". But other than that, it's open to the public!

By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 8:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
They had to include the inside a personal computer part because there was (even more) clearly, too much prior art in modular PSU in servers and workstations.

By plonk420 on 4/10/2008 2:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
...and Ultra isn't that good of a brand, either. or at least Tiger and their crappy "bundles". Anyone besides me know of a few people that have blindly bought a Tiger bundle and gotten burned by SOME weak link in the bundle that's led to system instability? this lawsuit is yet another annoying patent trolling, but it's made even more unpalitable in that the poor brand that's "being stolen from" is one of mediocre repute/reliability.

RE: ech
By RamarC on 4/10/2008 2:23:55 PM , Rating: 2
agreed. i doubt if i would have ever considered anything from ultra, but now i'm positive i'll NEVER BUY ANY ULTRA product. i hope the lose and go out of business.

Should just sue 'em for money...
By Nik00117 on 4/10/2008 1:38:17 PM , Rating: 1
Not sure what they asking, but i'd ask for a cut of each PSU which was sold with modular capabilties, and an agreement that we will recieve a cut based upon the number of modular PSUs sold, to think getting a dollar or two per PSU sold, could end up with you making a pretty penny.

O BTW i'm in violation of this patent, but whog ives a shit?

By valkator on 4/10/2008 2:20:07 PM , Rating: 2
It's funny that Ultra had the patent for that. I mean I don't think their power supplies are any good anyways so who cares what Ultra thinks!

We need a new patent law...
By Proteusza on 4/10/2008 2:20:44 PM , Rating: 3
The law needs to be:

"If you discover that someone is using your patent, and you wait more than a year before doing anything about it, you have to pay for all of their legal costs and get a smack as a reward."

Its blatantly obvious that people are just hanging on to patents to see how much money they can make in litigation. I dont think thats how they should be used.

By DireNova on 4/10/2008 2:13:36 PM , Rating: 2
Virtually every AT/ATX power supply ever made is already "modular" in that the main power cable is detachable.

If you want to talk obvious - the obvious inspiration is on the other side of the PS, plugged into the wall.

By Domicinator on 4/10/2008 4:30:15 PM , Rating: 2
1. Where does ANYONE get off saying that the end users should be sued for having modular power supplies? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. As if I know who has patents on what when I buy something, especially if it's a product made by a reputable brand.

2. I have been using a ThermalTake modular power supply for about two years now. It's taking this long for a lawsuit to surface about this type of hardware? Gimme a break.

Well, they finally got me.
By Reclaimer77 on 4/10/2008 7:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
Thousands of MP3's and movies and warez downloaded, and they ain't got nothing ! But whats gonna take me down ?? I bought an OCZ Modstream Psu !!! NOOOoooooooo !!!!!!!!!!!

Crime just doesn't pay kids :(

Maybe I'm stupid
By nvalhalla on 4/10/2008 8:26:15 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't think you could patent what a user can do with a product. Could I patent storing drinks in a refrigerated device and sue anyone who stored beer in their fridge? Maybe I should see if there's a patent for modifying things with a tool and sue everyone for infringing my patent. Once I buy it, it's mine. If I want to cut ALL the connectors off of it and use it as a paperweight, I can. The only restrictions I've seen regarding what a person can do with their products is with software, where you own a license to use, but don't actually own anything.

Fine with me.
By jevans64 on 4/10/2008 10:20:53 PM , Rating: 2
FINE!. If Ultra wants to sue ME for NOT buying one of their POS power supplies, then my Antec's and Enermaxes will NO LONGER be PSUs. They will become bricks and I will grab them by their 24-pin cables and toss them through the windows of the Ultra corporate office.

How's that for breaking the law?

Screw you Ultra!
By Rob94hawk on 4/11/2008 4:06:24 AM , Rating: 2
Ultra, your products suck ass! I bought a modular psu from you deuchbags back in 2004 and it was responsible for more problems than I've ever had with a computer.

I hope you freakin lose and go out of business. DIE!

Patents only protect the big guys
By phxfreddy on 4/10/2008 3:10:13 PM , Rating: 1
I've known alot of small business people. Their opinion? Patents help only those who can afford a herd of lawyers. There is no way to protect yourself unless you fight in court. I worked for Honeywell...what was their strategy? They encouraged the engineers to patent as much as possible...why? because when Motorola sent them a stack of paper 6 inches tall Honeywell wanted to be able to send one 12 inches tall back. I did not make this up...I was directly told this. Our current patent system allows a shotgun approach that benefits no one. This bullshit patents should be denied. A 10 year old child could have done this one. Yet they claim we owe them royalties on an idea that with very highly probability originated somewhere else!

By marvdmartian on 4/10/2008 4:15:16 PM , Rating: 1
Ultra Sues Everyone Over Modular Power Supplies

Everyone??? Shoot, I wonder if I've got a lawsuit against me? I mean, I'm part of everyone, ya know?? ;)

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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