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Thread: United States Patent Office Data

  1. #1

    Default United States Patent Office Data

    This is the US Patent and Trademark Office database search engine for patents. Type "Maglica" in the first field and choose "inventor name" from the drop down. Type flashlight in the second field. Choose "all years" in the "select years" drop down. The results are daunting. The search returns 81 patents.

    Patent #4,286,311 is for a flashlight and was issued in 1981.

    Patent #4,577,263 is for a miniature flashlight and was issued in 1986.

    Patent #4,864,474 is for a single cell flashlight and was issued in 1989.

    My three hours of searching and reading did not turn up any reference to led's from Mag, other than indicator lights in battery chargers.

    But patent #6,366,028 , filed for on January 28, 2000 by CMG, for a battery powered light which is connected to a voltage step-up circuit, was issued 6 months ago. This is their summary of the invention:

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
    A light, such as a miniature flashlight, uses a standard battery, for example, a single AA or AAA battery, to drive a solid state light source, such an LED, even though the DC voltage output of the battery is lower than the turn-on threshold voltage of the solid state device. In one embodiment, a flashlight includes a battery holder electrically connected to a voltage step-up circuit which, in turn, is electrically connected to an LED. The voltage step-up circuit steps up the voltage provided by the battery to a voltage that is above the turn-on threshold of the LED, thereby turning the LED on and causing illumination. The voltage step-up circuit may include an inductor as an energy storage device connected to the LED and to a switch, such as a transistor. In this embodiment, toggling operation of the switch causes the inductor to alternatively store energy and to then discharge energy so that, when discharging energy, the inductor causes the voltage across the LED to be higher than the turn-on threshold voltage of the LED. Thus, in this embodiment, the inductor and switch combination creates an AC voltage across the LED causing the LED to turn on and off at a frequency at which it appears to the user that the LED remains on constantly.
    In another embodiment, a light uses a power switching circuit to enable an LED to be driven by a single standard battery which does not provide a DC voltage output large enough to drive the LED unaided. Because the light includes an LED driven by a single battery of a standard size, such as a AA battery, the light can be light-weight and small in size and yet attain the longer life and durability advantages of using an LED as a light source. For example, one embodiment of a flashlight described herein that uses a single AA battery to drive an LED provides a battery life of about 40 hours, as compared to the typical eight hour life for a single AA battery flashlight that uses an incandescent bulb. Still further, the LED of the light described herein can be guaranteed for life because the LED does not burn out easily, as is the case with incandescent bulbs.

    Click on "images" at the top of linked page, then navigate using arrows and links on the left.

    Jim

  2. #2
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    Hmmmm patenting a switching boost convertor, how original......

    I have no wish to add to anyones legal woes, including possibly my own, but really have to have a rant.

    Switching convertors, been around for years, popular for distributing high current low power in rack equipment, for years, more recently integrated miniaturised versions made by several manufacturers for specifically driving LEDs in battery equipment for things like PDAs and mobile phones.

    There is substantial prior art on this forum and elsewhere for the application of this technology in handheld lights, torches or flashlights.

    The US patent system is a very unhealthy state, to continue to receive funding it must issue loads of patents.The idea of a patent to provide protection for an inventor of a new , original or novel idea appears to have gone right out of the window.

    It appears sufficient now to bolt together a few well known and proven concepts and claim it as an original invention.Or simply just file for a patent on an already known and used concept, as long as someone hasn`t already filed a patent on it....

    The U.S. Patent system has become a laughing stock over the swinging side to side patent, registered in the name of the 7 year old son of one of 3Ms patent attorneys:

    http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/sil...ey/3084451.htm

    http://www.db79.com/archives/world_w...g_examined.php

    The Australian patent system looks like it could be going the same way, a patent on the wheel:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...ic/1418165.stm

    A very interesting take on Patents is provided by Don Lancaster over at :

    http://www.tinaja.com/

    Look at `The case against Patents`

    At the moment the lawyers are getting very rich at the expense of Research and Development.

    Issue of a patent is simply a better reason to sue, its not a criminal offence to infringe a patent and the issuers have little interest and no incentive to make sure that there really is no prior art, wether in patents or the public domain.

    Only thing that limits enforcement of patents is the depth of the combatants
    wallets.

    Some people here may remember the stage lighting battle between Vari-Lite and just about everyone else.It was expensive for all the parties involved and only made sure that other manufacturers reversed around VL`s patents and continued to make products.

    There is also another patent battle brewing in LED land, not going to comment, but the major combatant`s intials are the same as a major manufacturer of gents underwear.

    It can only be hoped that the legislature realises that the patent system is being subverted and far from encouraging innovation it is being used by large companies to discourage competition and smother innovation.

    Rant over for the moment.

    Adam

  3. #3

    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    Is it really possible that no one ever used a step-up circuit to drive an LED before 2000?

    How can this be patented?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    Originally posted by Scoper:
    Is it really possible that no one ever used a step-up circuit to drive an LED before 2000?
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">I suspect it may be possible that no one used a step-up converter in a single-cell flashlight prior, but I don't know for sure. I know a lot of portable gear used step-up converters of one sort or another prior, but I personally can't think of a single-cell flashlight, at least with an LED as the primary light source, that did.

    I've had several xenon-strobe single cell lights with step-ups, I've had florescent prior to that date, but LED? Anyone else think of any?


  5. #5
    Flashaholic* Silviron's Avatar
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    I started to post this over on the ARC forum on the related thread, then thought it might be better over here..
    _____________________________________________
    Gee, I haven't been following CPF closely for a few weeks, but this ARC / XagXite situation is about as big an emotional downer for me as when Craig got "sick".

    God, I hate lawyers. That old joke about 99.999% of the lawyers make the rest look bad... Well, it isn't all that far away from the truth.

    A couple of months ago I got a letter from a lawyer representing a "major expensive watch manufacturer" threatening to sue me for $10,000,000 (really) for trademark infringement.

    You see, a few years ago I set up a website for a friend that has a jewelry/pawn shop, and he wanted a "forum" were people could ask and have answered questions about jewelry....

    Well, I hadn't checked that forum personally for probably three years, and I doubt if the owner had checked it for two years, and there wasn't even a link to the forum from his website anymore...

    But some spammer selling Fake R0!#Xes had posted about a hundred spams offering to sell the fake watches (he was upfront about them being fakes)...

    Anyway, since I was listed as webmaster on the site and the technical contact on "Whois" for the website, the D@m# lawyer thought I should pay $100,000 for each insertion of the fake R0!#x ads.

    Now the guy selling the fakes has "brick and mortar" stores in just about every major city, a huge website, fancy mail order catalogs, and dozens if not hundreds of jobbers and reps;

    But they go after ME, just a little guy that has nothing to do with any possible harm to R0!#x, not making a penny out of anything related to R0!#x

    And that's just one reason why I HATE lawyers.

    Concerning LED-FXs link to Don Lancaster's stuff- I had the same opinion about patents already (Thanks to two years of Business Law courses) but have read a few of Lancaster's books and booklets. He's an interesting guy and got a lot of good ideas.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    Single cell white LED flashlight prior to 2000, well, what became known around here as the Satcure circuit and was originally published as a circuit in UK magazine Everyday Electronics in November 1999 by Z. Kaparnik.Hmmm public disclosure and prior art spring to mind.

    Apart from the horrible mess that is the Patent system would also caution against ever relying on a Non Disclosure Agreement,NDA.

    Seen at close range how easy it is for a manufacturer to happily sign one of these prior to viewing a new invention and then simply ignore it.Like a Patent it depends on how much legal muscle you have to enforce the thing.

    Adam

  7. #7

    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    I would suggest that this may be the most important thread on CPF. The following is quoted from the patent found by Galavanter ( #6,366,028 ):

    “Still further, if desired, more than one battery could be used as a power source, as long as a voltage step-up circuit 24 is used to provide a sufficient power signal to the LED. Still further, other illumination devices including other types of solid state devices, such as laser diodes, etc., and non-solid state devices could be used instead of the LED as a light source. While a flashlight using a voltage step-up circuit has been described herein as a miniature flashlight, it will be understood that any other type of light can be designed to use such a circuit and still fall within the scope of the claims. Thus, the light described herein need not be a flashlight but could be any other type of light, such as a headlight, a laser pointer or other pointing device, as well as any other type of, for example, portable or handheld light as well as a stationary light.”

    In other words, any battery powered light whatsoever that uses a step-up circuit is supposedly covered by this patent. If upheld, this would exert a strangling effect on any further development of a very large fraction of devices that require both portability and illumination. I believe it is worth fighting this interpretation. CPF is the obvious place to do this because: 1) CPF includes many members who are actively engaged in the development of devices whose manufacture and marketing could be adversely affected, and 2) CPF includes members who know, or know how to find, evidence of relevant prior art.

    My suggestion is that we collect and post all possible examples of relevant devices, circuits, descriptions, and ideas that were published or publicly known or available, especially before January, 2000. These would include, but are not limited to:

    Mini flashlights
    Other flashlights
    Lanterns
    Bicycle lights
    Indicator lights
    Back lit LCD screens
    LED display screens
    Medical or surgical devices
    Clocks and watches
    Night lights
    Toys
    Etc, etc

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* Mr Ted Bear's Avatar
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    .... data base is a good 6 months out of date....
    they recentlly filed for a led light patent

    sorry, no other info

  9. #9
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    Problem I see with trying to grab an all encompassing Patent on boost convertors for LEDs in battery powered equipment is the other players,
    Zetex, National Semiconductor and Linear Technologies to name a few. These people don`t outsource there Patent enforcement requirements, they have teams of on staff experts to look after them.

    As for prior art again, EL backlights like the `Indiglo` used in Timex watches use inverters because EL needs about 100V and A.C. to light.Laptops generally use either Cold Cathode Fluorescent or LED backlighting, certainly CCFL needs a convertor to provide illumination from batteries.

    But then I`m not a patent lawyer and am not trying to pretend to be one, just interested in the way the system now functions, which isn`t the way it was first intended to.

    Adam

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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data


  11. #11
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    PG, Well said and Amen. [img]graemlins/icon14.gif[/img]

  12. #12
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data


  13. #13
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    I'm not up on this whole situtaion but something occurs to me. Wouldn't Surefire be violating this patent as well? I'm sure they have some decent legal clout.

    Mark

  14. #14

    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    From my reading of the CMG patent, there is no claim to patent boost converters, but rather to patent devices that contain a battery, a boost converter, and a light connected together in a small space.

    I would think the following US patent law would apply to this:

    35 U.S.C. 103 Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.
    (a) A patent may not be obtained though the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in section 102 of this title, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    Flashlight manufacturers everywhere need to unite and pool resources in order to take on the "big guy." There must be some legal technicality or loophole somewhere. Can a patent be challenged and/or rescinded? I have absolutely no knowledge about patents, so please excuse the ignorance...

  16. #16
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    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    This non-solid-state pretty little thing (it's their 10-Watt mini Metal Halide lamp) from Welch-Allyn's site, and I think it's been up there since way before the patent was filed:



    Why, is that a step-up converter I see behind thee?

    I think that at least the broad-brush and prior art portions of this bogus-sounding patent would be in question by some pretty big players. It doesn't seem like it should stand a chance.

  17. #17

    Default Re: United States Patent Office Data

    Good example.

    Any others?

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