Patented: Copter with coaxial motors and contra-rotating props

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Andy Johnson-Laird, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    As you read this, please bear in mind the phrase: "Don't kill the messenger!"

    There is a German patent that was issued back in 2007 where the claimed invention is a multi-rotor copter with a flight control system and that uses co-axial motors where the motors rotate on opposite directions on each boom. This patent was issued under the international patent cooperation treaty ("PCT") and thus was issued in 148 countries. You can see the list here: http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/pct_contracting_states.html

    So, were you to talk to attorney (which I am not -- I'm just a forensic software analyst who reads patents and helps figure out what the claimed inventions are), I suspect he or she would tell you that you might be infringing this patent if you are in, say, the USA, and you "make, use, sell, or offer for sale" a multi-rotor copter with a flight controller and with co-axial motors where the motors above the boom spins the other way from the motors below the boom. That "make, use...etc." comes from http://law.onecle.com/uscode/35/271.html

    You can download the patent at patents.google.com and enter the patent number 8328128.

    I have been told by several attorneys that:

    1. The entirety of an invention is in the claims. So read claim 1. The words in claim 1 take their definitions from the sections of the patent before the claims, or from plain English if they're not defined there.

    2. To infringe a patent, you must "practice" all parts of a given claim. If you fail to practice just one part, then I think your attorney would probably tell you that you did not infringe the patent.

    To show that this patent is invalid, it would be most helpful to show there are some kind of published documents (books, magazines, even web pages if you can prove the dates they were created), that show these kinds of copters existed before March 31, 2007. These publications can be in any country in the world, not just Germany or the Patent Cooperation Treaty countries.

    Can you help find any such publications, please?

    Please remember: I am not an attorney. I cannot give you legal advice. Nor can I tell you how the law applies to you -- I can certainly tell you what I think the law means as it applies to me -- it's my obligation as a citizen to respect all laws -- and that means I have to try to understand them.

    Did I mention this: Please don't kill the messenger. :)

    Thanks
    Andy
     
  2. Steve Maller

    Steve Maller UAV Grief Counselor

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  3. Gary Haynes

    Gary Haynes Administrator
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    Well since claim 11 mentions quick release devices and 12-17 encompass propellor protection devices and many copters have neither of those devices that should tend to invalidate the patent as used by many operators/builders. That's 7 out of 20 that are not applicable. If it was enforceable I would think that DJI and the like that are mass producers would have already been sued. Going back to sleep now.....
     
  4. Ryan McMaster

    Ryan McMaster Active Member

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    I have to agree with Gary. I also just shot this off to a Patent attorney I know as the MK based Coax hex I am working on is very similar to this....
     
  5. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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  6. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Sadly, as I have been told by attorneys, that's not how it works. Claim 11 is dependent on Claim 1 (Claim 11 says, "The aircraft according to claim 1,...."), so you read that as "all the things required for claim 1, plus whatever is in claim 11."

    So, even if claim 11 by itself would be obvious or well known, claim 1 plus claim 11 is not.

    I've worked on multi-million dollar litigation where only one claim is infringed -- but you do have to practice all the elements of that one claim. What other "dependent" claims (like 11) say, are irrelevant to the question of whether you practice claim 1.

    Reminder: You need to talk to an attorney to get legal advice. I'm not one. Nor do I play one on TV.
    Andy.
     
  7. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    As I have been told by attorneys, the law does not agree with Gary (see my posting above). :)

    Contacting an attorney is a smart thing to do, Ryan.

    If we can prove that "prior art" existed prior to 2007, I'm told we can invalidate the patent.

    Let me know what your patent attorney says, please.

    Andy.
     
  8. Ryan McMaster

    Ryan McMaster Active Member

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    Andy,

    I will. There may be prior art in the US DOD, DARPA and the contractors as I know for a fact they have been messing with Coax MR UAV's since 2006. They may be "national security interest" patents (which are sealed and not viewable to the public until published, which can be never) which means it would require a LOAD of work to pull said patents.

    The other side, Would 3d robotics not have been sued by now for their Ykopter? It matches the patent almost to the T. Also, Quadrocopter is offering up an X-8, and they have not been hassled for it as far as I know. Gryphon Dynamics also does Coax specific frames and I know you can easily mod the Terro frames to run Coax.

    I have patents on some sensor tech I worked on in College and grad school. I will say it is VERY hard to action a patent case if there are minor subtle differences. I developed some Sonar tech for locating non-ferrous pipes and buried utilities too small for a dual point magnetometer to locate (I have a UAV version as well that can locate mines from 10m in the air). Two years after we started selling/licensing the product a new one came on the market that was ALMOST identical, with the difference being the method of which the sonar waves entered the ground (ours was significantly better, we could view things to 5m with a 5cm resolution, the competition was max 2m with a 20cm resolution). The patent attorney I used notified me of this, we bought one of their devices and I reverse engineered it and found it had a few things in common, but not enough to take them to court for patent and IP infringement.

    Story time aside I will say that it is best to be careful, had the competition been in violation of our patent we could have easily taken them to the cleaners, breaking IP law is a very risky proposition. I would rather spend the $300 on having the patent attorney I use look at it then risk a lawsuit.
     
  9. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    True. That thought had occurred to me. (Are you an attorney by the way?)

    You'd think. But maybe the patentee does choose to sue yet.
    There seem to be only three things you can do when you have a patent:
    1. License it.
    2. Litigate it.
    3. Look at it in a frame on your wall. :)


    I am told there is something called the Doctrine of Equivalents in U.S. law that suggests you can have non-literal infringement if something serves substantially the same purpose, is done substantially the same way, and achieves substantially the same result. It's harder to prove, but I've worked on such cases.

    Sounds like a good way of thinking.
    Andy
    (And remember I am not an attorney, please.)
     
  10. Ryan McMaster

    Ryan McMaster Active Member

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    Andy,

    I have a Masters in MechE, Working on a BA in Electrical Enginerding (I left school with 6 units to finish it so figured what the hell). What I do have is TONS of patented product experience (aprox 65 products at this point I have worked on). I just did a two week sit-down and knowledge dump on what I know related to a UAV product I am working on. 32 page report... My least favorite part of applying for patents. I am almost positive I could pass the patent BAR~


    The doctrine of Equivalents is exactly as you describe it. Hence why we had no action. Looking back I am glad we did not go after them, the other company has petered out and it no longer in business due to natural selection, they offered a lower quality product at a similar price in a market we had two years on them.


    All true, the biggest one though these days is taking action on it (license, produce and sell). You do software and I am sure you have seen and heard some of the "troll" cases that come about. The biggest question is has this gentleman who patented this idea acted on it and if he has what is he doing with the product? If he is selling it then he has a MUCH better case then just sitting on the idea, much like the software world where people patent a "general idea" and sue the pants of anyone who even gets close without making any use of the actual patent. If this guy just has a patent and has done nothing with it then there is a good chance it may be up for "abandonment" (I need to find out what the exact term is) which is very easy to obtain. It has been 8 years since filing, if he has not made a single product or licensed a single idea and tomorrow decides to toss a lawsuit at 3Dr, Gryphon and anyone else who is building Coax MR's for $$$$ he would have a case that would have very weak legs as he never took any action to make his idea tangible.

    Like Andy, I am not an attorney nor do I ever want to be one~
     
  11. Steve Maller

    Steve Maller UAV Grief Counselor

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    Allow me a moment of vanity here, as I lay claim to #3 above (although, to be fair, it is not I, but my former employer who 'owns' the patent.). Mine is ensconced on the wall of my office in all of its irrelevance to me. :)

    http://www.google.com/patents/US7490131?dq=7490131&ei=MLZfT5TTPOXciQLMjsndBA

    And thank you to the far more accomplished and educated folks who have contributed in substantial ways to this thread, as opposed to yours truly, whose contribution is akin to that of the fabled rodeo clown.
     
  12. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Yeah, right. The fabled rodeo clown who invented a spam filter using heuristics. Every rodeo has one, right... :)

    Andy.
     
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  13. Ryan McMaster

    Ryan McMaster Active Member

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    So... verdict is in.

    The good news, Flat rigs lead to obviousness in a coax design from a standard heli (coax heli's came about in the early 60's). Also, after reading the full patent with the attorney and attempting to contact the patent holder and having no luck we are going to assume he never licensed (I called a lot of UAV manufactures to see if they did), built or sold the idea. We filed a petition to release some Government patents on coax flight that are deemed "national security" to show that it was conceived much earlier (circa 2006) and show prior art on the above patent.

    now, for the bad news.

    IF the patent holder has licensed it or sold it or ANYTHING of that nature it could be a whole different beast. As far as my patent attorney and I can tell there is none. It would mean that ANY coax copter for sale (3dr comes to mind) would fall under this patent. Now, We are not sure on flying a rig you built yourself for commercial work part... it could fall under a large number of different laws/regulations (IE: you built this off XYZ's design and XYZ is in breach of the patent and as such it is "similar". one case that the patent owner could win) but those people should have no worries.

    All in all there is little risk as it seems the patent holder has fallen off the face of the earth (Multirotor Illuminati is my guess~). I would be wary if you have plans to build a coax and sell it. I also looked into having the patent removed based on prior art. This takes time, effort and money but I know that USgov and DOD had coax MR back as far as 2004 (I worked on some in 2006-2009).
     
  14. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Thanks, Ryan. As you say, it would be nice to find US-based prior art -- it would potentially invalidate the patent at a single stroke of the pen.

    Andy.
     
  15. Ryan McMaster

    Ryan McMaster Active Member

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    Yup. Going to start digging in 2015 once I have some more free time.
     
  16. Thomas Pilian

    Thomas Pilian New Member

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    Dear all,
    I am reviving this topic. I know that the last message was posted in 2014, but maybe some things have evolved since !
    I would like to know if, since your last message, you have had any new information about this patent ?
    Lately I've seen that some drones with coaxial configurations have been officially launched, but none of them are speaking about any kind of patent. I am mounting UAS as a hobby but I may begin to sell some in the coming months. Nevertheless if there is a license to pay I'll never be able to bear its cost...

    Thanks a lot for your help
     
  17. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Hi Pilatestaiz, welcome to the forum.
    If it's not too much trouble, would you be kind enough to change your user name to your real first name and last name, please? The reasons for this (and how to do it) are explained here: http://forum.freeflysystems.com/index.php?threads/real-names.497/
    Thanks
    Andy

    Forensic Software & sUAV / Drone Analyst : Photographer : Videographer : Pilot (Portland, Oregon, USA): Trees=2, Ground=1, Props=11. :(
    The Ground Is The Limitâ„¢
    ---------- Forensic Drone Analyst : Forensic sUAV Analyst : Forensic Unmanned Aircraft Analyst : Forensic Drone Expert
     
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  18. Thomas Pilian

    Thomas Pilian New Member

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    Hi Andy , thanks for your reply, I'm sorry I've missed the topic concerning usernames. I have made the changes.
     

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