What do the layout patents from NFC cover?

el01

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jun 4, 2018
772
587
Hello all!

Now this is going to be a sensitive topic, but what do the layout patents from NFC cover? From trying to read the patent, I can understand that it covers mounting of the GPU, but what does it specifically say in layman's terms? Because while reading around the forum, I am concerned that if I developed a case with a mounting system with GPU and motherboard side-by-side, I would get into legal trouble and that would be no good.

Thanks!
-el01
 
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Necere

SFF Guru
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Feb 22, 2015
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So apparently this is the patent in question. I'd be surprised if it's defensible, and to be frank, it reeks of patent trolling. I was mocking up designs using basically the same layout at least five years before the patent was even filed; you expect me to ask permission and/or pay royalties if I want to create a product based on an idea I had years before? Sorry, but that's bullshit.
 

Lupercal

Caliper Novice
Sep 14, 2017
32
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So apparently this is the patent in question. I'd be surprised if it's defensible, and to be frank, it reeks of patent trolling. I was mocking up designs using basically the same layout at least five years before the patent was even filed; you expect me to ask permission and/or pay royalties if I want to create a product based on an idea I had years before? Sorry, but that's bullshit.
That's kind of how patents work... If you had the idea years before, you should have patented it.
 

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
Silver Supporter
Jun 12, 2015
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So apparently this is the patent in question. I'd be surprised if it's defensible, and to be frank, it reeks of patent trolling. I was mocking up designs using basically the same layout at least five years before the patent was even filed; you expect me to ask permission and/or pay royalties if I want to create a product based on an idea I had years before? Sorry, but that's bullshit.

Some questions for you to think about when you have some time.

1. Do you think that I am incapable of coming up with this layout before you? Or is it possible I have been obsessing over this design since I was in high school?

2. Do you know anything about me or my designs? Have you followed my work? Have you kept track of my mods and my case designs for the past 15 years?

3. What makes you think there wasn't a book of prior art that had to be gone through and proved? Did you study the cited references?

4. What makes you think I didn't have to fly to D.C. and meet with the examiner multiple times to defend the patent? Did you do any research on the lawyers listed to see if they would be capable of putting their name on an indefensible troll patent?

5. Why would you accuse me of being a troll? Do you know anything about my background? About the startups I have been involved in? The heartache of developing new technology and going 700K in debt with my partner to have my work taken by other companies and sued by them? What makes you think I didn't have good reasons for pursuing this patent?

6. What about my character makes you think I am a troll and want to block or hinder the innovators here on this forum?

I offer these questions with sincerity. You are an incredibly talented individual who has achieved great things and made giant contributions to the world of SFF design. The M1 is legendary, and you didn't stop there but actively contribute to the community sharing your ideas and design work.

I know I really appreciate you, and look up to you. I am sorry if somehow I have offended you, but I am not the person you seem to think I am.

Peace to you.
 

K888D

SFF Guru
Lazer3D
Feb 23, 2016
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I am concerned that if I developed a case with a mounting system with GPU and motherboard side-by-side, I would get into legal trouble and that would be no good.
If your concerned about legal trouble just have a discussion with Josh first to come to an agreement, he's very reasonable and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
 

|||

King of Cable Management
Sep 26, 2015
767
750
I don't really see a point in this argument.

In order to gain a patent, it needs to go through a review process. That's a given.

Also given is that the examiners are probably not going to be subject matter experts and will just try to do the best job. It is really up to the applicant and their lawyer to do as much work for them as possible. The review is not going to have an infinite scope and catch all prior art, including patents and knowledge in the public domain. Any prior art that wasn't included in the application and reviewed by the examiner may be used to challenge the validity of a patent. Having gone through and vetted some prior art doesn't make a patent immune from challenges using other prior art that wasn't cleared by an examiner. If a patent is challenged and found to be infringing prior art, there is an opportunity for the patent holder to narrow the scope of their patent so as to no longer infringe the newly found prior art.

@el01, if you think you may be infringing, seek out legal help to help you understand the situation. If you determine to indeed need to use patented intellectual property, the first order of business would be to approach the owner of the IP to see if an agreement to use it could be made. Alternatively, if you do not wish to consult a lawyer, you could, as @K888D suggested, just approach the patent holder with the assumption they have legitimate rights to it and negotiate from that starting point.
 

dumplinknet

Airflow Optimizer
Jan 26, 2018
364
166
Some questions for you to think about when you have some time.

1. Do you think that I am incapable of coming up with this layout before you? Or is it possible I have been obsessing over this design since I was in high school?

2. Do you know anything about me or my designs? Have you followed my work? Have you kept track of my mods and my case designs for the past 15 years?

3. What makes you think there wasn't a book of prior art that had to be gone through and proved? Did you study the cited references?

4. What makes you think I didn't have to fly to D.C. and meet with the examiner multiple times to defend the patent? Did you do any research on the lawyers listed to see if they would be capable of putting their name on an indefensible troll patent?

5. Why would you accuse me of being a troll? Do you know anything about my background? About the startups I have been involved in? The heartache of developing new technology and going 700K in debt with my partner to have my work taken by other companies and sued by them? What makes you think I didn't have good reasons for pursuing this patent?

6. What about my character makes you think I am a troll and want to block or hinder the innovators here on this forum?

I offer these questions with sincerity. You are an incredibly talented individual who has achieved great things and made giant contributions to the world of SFF design. The M1 is legendary, and you didn't stop there but actively contribute to the community sharing your ideas and design work.

I know I really appreciate you, and look up to you. I am sorry if somehow I have offended you, but I am not the person you seem to think I am.

Peace to you.
This is awkward. Are you two both working on a new project together for SFF?
 
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Necere

SFF Guru
NCASE
Feb 22, 2015
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1. Do you think that I am incapable of coming up with this layout before you? Or is it possible I have been obsessing over this design since I was in high school?
Not at all. I'm a little skeptical that you were obsessing over mini-ITX+riser-based designs, specifically, since high school, since you apparently graduated in 2003, and mini-ITX as a form factor has only been around since 2001, and there weren't any actual socketed CPU ITX boards until LGA 775 (2004+). IIRC, the very first ITX boards that could really be considered worthy of being in a "gaming" system didn't appear until 2008ish.

If you're talking about riser-based designs more generally (using e.g. mATX/ATX motherboards), well, I have CAD models dating back to 2000-01 using risers (for example). I guess you would've been a sophomore or junior around this time?

Regardless, this seems like a moot discussion considering the cases that were released around that time commercially.

2. Do you know anything about me or my designs? Have you followed my work? Have you kept track of my mods and my case designs for the past 15 years?
IIRC the first time I became aware of your work was back in 2012 when you posted the S3 on XS. Is that really relevant though? Were you around Sudhian in 2003 when I posted my concepts there?

3. What makes you think there wasn't a book of prior art that had to be gone through and proved? Did you study the cited references?

4. What makes you think I didn't have to fly to D.C. and meet with the examiner multiple times to defend the patent? Did you do any research on the lawyers listed to see if they would be capable of putting their name on an indefensible troll patent?
So does your patent cover those cases I mentioned above from Casetronic, Jetway and Morex? If so, how does a patent filed in 2013 cover a product released by another company in 2003? If not, then what value is the patent? Because those cases are essentially little different from e.g. your S4 mini, in terms of layout.

5. Why would you accuse me of being a troll? Do you know anything about my background? About the startups I have been involved in? The heartache of developing new technology and going 700K in debt with my partner to have my work taken by other companies and sued by them? What makes you think I didn't have good reasons for pursuing this patent?
I don't think your background is really germane to this discussion.

6. What about my character makes you think I am a troll and want to block or hinder the innovators here on this forum?
Well, why file a patent on something if not to attempt to protect "your" idea? What do you hope to gain from that? I really don't think anyone should be paying you for using basic layouts that have been in the public realm for over 15 years, based on a patent you filed only 5 years ago.
 
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el01

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jun 4, 2018
772
587
I don't really see a point in this argument.

In order to gain a patent, it needs to go through a review process. That's a given.

Also given is that the examiners are probably not going to be subject matter experts and will just try to do the best job. It is really up to the applicant and their lawyer to do as much work for them as possible. The review is not going to have an infinite scope and catch all prior art, including patents and knowledge in the public domain. Any prior art that wasn't included in the application and reviewed by the examiner may be used to challenge the validity of a patent. Having gone through and vetted some prior art doesn't make a patent immune from challenges using other prior art that wasn't cleared by an examiner. If a patent is challenged and found to be infringing prior art, there is an opportunity for the patent holder to narrow the scope of their patent so as to no longer infringe the newly found prior art.

@el01, if you think you may be infringing, seek out legal help to help you understand the situation. If you determine to indeed need to use patented intellectual property, the first order of business would be to approach the owner of the IP to see if an agreement to use it could be made. Alternatively, if you do not wish to consult a lawyer, you could, as @K888D suggested, just approach the patent holder with the assumption they have legitimate rights to it and negotiate from that starting point.
There's a concept called being poor.

I might contact Josh. We'll see.
 
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confusis

John Morrison. Founder and Head writer SFF.N
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Jun 19, 2015
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Hey all,

This thread was locked by a mod pending Senior Moderator overview. I've deemed it ok to reopen (and move to General) for now. Please keep it civil :)
 
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Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Feb 1, 2016
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So apparently this is the patent in question. I'd be surprised if it's defensible, and to be frank, it reeks of patent trolling. I was mocking up designs using basically the same layout at least five years before the patent was even filed; you expect me to ask permission and/or pay royalties if I want to create a product based on an idea I had years before? Sorry, but that's bullshit.
Maybe I'm mistaken on the way patents work, but if it was granted that means it was fully evaluated by a USPTO agent who subsequently determined it was novel and unobvious and thereby worthy of a patent. That being said, it is quite likely that the patent office wouldn't likely come across random forum posts from 2001 as their searches are not exhaustive. If you choose to use the layout without permission and can prove the existence of prior art if challenged for patent violation then you are in the clear and have nothing to worry about as provision of these materials would invalidate the patent.

Considering you're obviously quite certain that said prior art is available and that the patent is indefensible, is it really necessary call Josh out as a patent troll? I think it is far more likely that he is not or was not at the time of patenting aware of the prior art you've cited.
 

Thehack

Shrink Way Wielder
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Mar 6, 2016
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Reading through this patent, the 3 piece design is integral to the claim of this patent correct? It is not just patent of a layout, it is how the layout is held together.

The figures go into depth of showing how the chassis is put together.
 

SashaLag

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Jun 10, 2018
121
104
it's seems patent trolling also to me... I mean, it should be obvious but... it's a patent around a configuration with takes advantages of using a PCIe riser card? He didn't invented this concept as prior implementations already exist at the time of patent (just have a look at wikipedia pages... There were riser card inside a IBM PS/2 with same layout style of that claimed to be developed by NFC... And try to convince me that PS/2 was invented prior of this patent)

So IMHO just a way to cash on fear of patent infringment. These statements sounds false to me:
The chassis requires a special extension cable for the expansion slot on mini ITX motherboards.

Method for Mini-ITX Chassis Design and Component Layout Using Horizontally Mounted PCI Expansion Slots:

The design of the chassis 10 with the mounting holes for hardware, airflow pressure, and airflow aperture, combined with the layout of the hardware components, allows for a system that is cooled only by component fans. No chassis fans are needed. This arrangement of hardware is unique and cannot be found in any consumer chassis let alone mini-ITX chassis.
@Necere already provided cases sold with these concepts before this patent was filled. That PS/2 is another example even prior of those products.

Reading through this patent, the 3 piece design is integral to the claim of this patent correct? It is not just patent of a layout, it is how the layout is held together.
if patent was all around this 3 piece design, it may be viable... I don't know if others were built this way... Even if, this patent is around a case realized bending metals at 90° degrees. Doesn't sound innovative to me! And these last senteces sounds too much vague.
While the preferred embodiment has been illustrated and described, as noted above, many changes can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly the scope of the invention is not limited by the disclosure of the preferred embodiment.
What is the spirit of this invention? A 3 piece, 90° bent, case? Wow! Innovative... Or a riser based case? Not first...
 
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Aichon

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Oct 16, 2017
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Speaking without regard to the merits of this particular patent, patents can be used defensively (i.e. I want to make sure I have the rights to do what I’m doing/I want to make sure I have ammo if someone comes after me) and offensively (i.e. give me money/trolling). Given how Josh has freely allowed others in this community to use his sky slots (which he owns the rights to) in their designs and has a long history of working well in this community, it seems pretty clear to me that he isn’t the sort to troll offensively. It seems to me that he simply wants to ensure he’s protected after the encounters he’s had in the past, and I can’t blame him for that.

Has he demanded money from anyone over this patent? Is there something I’m missing here? I don’t understand why others are seemingly jumping to conclusions by assuming the worst of him and his motives here. As was said, he seems to be a reasonable guy.
 

jØrd

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Jul 19, 2015
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Has he demanded money from anyone over this patent?
I would guess that people are making the assumption that money changed hands after @K888D mentioned that they were licensing said patent.

I would be interested to hear from @Josh | NFC though. Assuming he doesnt mind talking about it (and i would understand if he didnt wish to disclose), why does he hold these patents, what are his goals in having them, does he make any money licensing them. Perhaps some clarity around goals and motives would contribute towards steering this conversation in a productive way towards the wider issues faced by indie creators when trying to deal w/ both protecting their IP, trying to make sure they respect other peoples IP and defending themselves when larger vendors leverage their own IP against them. Its an aspect of doing business in the indie case scene that isnt talked about alot but that also seems pertinent to basically everyone looking to sell product.
 

Necere

SFF Guru
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Feb 22, 2015
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Here's my position, just so it's clear to everyone:

This appears to be an overly broad patent, covering the general layout of standardized computer parts inside a case. I'm no expert on interpreting patents, so if I'm wrong I'll be happy to accept that and adjust my position accordingly. However, based on the fact that K888D has said that he will be paying royalties for his new design to Josh on the basis of the patent, where that design does not seem to be similar to anything Josh has created other than in the relationship of the motherboard-GPU connection, it seems that if it applies here it can apply to any case of this type, including commercial cases like the Fractal Design Node 202, Silverstone RVZ01/RVZ02, Zaber Sentry, or any of a number of other cases. That is pretty clearly overly broad, and sets a very bad precedent for the industry.

To expand on what I mean by "a bad precedent" - consider what would happen if in some number of years a new set of standards emerges to replace ATX and PCI cards, and some unscrupulous company patented all the obvious layouts. They would have an effective monopoly on the industry if they ever decided to enforce those patents. It should be obvious that this is the last thing we want to have happen. Concepts as general as a layout for standard parts should never be subject to private ownership.

Furthermore, I hold that this being an inherently bad patent (bad for the industry, but also probably legally indefensible, given the evidence of prior art), and that for Josh to collect royalties on the basis of the patent is inherently unethical. If K888D wants to support Josh for his own reasons, I have no problem with that. But doing so on the basis of a bad patent is unethical and sets a bad precedent.


BTW, if you need some insight into my motivation: I have a low tolerance for unethical or dishonest behavior. When I see something that I perceive as unethical, I feel obligated to stand up and challenge it. If I come across as overly harsh, that's probably a reflection of how strongly I feel about it. I don't really get angry, but if something bothers me I'm not afraid to take a strong position. However, I also try to be fair and open to reason. If anyone can convince me that this patent isn't as broad as it appears to be, I'm perfectly willing to change my position. Josh has had ample opportunity to defend his patent, but so far I haven't seen anything from him that addresses my key objections to it.
 
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Aichon

Average Stuffer
Oct 16, 2017
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I would guess that people are making the assumption that money changed hands after @K888D mentioned that they were licensing said patent.
based on the fact that K888D has said that he will be paying royalties for his new design to Josh on the basis of the patent
Thanks, both of you, for filling in the missing gap in my understanding. I had overlooked that earlier discussion and its relevance to this discussion.
 
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Stevo_

Master of Cramming
Jul 2, 2015
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Reading through this patent, the 3 piece design is integral to the claim of this patent correct? It is not just patent of a layout, it is how the layout is held together.

The figures go into depth of showing how the chassis is put together.
Exactly my take.