Pete Smith wrote:
> The reason I asked is that the motor housings looked very much like
> SteppIRs, and the whole concept of the tape with holes and stepper motor
> control struck me as unique enough that I'd thought SteppIR would have
> patented it. On the other hand, that didn't stop the Finns from pirating
> Force 12 designs.
A couple thoughts..
vacuformed covers all tend to look the same.. If the innards are
similar, the cover will look similar, and there's really only a limited
number of ways to combine a stepper motor and some reels of tape..
On patenting, the SteppIR patent (6677914, to Mertel, 13 Jan 2004) has a
pretty broad claim:
1. A tunable antenna system, comprising: a. at least one driven element,
said element comprising two longitudinally aligned support arms made of
non-conductive material, each said support arm including a length
adjustable conductive member longitudinally aligned therein; b. means
for adjusting the length of said conductive member in each said support
arm; c. a radio transmitter/receiver coupled to said driven element;
and, d. means to coordinate the means for adjusting the length of said
conductive members to receive a desired frequency used by said radio
Almost ANY scheme would be covered by the claim.. wires, conductive
fluid, etc., and, as well, any movement scheme. You have to get a bit
farther down before you get to claims on specific implementations, with,
say, motors or sprockets, or "conductive member is 0.1 to 1 inch wide
and 0.004 to 0.025 inch thick"
HOWEVER, an important part of the claim is that it *includes* the
transceiver "coupled to said driven element", so an antenna alone, no
matter how complex, won't infringe that claim, or all the ones following
down to Claim 15.
Looking on, Claim 16, a more specific claim, still includes the radio:
16. A tunable antenna system, comprising: a. at least one element
comprising two longitudinally aligned support arms made of
non-conductive material; b. two conductive members, each wound on a
reel, said conductive members being longitudinally aligned in opposite
inside said support arms, said conductive members being adjusted in
length in said support arms by selectively winding and unwinding said
conductive members from said reels; c. a stepper motor coupled to said
reels to precisely control the rotation of said reels; d. a radio
transmitter/receiver coupled to at least one element; and, e. means to
coordinate the means for adjusting the length of said conductive members
to receive a desired frequency used by said radio transmitter/receiver.
And then 4 more claims based on #16, with more specific details.
SO... the antenna by itself likely doesn't infringe. It's only when you
combine the antenna with a radio that you infringe. The ham who
assembles the components to create a "system comprised" of a,b,c, and d
would be the infringer. Would the patent holder go after a ham? Could
they even do so? When you get a SteppIR from the factory, does it come
with a license to use patent 6677914? If not, then the odds that they
could successfully come after you are reduced (because of "laches"..
that is, a patent holder must go after all infringers to protect the
patent, otherwise a defense is that "they haven't enforced it for anyone
I'm pretty sure this came up on the list before, and to be frank, the
idea of a variable length antenna was published back in the 60s, or
maybe 70s, in connection with a submarine antenna, the length of which
was varied for tuning.. The only way to make it patentable is to come up
with some new combination.. i.e. the system of dipole element, automatic
control and radio
What THIS patent does is very effectively prevent anyone else from
patenting the concept or a part of it.. because it's now "prior art"
(and, it allows Fluidmotion to put "Patented" on their product)
> I'm just surprised, that's all - if I were doing business on that scale I
> think I'd want to be pretty sure I wasn't going to get sued, particularly
> in an EU country.
> 73, Pete N4ZR
> At 08:48 AM 7/29/2008, David Jordan wrote:
>> Yikes, is this an antenna or legal reflector ;-)
>> Don't have the answer to your question Pete but if I decide to purchase the
>> company I'll let you know...from the pics I'd say the Italian version is a
>> significant improvement mechanically with regard to element support which is
>> what has me intrigued...
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Pete Smith
>> Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 7:40 AM
>> To: TOWERTALK@contesting.com
>> Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] STEPPER OF ITALY
>> At 11:46 PM 7/28/2008, Gia Gvaladze wrote:
>>> Dave, know nothing about the antenna but here is the link
>>> Gia 4L4WW
>>> WA3GIN <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>>> Going to Italy soon and would like to visit that company that was
>>> building the EURO version of the IR Stepper. Doesn anyone have the web
>>> URL for that company?:
>> Yikes, is this a licensed copy of the SteppIR technology, or a rip-off?
>> 73, Pete N4ZR
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