back to article Did your iPhone 'just stop working' - or did you drop it in your BEER?

Apple was awarded patents on 21 of its design and engineering applications yesterday - including one for a head-mounted immersive visual display. The other 20 are a little less visionary, but at least one of the patents awarded could have an impact on fanbois who have given their phones an immersive watery experience. Patent …

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  1. MojoJojo

    They've done this for ages, haven't they?

    If you've had the misfortune to drop a ipod in a pond, you can see something has gone red at the bottom of the headphone socket. At least someone told me this after I dropped mine in a pond, and there was something red there but I hadn't checked before.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

      Not just inside the headphone socket, but also in the dock connecter and (I believe) one buried deep inside the phone.

      The Apple "Genius" will look with a torch (possibly after being unable to find his own @rse due to lack of mirror) into the headphone and dock connectors and rebuff your claims, despite them being easily triggered by moisture in the air. You can argue and get them to do a more thorough check by getting them to inspect the internal sensors, but they don't tend to do this voluntarily.

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

      I was thinking the same thing.

      Hell, Mythbusters once showed you a little sticker they bought that detect excessive G-force and goes a different colour so you could track what happened to your shipped items, etc.

      I fail to believe that this patent is actually novel at all. Are you telling me that temperature-controlled and other monitored shipping doesn't already have things like this anyway? My first thought would be medical and chemical packaging companies, given what can happen to some things if they've been sitting in water.

      And, honestly, even modern silica gel goes pink/blue when it has accrued water (but you can dry it out to return it to a clear colour, which is obviously not useful here).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

        "I fail to believe that this patent is actually novel at all."

        Its an APPLE patent!! Durr!

        Copies of copies.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

      Yes, they've done it for ages which makes sense since the original patent was submitted in 2006.

      "This application is a continuation of patent application Ser. No. 11/636,152, filed Dec. 7, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by referenced herein in its entirety."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

        >This application is a continuation of patent application Ser. No. 11/636,152, filed Dec. 7, 2006

        The prior art is strong with this one. Note the dates.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Paris Hilton

          Is that prior art?

          How many of those had indicators on their headphone jacks?

          1. Tom 35

            Re: Is that prior art?

            Did they patent water sensors on headphone jacks?

            Or water sensors in electronic devices?

          2. toadwarrior

            Re: Is that prior art?

            Well can you list prior art or are you like Fox news and just spout crap that supports your ideas but provide no substance?

          3. Ron Christian

            Re: Is that prior art?

            So what Apple is patenting is the position of the sensor? That's genius. So, if Samsung puts their sensor 25 millimeters to the right, that circumvents the patent, right?

          4. streaky
            Mushroom

            Re: Is that prior art?

            Prior art? Forget that - it's neither non-obvious nor is their an inventive step involved (patent regime depending).

    4. Goldmember

      Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

      Yes, but they don't bloody work (or they work a bit too well). A few iPhones I know of that haven't been 'watered' have been sent back as water damaged. I seem to recall something on Watchdog about it too...

    5. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

      I've seen advertisements from 3M tape products (over ten years ago, in engineering journals) that are aimed electronics manufacturers- one adhesive tape irreversibly changes colour if immersed in water but is not affected by water vapour, so can tell the difference between a humid pocket and and a glass of water.

      I rather prefer Motorola's solution - make the bloody phone waterproof.

      1. JeffyPooh
        Pint

        Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

        There's a third possibility. After being outside in -40° winter temperatures and then entering a warm and humid environment, liquid water will condense out of the air onto cold surfaces. This may include an iPhone, both inside and outside surfaces. If once doesn't do it, repeat the process.

        Apple in warm California almost certainly failed to account for this 'false positive'. False in the sense that the customer perhaps did not dunk the phone in liquid. This may explain at least some of the complaints.

    6. Darryl

      Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

      I don't think I can recall ever seeing a mobile phone WITHOUT these little white spots that turn red when they get wet. So if I'm reading this correctly, Apple's patenting it because they stuck it in a different spot on the phone?

    7. Paul Docherty
      Boffin

      Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

      Sorry if someone else has already said this but...

      A little household bleach (diluted to perhaps 1:4) is enough to oxidise the dye molecules back to colourless. Dipping something like an unwound paper-clip in the dilute bleach solution and then touching the indicator paper with it is enough in most cases.

      Better living through chemistry...

  2. Tom 15

    Errm...

    Don't iPhones already have four of these?

    1. toadwarrior

      Re: Errm...

      Just because it's hitting the news today doesn't mean it's a new patent. It was filed 6 years ago.

      1. Number6

        Re: Errm...

        How old is a Sony Ericsson P800? Ten years old? I have one of those and it's got a little moisture-sensitive patch inside.

  3. Russ Tarbox

    I'm pretty sure my Nokia 7650 already had something like this.

    At least, that's what the people in the phone shop told me. It was a while ago though ...

    1. Andy Fletcher

      Re: I'm pretty sure my Nokia 7650 already had something like this.

      One of my former Sony Ericsson handsets (K750) certainly had this "feature". TBH as a non-Apple customer this is great news. The technology doesn't (from personal experience) work properly and the end result is refused warranty support for an invalid reason. So my next handset won't have it. Hurrah for me.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I'm pretty sure my Nokia 7650 already had something like this.

      The earliest piece of tech I can think of to have it were ancient (pre-electronic days) disposable flash lamps. These had a calibrated quantity of Mg, in a mixture of gas with the electric contact serving just for ignition. The unpleasant thing about the setup was that moisture getting into the lamp gave it the tendency to explode instead of producing a nice well-behaved flash. This is why all of these had some _BOG_ standard coloured silicagel spot. If the spot was white the lamp was safe to use. If it was colored - chuck it away (unless you fancy an explosion).

      Any _ANCIENT_ photography book contains reference to said device and it used to be in mass production up to a decade or so after WW2.

      So some really old prior art here and plenty of newer one.

  4. James 51
    FAIL

    Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

    This was in my N73.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

      Just because it already exists doesn't mean they won't try to patent it. Also, their implementation of the basic idea might be different enough to Nokia's to make this patentable.

      1. James 51
        Pint

        Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

        Their modification of the implementation seems like an obivous anti-tampering mechanism i.e. put in multiple sensors that are hard to reach.

        How long before we start hearing stories about how sweat or a mild drizzle sets these off? The iPhone 5 won't be safe come the the Scottish summer.

    2. James 51
      Pint

      Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

      That should have been patent office but the typo might be a little more accurate.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

      The moisture indicator on the N73 was under the battery. In this patent it's inside "a peripheral connector", e.g. the headphone socket:

      From claim 1 of the patent: "moisture-indicating detector viewable through the opening in the peripheral connector, wherein the electronic device is operable to communicate with external circuitry through the peripheral connector. "

      Don't worry Nokia has a patent on their method as well. Nokia even has patents on towel dispensers: http://www.google.com/patents/US4676559

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

        What I don't get is how is this an invention?

        I've got a device that's damaged by water, and I'd like an easy way to tell...

        Maybe I should put some visable water active blobs in it so my first line people can spot it?

        Now if apple had made a magical new method of detecting liquid then fine, patent that but something as obvious as having a moisture detector that changes colour when it gets wet is common sense.

        It's a bit like the notion of getting the rights to slide to unlock, pretty sure that's been around since before Roman times. I have a door, I want to close it... maybe I'll put two holders here and then slide this piece of wood across to keep it closed...

        Do you think if you "invented" the door stop wedge now days you'd be able to patent it?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

          @ Metavisor - thank you for reading up on this more than the author of the article. As many have pointed out, there's nothing new about water-sensitive patches etc.

          AC>"Now if apple had made a magical new method of detecting liquid then fine, patent that but something as obvious as having a moisture detector that changes colour when it gets wet is common sense."

          What Apple have done is patent the sensible step of being able to see said sensor without having to open the device. Seems fairly obvious, but if no one has done it before, then I guess it isn't.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

          You'd have to "invent" the "door stop wedge on a mobile device".

          Then you could patent it and ban imports on all sorts of Android phones.

        3. toadwarrior

          Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

          How is one click buy patent worthy? Most software patents (and I'd argue patents in general) are shit.

  5. Haku

    Why don't they make a range of phones that don't die in water instead?

    You know they could milk it for all its worth money wise, and people would still buy them.

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  6. pepper

    alt-tab functionality

    'for example one which allows you to view multiple application windows in a user interface'

    Maemo 5 has it if im interperting this correctly:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2570/4177970959_ed8a36d40a.jpg

    To be fair, its rather usefull, it displays the progression a program is making(for example installing) whilst you happily can do other things.

    I installed netdroid 2.3 on my N900 and its one of the things I mis the most, good multi-tasking.

    1. Bodhi

      Re: alt-tab functionality

      My Sony Tablet can do this now as well with its Mini-Apps. If you are listening to music and want to adjust the stereo volume, just bring up the mini app for the Remote Control, adjust, hide the app again, all whilst keeping the music player on display. Becuase of stuff like this, and how comfortable it is to hold for extended periods, means my iPad 2 stays in the bag and the Sony is the tablet of choice in our household.

      Also means I don;t get to use it that often as 'Er Indoors keeps nicking it to read The Sun, relegating me to the iPad (I'd rather not) or my phone. I suspect we may need another Tablet S.....

      On the subject of these "new" patents, seems to me again to be a case of Apple patenting something the rest of the market have been doing for years, and will no doubt try to sue the world + dog over. Sadly Apple wouldn't know innovation if it bit them on the posterior, which doesn't half make me laught when they try and claim the moral high ground.

      1. Chris 171

        Re: alt-tab functionality

        Hello fellow Tablet S owner!

        Echo your post in its usability, thankfully Mrs doesnt like touchscreens so its all mine & sees more daily use than any device before it.

        As for Apple patents... what a cunch of bunts, especially the people that approve them without looking at the world outside their desk.

    2. andreas koch
      Alert

      Query: Re: alt-tab functionality

      You guys seem to know more about this "application window viewer" issue; my question is: will this be the end of 'live' application and workspace switchers, as for example the ones that compiz provides on Linux?

      Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

  7. jai

    poor reporting

    I think what Anna failed to make clear is that, even though Apple have been using this for ages (since the very first iPhone i think) the patent office has only now got around to approving their patent application for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Re: poor reporting

      She also posted this under "Enterprise Security" which is a topic I usually read in depth... not expecting this rubbish.

      Can we have a special Anna Leach section please?

    2. David Webb

      Re: poor reporting

      You didn't read the last line?

      "The patent 'Water detection arrangement' was filed on 15 January, 2010 and awarded on 3 July, 2012. "

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: poor reporting

        and read the patent too "This application is a continuation of patent application Ser. No. 11/636,152, filed Dec. 7, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by referenced herein in its entirety."

        So it's really from 2006.

  8. Captain Underpants

    The water exposure test has been around for yonks, hence the popularised "stick a blob of tippex on the end of a biro and cover the thing that's gone red, then pray to god they don't pay much attention when checking it" approach that crops up in various places around the web as a response to "Help I dropped my iPhone down the bog!".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unbelievable

    How do Apple keep getting granted this crap? This isn't new, it wasn't invented by them but now they can try and stiff everybody with lawsuits. Does a member of the Apple board run the USPTO? Even a brief search would have shown this to be invalid, it's like the patent office don't even bother looking if the application comes from Apple. I'm surprised Apple don't try and file one that just says 'the invention of everything ever even if it isn't invented yet but when it is we retro-actively invented it'

    As for 'one which allows you to view multiple application windows in a user interface', could the patent office be any more moronic? This is what happens when you turn the patent office from just being a registry of protected inventions into a business out to make profit. Shut it down now, declare everything void and start again - it's the only way to fix this mess.

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Unbelievable

      Easy, the USPO is funded by the patents it files. The more it files, the more money it makes.

      It's far more profitable than just taking the money for a patent search and saying "Sorry, already exists" or "Sorry that's obvious". So take the money and grant a full patent. Then let their friend in the legal profession make loads of money arguing over the granted patent a few years down the line.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unbelievable

        They're probably busy working on a unified theory of everything, or something.

      2. David Webb

        Re: Unbelievable

        A simple enough solution, once an award is granted the patent itself is listed on a website where anyone can have a look, if they can see that the patent is invalid due to prior art they can give the details of the prior art, the USPO looks at the details and if they say "oh, right, there is prior art" they revoke the patent.

        They could also introduce a rolling fine system (to make lots of money for the government) which is a double of fee which starts at $1, for each patent that gets revoked in this manner the fine doubles, $1, $2, $4, $8, $16 etc. which resets every 5 years back to zero, the low initial entry point wouldn't put off people who have genuine claims to patents putting in an application that is later revoked, big companies that file thousands of patents every year would start to make sure there is no prior art when the fines get out of hand, and it doesn't take long for that to happen....

        1 2 4 8 16 32 54 128 256 512 1024 2048 4096 8192 16384 32768 65536 131072. In just 18 patents the fine hits over $100k, 21 patents and it hits $1m, 28 patents and it's over $100m, I think that kind of a fine would make any company double check that their patents were valid before making them (31 patents = $1 billion).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Go

          Erm.. prior art?

          The USPTO is already doing that since 2007 under their Peer-to-Patent program:

          http://www.peertopatent.org/

          It's not available for all categories though. As with granting Patents, changing Patenting procedures takes a long time.

    2. Zbig
      Joke

      Re: Unbelievable

      You forgot the "... in a mobile device" bit. That's what makes it an invention.

  10. Miek
    Linux

    "'one which allows you to view multiple application windows in a user interface" -- What? Like pressing Alt-Tab on most computer systems?

  11. Jet Set Willy
    WTF?

    Eh?

    Not just Apple - surely everyone's been doing this for ages. I had a mid range Nokia die due to excessive baby slobber (she liked playing with it as it cycled through ringtones and vibration settings) and after returning it I was told "No refund, failure due to water damage". I was even sent a picture of the main board with water detectors highlighted. Said baby is now gone 7 so this must have been 6.5 years ago.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      Weird- Nokias used to just vibrate incessantly after a dunking, but would would otherwise remain fully functional. I remember my 6210 buzzing for about 5 hours before its battery was depleted.

      Get out the anti-tamper drivers and rip out the little motor with the weight on it, jobs a good un!

  12. Gil Grissum
    Thumb Down

    It's just a way for them to sue other companies while they fiddle with themselves and continue to rehash the same old tech with slight tweaks. They're running out of things to slap a retina display on. Cook has nothing new or interesting to offer. "How dare they out innovate us!!! SUE THEM".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah yes because Retina screens are not innovative and there's so much more innovation elsewhere from those simply releasing larger and larger screens or slapping rubber keyboards to tablets. /s

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Android

        Android is innovative, it outstrips iOS for usability, flexibility, and Google are much better for you

        1. Dana W

          Re: Android

          Sure, till you actually want to actually want to uninstall something your telco thinks you "must have"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Android - "uninstall something your telco thinks you "must have""

            That's when you owe Modaco (or similar) a few dollars for providing the technology to reflash your phone.

            Works for lots of folk, and if folk buy stuff it's not known to work on, then so be it, those folk get what they deserve.

      2. Zbig
        Thumb Down

        And what's this retina thing? Oh, you mean the 960×640 LCD screen they're buying from LG? Indeed, takes a real innovator to buy a someone else's component, slap a stupid brand name on it and then claim you invented it.

  13. Cameron Colley

    Who in the US patent office is taking bribes?

    Other companies have been adding water detection to electronics for years.

    Other people have made all sorts of multi-window systems using all sorts of concepts.

    Playing songs in order in a shuffled playlist -- isn't that just "add to queue".

    Even assuming they're doing something slightly novel in these cases I really fail to beleive that there is anything _that different_ to current technologies that it wouldn't be obvious.

    So, either the US Patent Office just pass anything without any checks or Apple are paying someone to do that for them.

  14. squilookle
    Thumb Up

    This is a patent they can have, for me

    Feel free to set the lawyers on anyone who infringes it, Apple. This is and any intrusive advertising patents you have. Rare occasions where we don't mind.

  15. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    If getting it wet voids the warranty,

    then what"s the good of this "immersive visual display"? It's like they're -trying- to... oh. Well, of course.

  16. Cyberelic

    Warm wet places...

    I used to be a music photographer.

    I have entered a warm muggy pub from a freezing outside world, from my bike, and all my lenses etc (Photographic kit) immediately fogged up. I had to wait around until it all warmed up before taking pictures.

    I've also been in a warm summer pub gig with a good crowd of punks all pogoing about and had to turn the camera off. There was so much moisture in the air I could barely hold the camera, I was literally bathed in sweat, and the electronics went 'funny'. Once it had dried out it was fine again.

    So any crapple device could easily be invalidated...

    P.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Warm wet places...

      Was about to post that, damn you. But yeah places with +90% humidity would probably null the warranty and you deserve it for supporting under-age slavery in asia.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Warm wet places...

      It's not that easy since Apple sells plenty of iPhones in countries where +90% humidity is the norm - Hong Kong for example.

      There were some reports of over-sensitive 3GSs, but nothing since the iPhone 4 so my guess is they've figured it out. I remember reading somewhere that the new policy involved requiring two triggered indicators.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Warm wet places...

      @Cyberelic

      According to 3M, who make colour-changing tape- it is only activated by submersion, not by humidity.

      Humidity doesn't bother electronics much if they are allow to air... It used to be in the instructions for our VHS player to let it stand for a day if bringing it into a warm room from the cold.

      1. regorama
        Pint

        Re: Warm wet places...

        Now that you say it... our Sharp VHS recorder had a visual indicator (LED) observeable from the outside that would light if excessive moisture was detected inside. With a sturdy belt and large battery pack, it was also a mobile device. The innovation clearly lies in the irreverseable chemical reaction.

  17. Simon B
    WTF?

    Patenting a water sensor?

    Oops better shut down nuclear power plants. FFS water sensors have existed for years. Stickign one in a phone is patentable?? Yes I know there's more to it, but soft/hard ware that detects volume and period of water exposure etc is hardly new, my boiler does the same thing when it refills. Wonder what I'm missing, the obvious?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Dave 126 Silver badge
    Pint

    Buy a Samsung Galaxy Note:

    Its too big to fit into your pint glass!

  19. Peter 48

    more, soon to be invalidated patents?

    one which allows you to view multiple application windows in a user interface - I am pretty sure Notion Ink with their Adam tablet already cover that one;

    and one which will allow you to listen to certain tracks in a fixed sequence even when playing tracks on random shuffle - That sounds suspiciously like something Winamp had some 15 years ago, or?

  20. Schultz
    FAIL

    Innovative!

    I just opened a box of Japanese candy yesterday and, believe it or not, next to the candy it contained a small plastic device that checked humidity inside the box.

    The ink on the patent hasn't even dried and those Asians are infringing already!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what stops...

    ... the rabid fanboi "Genius" bar employee from dropping a little water on these and telling the customer that its not covered?

  22. Christian Berger

    Patents increase the company value

    Almost nobody questions the value of patents. And if the company tells the engineer to invent X, they won't even have to pay him much. They can then claim it's worth 100k, give the engineer 1k, but only have actual costs of maybe 1-2k. At least in Germany, getting a patent is really simple, you don't even need a lawyer.

    As mentioned before, nobody cares if that patent is valid or not, it still increases the value of the company, and it can be batch sold with other patents in case of bad times.

  23. mraak

    They gave me a new device

    After sinking it in toilet bowl so I guess the water detection wasn't in iPhone 4 model.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They gave me a new device

      Or more likely, the "genius" was too thick to notice it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Asking

    too much to make the unit waterproof? Or shut down when it detects water but before water damage occurs. Just works to show the manufacturer the warranty is void. Great.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patents mean nothing

    Patents mean nothing until they've been tested in court - it all depends on the relative sizes of companies involved.

    If, say, a far-east mobile phone maker develops a phone and a large software company comes along and says "You're breaching our patents. Give us $10 per device or we'll see you in court" the dveloper has a choice, face getting screwed by lawyers for years and possibly end up losing or pay the 'license'.

    If another company tries the same trick, possibly talking about rounded corners, their rival may then say "see you in court" and lawyers get rich.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just an idea

    but a lot of water damage usually happens when the user tries to power on a device, could it be possible to insert a piece of tech that on detection of water shuts off power.....

    oh wait a sec, then manufactures wouldnt be able to charge a fortune for repairs

    oh well, just a thought

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: just an idea

      The damage isn't from shorting (though I suppose that can happen), it's from the crud and oxidisation that occurs when water gets in the device. Unless you drop your phone in absolutely pure, distilled, de-mineralised water it's going to end up with all sorts of nasty oxidants in it that will eat away the circuitry in no time. You can't fix that by just shutting down.

  27. Crisp

    Why aren't phones waterproof already?

    It used to be that I could make a phone call in the rain, whydo they not cater for this use case anymore? Nowadays I don't dare try just in case a rain drop manages to find its way in side the case.

  28. Wile E. Veteran
    Devil

    Yet another Apple patent fraud

    Water/temperature/shock sensors have been around for decades, I lot count of the number of times I used Tempil sticks or tape to see if a piece of industrial equipment exceeded a particular temperature. Water detection? Not a problem. I even remember a 1950's water detection device for a homebrew basement-flood alarm consisting of contacts on the inner face of a spring-style clothespin. The clothespin was held open with an aspirin tablet that dissolved shortly after being immersed allowing the clothespin to close and the contacts to touch. Bah!

    Too bad modern electronics can't be made like old Textronix scopes and 4010-series graphic display. SOP for something sent to Tek for service was to take the covers off and wash the damned thing with a low-pressure power-washer (like a do-it-yourself car wash). A two-hour bake at a temp in the lower 100's to dry it out and it was easy for the technician to work on it. THAT's waterproof!

    :)

  29. dark1here

    Drat my Swiss watch is waterproof. Why did they not take out a patent to prove the watch got wet?

    Alternatively, make the kit water resistant Apple, or is that too hard?

  30. fLaMePrOoF
    Facepalm

    Another bogus Apple patent, what is it about Apple that allows them to patent systems and methods that have HUGE amounts or prior art?!!!!

    This system had been in use in mobile phones for several years before Apple even entered the market - a small patch impregnated with a water reactive dye inside the housing so that manufacturers can detect water submersion - not sure who came up with the idea but is certainly was NOT APPLE!!!

  31. Paul Douglas
    WTF?

    I'm still not getting how they patented this. 10 years ago these were common place in the industry.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I'm still not getting how they patented this." (and others)

    So many of you young techies aren't getting this. You probably will, eventually. Here's a hint.

    The patent system isn't run for the benefit of inventors, developers, manufacturers, etc.

    It's run for the benefit of "patent industry" insiders - lawyers, agents, etc. They make the rules, they get the benefit. The fact that, as illustrated here, it's largely disconnected from reality is neither here nor there, so long as sufficient money can be transferred from the many outsiders to the few insiders.

    A bit like banking, in that respect.

  33. Turgut Kalfaoglu

    More ridiculous patents?

    Don't the judges realise what they are doing? That this company is patenting every little thing?

    What will happen when Apple patents judge's hammer? How will the judges pass judgement then??

  34. Jeff 36

    Blackberries have had this sort of device/sticker under their batteries for the last 2+ years that I know of..

    If RIM has not patented the item I am sure they are buying the water detection sticker from some company that DOES have it patented... can we say "LAWSUIT"

    1. Jess--

      Other phones have had these for years, I remember my old sony eriksson handsets having the patches, from memory they were in three places

      1. on the battery

      2. in the battery bay

      3. on the main pcb well away from any hole in the case (so to trigger this one you had to fill the phone with liquid)

      Apple's "innovation" is to stick the patches inside sockets so that they can be viewed by looking into the socket (headphone jack or dock connector)

      as an aside the ones fitted to the inside of the older samsung handsets could be cleaned by putting them through a full washing machine cycle twice, (the first time tripped them, the second cleaned them) although warranty ended up not being needed as the phone was still in working order

  35. etabeta
    FAIL

    Patent??? TROLL !!

    I have seen these "sensors" inside my phones since the mid 1990's (mainly Nokia's). A little patch of white paper with a red checkerboard pattern that becomes all red if it ever gets wet. Now Apple gets a patent for this?? Looks like Apple is becoming a full-fledged patent troll! SHAME SHAME SHAME!!! And Apple is saying that Samsung is copying the crap they make?

  36. Nick Gisburne
    Go

    What if the water isn't the problem?

    Let's say you have a minor spill on your phone and some liquid gets into the detection area but doesn't cause any damage. Phone gets wet, still works. Weeks later the phone fails for a completely unrelated reason. You take it back, they check for water ingress, and immediately reject it, without investigating any other possibility. Fair? No.

    What is needed is an app to tell you the status of the phone's water detection device. If it's been activated but the phone is still working, maybe you can pay a small fee to have the device serviced and reset - has to be cheaper than getting a new phone if your warranty is invalidated, right?

    So the patent needs a slight mod to allow the phone itself to tell the user the state of the liquid detection device.

    Can I patent that? I'll keep it secret just in case.

  37. h3

    Apple stuff is just really poor build quality by design they want it to be flimsy. (Whether it is because they care more about form than function doesn't matter).

    It is designed so if you do have a small problem you have to be extorted by them to get it fixed.

  38. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    Wonder when the US Patent office

    will grant Apple a patent on the Higgs boson (and any other Higgs-like bosons that may turn up) ? I suspect strongly that the company has already contacted a lawyer in Stockholm to present its claims to Peter Ware Higgs and colleagues when the time comes....

    Henri

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