Patent finally granted!

US10613526B2.pdf (96.2 KB)

Patent Number 10,613,526 B2 issued 7th April 2020

As always, anyone that wishes to make a carrier board for the Cube is welcome to sign up for free at
https://github.com/proficnc/The-Cube/blob/master/CB_REV_C_Altium/Carrier%20board%20footprint%20approval

At the time of writing, there were 72 different registered carrier boards, and at least 30 privately registered carrier board designs

If you have made a carrier board and want to have use of this patent, please feel free to add your details to the list via a pull request on Github

what is claimed:

  1. A control device, characterized in that it comprises
    a carrier board (1) and
    a main control board (2) that is detachably configured on the carrier board (1), said main control board (2) is electrically connected with the carrier board (1) and said carrier board (1) is configured with an int􀀍rface device (3) in which connections between a plurality of
    kinds of external devices to be connected with the said 30 carrier board (1 );
    wherein said interface device (3) comprises:
    a bus interface,
    an output interface, and at least one of:
    a CAN bus interface, an I2C bus interface,a USB interface, PWM interface, PPM interface, and a S.BUS interface.
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I love making hardware for the open source community, and I love it when others do amazing things with the hardware that I create.
What a lot of people unfortunately do not realise, is that when people directly take mechanical and design concepts and then directly sell to the same market, they are not encouraging innovation, they are destroying progress in the critical areas of development.

Buying genuine hardware allows us to spend our resources on the community, and to hire more engineers from the community.

as you all know, there are products out there that directly take from the cube concept, but rather than take people on in the legal system, we would rather that the community decides with their own feet, whats right, and what is wrong.

We would encourage our competitors to innovate in areas that do not directly take our core concepts. and we ask the community to encourage this innovation and diversity in options for the community.

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Does FreeFly not use PIxhawk on their new stuff? Alta X etc?

they use the cube, yes, like hundreds of other companies out there. Why do you ask?

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I was just going through the names on the list of submitted name etc, I did not see them on there.

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Ah, that list is not exhaustive, there are some companies that have private arrangements with us as well. Public arrangements are free :slight_smile:
Private arrangements come at a cost and come with assistance. It’s the private arrangements that keep us funded.
We will never stop the free options

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Awesome! I did not know that that was an option as well. Hmmm…possibly someday i may have to dig in with the private assistance.

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Philip, first congrats for the achievements. However, it’s not very clear to me what integrators/designers can do (and what they are encouraged to do) and what not. Let me do some examples:

  • if i design my own carrier board and use genuine cube = OK
  • if i need to commit a custom version of the cube (let’s say, same as black but different source of materials, a-la-made-in-USA?) OK or KO?
  • if i design my own flight controller based on publicly avaiable pixhawk schematics… OK or KO?
  • products which are already out as “compatible” like Drotek’s FC or CUAV? OK or KO?
  • …suggest your OK or KO situation…

so what are exactly the “core concepts” which i have to not knock off and when they are supposed to be “knocked off”?

sorry if my question can sound silly, but better safe than sorry

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@philip will correct me if i’m wrong :

  • You can design your own carrier board, integrating the Cube pattern. You simply need to register your company/name/… in the companies list present in ProfiCNC GitHub. After pulling your request ProfiCNC will accept or reject it. Hex/Proficnc/Cubepilot are enablers and support a lot OEM and manufacturers, so in most of the cases they will accept the request
  • You can not design your own Cube and make it is yours by simply modifying the BOM. You should have the express and written agreement of ProfiCNC.
  • You can design your own Pixhawk based on the public open source schematics, but it can’t get the Cube format (stackable sensors and FMU module on an accessories carrier board) without ProfiCNC agreement
  • Most of the manufacturers (except CUAV) that developed their own Pixhawk have a design similar to the first Pixhawk generation, that do not interfere with ProfiCNC patent. CUAV v5 is basically a copy of the Cube that the patent will force to redesign or to accept a licence agreement.

Best,
Julien

what Julien said

and @Steve, if you want made in USA, its already called the Cube Blue.

the patent is the concept of the autopilot on a module, it was my idea.

the schematics are open, and have no relationship with the form factor.

ok, i got it. Thank you very much!

I notice that in the patent the last claim:
9. A drone, characterized in that said drone is configured with the control device of claim 1.

This implies that this patent attempts to cover ANY drone design which includes an “autopilot on a module” as you call it, described in that first claim. So any drone containing a Cube (or anything broadly described by claim 1) could be considered infringing.

Congratulations on getting this granted, but as usual, I don’t get that excited when I read patents like this.

You clearly missed the bit where we have given an unrestricted license to Everyone that has asked!

Innovation is at the core of everything we do, but the actions of some in this industry highlighted exactly why we all need patents like this to protect our community.

Do you know that a well funded startup (Bad company V) hired a very well respected member of our community (Good person B) to do some contracting for them. Good person B designed a custom carrier board for Bad company V, (not the first carrier board Good Person B had made)
Bad Company V attempted to litigate against this good person B, as they claimed to have invented the concept of an autopilot on a module. (And a bunch of other stupid claims)

The fact that we had this patent application in, and the patent pending before their company had even formed, gave the evidence that they in fact did not invent the concept, and that they had no grounds to litigate!

Eventually things were settled, but I’m still waiting for Bad Company V to pull their head out of their arse and apologise.

Yes, it’s frustrating that IP law is complicated, and disappointing that patents need to exist…

But how do you think the thousands of companies that rely on our hardware would feel, if some upstart came along and pretended that they invented the concept of an autopilot on a module, and they patented it, sued one of our community, and won?

This would be devastating!

This patent protects us, and the community from those type of people.

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I’m glad you have “good intentions”. I hope this patent doesn’t fall into the wrong hands in the future. Unfortunately the way patents work someone usually has to hold onto the patent for a novel ideas so that it doesn’t fall into use by less good intentioned companies. With the time and dollars required for litigation, companies involved in real technology innovation (which includes you guys) rarely use patents except in a defensive fashion anyway. Long ago I worked on a patent at a prior job that ended up getting sold off a few times, fell into the hands of a patent troll firm, and was successfully used to litigate against some innocent technology companies. That firm had the gall to ask me to be an expert witness. I let them know where to put that offer.

Thanks for quieting some of my concerns!

Ouch! That’s actually one of the reasons that we have never taken VC funding. This world is a minefield.

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I agree it’s pretty sad to see when people take a technology or design and simply copy and paste with a different name. I would rather people take these technologies and build on them so to make them more versatile with other sensors and interfaces. All you can do is make a great product which you have and keep updating and staying modern. Others who will copy will always be behind

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