Amidst Galaxy Note 7 Recall, USPTO Publishes Samsung Patent Application for HMD with a Heat Radiator

Samsung_Logo.svg

As reported by various news outlets today, Samsung announced an unprecedented recall of the Galaxy Note 7 just weeks after launching the smartphone due to the phone’s battery, with some scattered reports that “the cell can explode while charging.”

In a bit of irony, yesterday, the USPTO published Samsung’s patent application for a HMD having “a heat radiator” for removing heat from the space between the display and the optical assembly while a smartphone is actively engaged.  The device in the application appears to be a version of the Gear VR, with which the Galaxy Note 7 was designed to operate.

As seen in FIG. 6 (below) of Samsung’s application, the HMD includes a heat radiator 400 on a side surface of the frame 202.  The heat radiator 400 includes a fan 410 with a blade, or a piezo cooler, and also includes a fan duct 420 and a fan cover member 430.  The fan 410 and the fan duct 420 is installed in the frame 202 in a mounting opening unit 260.

 

Samsung 748 FIG 6

As shown in FIG. 7 (below), the heat radiator 400  dissipates the heat from the smartphone 300 by bringing external air into the frame 202.  Heat is transferred to the air introduced into the frame 202 through the heat radiator 400, and then the air is discharged through an outlet on the bottom surface of the frame 202, thus making it more comfortable for the user of the device 200.

 

Samsung 748 FIG 7

Samsung’s application also discusses using a heat diffusion member that can be installed to more efficiently transfer heat from the smartphone to the air in the frame 202. The heat diffusion member may be a graphite sheet, a heat transfer member containing carbon such as graphene, a metal member such as a copper sheet, or a heat transfer member such as a heat pipe or heat sink.  The application makes no mention of fire suppression technology.

According to public records, Samsung’s patent application claims priority to a Korean patent application that was originally filed in February 2015.

GeoVector v. Samsung

On May 5, 2016, GeoVector Corporation (“GeoVector”) sued Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (“Samsung”) in federal district court in the Northern District of California.  GeoVector’s complaint asserts against Samsung numerous patent infringement claims, trade secret misappropriation claims (under California law), Lanham Act violations and RICO violations.

According to the complaint, GeoVector was founded in 1987 by John Ellenby, a former employee at Xerox-PARC.  In 1990, John Ellenby and his son, Thomas, conceptualized and invented “the first augmented reality device which utilized data as to the device’s position and orientation to display relevant information to the user.”

GeoVector is the owner and assignee of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,037,936 (“Computer vision system with a graphic user interface and remote camera control”), 7,301,536 (“Electro-optic vision systems”), 7,916,138 (“Electro-optic vision systems”).

FIG 17

GeoVector alleges that, in December 2002, Samsung and GeoVector had a meeting in which GeoVector produced a “confidential slide deck demonstrating the possibility of integrating GeoVector technology into Samsung handsets.”  GeoVector also alleges that it disclosed to Samsung, in confidence, “its entire unpublished patent portfolio, including its early applications for augmented reality patents.”  Despite negotiations that continued into 2008, the parties never consummated a licensing agreement.  Subsequently, GeoVector alleges that Samsung began incorporating GeoVector’s technology into its Galaxy devices.

GeoVector begain sending numerous notice letters to Samsung in April 2013, notifying them of infringement, including claim charts.  GeoVector also alleges that Samsung wrongfully patented GeoVector’s same augmented reality technology.

GeoVector’s complaint is fairly detailed and also takes a few shots at Samsung’s past IP litigations (“Because Samsung regularly refuses to license technology without being sued, victims are forced to sue Samsung”), and includes a list of former “victims.”