[time-nuts] WWVB for Time Nuts

Jim Lux jimlux at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 10 21:56:28 EDT 2014

On 8/10/14, 8:30 AM, Bob Camp wrote:
> Hi
> …. which also eliminates a full examination and challenge.
> ————————
> Bottom line as I still see it -
> For Time Nuts one off / home use / zero profit/ personal
> experimentation, I would not worry about the patents that are or are
> not present on the receiver for the WWVB format.

Indeed.. the "damages", such as they are, are going to be small.  Unlike 
copyright, there aren't any statutory damages.  So what are they going 
to sue for, other than a prohibition against you doing it in the future. 
  They can sue for royalties you should have paid.. gonna be small for 
one unit.  They can sue for profits they would have made had you not 
infringed..speculative damages are VERY hard to prove.

> I would not go out and start selling a product without some sort of
> protection.

That's for darn sure.. that's where damages can get bigger, and you also 
have your investment.  (This is why "patent pending" on a widget is a 
useful warning. It keeps you from investing in something you won't be 
able to sell if the patent issues.)

  In that case if they want 10% of my (likely zero)
> profits, that’s not going to stop me. The same would be true if they
> are after 1% of my gross (one percent of $10 programmed uP’s times
> 100 pieces isn’t much). The killer would be some sort of flat license
> fee dimensioned in kilobucks.

Unfortunately, the license agreements I've seen tend to be "flat fee 
plus percentage" where you get credit for the flat fee. For instance, 
maybe you have a 1% gross sales royalty and an initial 50k fee.  When 
you've sold your first $5M, you start paying the 1%.

The flat fee is designed to
a) pay for the time and labor involved in negotiating the license 
agreement.  Unless it's truly cookbook, you're looking at 10-20 hours of 
a lawyer's time at several hundred/hr.
b) encourage the licensee to actually use the invention, particularly in 
the case of an exclusive license.  That way, the licensee has some "skin 
in the game", and it prevents "licensing to keep a competitor out of the 

In any sort of "gross sales" deal, there's going to be some negotiating 
about what transaction the "gross" applies to.  A tiny chip in a million 
dollar piece of equipment with the 1% applying to the $1M is going to 
raise eyebrows.

As a comparison.. the license fee, last I checked (>10 years ago), for 
FireWire/IEEE 1394 was $0.50/port. Not a big deal for a spacecraft with 
maybe a dozen ports.  A huge deal if you're cranking out millions of 
game consoles or PCs a month.

video codecs are another royalty example..MPEG LA charges  no royalty 
for the first 100,000 units of a licensed product; sublicensees pay 20 
cents per unit up to 5 million and 10 cents per unit above 5 million. 
The current agreement includes an annual limit: “The maximum annual 
royalty (‘cap’) for an Enterprise [is] $6.5 million per year in 
2011-2015.”  (at least that's what I found online.. these things tend to 
be "negotiated".. there's not a price list handy)

Until they come up with details there’s
> no real way to know how much of an issue this would be, even for a
> hobby project.

It might be worth looking at the DVSI AMBE audio encoding patents (as 
used in, say, D-star) and their history. There's a lot of interest in 
developing software implementations, but DVSI seems to have been pretty 
efficient at keeping any implementations out of circulation. (I just 
found that the technology was actually developed at MIT..and they've 
actually lost one of the lawsuits for infringement)

They've pretty much said "buy a chip with our licensed property"..

> They have 5 years of protection on this, and the clock has been
> running for at least a year, maybe more. At the rate this is going,
> there might not even be a chip before the 5 years runs out.

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