Apple Trying To Patent Anti-Tamper Tape

from the prior-art-much? dept

Apparently, Apple is trying to patent anti-tamper tape. The patent application, for a “tamper resistant label for detecting device openings,” describes some adhesive tape that could be placed inside devices, which would get torn or damaged if someone opened the device. It seems like there’s a ton of prior art here. In fact, e-voting machines have used an anti-tamper tape for ages that seems quite like what’s described in the claims. Second, it seems pretty ridiculous that Apple is going this far to try to remove the ability of legal purchasers to tinker with devices they own. Yes, I recognize the reasoning (opening the device voids the warranty and they want to know if the warranty has been voided). But, even so, it’s quite an anti-consumer position to take.

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Comments on “Apple Trying To Patent Anti-Tamper Tape”

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48 Comments
Money Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

At first glance, I also thought this was absolutely ridiculous. I’ve seen plenty of devices that have these anti-tampering stickers, but then I figured what’s different about this:

“…some adhesive tape that could be placed inside devices”

It all makes sense! Apple wants to put the sticker inside the device so you don’t even know if you’re about to void the warranty. At least with every one of these stickers I’ve ever seen, it’s been on the outside, so I knew what I was getting myself into. In fact, I’ve read about people who are able to take the stickers off and put them back on perfectly without leaving any evidence.

I’m not sure exactly how Apple would get the sticker inside (maybe close one side and pry up the open side a little bit, in order to stick it the closed side), but that’s pretty smart. I have to admit that if a device has one of those stickers on the outside, I’m much less inclined to open it up and tinker with it (don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean the sticker will stop me), but if I don’t see one on there, I have no reason not to take a look inside.

To me, there are only two reasons to do this:
1. They feel safer putting it on the inside because then it’s virtually impossible to take it off without leaving evidence; or
2. They just want to be dicks and catch people who otherwise wouldn’t have opened it if they had seen a sticker.

If it’s #1, which is more likely, it doesn’t really add up to me. I have no data to back this up, but I feel like the type of consumer who is savvy enough to get the outside sticker off without leaving evidence is the same type of consumer who isn’t going to screw up anything that would cause the need for repair. Of course, they are savvy enough to hack it, probably in order to make it perform better, but shouldn’t they be allowed to do what they want if they purchased it?

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s not anti-consumer, it’s just smart.

Why should apple be on the hook to fix a product that a customer opened up and screwed with? Apple is very generous in many places with their customers, they are just making sure nobody is taking advantage of their generosity, amongst other things.

As for the patent, well, it would depend if they have come up with a special and unique way to do it, something that isn’t obvious to the rest of us.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You miss the point: Have they come up with a new and unique tamper tape that merits a patent? Example, have they found a manufacturing method that allows them to install special tamper tape in the inside rather than outside, or perhaps bridging between certain parts that need to come apart, or perhaps using a method that would show connectivity if untouched, and not work if tampered?

There is plenty of potential methods here other that a sticky sticker on the outside of the case.

There is (once again) a stunning lack of information in a post that is trying to slam Apple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“There is (once again) a stunning lack of information in a post that is trying to slam Apple.”

Of course, given the fact that you haven’t even read the article, I expect your response to reflect a stunning lack of information.

“The filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes a specialized label that attaches to multiple locations inside of a device. Disassembling of the hardware would rip, damage or affect the label, which could then be detected by the manufacturer.

Such labels could be U-shaped or zigzagged, and could be made from paper, plastic, or a metallic foil.”

(from his link)

and given the stupid patents that the patent office does grant and the stupid patents that intellectual property maximists apply for, it’s not surprising that they would apply for something that has prior art already.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Anti-tamper tape is physical evidence that it was tampered with. as opposed to “No, I didn’t tamper with it” says a liar.

I see nothing wrong with using anti-tamper tape so long as ripping it’s not illegal. I mean, really, it’s just to make sure you don’t lie about something that voids your warrenty

compgeek says:

IMHO this is a move by apple to grab money: they patent something already in common usage, they can now charge everyone else who uses it. if said other people fight back, then apple can sue the smaller companies out of existence. i give it a month before they sue someone. whether the case is legit or not doesnt matter as hollywood and the music labels keep proving. all you need to win is more money than the other guy.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t care if they get this patent as anti tamper tape doesn’t do individuals much good, it’s just good for industry. However, being that patents are generally bad, it’s unlikely that a patent on something that does industry good will be granted. Only patents on things that do society good get granted in order to limit the amount of innovation that helps society and to ensure that industry optimally capitalizes on everything at the expense of society and the hindrance of innovation that helps society.

Ryan Diederich says:

Everyone who seems to think...

…that this is a stupid idea. Why on Earth would Apple put tamper evident tape inside if they had to tear/activate/whatever it to open it? Obviously they are trying to create a way to check and see if the device was opened WITHOUT opening it themselves. If they use a metallic tape they could check via X-Rays or whatever. Maybe a light on the back will turn red from then on.

Thats s great idea, since it would help people buying them on say eBay. Show me the tamper light.

I should patent that.

If the patent is for a new method of manufacturing or system to install this tape, then Im all for it. Although, it doesnt help their sales at all, maybe even hurts it, so I dont believe the patent is neccesary.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Everyone who seems to think...

They don’t have electronically monitored and / or algorithmically protected tape! What if a new tape included a printed circuit that responds to an input current in a specific way? Much harder to avoid tamper evidence if you’re messing with nanoscale electronics while you do your tweaking.

Rabbit80 (profile) says:

Where I used to work, we repaired printers. It was quite common for us to put warranty stickers (aka tamper tape) inside machines. It was pretty obvious if the machines had been opened as when opening them back up, you could tell if the tape was still stuck! You could also tell if they had stuck in the first place as they left the word void stuck to the plastic!

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Narrow Patent-Common With Piracy Coalition Members

Apple, like other members of the Coalition for Patent Fairness which is better known as the Piracy Coalition tends to file for patents on lots of very narrow incremental inventions. They do this because they are not capable of producing major inventions. It is quantity over quality and a common trait of large companies.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Narrow Patent-Common With Piracy Coalition Members

“Apple, like other members of the Coalition for Patent Fairness which is better known as the Piracy Coalition tends to file for patents on lots of very narrow incremental inventions. They do this because they are not capable of producing major inventions. It is quantity over quality and a common trait of large companies.’

Apple is not anti intellectual property. Neither is Microsoft. Stop kidding yourself, these people represent the purpose of the patent system, to file patents on obvious stuff that no one needs patents for their existence to exist.

Apple, anti patent? Just read their Eula, they’re very restrictive on their products, they’re worse than Microsoft.

Kevin Chadwick (user link) says:

Re: Re: Narrow Patent-Common With Piracy Coalition Members

You said
“Apple is not anti intellectual property. Neither is Microsoft. Stop kidding yourself, these people represent the purpose of the patent system, to file patents on obvious stuff that no one needs patents for their existence to exist.”

That was a bold statement considering the Dos operating system was stolen from Gary Kildall because software patent law didn’t exist at that time allowing microsoft to resell a re-engineered and less stable but cheaper version to IBM at the launch of Personal Computers (Steve Ballmer has admitted to this aside from saying it was less stable). I think patents should be given more power and privacy, but only on constructive grounds to enable the real developers to survive and do a better job for the good of all thereby making consumers more productive, reducing waste and maximising technology development and success.
Would that reduce consumption? or just make it occur for better reasons than profit, like more loyal customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Narrow Patent-Common With Piracy Coalition Members

Any corporation is anti intellectual property to the extent that it doesn’t benefit them, but to the extent that it does benefit them they are pro intellectual property. So yes, when intellectual property doesn’t benefit them they are anti intellectual property. The CRIA is even the same way, overall they are pro intellectual property but then they turn around and infringe on others without paying them a dime and then they say it’s OK. Doesn’t make the CRIA anti intellectual property.

“I think patents should be given more power and privacy”

Wasn’t the alleged purpose of patents to release to the world the alleged secret that no one else can allegedly figure out?

“Would that reduce consumption? or just make it occur for better reasons than profit, like more loyal customers.”

Uhm… make consumption occur for better reasons than profit? When people consume a product, like if they buy a television to watch, it’s not necessarily for profit.

As far as loyal customers, monopolizing something is different than creating loyal customers. You create loyal customers by giving them a real reason to buy, not by denying competitors the ability to compete. Gaining “loyal” customers through a government granted monopoly doesn’t really strike me as ethical.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Anti-tamper tape

Even though I am a patent attorney (more properly, an IP attorney, but who cares), I believe the present state of IP is abysmal. As money becomes more and more important in campaigns, more and more politicians are realizing that they have to sell out to the wealthy or they will lose their jobs, and that means more and more bad laws, and I think that is especially true in IP.
I would especially like to see copyright abolished, and to see the other forms of IP seriously limited.
BUT, at the present time, a “new use” for an “old device” is patentable, and Apple is likely within the law on this.
As to the PR effect; unless they dedicate the patent to the public, I think it will harm Apple seriously long term.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Anti-tamper tape

You know, I don’t necessarily blame apple that much because part of being able to defend yourself against frivolous patent lawsuits is having a bunch of patents of your own so that you can counter sue and settle on a cross licensing agreement. It’s just another consequence of our broken patent system.

BTW, I do think some intellectual property is good, even copyrights, but our current system is absolutely ridiculous. I honestly believe though that a lot of good software and products won’t be created if no intellectual property existed at all. I can even give some rather anecdotal evidence for this but then again I don’t want the pro patent community to take it and exaggerate it like crazy so I’ll abstain (so far they are, by and large, completely unable to substantiate anything they say and everything they say is easily refuted. If I give them an inch they’ll take a mile and exaggerate it substantially along with our broken mainstream media who won’t present both sides of the issue. Let them figure out their own substantiation, they don’t deserve any help and it’s not like there is any threat for intellectual property to go away anyways).

G Thompson (profile) says:

Good luck to Apple Inc, though they should talk to nearest Police forensic (or even evidence locker) lab and ask them about ..ummm.. Evidence Tape.. Which shows any unauthorised tampering of Evidence to be spotted.. ie: Opening of sealed bags etc to be specifically seen .

This allows anyone to then see if Chain of Evidence and Preservation of evidence has been tampered with or not.

And some of it is integrated into the Body of evidence/forensic holder/bags too. Some even turn a different colour too.. Oooh the Technology. Muwahahahahahaha 😉

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