Boston Dynamics sues rival robot dog maker over alleged copyright infringement

midian182

Posts: 8,324   +103
Staff member
In a nutshell: In what could descend into a battle between robotic canines, Boston Dynamics is suing rival robot maker Ghost Robotics over allegations that it infringed on seven patents relating to its Spot quadruped.

In its complaint, filed in Delaware federal court, Boston Dynamics claims Ghost Robotics' Vision 60 and Spirit 40, which dog-like robots, infringe on the Hyundai-owned company's patents.

Boston Dynamics included pictures taken by Airman 1st Class Anabel Del Valle in the filing that show tests conducted by the US Air Force using Ghost Robotics' quadrupeds at Nellis air base in Nevada. The company says Vision 60 and Spirit 40 infringe on patents covering how the robots negotiate stairs, their walking gait, and their balance, among other things.

Boston Dynamics says it requested that Ghost Robotics review Spot-related patents in July 2020 and followed up with two cease-and-desist letters asking it to stop marketing the rival robots.

"Defendant has deliberately continued to infringe in a wanton, malicious, and egregious manner, with reckless disregard for Boston Dynamics' patent rights," said Boston Dynamics, which is seeking infringement damages and pre- and post-judgment interest.

Ghost Robotics made plenty of headlines a year ago when it partnered with the not-evil-at-all-sounding SWORD international to add a Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (SPUR) to one of the robot dogs.

In February, the United States Department of Homeland Security released details of the Science and Technology Directorate-led Automated Ground Surveillance Vehicles (AGSV) initiative. It involved Ghost Robotics' machines being trialed as sentries in areas across the southern border, which can be inhospitable for humans due to its harsh landscape, extreme temperatures, and other threats—though these particular metal animals weren't carrying rifles.

Boston Dynamics, founded in 1992 by former MIT professor Marc Raibert, was acquired by Google in 2013. It was sold to Softbank in 2017 before Hyundai Motoring Group paid $880 million for the firm in 2020. Unlike Ghost Robotics, the company has promoted its machines' more consumer/business-friendly applications, such as warehouse workers, and was one of the robot makers that recently warned against its products being used as weapons.

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ferrellsl

Posts: 86   +101
FFS, patenting the gait of a robot dog makes as much sense as patenting the way tires roll on a car. When will the US govt. stop granting patents on such things?
 

human7

Posts: 130   +101
FFS, patenting the gait of a robot dog makes as much sense as patenting the way tires roll on a car. When will the US govt. stop granting patents on such things?
The more I learn about patents, the more I learn how many dumb ones there are. Along with copyright law, there needs to be a very strong revision to how patent law works, what qualifies as a patent, and so forth.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 19,165   +8,309
FFS, patenting the gait of a robot dog makes as much sense as patenting the way tires roll on a car. When will the US govt. stop granting patents on such things?
I would think the patent(s), would only extend so far as the method of articulation. For example the structure of the hinges, and/or the drive mechanism.
 
Some of the patents they are claiming, "negotiate stairs, their walking gait, and their balance", are literally building blocks of any sort of multiped. It's like DJI or someone suing another quadcopter maker for having... propellers that spin at different speeds, allowing it to ascend and descend, just because DJI is the probably the most well known for drones in the public sphere and no other reason.

Both the patent and copyright systems are so messed up. Companies just weaponize those systems to troll competition out of business and they generally fail at doing what they are supposed to do (unless of course you take the cynical perspective and then they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do).
 

Macho

Posts: 85   +2
I would think the patent(s), would only extend so far as the method of articulation. For example the structure of the hinges, and/or the drive mechanism.
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Hodor

Posts: 251   +182
There's nothing more friendly than a robotic dog with a machine gun on its back looking at you with its loving expressionless black eyes.