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-   -   You too can buy an AFCI breaker for $1000! (

Gigs 02-05-2009 09:55 PM

You too can buy an AFCI breaker for $1000!
Heh I ran into this today, I thought I would share it with you all.

This guy took what appears to be a normal square D AFCI breaker and put it in a nice little box with test leads. He's "licensing" it for $1000 as an "arc fault testing device". And you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement before you "license" it from him.

KE2KB 02-06-2009 09:50 AM

The signs of a really bad economy. People will do anything to make a buck<g>


Yoyizit 02-06-2009 10:45 AM

I wonder if Square D is taking, or can legally take, a cut of this action. Some of their reputation is riding on this guy's gadget.

KE2KB 02-06-2009 02:31 PM

So, what does this device have to offer that simply removing a breaker and replacing with an AFCI would not?
This has got to be a scam.


jamiedolan 02-06-2009 02:36 PM

I read some of there site, it seems to say that there arc fault device is more accurate than Meggering. From everything I have learned about meggering and about Arc fault breakers. I don't believe that statement at all.


Yoyizit 02-06-2009 03:41 PM

Design revision A
Buy an AFCI from every company that makes one and wire them all in series or parallel, I don't know.
If the majority say "bad arc" then it is a "bad arc" to some level of certainty.
The more AFCIs you have voting, the higher the level of certainty.

If an AFCI never votes "bad arc", remove it. The "arc lobby" has it in their pocket!:laughing:
If an AFCI always votes "bad arc", remove it. The safety-above-all advocates have it in their pocket!:laughing: These guys shake hands wearing gloves.

Michael Thomas 02-06-2009 04:02 PM

The issue here is that the only approved test for AFCI circuit breaker is by means of the self test circuitry built into the breaker, so placing the breaker in a box with test leads might actually be a patentable invention - they may actually own the exclusive right to test AFCI circuits "in this particular manner".

The issue of course is the actual scope of the patent, for example could you please the breaker on a different box, with a slightly different sort of test lead?

The problem is when somebody gets issued a patent, it then becomes the responsibility of anyone who wants to produce a similar device or even use a similar technique to challenge the patent, as crazy as it seems for example if the multimeter just been invented, and someone came up for instance with the idea of removable test leads, they might be able to patent that "innovation".

The limits on the scope of such patents in a case like this are generally set by what is called "prior art" - has someone done this before? - and whether or not the innovation is "obvious".

Unfortunately at the moment the operation of the patent office resembles the Three Stooges on a weekend bender - all kinds of stuff which clearly fails one or both both tests gets patented, and then it becomes quite expensive to challenge the patent.

To give you an example from my industry (home inspection) there's a company that recently received a quite broad patent on the use of infrared cameras at home inspections.

Clearly, their patent does not cover the vast majority of such use - IR cameras have been used in residential property inspections for 30 years, and most of the stuff covered their patents is self-evident and taught in elementary thermography classes, - the problem is once they got the patent it could cost 50-200K to contest it, and in the meantime this company is sending out letters to every home inspector in America who advertises the use of IR cameras on their websites demanding a licensing fee of around $1000 a year to continue to do so.

There is no doubt that there use the patent is absurdly broad (and likely also violates antitrust laws, as this company also operates a line of home inspection franchises) and it's extremely unlikely that it would be cost-effective for them to sue individual home inspectors, what they're really doing is attempting to shake down the manufacturers of IR cameras on the assumption that the manufacturers may decide its cheaper just to negotiate a blanket license to use their "patented technique" and pay them to go away than to fight the battle out in court.

It's an absurd situation, but unfortunately it's the state of patent law in America.

Yoyizit 02-06-2009 04:32 PM

I was at the Patent Office until I got a boss straight out of Dilbert cartoon.
But I can't say he was corrupt and that people died because of his actions, or lack of them.
No, that was my next job. . .:laughing:

Leah Frances 02-06-2009 05:23 PM

If he doesn't have a license from Square D he's got a problem(s), at least:

- trademark infringement (you can clearly see their trademark in the pic)

- product dilution/confusion ("Does Square D make or endorse this product?")

- and benefiting from the goodwill Square D has garnered in the course of their business ("It must be good because it uses a Square D").

I'd LOVE to get a look at his NDA.

Yoyizit 02-06-2009 05:29 PM


Originally Posted by Leah Frances (Post 226240)
I'd LOVE to get a look at his NDA.

But you are not allowed to peek at his (legal) briefs!:laughing:

Michael Thomas 02-06-2009 05:30 PM


Originally Posted by Leah Frances (Post 226240)
I'd LOVE to get a look at his NDA.

Your instant gratification is here:

Yoyizit 02-06-2009 05:33 PM


Originally Posted by jamiedolan (Post 226166)
I don't believe that statement at all.

If he doesn't believe it either, then he is lying or lives in a reality different from ours.
Many politicians already live there, so I think it's getting crowded.

Leah Frances 02-06-2009 05:38 PM

I GET IT! He's not selling a product he's selling a SYSTEM.

Ask and Ye shall receive. I highlighted the funny parts - especially note paragraph 7 referring to damages - I was expecting specific damages (say $25,000 if breached) instead I got proof that this contract is a cut a paste job.:laughing:

THIS AGREEMENT, made and entered into this _____day of ___________, 2007 by and between ELECTRICIANS ON DUTY, INC an Indiana corporation, having its principal business in Fort Wayne, Indiana (hereinafter referred to as “EOD”); and _________________________________________(hereinaf ter referred to as “RECIPIENT”);
WHEREAS, RECIPIENT desires a complete disclosure of various discoveries, inventions, and the like, some patented and some patent pending, some trade marked and some copyrighted which are and may be embodied in a circuit tester, circuit tester methods and potential methods of EOD or related apparatus manufactured, or sold by EOD (hereinafter referred to as ‘”INVENTIONS” and certain information considered by EOD to be proprietary, trade secret or confidential information (herein after referred
to as “INFORMATION”) for the purpose of giving EOD an indication of the interest by RECIPIENT in becoming a SUBCONTRACTOR, CONSULTANT and/or INVESTOR to EOD; WHEREAS, EOD is willing to disclose said INVENTIONS and INFORMATION under the provisions of this Agreement.
THEREFORE, in view of the foregoing representations and in consideration of other valuable goods and other valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, and the mutual covenants of this Agreement, it is agreed as follows:
11535 Leo Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46845
ph: (260) 422-2000 w.w.w.
1 of 4.
1- EOD agrees to disclose to RECIPIENT said INVENTIONS and INFORMATION to the extent necessary for RECIPIENT to determine its interest in EOD, its products and methods in becoming a SUBCONTRACTOR and/or CONSULTANT.
2- RECIPIENT agrees to receive said inventions and INFORMATION in confidence and to keep in confidence and in secrecy all said Invention and Information disclosed or transmitted to RECIPIENT by EOD whether by writings or other documents, orally, or by inspection of apparatus
or structures or other physical specimens embodying or suggesting said inventions or information, and RECIPIENT agrees not to use said inventions or INFORMATION for purposes other than determining its interest in distributing EOD products and inventions (so according to their own contract you can't use the product) and agrees not to reveal or divulge said inventions or INFORMATION to third parties. RECIPIENT also agrees to inspect said writings or other documents or apparatus or structures or other physical specimens without disclosing,
suggesting or using any portion of said inventions or information, or allowing same to be used in the manufacture or have manufactured any apparatus or structures embodying said inventions or to use said INFORMATION, without their prior written consent of EOD, except:
(a) INFORMATION which, at the time of its disclosure to RECIPIENT can be established by RECIPIENT, by publications or other writings, to have been lawfully in the public domain or to have been actually known to RECIPIENT prior to the receipt thereof under the provisions of this Agreement,

(b) INFORMATION which, after it was disclosed to RECIPIENT can be established by RECIPIENT, by publications or other writings, to have lawfully become a part of the public domain, other than as a consequence of a breach of this Agreement.
3- RECIPIENT agrees that it will only disclose said INFORMATION with prior written authorization from EOD. RECIPIENT agrees that its employees, agents and the like, if any, who receive any such INFORMATION, agree and will abide by the same provisions of this Agreement. The RECIPIENT shall deliver a fully executed agreement confirming that RECIPIENT’S
employees, agents and others to whom it may deliver any INFORMATION will be bound by the terms of this AGREEMENT.
4- RECIPIENT agrees not to use any of the information disclosed to RECIPIENT under the provisions of this Agreement for any purpose other that in discussions with EOD, without first obtaining the written consent of EOD, its successors or assigns.
5- RECIPIENT agrees not to use any product or method of EOD under the provisions of this Agreement other than in testing and experiments, and that all such test and experiments should be documented in writing both as to procedure and results with copies of both being sent to EOD within thirty (30) days of completion. (Or you can use it, but only for 'testing and experiments' whatever that means.)
6- The parties agree that there is no implied right to manufacture, assemble, use or sell any apparatus or structure incorporating said INVENTIONS disclosed, or to use said INFORMATION disclosed in any way, nor is there any implied option, promise or the like to enter into any agreement with regard to the same or to employ RECIPIENT.
7- RECIPIENT acknowledges that the provisions of this Agreement are fair and reasonable and are reasonably required for the protection of EOD. RECIPIENT agrees that any breach of this Agreement could cause irreparable injury to EOD, and thus, EOD has the right to recover all reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred by EOD in enforcing its rights under this agreement. Furthermore, it is agreed that EOD have the right to pursue injunctive or other (I think they forgot something here)
8. This Agreement shall not be assigned, conveyed, or in any way hypothecated by RECIPIENT, and shall be binding upon all heirs and legal representatives of RECIPIENT, and all heirs, assigns, successors and legal representatives of ELECTRICIANS ON DUTY, INC.
9. This Agreement shall be construed and interpreted and applied in accordance with the laws of the State of Indiana.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have caused this Agreement to be duly executed and

By: Jeffrey L. De Haven


Michael Thomas 02-06-2009 06:00 PM

As long as the stuff was mostly a matter of corporate litigation though it may have had hidden costs for end users and consumers but it wasn't particularly intrusive in their day-to-day lives - every once in a blue moon you have something like the Blackberry or Kodak/Polaroid dustups, but those were the rare exception that disrupted stuff at the far end of the distribution chain. However I have noticed in the last year or so it's really been getting completely out of hand, and IMO it is time to really lower the boom on kind of behavior.

I do notice that the people pursuing home inspectors to license the use of common and customary infrared inspection techniques have scaled back their claims a good deal in the last few weeks, and I think I have bestirred my congressperson to bestir the FTC to take a look at this company's efforts from antitrust standpoint - THAT may give them second thoughts, because if so issue is going to be on the other foot in terms of mandatory, expensive changes in behavior to avoid expensive litigation to prevent unpleasant outcomes.

But what we really nee, IMO, is triple damages plus attorneys fees for people who insist on egregious abuse of the patent process - until then all that it costs patent holders to assert absurdly broadly claims or threatening to enforce clearly incorrectly granted patents is an attorney's letter and a stamp.

As we used to say in my days in the IT industry - "Those who can't innovate, litigate"

Michael Thomas 02-06-2009 10:51 PM

After poking around that site a bit I think I better understand what they are doing - which is not what I had supposed, but rather inserting an AFCI at vatious points in a branch circuit to identify and locate arc faluts. (I'm not sure, though - It will be easire to understand exactly what they are suggesting once they get their FAQ up).

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