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View Full Version : When does the Apple MagSafe patent run out?


Darryl Lict
08-13-2014, 07:56 PM
That Apple MagSafe power cord design seems vastly superior to any other power cord implementation. I don't use Apple computers but have destroyed many computer power jacks or cords over the years. I can't wait until it becomes available for non-Apple devices. Wikipedia says it was introduced in January 2006 and patented in 2007. I really don't understand how it was patented AFTER it was introduced.

In any case, when can I expect my MagSafe power supply on my ASUS computer? Granted, computers in the current form factor may not exist by then.

gazpacho
08-13-2014, 07:59 PM
The patent was probably granted in 2007 but applied for prior to Apple introducing it in 2006. Patents take about 3 or 4 years from initial filing to being granted.

gazpacho
08-13-2014, 08:08 PM
Patents in the US are for 20 years from initial filing. So September 2025.
US 7311526 B2
Initial filing date is Sep 26, 2005
http://www.google.com/patents/US7311526

TimeWinder
08-13-2014, 08:51 PM
Both my deep fryer and my Microsoft Surface tablet have magnetic connectors, too, so I doubt that the patent is really holding anybody back.

Shaggy Z
08-13-2014, 09:21 PM
I bought a Panasonic discman in 2004 that had a magnetic power adaptor to recharge the internal battery.

Darryl Lict
08-13-2014, 09:30 PM
Both my deep fryer and my Microsoft Surface tablet have magnetic connectors, too, so I doubt that the patent is really holding anybody back.
Actually, now that you mention it, I remember someone commenting that Japanese fryers had that well before the Apple patent. I seem to recall that the patent was specifically for a computer or some nonsense like that. It's a brilliant solution for a dangerous item like a fryer.

rsa
08-13-2014, 10:11 PM
Not knowing what a MagSafe power cord is, I Googled it. The first hit was for the Apple Store where I found: Apple 60W MagSafe Power Adapter (for MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro) $79

Out of 1975 reviews, 1575 were for one star out of five. I can't wait to get mine! :D

Darryl Lict
08-14-2014, 02:37 AM
Not knowing what a MagSafe power cord is, I Googled it. The first hit was for the Apple Store where I found: Apple 60W MagSafe Power Adapter (for MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro) $79

Out of 1975 reviews, 1575 were for one star out of five. I can't wait to get mine! :D
That's really interesting. I had no idea. I notice that this one is the L shaped one compared to the straight on type. I guess it's not the panacea that I thought it was. My sister's and nephew's adapters seemed to last a really long time except for when the cat chewed through it. My Dell adapters kept having the connector blow out and it was very difficult to just find a replacement connector. It's a little unclear if the problem is with the charger or the cable, but nevertheless, it doesn't bode well for Apple.

Francis Vaughan
08-14-2014, 03:14 AM
Concept wise the Magsafe is great. When it is working properly they are brilliant. However the devil is in the details. Two failures have bitten me.

One - the usual problem of the cord fraying next to the plug - eventually becoming unusable - with arcing and loss of connectivity. This is because the wire they use is not flexible enough (too large a diameter in the braid) and the strain relief little more than a joke.

The second is that the individual pins in the the plug are sprung, and the springs can fail. This renders the pin unable to make satisfactory contact with the corresponding contact point in the socket. At which point the connector is useless.

There are no ways of obtaining a new connector, so you end up springing for a new power supply.
As a dyed in the wool Apple Fan Boi, this leaves me less than happy. (My first Mac was a Powerbook 170, as the T-Shirt says, I was an Apple fan when they were doomed.)

qubed
08-14-2014, 03:30 AM
You have to take the reviews with a grain of salt. People are much more likely to leave a review when something breaks than when everything is going perfectly fine.

seodoa
08-14-2014, 04:08 AM
My electric kettle has a magnetic connector as well. This (http://www.caina.jp/data/commodity_detail/photo/39_img.jpg) sort of thing. Bit too big for a laptop, sure, but Apple hardly invented the idea of sticking magnets into things.

I don't see how they are even necessary as I have never had a problem with a normal connector. Are people really so clumsy around cords to require fancy trip-proof solutions?

The water kettle one is mostly nice because I can fumble the cord in the vague direction of the connector and it will attach itself through magnetic attraction.

ETA: It may be my cynicism, but I suspect Apple's adoption of MagSafe has more to do with wanting to force people into buying their overpriced crap. That seems to be their usual MO.

Francis Vaughan
08-14-2014, 04:22 AM
You only need to walk into the power cord once to thank St Steve for the Magsafe. I would hate to go back to a conventional connector. I just wish there was slightly better design engineering in it, and that there was a cost effective repair when they go bad.

Darryl Lict
08-14-2014, 09:57 AM
You have to take the reviews with a grain of salt. People are much more likely to leave a review when something breaks than when everything is going perfectly fine.

Point taken.

I don't see how they are even necessary as I have never had a problem with a normal connector. Are people really so clumsy around cords to require fancy trip-proof solutions?
Yes. Or at least, continual stress on the connector has killed nearly every Dell adapter I've owned. They seem to change the connector type on each model. I'm perfectly capable of soldering. I wish they would standardize on a connector.

beowulff
08-14-2014, 10:51 AM
I don't see how they are even necessary as I have never had a problem with a normal connector. Are people really so clumsy around cords to require fancy trip-proof solutions?

Yes.

Before the Magsafe, I would see at least 4-5 MacBooks every year that had been damaged by people pulling them off of their desks by the power cord. It's not only tripping over the cord that does it, it's things like catching it with the arm of your desk chair as you swivel. Even machines that weren't pulled off of desks had lots of internal connector damage, due to the continuous strain on the cords - this is still an huge problem for PC laptops.

Even with its faults (which I think are mostly overblown), Magsafe is a clear "win" for Mac owners.

gazpacho
08-14-2014, 11:20 AM
Are people really so clumsy around cords to require fancy trip-proof solutions?It is not really a question of the user being clumsy. The issue is that laptops are portable and get used in all sorts of situations. There are probably thousands of macs that lived second and third lives because children and pets failed to pull the computer off the coffee table. Similar cases probably happen every day in airports and coffee shops.

scr4
08-14-2014, 11:51 AM
Actually, now that you mention it, I remember someone commenting that Japanese fryers had that well before the Apple patent. I seem to recall that the patent was specifically for a computer or some nonsense like that.

Here's the patent (http://www.google.com/patents/US7311526) if you want to look for yourself. The patent describes 3-pin and larger magnetic connectors for DC power that work in 2 orientations. That's different from the magnetic power cord on my hot pot - it's 2 pins only, and it relies on mechanical design to make sure it only connects in one orientation.

TimeWinder
08-14-2014, 12:38 PM
Even with its faults (which I think are mostly overblown), Magsafe is a clear "win" for Mac owners.

I've had a large number of Mac laptops with these connectors (there are at least three different styles) and never had a power supply go bad because of fraying, arcing, or other strain relief problems. And I suspect a lot of this is the usual "it happens with everybody, but let's report on it if it's Apple" stuff. ("Thieves could put iPhones in a bag and beat you to death with them! Apple is ignoring the problem! News at 11!") I've certainly had strain failures on non-Apple laptop connectors (although not in some years, so they're getting better, too).

Still, I'm surprised that with the frequency that this is reported, Apple hasn't done some simple improvements on the wire/connector interface.

Darryl Lict
08-14-2014, 01:04 PM
Here's the patent (http://www.google.com/patents/US7311526) if you want to look for yourself. The patent describes 3-pin and larger magnetic connectors for DC power that work in 2 orientations. That's different from the magnetic power cord on my hot pot - it's 2 pins only, and it relies on mechanical design to make sure it only connects in one orientation.
OK, that's an innovative patentable idea.
I've had a large number of Mac laptops with these connectors (there are at least three different styles) and never had a power supply go bad because of fraying, arcing, or other strain relief problems. And I suspect a lot of this is the usual "it happens with everybody, but let's report on it if it's Apple" stuff. ("Thieves could put iPhones in a bag and beat you to death with them! Apple is ignoring the problem! News at 11!") I've certainly had strain failures on non-Apple laptop connectors (although not in some years, so they're getting better, too).

Still, I'm surprised that with the frequency that this is reported, Apple hasn't done some simple improvements on the wire/connector interface.
On the other hand, it's only 1200 bad reviews out of probably millions of Macbook Pros sold. One of the first bad reviews says that it doesn't fit his particular Macintosh, which is comparable to bad Amazon reviews for products that never arrived due to UPS fucking up.

GargoyleWB
08-14-2014, 02:38 PM
I don't see how they are even necessary as I have never had a problem with a normal connector. Are people really so clumsy around cords to require fancy trip-proof solutions?

Picture the following: Pet dalmatian jumps up onto the couch to snuggle next to me, back paw gets caught in the cord loop. She instinctively pinwheels to free herself, whipping the laptop off of my lap and across the coffee table, sending various items flying including a couple of full drinking glasses. She panics at the sudden crashing and breaking glass, jumping off the couch with laptop still in tow on her hind leg, jumping up into the lounge chair on the other side of the room.

Aftermath: Broken laptop housing, broken display hinge, broken dishes, expired warranty. :(

seodoa
08-14-2014, 11:12 PM
Ahh, yes, I hadn't thought about children and pets. I guess I've never had to use a laptop around either.

I could see something like the MagSafe being useful in that situation, although still not worth 80 dollars for a replacement if they are as problematic as reviews suggest. Until it becomes available for a less ridiculous price, I'd rather just be more careful with where I'm running cords.

pulykamell
08-15-2014, 12:26 AM
I've had a large number of Mac laptops with these connectors (there are at least three different styles) and never had a power supply go bad because of fraying, arcing, or other strain relief problems.

I haven't had a problem recently with the connectors, but with the first generation of MacBook Pros -- I want to say circa 2006 -- I had three different chargers go on me because the connector wore out (never had the L-shaped connector, just the straight one.) It would eventually simply not recharge, but it would actually supply power to the computer. Sometimes if I flipped the connector it would work, but eventually all three chargers required replacements, and the replacements lasted about a year before needing to be replaced again. Currently, though, I have not had any problems. Maybe four years ago was the last time I changed a MacBook Pro charger. But it certainly was an issue with me before then.

dtilque
08-15-2014, 02:29 AM
Why don't those who want to get around Apple's patent just design a similar connector with a different number of pins?

Francis Vaughan
08-15-2014, 03:23 AM
38. The magnetic connector system of claim 34 wherein, when the first connector couples to the second connector, the first and second plurality of electrical contacts define a corresponding plurality of electrical communication paths.
39. The magnetic connector system of claim 38 wherein the plurality of electrical communication paths comprises at least one electrical power path and at least one signal path.


Patent covers different numbers of pins. What it contributes is the ability to work either way up, and the combination of signals and power.

yoyodyne
08-15-2014, 10:19 AM
Why don't those who want to get around Apple's patent just design a similar connector with a different number of pins?I have a charging cable from these people (http://magnector.com/) for my tablet. I don't know how that relates to the Apple patent.

scr4
08-15-2014, 10:29 AM
I could see something like the MagSafe being useful in that situation, although still not worth 80 dollars for a replacement if they are as problematic as reviews suggest.

$80 is the cost of an Apple AC adapter equipped with MagSafe. That's not unusually high for an OEM laptop AC adapter, even with a conventional connector.

Francis Vaughan
08-16-2014, 05:17 AM
It is however sadly also the price for a replacement connector, as that is the only way you can buy one. I have bought two so far. Thus I have two perfectly functioning AC adaptors with failed Magsafe plugs, rendering them useless.

I would never contemplate a machine other than a Mac, so I put up with it. But it is very annoying.

Francis Vaughan
08-16-2014, 05:19 AM
I have a charging cable from these people (http://magnector.com/) for my tablet. I don't know how that relates to the Apple patent.

Very hard to see how this does not run afoul of Apple's patent. About the only thing that might save them is that it forms part of a protective case, and not part of the phone or tablet proper.

AaronX
08-16-2014, 11:19 AM
I wonder if the patent covers more than just magnetic attachment. MagSafe has several other features: reversible connector, authentication before increasing voltage, and indicator light on the connector.

Hmm, I wonder if people can sell MagSafe to normal DC plug converters? Take Apple adapters just for the MagSafe plugs, beef up the wire, add some circuitry for it to work, then end it in a normal DC plug. It'll still be detachable, and any fraying would occur in the cheap adapter's wire. Some companies are already buying Apple adapters just for the MagSafe plug.

AaronX
08-16-2014, 11:21 AM
Oh how about inductive charging? Or does that produce too much interference?

Silophant
08-16-2014, 11:32 AM
Both my deep fryer and my Microsoft Surface tablet have magnetic connectors, too, so I doubt that the patent is really holding anybody back.

AFAIK, the patent is only for computers, and Microsoft and Apple have an agreement where they share patents (since Windows and OSX probably infringe on scores of the others patents). So, Microsoft can use a magnetic connector on the few computers they make themselves, but none of the other manufacturers can.