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Great. We should just wait until 2026, when the key patents expire if not renewed for another 14 years!

 

Patents are not renewable. When patents expires, they are dead.There is only 20 YEARS to a patent. Don't mix up patents with trademarks. Trademarks are renewable but the intellectual value of HDMI is intrinsically linked to the patents. Trademarks are not worth that much. They can try to push licensing for the HDMI trademark but when the patents expires, anyone can make HDMI video ports and do so without using the HDMI label. The market value and 'laws' of commerce prevails because HDMI Licensing entity will have to drop the price in order to get any bites. As of right now, legally, I can make Amiga computer hardware. What I can't do is use Amiga trademarks and Amiga copyrights. HDMI doesn't have any copyright other than to their published "specifications" book which they give away for free download... anyway. The trademark is the registered trademark(s) for HDMI. The patents are associated technology. HDMI 1.0 specification goes back to 2003. A key patent is the patent for the TMDS signals. TMDS began implementation about 1999. So 20 years from 1999 is 2019. Now, we can assume the patent maybe good for a few years after that. 2023, roughly from when the patents are filed.

 

So 2026 is probably a safe year. Key elements of the basic specifications of the patents as implemented. Not many more years, some key patents of the HDMI technology will expire.

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Patents are not renewable. When patents expires, they are dead.There is only 20 YEARS to a patent. Don't mix up patents with trademarks. Trademarks are renewable but the intellectual value of HDMI is intrinsically linked to the patents. Trademarks are not worth that much. They can try to push licensing for the HDMI trademark but when the patents expires, anyone can make HDMI video ports and do so without using the HDMI label. The market value and 'laws' of commerce prevails because HDMI Licensing entity will have to drop the price in order to get any bites. As of right now, legally, I can make Amiga computer hardware. What I can't do is use Amiga trademarks and Amiga copyrights. HDMI doesn't have any copyright other than to their published "specifications" book which they give away for free download... anyway. The trademark is the registered trademark(s) for HDMI. The patents are associated technology. HDMI 1.0 specification goes back to 2003. A key patent is the patent for the TMDS signals. TMDS began implementation about 1999. So 20 years from 1999 is 2019. Now, we can assume the patent maybe good for a few years after that. 2023, roughly from when the patents are filed.

 

So 2026 is probably a safe year. Key elements of the basic specifications of the patents as implemented. Not many more years, some key patents of the HDMI technology will expire.

 

 

Patents last for 14 or 20 years. 14 year patents can be renewed 1 time for an additional 14 years. Please remember that patents are issued and enforced by multiple countries.

 

In the US, the relevant patent was requested in 2009, granted in 2012, and expires in 2029 or 32, depending. In the EU it expires in 2026, and again in 2040 if renewed.

 

Generally, design patents are 20 years and technology patents are 14 years. Too many variables and more exceptions than not, though.

 

/I have patents.

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Patents last for 14 or 20 years. 14 year patents can be renewed 1 time for an additional 14 years. Please remember that patents are issued and enforced by multiple countries.

 

In the US, the relevant patent was requested in 2009, granted in 2012, and expires in 2029 or 32, depending. In the EU it expires in 2026, and again in 2040 if renewed.

 

Generally, design patents are 20 years and technology patents are 14 years. Too many variables and more exceptions than not, though.

 

/I have patents.

 

However, key patents isn't the 2009 patent which you have to pay attention to the filing date. It's the signaling patents which goes back to DVI. It's the TMDS patents. Those signals goes back to 1999-2003 filing date. HDMI 1.0 goes back to 2002 which are DVI type signals. 1.0 is the original specifications which is all you need. The later HDMI patents are for enhancements of the later speed specifications. We need not be concerned about patents of 1.3, 1.4x, 2.x specifications. The 640x480 mode is a required mode since the before HDMI including DVI. This is part of VGA specification standards which HDMI was requiring compatibility with those resolution modes.

 

The critical patent of HDMI is TMDS because other than the connector, it's basically DVI. The physical connectors used for HDMI are owned by third-parties and they are manufactured by their licensees and we just buy them from suppliers who buys them from the manufacturers.

 

Here is one of the key patents:

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=18289&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&s1=%22HDMI%22&p=366&OS=%22HDMI%22&RS=%22HDMI%22

 

Due note the Filing Dates of Related U.S. Patents and the Foreign Patent Document.

 

Pay attention to References Cited:

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN%2F6151334

(This one starts to expire in November)

 

 

"In the United States, for utility patents filed on or after June 8, 1995, the term of the patent is 20 years from the earliest filing date of the application on which the patent was granted and any prior U.S. or Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications from which the patent claims priority (excluding provisional applications)."

 

The 14 year from issuance patents applies to design applications filed before May 13, 2015 (afterwards, it's 15 years from issuance) but they are for patents based on decorative, non-functional features. These have no real relevance here because we wouldn't be manufacturing the HDMI connectors themselves. There are limited situations where a patent term is extended. This is not the case.

 

The key patents are the ones originally assigned to Silicon Image, Inc.

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Further, parts of "TMDS" as it became the signaling technology of DVI and HDMI goes back before "DVI" and even "HDMI" terms came to use.

 

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=231&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&s1=%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22.ASNM.&p=5&OS=AN/%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22&RS=AN/%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22

 

Other important parts to DVI & HDMI (not a complete exhaustive list for every version of DVI & HDMI specifications):

 

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=226&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&s1=%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22.ASNM.&p=5&OS=AN/%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22&RS=AN/%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22

 

Some more to follow:

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=224&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&s1=%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22.ASNM.&p=5&OS=AN/%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22&RS=AN/%22Silicon+Image,+Inc%22

 

(Note filing date: These will have begun to expire at that stage.... granted patents to enhancements that are later patented still applies until their expiration but exclusive rights expires with patent expiration.)

Edited by Wildstar

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I appreciate the clarification. I always understood there was a good deal of harmonization between US and EU/UK patent law (I'm a Brit) but there is apparently less than I thought.

It's reassuring the patents will be expiring while the technology is still relevant. The requirement for HDMI to be ba kwards compatible really works for Matthew in this case. Instead of spending a year redesigning and testing the board, all he needs to do is wait a year!

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Forgive me if this has already been brought up, but what handles the video encoding to HDMI (or whatever you decide on?) Is it part of the main chip or a discrete circuit?

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I appreciate the clarification. I always understood there was a good deal of harmonization between US and EU/UK patent law (I'm a Brit) but there is apparently less than I thought.

 

It's reassuring the patents will be expiring while the technology is still relevant. The requirement for HDMI to be ba kwards compatible really works for Matthew in this case. Instead of spending a year redesigning and testing the board, all he needs to do is wait a year!

 

I'll see if I can talk to HDMI about an alternative option for licensing for smaller hobbyist. 1) a significantly smaller annual fee like $100 annual fee. 2) Higher per unit royalty price up to 10,000 units per quarter including the $1.00 per unit administrative fee. When you sell only 60 units in a .... $10,000 annual fee is a big burden for a small hobbyist manufacturer. So tacking on about $4.00 to the price isn't unbearable and you wouldn't be burdened with $10,000 when you aren't even making that from the products. You'd be jacking up the price up the product north of $170 on top of your BOM price and profit margin.

 

I'll talk with HDMI guys about it. Understanding they are usually licensing moderate to high volume manufacturers.

 

Hopefully, they are NOT a bunch of d!(k$.

 

(Notice an IMPORTANT word omitted that needed to be corrected!)

Edited by Wildstar
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I appreciate the clarification. I always understood there was a good deal of harmonization between US and EU/UK patent law (I'm a Brit) but there is apparently less than I thought.

 

It's reassuring the patents will be expiring while the technology is still relevant. The requirement for HDMI to be ba kwards compatible really works for Matthew in this case. Instead of spending a year redesigning and testing the board, all he needs to do is wait a year!

 

I understand the UK, the EU, and other countries will differ in matters of duration. Other countries may have a little longer duration period but then the judicial venue in any legal case comes into play. Generally, if there was a U.S. manufacturing violaing a patent that is patented in the U.S. (as well as other countries), the judicial venue for legal action usually applies to the country where the violator is. Since also the company that the patents belongs two resides primarily in Korea and United States. In the case of F18A MK2 developer being in the U.S. as well as the HDMI Licensing organization, the court of jurisdiction would likely fall under U.S. trademark and patent laws.

 

If I produced a product that used HDMI technology, I would be primarily subject to U.S. laws. It is possible to negotiate a license more suited for VERY SMALL Volume developers which may optionally choose to transition to the other licensing options if they get a better deal but an option where we don't have to put an excessive scale of money for the license. As for conformance testing, it might not be as bad if it isn't ridiculously expensive. I don't know if they are out to be d!(k$, I am sure they want to protect their IP and capitalize as much as they can expiration of numerous critical patents erodes in value. I'll propose something to them for engaging smaller hobbyist developers at a more affordable price level but mutually fair.

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Forgive me if this has already been brought up, but what handles the video encoding to HDMI (or whatever you decide on?) Is it part of the main chip or a discrete circuit?

 

The FPGA that runs the F18A video output also handles the HDMI. That's a Xilinx chip???? right? Licensing may or may not be needed or involved because Xilinx. The FPGA is either Xilinx or Lattice. Xilinx is an adopter and Lattice is a founder.

That's worth investigating.

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I'll see if I can talk to HDMI about an alternative option for licensing for smaller hobbyist. 1) a significantly smaller annual fee like $100 annual fee. 2) Higher per unit royalty price up to 10,000 units per quarter including the $1.00 per unit administrative fee. When you sell only 60 units in a .... $10,000 annual fee is a big burden for a small hobbyist manufacturer. So tacking on about $4.00 to the price isn't unbearable and you wouldn't be burdened with $10,000 when you aren't even making that from the products. You'd be jacking up the price up the product north of $170 on top of your BOM price and profit margin.

 

I'll talk with HDMI guys about it. Understanding they are usually licensing moderate to high volume manufacturers.

 

...

 

Thank you for all the information, it is very much appreciated! And if you have a way to talk to the HDMI.org people about this, that would be awesome! I sent them a letter via their contact form about 9 days ago, but I have not heard back from them. I was going to try calling them next week, but if you have an *in* with them, by all means please see what you can do. A deal like you mentioned would be great and would allow me to move forward and get the MK2 into production.

 

 

Forgive me if this has already been brought up, but what handles the video encoding to HDMI (or whatever you decide on?) Is it part of the main chip or a discrete circuit?

 

 

The FPGA that runs the F18A video output also handles the HDMI. That's a Xilinx chip???? right? Licensing may or may not be needed or involved because Xilinx. The FPGA is either Xilinx or Lattice. Xilinx is an adopter and Lattice is a founder.

That's worth investigating.

 

The Xilinx Spartan-6 LX9 FPGA on the MK2 generates the TMDS signals directly. The MK2 does have a protection IC between the FPGA and HDMI connector, to protect against reverse voltages, static discharges, etc. but it has nothing to do with signal generation and is not required to get valid HDMI output.

 

I don't think using a Xilinx FPGA means I'm somehow covered for HDMI, does it? If that is true it would be *very* cool, but somehow I doubt that is the case.

 

Edit: According to the HDMI Adopters page, Xilinx is not a founder (see the Founder list at the top), they are just a manufacturer-adopter in 2009: https://www.hdmi.org/learningcenter/adopters_founders.aspx

Edited by matthew180

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Thank you for all the information, it is very much appreciated! And if you have a way to talk to the HDMI.org people about this, that would be awesome! I sent them a letter via their contact form about 9 days ago, but I have not heard back from them. I was going to try calling them next week, but if you have an *in* with them, by all means please see what you can do. A deal like you mentioned would be great and would allow me to move forward and get the MK2 into production.

 

The Xilinx Spartan-6 LX9 FPGA on the MK2 generates the TMDS signals directly. The MK2 does have a protection IC between the FPGA and HDMI connector, to protect against reverse voltages, static discharges, etc. but it has nothing to do with signal generation and is not required to get valid HDMI output.

 

I don't think using a Xilinx FPGA means I'm somehow covered for HDMI, does it? If that is true it would be *very* cool, but somehow I doubt that is the case.

 

Edit: According to the HDMI Adopters page, Xilinx is not a founder (see the Founder list at the top), they are just a manufacturer-adopter in 2009: https://www.hdmi.org/learningcenter/adopters_founders.aspx

 

The 4786 chip. Yes, Xilinx is not a founder. They were an adopter and Lattice is a founder. Merely using an FPGA by Xilinx is not guarantee that you are covered for HDMI. I was pondering if the HDMI was an integrated component in the FPGA (outright) as maybe found in some specialized SOC class FPGA with on-board HDMI transmitter....... it might be because they would have been paying the royalty because of the chip.

 

I'll be contacting HDMI.org folks. I think as a company, they really don't want bad publicity for being overtly mean against small hobbyist hardware developers. I will try to work something with them on it. The worst case, things are as they currently are. Hopefully it results in something beneficial to adopting HDMI. I probably can't negotiate us out of 'compliance testing' but $10,000 up front is a tough swallow to say the least.

Edited by Wildstar

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Matthew, I like what you got going so far. For a software project I'm planning for classic systems with 2d graphic technology, the F18A (or in this case, the MK2 version) would be a very nice video chip to include even on an plug-in video card (for the Apple II/IIgs and similar systems), or as a video "cartridge" such as the C64/128, Plus/4, Vic-20, on a Video Card for the TI-99/4A's PEB, and numerous other systems. For the project and it's nature, it is really nice to have a fairly consistent video graphic technology to work on for consistent 2d assets especially in an online multiplayer environment.

 

This would imply investing on developing solutions of bringing this video "chip" to the different systems.

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If it meets the requirements, I'd suggest going with BossComm. MrPix vouches for them, and I couldn't find anything bad on a Google search. Or, you can go ahead and go with something more expensive such as something from DigiKey who I've dealt with a lot, and just up the final cost by a dollar or 2 to cover the extra expense. Though, I don't know if any of the ones at DigiKey are small enough, don't know the requirements you have.

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If code was going to be added to bring it up to V9938, take it all the way to the V9958.

 

V9938 software to my knowledge is fully compatible with the V9958, and you get a bit of a boost in video graphic capabilities as I recall.

 

Beery

 

YJK Bitmap modes would be interesting. If it could be implemented and mapped out to RGB properly.... that would be quite interesting gfx even if at only 256px. horizontal mode. As I understand it, G7+YJK is only 256x212.

Step one is YJK color data to 15b RGB then to 24b RGB conversion followed by conversion to TMDS encoding. It will be interesting if we can go 15 RGB to TMDS directly. Otherwise, we have a LUT.

 

Other options could be conceived for say a MK3. (not for awhile, I would imagine but who knows if we conceive something new-ish for MK2 or later versions).

Edited by Wildstar

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Hehe, well, yes and no. The chip has some configurability, and will work correctly if you give it an HDMI-type signal that inter-operates with the IC, but doesn't quite meet the specification on some technical ground. That means it is NOT HDMI, but a DVI/HDMI hybrid. Simply having levels out of spec, or lack of protection on the 'HDMI' side of the IC makes it not HDMI. If you don't have an HDMI-licensed socket, and you're using the same differential video signals that DVI and HDMI both use, that sounds really generic. I know you think $5.50 is expensive, but remove the costs of the components you no longer need, plus the avoided cost of licensing per part, and the part costs a minimal amount. All the alternatives (eg: TFP410) are going to be in the similar cost area. The switch I showed you yesterday is the cheapest option, and nicely does passive format conversion from HDMI to DP and you can just ignore the 2nd port by typing it to GND. All it leaves for you to solve is the DP signaling to negotiate the link.

 

The main thing is you have demand for a device with a digital output, and this could get it done. This could be a short product cycle of a couple of hundred units, and then you could either continue if it's working for you, or do a mild redesign for mkIII if you find a better way.

 

At least you don't have to revalidate your entire output stage that way.

Also, could people please not PM me with complaints and insults for raising this issue. It's not my fault this has happened. I just alerted Matthew to the potential of risk because he has a right to know what he was getting into. If I knew and said nothing, I would have been partially to blame if they came after him. Even if it is only a one in 20 chance, I think any reasonable person here wouldn't take that risk with their home, retirement, etc. But at least they'd like to make an informed decision - which you can't do unless someone in the know gives you the information.

 

I want Matthew to succeed, and not lose a great deal in the process.

 

So please, stop blaming me. I'm not HDMI Licensing. If I was, I'd be better funded. :P

 

True but they won't recover squat as there is no assets to recover. They won't gain anything and the truth of the matter is they would be losing money pursuing fruitless litigation. If I was their lawyer, I would not pursue suing but recommend a more sensible licensing path for these people that are reasonable to their scale of production and encourage people to a compliance path than to lose money in legal fees and bad press. A viral boycott and bad press would do more hurt than to be unreasonable.

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Ok, from what I gather the HDMI licensing is for the design of the connector only, and not for the signals you send through it right? Well then, would it be possible to wire up an ethernet jack to the video out and use one of these:

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAB1Z7GH3721&cm_re=hdmi_to_ethernet_adapter-_-2XW-0005-00041-_-Product

 

The connectors are intellectual properties of various companies but the actual companies that owns the patents have to be the party initiating patent lawsuit via their lawyers not HDMI Licensing whatever. Little thing called legal standing. Who owns the patent to the Type D HDMI connector? Only the patent owner not a licensee of patents have legal standing to sue someone for patent violation.

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True but they won't recover squat as there is no assets to recover. They won't gain anything and the truth of the matter is they would be losing money pursuing fruitless litigation. If I was their lawyer, I would not pursue suing but recommend a more sensible licensing path for these people that are reasonable to their scale of production and encourage people to a compliance path than to lose money in legal fees and bad press. A viral boycott and bad press would do more hurt than to be unreasonable.

 

 

Remember how the music industry went after music fans? And there choice was "give us $10,000 or we'll sue you and the legal costs alone will be 10x that!" Same deal.It doesn't matter how they win. Their definition of winning is you give them money but they don't really care how much extra it costs you. That is, I think, why the lowest fee is still so high. As soon as the minimum value of the IP you "stole" was $5,000 or $10,000, it's meaningful.

 

In the case of my attorney friend who represented someone in one of these cases, they got around $12k out of court settlement, a signed consent decree and a maybe $5k legal bill. That is one of the cheapest outcomes he's said he's seen as an IP lawyer.

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The connectors are intellectual properties of various companies but the actual companies that owns the patents have to be the party initiating patent lawsuit via their lawyers not HDMI Licensing whatever. Little thing called legal standing. Who owns the patent to the Type D HDMI connector? Only the patent owner not a licensee of patents have legal standing to sue someone for patent violation.

 

Not so. HDMI Licensing is assigned all the IP. They are basically the legal firm assigned to protect that legal "bucket" of IP that makes up the protocols, signals and encryption, connectors layer IP. It's common for standards-based IP buckets to be assembled by companies so they can control entire markets legally by offering FRAND licensing. EG: the reason there's no super-cheap plans for hobbyists like us is it wouldn't meet the F of FRAND (Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory). Any larger company could complain "well how come we're paying X when they only had to pay X/10?"

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Not so. HDMI Licensing is assigned all the IP. They are basically the legal firm assigned to protect that legal "bucket" of IP that makes up the protocols, signals and encryption, connectors layer IP. It's common for standards-based IP buckets to be assembled by companies so they can control entire markets legally by offering FRAND licensing. EG: the reason there's no super-cheap plans for hobbyists like us is it wouldn't meet the F of FRAND (Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory). Any larger company could complain "well how come we're paying X when they only had to pay X/10?"

 

I know a way to get around this b.s. First off, Matthew isn't manufacturing the micro-HDMI connector. Therefore, a license to the patents for the connectors are not legally require nor would it be a patent violation by matthew. Patents violating the design patents for the HDMI connectors would be with the actual manufacturer of the connector such as some Chinese copycatting company. What we can do is replace the TMDS signals with regular old fashion VGA/SVGA compliant RGBHV signals.

 

Look here: Standard Micro-HDMI pinout:

http://pinoutguide.com/PortableDevices/micro_hdmi_type_d_pinout.shtml

 

Pin# | Signal

3 | TMDS Data2+

4 | TMDS Data2 Shield

5 | TMDS Data2-

6 | TMDS Data1+

7 | TMDS Data1 Shield

8 | TMDS Data1-

9 | TMDS Data0+

10 | TMDS Data0 Shield

11 | TMDS Data0-

12 | TMDS Clock+

13 | TMDS Clock Shield

14 | TMDS Clock-

15 | CEC ( control )

2 | Utility/HEAC+ (N.C. on device)

17 | SCL (DDC clock)

18 | SDA (DDC data)

16 | DDC/CEC/HEAC Ground

19 | +5V Power (power EDID/DDC)

1 | Hot Plug Detect / HEAC-

 

 

An option is to re-assigned the pins as follows or similarly: (Note here for SVGA signals: http://www.l-com.com/content/Article.aspx?Type=L&ID=205 )

I'll based the proposed pinout with DDC signals (which may or may not really need to be there)

 

Pin_____Signals_____

 

3 | Red

4 | Red Shield

5 | GROUND

6 | Green

7 | Green Shield

8 | n.c.

9 | Blue

10 | Blue Shield

11 | Sync Return(VSync/DDC ground)

12 | HSync

13 | n.c.

14 | V-Sync

15 | reserved

2 | SDA (DDC Serial Data Line) I2C connection (otherwise RESERVED)

17 | SCL (DDC Data Clock Line) I2C connection (otherwise RESERVED)

18 | reserved

16 | Ground

19 | +5V (DDC)

1 | n.c.

Now instead of TMDS 'digital' signals, we send analog VGA/SVGA signals but we use a micro-HDMI type connector in a non-HDMI fashion for VGA/SVGA output not HDMI output. We just supply the cable. So we use the small compactness of the connector. Conceivably, we can use pin 8 and pin 1 for things like audio out and audio in or whatever.

 

Minimal VGA specifications is RGBHV + Grounds/Shields.

 

What does this mean: DO NOT PLUG DIRECTLY TO AN HDMI MONITOR. WHILE IT MAY USE A MICRO-HDMI TYPE CONNECTOR - IT IS PLAIN OLD ANALOG VGA/SVGA. DIRECTLY CONNECTING SUCH CONNECTOR WILL DAMAGE YOUR HDMI PORT ON YOUR HDMI. It would mean that clear instruction and warning notice is supplied with every unit.

 

ALTERNATIVELY, we find any 19-20 pin connector this small that isn't commonly used in consumer electronics but inexpensive that can be repurposed for carrying the VGA signals in a very small connector package.

 

In the meantime, I'll talk with HDMI Licensing about a reasonable licensing for hobbyists whose annual volume a year is probably under 1000 units a year.

Edited by Wildstar

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True but they won't recover squat as there is no assets to recover. They won't gain anything and the truth of the matter is they would be losing money pursuing fruitless litigation. If I was their lawyer, I would not pursue suing but recommend a more sensible licensing path for these people that are reasonable to their scale of production and encourage people to a compliance path than to lose money in legal fees and bad press. A viral boycott and bad press would do more hurt than to be unreasonable.

 

The only downside I see regarding approaching a hobbyist fee previously discussed is that the total income brought in would unlikely pay for a couple hours of lawyer's time on their end drawing up the contract.

 

They are a business out to make money. For business reasons, it would not make business sense to spend that effort. Only if there was a reasonable carrot in front of them that offered significant returns in the 1 to 2 year timeframe, would they consider. It's just business for them.

 

Beery

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The only downside I see regarding approaching a hobbyist fee previously discussed is that the total income brought in would unlikely pay for a couple hours of lawyer's time on their end drawing up the contract.

 

They are a business out to make money. For business reasons, it would not make business sense to spend that effort. Only if there was a reasonable carrot in front of them that offered significant returns in the 1 to 2 year timeframe, would they consider. It's just business for them.

 

Beery

 

I'll write it up for them by modifying the one they have to include such. You just follow the same legal structure and the lawyer who writes this up is employed by them and that person is paid a salary and is paid that whether or not he or she works 40 hours a week, 42 hours a week or even just 2 hours a week. All I have to do is modify it a little bit and voila. I'd be following the same legal structure as they have already but adjust the numbers for the initial fee, the per unit administrative fee AND the per unit royalty fee. It's a small modification to make it work. Writing contracts are a nature of what I do in some of the work I do. While I am not a "lawyer", the work I do involved writing up contracts. I wouldn't be writing up one from scratch for something like this.

 

It would cost them more money chasing after hobbyist businesses which they will never recover the costs from lawsuits which is involving their lawyers' time for each case to draw up a contract. Remember, both parties can draw up or modify terms of a contract prior to entering into them. In turn, by my modification, I am building a template for them to use for others. So instead of lawyers drafting up contracts on a person by person basis, and instead of the lawyers spending time drawing up cease & desist threats, filing lawsuits, the fees involved in filing lawsuits, and all that other bullsh!t, they can offer a more reasonable compliance path that mitigates all their concern for their IP being used without an IP license without the repercussions from bad publicity of being a 'patent troll' or "IP troll". Make it a friendlier and reasonable approach for small hobbyists. Sure, it might not make a lot of money but they would be spending less when people are less willing to pirate patents/IP. Most of us are into operating an honest business (albeit small for the hobbyist / "retro computing" businesses out there).

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As it appears, all that needs to be modified is Attachment B.

 

Under the Alternative Fee Payment: Modify it so there is an Option A where one pays the $5,000 fixed administrative fee and a per unit administrative fee of $1.00 per unit and then the royalty of $0.04 to $0.15 per unit.

Option B: changes the fixed fee to... say $100 and then a per unit administrative fee (paid quarterly) of $5.00 per unit and the per unit royalty of $0.04 to $0.15 as normal. The difference is, you pay more on the per unit administrative fee that you earn and pay as units are sold and the fixed fee is lower and the royalty per unit remains the same as everyone else. When your volume is under 1200 a year, it is probably rational to use Option B. If your volume is higher, then Alternative Fee Payment Option A may be appropriate. At a certain level, if your volume is significant enough, paying the $10,000 annual fee would be a reasonable and better option.

 

This is an option I'm considering proposing to them about. $10,000 fee is unreasonable if your total gross revenue minus cumulative BOM costs (for all units sold and even unsold units from production runs), is less than $10,000. As a business, that would be instant bankruptcy. Even $5,000 can result in being disproportionately high when sales are in the orders of 25-100 units a year with a selling price typically under $300 as that is a upper end price ceiling in the niche market for many for any upgrade. As that is about the limit of discretionary spending budget in any given month or quarter of the year.

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When you say "RGB" I assume you are talking about analog red, green, and blue video signals with associated 15KHz horizontal and 60Hz vertical? That is the same as "VGA", but the horizontal is 31KHz for VGA, and yes the F!8A can generate that kind of signal (that is what the original F18A does). However, the 15KHz signals require a monitor that most people do not have, and defeats the main purpose of the F18A, i.e. to connect to modern monitors vs. legacy displays that are no longer available, breaking, and hard to get. Also, the original VDPs put out those kinds of signals already, so if you want that kind of video you don't have to mess with something like the F18A.

 

This is a bit off the main topic. but in the case of the colecovision and adam computer, they only have pins for composite video, correct? in that case you'd need some kind of replacement of video encoder chip (like the F18A) to get RGB as the base systems do not supply it in a ready to use format.

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The F18A does all of that for the system already, @panzeroceania. The first generation device replaces the video chip and provides a VGA connector for the output signals (you just have to mount the daughter board and the connector in your device). The MK II provides the same capability, but planned to target HDMI as the output video signal. The whole discussion here is how to ensure that we don't run afoul of the patent holders for HDMI, even if that means switching to some outher video out if we can't find a legal way to employ HDMI that is also within the price range of hobbyists.

Edited by Ksarul

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