Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A Curious Engineer Overturns Waymo Key LiDAR Patent

Ars Technica: Following a complaint by Eric Swildens, the USPTO has rejected all but three of 56 claims in Waymo's US9368936 patent. The USPTO found that some claims replicated technology described in an earlier patent from Velodyne, while another claim was simply "impossible" and "magic."

"The patent shouldn't have been filed in the first place," Swildens said. "It's a very well written patent. However, my personal belief is that the thing that they say they invented, they didn't invent."

The 936 patent played a key role in last year's lawsuit with Uber. In December 2016, a Waymo engineer was inadvertently copied on an email from one of its suppliers to Uber, showing a LiDAR circuit design that looked almost identical to the one shown in the 936 patent:

Swildens said to Wired in 2017: "I couldn't imagine the circuit didn't exist prior to this patent." He then spent $6,000 of his own money to launch a formal challenge to 936 and won in the court.

Thanks to AM for the pointer!


  1. suggested reading:

  2. Wahoo! The base of the laser diode pulse driver we can find in all Lidar, since the begining of humanity.... impressive

  3. It seems a very fundamental circuit. Just because they are the first one proposing this circuit, then they can hold the patent forever ?

    1. So, you have never seen the aps pixel schematics? Check that and understand what a "fundamental" circuit is ;).


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