Beware tech-innovators, companies are just waiting to reverse engineer your ideas and poach your patents. Earlier this year we ran a short story on Innovision's HoloAD, a pyramid shaped glass box which gives the illusion of floating 3D images inside of it. Recently the CEO of Real Fiction, Clas Dyrholm, contacted us with information that HoloAD is an exact ripoff of their device Dreamoc. We weren't the only ones fooled, Gadget Review, UberGizmo, Hardware Sphere and others ran similar stories. Dyrhold has made the rounds through the blogosphere, using patents and the visual evidence to prove the infringement. Look at any picture or movie of Dreamoc and there's no doubt that HoloAD is the same technology. Watch the following two videos (Dreamoc then HoloAD) to judge for yourself.
Real Fiction is a Danish company and holds four EU design patents on the Dreamoc. You can find them on the OHIM website using the following numbers: 001066278-0001, 001041289-0001, 000852108-0001 and 000835806-0001 (only the last two have schematics). The Danes have also applied for patents in the US (29/332,917) and Japan (2009-020417). I'm not sure, however, if any of these provisions actually give Real Fiction the means to pursue legal action against Innovision, which is based in Taiwan. I don't condone the theft of intellectual property, and I do realize that cases like Real Fiction's are far from rare, but I'm not certain what can be done to stop it. As consumers we can choose not to purchase a cloned technology, but for many people all over the world such theft may provide the only quick access to emerging tech.
A strong argument can be made that the entire concept of patents is a failure, stifling innovation and holding back progress. It will be interesting to see how globalization, accelerating technology, and intellectual property rights collide in the near future. My guess is that companies will have to pursue either complete secrecy or open-source business models to combat an age that is increasingly based on the free exchange of information.
As for the Dreamoc itself...I sort of feel like I already reviewed it as the HoloAD. The product is fun to watch, and makes a great presentation case. In the long run, however, such 'holograms in a box' are going to yield to more adaptable and uncaged 3D projectors. Hopefully when such systems arise they'll be free of the infringement that this generation has seen.
[image credit: Real Fiction]
[source: Real Fiction, correspondence from Clas Dyrholm]