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Offline EEVblog

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eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« on: July 21, 2018, 09:54:48 pm »
Dave tells the story of his great idea to embed exercise information into MP3 files.
A great idea at the wrong time, thwarted by the Apple iPhone !
And the almost uselessness of patents.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2018, 10:13:03 pm by EEVblog »
 
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Offline BrianHG

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2018, 01:24:31 am »
I though you had something else a bit smarter and more sophisticated. When I emailed you privately last year, I would have bought it from you last year to add to my folio. But it's ok anyways, my patent # went through completely with everything I wanted.  As for your patent advice, it's a little short sighted, especially if your patent is worded right without holes in the claims and your ideas cannot be worked around.  Problems here will make it expensive or even not worth the attempt to defend especially if you don't know how to approach the business aspect properly.

Software patents cannot be designed or looked at like a flat engineering idea, if you make a patent solely on this approach, there will always be a workaround making your patent useless.  Adding a tag to an .mp3 was the wrong thing to patent.  Patenting a music player which can associate a chosen workout, a virtual aural trainer, with linked music playback would have been more valuable and still relevant when the iPhone came around with generic apps & music players.

Your patent needs to be future proof....  If you think there may be a better or new way of performing your idea for the 20 year life of the patent, then your patent is a waste of time and money.  If your idea will only last a few years, forget the patent and just make it as it will be obsolete before you can bring in the big $.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2018, 01:41:44 am by BrianHG »
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Online chickenHeadKnob

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2018, 04:13:23 am »
I thought that there was some recent patent turmoil and minor popularity of that exercise bike company combining  google earth road tours with their product  Forgot their name.  The idea being you could pretend you are out on a road somewhere, say running a stage of the tour de France  with their bike. Needs a computer and monitor and net connection though.
 

Offline BrianHG

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2018, 07:15:06 am »
I thought that there was some recent patent turmoil and minor popularity of that exercise bike company combining  google earth road tours with their product  Forgot their name.  The idea being you could pretend you are out on a road somewhere, say running a stage of the tour de France  with their bike. Needs a computer and monitor and net connection though.
There is more than 1, including linking your bike to an online realtime racing sim.  Though, without controls in precision power/pedaling watts, it's mostly for visuals.
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Online chickenHeadKnob

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2018, 11:41:44 am »
I thought that there was some recent patent turmoil and minor popularity of that exercise bike company combining  google earth road tours with their product  Forgot their name.  The idea being you could pretend you are out on a road somewhere, say running a stage of the tour de France  with their bike. Needs a computer and monitor and net connection though.
There is more than 1, including linking your bike to an online realtime racing sim.  Though, without controls in precision power/pedaling watts, it's mostly for visuals.

That's what I was getting at, isn't there some IP fight going on? I have I a vague memory I read as much about a year ago. My excuse is I'm old and can't remember shit anymore.
 

Offline BrianHG

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2018, 11:50:20 pm »
There is a non-paid public domain patent from 2001 which super-seeds all the others, here it is:
https://patents.google.com/patent/US7549947
Thanks to this super early 2001 patent, anyone can almost do anything for free.

The only partial possible newer claim in a patent you may be talking about is the use of 'Google Maps' as the road source imagery.  However, in an official use, I would assume the developers were too stupid to exclusively rely on a 1 valid sub-claim on their patent and did not obtain exclusive use with Google having their road maps in-bedded in exercise simulators.  They probably didn't have the numbers, money, or, the appropriate members on their board of directors to have an in with Google for a product they designed where they cannot patent the idea of the simulator per-say, but their 1 key feature is the 'Google Maps', and it is the one thing they haven't secured exclusivity with Google and worse yet, it is a feature to be used only available on 1 to 2 pieces of hardware which can never achieve sufficient numbers with people who just want to exercise and not buy new equipment if what they have already works fine...

next, what happens with the new Apple maps?  LOL...

I know in the past, patenting an original new inventive 'Gizmo' would be a good idea to make money.  Today, patenting a means of software code will always have a work around and is a waste of time.  You need to have a good generic idea and patent the idea closing enough doors to own it, without being vague or attempting a 'Patent Troll' type of patent which the US patent office now actively looks out for and will not allow anymore.

« Last Edit: July 22, 2018, 11:55:09 pm by BrianHG »
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Offline Brumby

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2018, 02:09:43 am »
One thing you have to be careful about with patents is not only that somebody else hasn't filed a patent that covers your idea - but that your idea is not already out in the world somewhere.

A case in point: My mother used to work in the office of a timber joinery who used a particular joint to achieve a specific outcome.  Some other company claimed that this joint was their invention. with intellectual property rights and went to sue the joinery.  After much scuttling around, this joint was found to be described in an ancient volume of some publication, easily predating the patent - which immediately rendered the patent useless and the lawsuit evaporated.
 

Offline BrianHG

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2018, 02:29:49 am »
One thing you have to be careful about with patents is not only that somebody else hasn't filed a patent that covers your idea - but that your idea is not already out in the world somewhere.

A case in point: My mother used to work in the office of a timber joinery who used a particular joint to achieve a specific outcome.  Some other company claimed that this joint was their invention. with intellectual property rights and went to sue the joinery.  After much scuttling around, this joint was found to be described in an ancient volume of some publication, easily predating the patent - which immediately rendered the patent useless and the lawsuit evaporated.
Yup, that'll be a killer.  But, at least the company can still use the joints, they just now have equivalent competition....
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Offline Brumby

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2018, 12:08:36 pm »
This is also why there can be some very strongly expressed secrecy agreements when an idea is being developed.

If just one key element gets out into the wild that gives up the secret sauce - or a significant part of it before the patent application is lodged, then the patent will no longer be addressing something "new" - and it should not be granted. But even if something is missed and it does get granted, the patent is open to being made void.

Part of the patent process is advertising the patent.  This is a process where the details are made public for anyone to raise an objection.  The patent office isn't going to check every publication in the world to see if it unique - and the resources of the wider community are a valuable component in vetting a patent application, but not everybody is going to be checking for new patents all the time, so this is still no guarantee.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2018, 12:25:53 pm »
You need to have a good generic idea and patent the idea closing enough doors to own it, without being vague or attempting a 'Patent Troll' type of patent which the US patent office now actively looks out for and will not allow anymore.

It is generally said you cannot patent an idea, you can only patent something with a physical embodiment that can be manufactured.

I know in the past, patenting an original new inventive 'Gizmo' would be a good idea to make money.

This "inventive" word is why I believe the whole idea of patents is unethical and why they should be abolished.

The reality is that almost nothing is an "invention". You are simply presented with a problem to solve, and by the application of science and logical reasoning, you solve the problem. Which is "engineering". Anybody at any time, when faced with the same problem, with the same scientific education, and the same level of intelligence, would engineer the same solution. There is no "flash of inspiration coming out of nowhere" involved. No reason for the government to treat you as special above others with similar skills.

A patent is one thing, and one thing only: a government granted monopoly on the rights to manufacture a device, based purely on the basis of "write a description in correct legalese and pay a fee".

Governments should not grant monopolies, especially since there are other laws designed to prevent monopolies. Patents are evil.
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Offline Brumby

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2018, 03:22:37 pm »
A patent is one thing, and one thing only: a government granted monopoly on the rights to manufacture a device, based purely on the basis of "write a description in correct legalese and pay a fee".

Governments should not grant monopolies, especially since there are other laws designed to prevent monopolies. Patents are evil.

I have to disagree - at least in the "spirit of the law".

Firstly, patents are not eternal.  They have a limited life and then the material is no longer protected.  What they do give is an opportunity for those who developed it to be able to manufacture it or licence it for manufacture in order to benefit from their efforts - which includes the ability to recoup their time cost as well as other development costs.

Without this, the incentive to put in the hard work is greatly diminished.

The trouble with the patent system is the abuse of it - and THAT is something which I condemn.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2018, 03:28:34 pm by Brumby »
 

Offline IanB

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2018, 03:49:08 pm »
Firstly, patents are not eternal.  They have a limited life and then the material is no longer protected.  What they do give is an opportunity for those who developed it to be able to manufacture it or licence it for manufacture in order to benefit from their efforts - which includes the ability to recoup their time cost as well as other development costs.

But patents stifle competition. Since every product that comes to market is "engineered", there should be free competition in the market to produce the best incarnation of that product (the most effective, the most efficient, the most usable, the most economical, ...). That would lead to consumers and customers getting the best solutions and being able to choose. Rather than what so often happens today where a superior product is prevented from being sold due to claims of patent infringement. And it certainly cannot be argued that patents lead to lower prices.

Quote
Without this, the incentive to put in the hard work is greatly diminished.

I think this is not relevant. If there is money to be made from a product then someone will make it. If there is competition then market forces will snuff out the bad versions and the best (or probably the cheapest) will survive.

In special cases such as pharmaceuticals which are for the public good, then the R&D should be funded by public money.
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Offline Brumby

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2018, 04:36:59 pm »
Your points are well understood - but "competition" is the catch-cry of the consumer.

If someone has spent two years taking an idea and developing it to the point where it can be manufactured and sold - you are saying that they should be content to see that idea go out into the world with no benefit to them?

I think this is not relevant. If there is money to be made from a product then someone will make it.
It is very relevant if the person who developed the product doesn't have the resources to get it manufactured, distributed and sold.

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If there is competition then market forces will snuff out the bad versions and the best (or probably the cheapest) will survive.
... and the inventor gets even less of a look in.

Seriously, if this were the case, why would anyone even try?

In saying that, however, there is another consideration for items that are suitable - and that is to not worry about the patent aspect and simply make as many of the widgets you can and get them out into the marketplace as quickly as possible.  Thus they will become known as "the original" product, and you can have them protected indirectly by a trademark.  That way there may be copies made, but they won't be able to run with a trademarked name ... ever.

This is, however, only for people who have access to the necessary resources.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2018, 05:56:04 pm »
If someone has spent two years taking an idea and developing it to the point where it can be manufactured and sold - you are saying that they should be content to see that idea go out into the world with no benefit to them?

I don't think it works that way. No product suddenly pops into existence from nothing to something, with no hint of it before. What happens in reality is a continual sequence of gradual improvements, changes and innovations, each building on what is already known. The concept that someone can spend two years in a back room and suddenly surface with a brand new product the like of which has never been seen is not realistic.

Quote
... and the inventor gets even less of a look in.

Seriously, if this were the case, why would anyone even try?

Because there will be market demand. People will want the product, and therefore it will be profitable for someone to make it to satisfy that demand.

The reason I am saying this is because I do not believe that "inventions" exist and therefore there cannot be inventors. It is truly said that there is nothing new under the Sun. Everything is a rehash or reworking or variation on something that is already known about or found in textbooks.

What happens is that there are problems that people want solutions to, and they ask where they can get products that do what they want. Perceptive companies listen out for what the market is asking for and engineer products that they hope will sell. This leads to a kind of "arms race" to see who can get the best products to market first. And then keep developing those products to stay ahead of the competition.
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Offline Brumby

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2018, 09:55:52 pm »
I can see there are certain elements of your thinking that, while I understand and can agree to some point, I cannot extend that to the universal sense which you hold.

I think it best to agree to disagree.
 

Offline BrianHG

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2018, 03:08:07 am »
You need to have a good generic idea and patent the idea closing enough doors to own it, without being vague or attempting a 'Patent Troll' type of patent which the US patent office now actively looks out for and will not allow anymore.

It is generally said you cannot patent an idea, you can only patent something with a physical embodiment that can be manufactured.

Hmmm, the inner working algorithms for mpeg video encoding/decoding were patented as well as many other specific 'IDEAS' which code is nothing more than an idea.  These ideas are patented as a 'Method' to achieve a task.  You can patent an apparatus, as well as a method, and patented software is nothing more than an extension of patenting a 'method' to achieve a task.  I did not make up these rules.

 
Here is one of my patents where I've done both in one, I patented a 'Method' for eliminating 3D stereo cross image ghosting and an 'Apparatus', or hardware device to do so: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6532008

That 'Method' was nothing more than an idea to mix a negative proportion of the previous alternate eye image into the current eye image.

« Last Edit: July 24, 2018, 03:21:57 am by BrianHG »
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Offline IanB

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2018, 03:20:21 am »
Hmmm, the inner working algorithms for mpeg video encoding/decoding were patented as well as many other specific 'IDEAS' which code is nothing more than an idea.  These ideas are patented as a 'Method' to achieve a task.  You can patent an apparatus, as well as a method, and patented software is nothing more than an extension of patenting a 'method' to achieve a task.  I did not make up these rules.

Here is one of my patents where I've done both in one, I patented a 'Method' for eliminating 3D stereo cross image ghosting and an 'Apparatus', or hardware device to do so: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6532008

Indeed. My experience of software patents is that 'Method and Apparatus' have to appear together. There has to be a computing machine or some form of hardware which is then cleverly arranged to perform some task.
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Offline BrianHG

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2018, 03:26:58 am »
Other methods for achieving other tasks, other than software can be patented.  The reason the patent office wants an example implementation, be it software on a computer, or a hammer and nails & wood, is that one of the classification for a valid patent is that it must be useful and possible to operate, or achieve in the real world and a plausible example of how to do so must be within the patent.
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Offline IanB

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2018, 03:40:57 am »
Here is one of my patents where I've done both in one, I patented a 'Method' for eliminating 3D stereo cross image ghosting and an 'Apparatus', or hardware device to do so: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6532008

That 'Method' was nothing more than an idea to mix a negative proportion of the previous alternate eye image into the current eye image.

That patent is a good example of the issue I have with patents in general. A multitude of engineers in that field, when presented with that problem, would tend to design that solution. To a non-engineer it might seem "miraculous", but to an engineer it is the process of design using logical deductive reasoning.
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Offline BrianHG

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2018, 06:13:54 am »
And that is the purpose of the patents.  See a problem which can be engineered or solve in a way no one else has though of yet and patent it & either sell the patent, or get investment and make and market the apparatus/idea yourself.

Either that, or make a public documented work on it making the idea public knowledge for public use, and watch someone else patent a revolutionary spinoff improvement on the idea and see them get all the $$ and spoils.
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Offline IanB

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2018, 08:32:35 am »
And that is the purpose of the patents.  See a problem which can be engineered or solve in a way no one else has though of yet and patent it & either sell the patent, or get investment and make and market the apparatus/idea yourself.

Either that, or make a public documented work on it making the idea public knowledge for public use, and watch someone else patent a revolutionary spinoff improvement on the idea and see them get all the $$ and spoils.

But the stated purpose of patents is to encourage innovation. However, this is not in my experience what happens. Innovation happens anyway, and then as an afterthought companies think, "Hey, can we patent this?". Even if they couldn't patent it they would still do it because there is a market opportunity there.

Furthermore, companies are never interested in buying patents from individuals, or paying license fees. They can afford much more expensive lawyers, and they will use their legal department to circumvent your patent.

So at the end of the day, I conclude that the patent system serves only as a way for lawyers to make money.
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Offline edy

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2018, 01:24:10 pm »
Hi David,

I found Podsweat on a 3rd party site, possibly might give it a spin in a WinXP VM. Hopefully it is legit and the site didn't load it up with Trojans and Viruses. Any ideas? It is found here (has your name on it and everything):

   https://www.softpaz.com/software/download-podsweat-windows-55171.htm

Code: [Select]
edy@edy-ASUS:~/Downloads$ md5sum -b podsweat-david-l-jones.exe
3f036cae52f3de9691da8364d1c9146c *podsweat-david-l-jones.exe

Not sure about the whole patent thing and whether it would have made you riches, but you had a cool idea and nice of you to make a free version for people to try!
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Offline snoopy

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2018, 10:45:25 am »
I though you had something else a bit smarter and more sophisticated. When I emailed you privately last year, I would have bought it from you last year to add to my folio. But it's ok anyways, my patent # went through completely with everything I wanted.  As for your patent advice, it's a little short sighted, especially if your patent is worded right without holes in the claims and your ideas cannot be worked around.  Problems here will make it expensive or even not worth the attempt to defend especially if you don't know how to approach the business aspect properly.

Software patents cannot be designed or looked at like a flat engineering idea, if you make a patent solely on this approach, there will always be a workaround making your patent useless.  Adding a tag to an .mp3 was the wrong thing to patent.  Patenting a music player which can associate a chosen workout, a virtual aural trainer, with linked music playback would have been more valuable and still relevant when the iPhone came around with generic apps & music players.

Your patent needs to be future proof....  If you think there may be a better or new way of performing your idea for the 20 year life of the patent, then your patent is a waste of time and money.  If your idea will only last a few years, forget the patent and just make it as it will be obsolete before you can bring in the big $.

Maybe if Dave had access to a time machine then he could future proof his idea. Even better he could get the lotto numbers and wouldn't have to bother with inventions and patents at all ;)

Anyways according to this website if an invention is not worth at least 12 to 40 million in gross sales then you shouldn't bother patenting it at all !

https://www.tinaja.com/patnt01.shtml

I have a few inventions which I would consider patent worthy but going to all of the trouble and spending big money just to hand out the secrets to the rest of the world doesn't seem like the brightest of ideas unless you are a huge corporation which can defend the patent in a court of law. Also do the chinese take any notice of patents ?

Cheers
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Offline BrianHG

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2018, 08:27:36 am »
Also do the chinese take any notice of patents ?

China is a weird oddball in the middle of advancing.  Right now, if you get your product patented in China, if you hire a Chinese firm to protect a Chinese company from profiting on your patent by selling in China, you might actually have a case to win.  But, if that small private Chinese company copies your technology, even if you have a patent in China, and they 'only' sell outside of China, you probably wont be able to do anything as of today.
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Offline Brumby

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Re: eevBLAB #50 - Great Idea At The Wrong Time!
« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2018, 02:20:59 pm »
That's why, if you are going the full IP route, it is good to take out patents in the high value countries - the ones where sales of such a product would be significant.

As I understand it, the problem with this is there is no such thing as a "global" patent.  There are some countries that have grouped together where a single patent is honoured by all the members - but such groups are not widespread.  It will be necessary to prepare a number of patent applications, which will not be a cheap exercise - and the requirements for each can differ, adding to the cost.
 


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