02
Apr
mibutton

Pressy tore it up on Kickstarter last year, eventually raising $695,138 of its original $40,000 goal. While backers have been eagerly awaiting delivery of the almighty Android button, Chinese OEM Xiaomi is trying to sneak its own version onto the market first. Xiaomi's Hugo Barra (formerly of Google) posted an image of the gadget on Google+, and the Pressy folks are not pleased.

mibutton

If you're not familiar with Pressy, it's a tiny button that plugs into the headphone jack and can relay button presses to an app that triggers actions. For example, taking a screenshot or launching an app. It was originally scheduled for a March release, but that has since been pushed back to April. The unnamed Pressy clone from Xiaomi first surfaced a few days ago, but it's starting to get some recognition now – it will probably be for sale April 8th and could cost less than $1 (in Asia).

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The real Pressy

Pressy developer Nimrod Back has reportedly been made aware of the situation and points out that they have IP rights to the design and functionality of Pressy. It looks like legal action is going to happen here. After all, this is a pretty blatant rip-off of Pressy. In the meantime, if the mid-April delivery date for Pressy was in danger of slipping again, this has probably provided some motivation.

[+Hugo Barra, Engadget]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • h4rr4r

    Legal action? For something this obvious?
    Using the mic port to listen for a sound, which is what this does is painfully obvious. The Microphone port exists to listen for sounds.

    • akellar

      Umm headphone jack not microphone.

    • Simon Belmont

      It's not listening to a sound. It's a button that activates actions on your phone that plugs into your headphone jack.

      Xiaomi pretty blatantly ripped Pressy off. They have due course to take action. Whether or not it will do anything is another matter. It's in China, after all.

      • h4rr4r

        Actually it is, when you press the button it makes a sound on the microphone line of the port. That is what the pressy app reacts too, nothing special there. Nor is having an app launch based on sensor input that interesting. This is just another way to do that.
        This is just a switch wired to the input line on the mic/headphone port.

        • Simon Belmont

          I actually didn't know that's how it worked, so thanks for letting me know. Very informative.

          I just wanted to say your response was refreshing. You corrected me politely and didn't bash me into the ground for my error, and you taught me something new. I wish more commenters acted as amiable as you did. Thanks again.

          • h4rr4r

            I think you were taken in by their, in my own opinion, bordering on fraudulent marketing. Pressy has used slick marketing to fool a lot of people into thinking the button does something it does not. I think this is because they are acutely aware that they do not really have much of a product and certainly not one anyone who understood how it worked would pay $20 dollars for.

          • Simon Belmont

            The name "Pressy," itself, is pretty misleading. I assumed that meant you PRESSED a button to take programmable actions via an app.

            So, you're right, their nomenclature and marketing isn't entirely above board. By the way, if the microphone is just listening all the time for "presses," doesn't that drain more battery, or does it only work when the screen is on (that would negate even more of its usefulness, BTW)? No thanks, Pressy. No thanks.

        • Serge Cebrian

          it doesnt make a sound per se...
          (usually the microphone gets a voltage when connected then when talking to the MIC, it changes the impedance of the mic and the MIC port detects this variation)
          but then this probably generates pulses (or shorts MIC to ground in the shape of pulses) which depending on the app, you can detect its lenght and then act accordingly
          you are right i would see it as a pseudo-sound.

          • h4rr4r

            You are describing exactly how a microphone input takes in audio from a microphone. You say potato, I say potato. I am fairly sure it is MIC to ground.

            I did not go into that great a technical detail because Pressy has already convinced enough folks that their simple switch on the mic in line is something it is not and this would only further confuse the issue for many. I am not suggesting you are inaccurate in anyway, only that the level of detail you are using is likely to alienate the audience in most need of such information.

          • Simon Belmont

            I'm gonna guess it's using the piezo switch you mentioned. That would probably be the easiest way to achieve the "presses."

            Either way, now that I know what it's really doing, it doesn't seem nearly as useful as purported. Oh well.

          • Serge Cebrian

            good point

          • PacoBell

            You are absolutely correct. This is how most phones, including the iPhone, operate. Short Ring 2 to Sleeve and register the change in resistance.

            http://pinoutsguide.com/HeadsetsHeadphones/samsung_i9100_headset_pinout.shtml

    • Plazmic Flame

      Guess what? Even the most obvious things go unnoticed and those that do it first and patent it should have their patents acknowledge. If it was so obvious, Xiaomi & Hugo would have thought of it (and patented it) first.

    • DonPorazzo

      Or use Tasker to do this :)

  • Robb Nunya

    SIGH... our patent system is screwed up. I know that isn't news.

    But if they didn't steal the plans of one of these things, then why should it enjoy patent protection? It's a pretty obvious thing to make, so it's not like the other guy is stealing trade secrets or anything.

    Add to that the manufacturer hasn't been able to produce the thing, and my sympathy goes down even more. Finally, Pressy has already made a ton off of these things. ($700K in sales probably equates to a tidy profit) And the Chinese guys are offering a similar product for less than $1.00 vs the $20 for the Pressy. Sounds like competition all around.

    • andy_o

      Not only that, Pressy and the press have let people believe that the "magic" is the button, but the app is what does the actual work. The button just emulates a headset button press, which the app then interprets, and that's what makes the app work with headsets also.

      Basically, the invention is the form factor of an existing button with existing functionality, whatever you think about patents.

      • didibus

        I've seen patents a lot worse than that before.

      • Robb Nunya

        And the software should be copyrighted, not patented.

        Reverse engineering is a time honored tradition. If someone can do so, they should be able to put something out, as long as it doesn't have Mickey Mouse or The Coke logo printed on it without authorization. Of course, Mickey should be public domain at this point, but that's another discussion altogether. The knock off had better not have any lines of code from the original program either, as that would be a copyright violation.

      • http://tonybullard.com/ Tony Bullard

        "the press have let people believe that the "magic" is the button, but the app is what does the actual work."

        It's easier to justify $20 if you imply the physical product is what does the real work. Few people would but a $20 app.

      • dave birney

        "Pressy and the press have let people believe that the "magic" is the button"

        you could possibly be talking through your ass because im fairly certain they mentioned on the kickstarter page that you can use a headset with the app either so its not like they are trying to fool everybody

      • dave birney

        "Pressy and the press have let people believe that the "magic" is the button"

        you could possibly be talking through your ass because im fairly certain they mentioned on the kickstarter page that you can use a headset with the app either so its not like they are trying to fool everybody

    • fonseca898

      "It's a pretty obvious thing to make"

      It's only obvious after someone else came up with it. Then it becomes a "pretty obvious thing to copy".

      • Robb Nunya

        Go look at your car. It also has a pretty obvious thing on it. It's called a rubber tire.

        Now go look at your house: It also has a pretty obvious thing on it. It's called an Air Conditioner.

        My point is, neither of those were locked down to only 1 supplier. Should Goodyear be the only one who could make a tire? (At least for 20 years after they invented it?) The same goes with whoever invented the Air Conditioner.

        Make a product. If it's the best product for the best price, it'll sell. If not, make it better.

        • dave birney

          im sure the first person to make tires was frustrated when a second person started making them, goes for everything, in the long run yea people just expect that but this is the first time this existed so its not the same thing

        • dave birney

          im sure the first person to make tires was frustrated when a second person started making them, goes for everything, in the long run yea people just expect that but this is the first time this existed so its not the same thing

  • ArberBeq

    I'm pretty sure pressy doesn't have patents in china so this case would be useless

  • K

    Legal action? Not gonna happen especially if this stays in China or some other overseas market.

  • XIII

    Isn't pressy initially just a Earphone with Mic & Volume control minus the earphones and mic?

    I mean the pressy app just listens for button presses from the 3.5 jack and activate functions according to that? Which is why it works with regular earphones with mic & volume control as well.

    • h4rr4r

      That is exactly what it does. There is nothing not obvious involved. it should fail patentability on that alone.

  • vasras

    You can't patent ideas. Pressy is just fishing for press.

    Let's wait for the tech details. Then we know if there's any patent issues.

    • Nathan Borup

      Pressy has already made prototypes... not just ideas

  • Cheeseball

    While I'm not defending rip-offs or anything, $17 for a button that needs to be configured through a dedicated app (when they can use the normal CTIA standard) is too much.

    • peter

      $27

    • dave birney

      and they are just expected to spend months writing the software for it? and updating it after as well? all out of the goodness of their hearts?

      • Cheeseball

        Yeah, of course.

    • dave birney

      and they are just expected to spend months writing the software for it? and updating it after as well? all out of the goodness of their hearts?

  • didibus

    So, he doesn't have patents, but he has IP. Does that mean he will go for copyright claims?

    In such a case though, I'd have to say that he is a small inventor, and it would suck for a big corp to just steal his idea. He did think about it first, and it's been years now that smartphones exist and this could have been made before, yet no one thought about it.

    The thing, I feel, in such a situation, this is where Patents should work. He should have patented the implementation of the concept, which I believe is the same in both cases here. And then it would have been good for Xiaomi to have to give him like 1 cent or cent for each 1$ pressy's that they sell or something. This is a good utilization of patents.

    Now, claiming rights to the idea, I have more issues with. Ideas are too easy to come by, but turning the idea into a real product is the real challenge.

    • h4rr4r

      Copyright to what? The design is again functional, not a creative work.

      There is nothing to patent, it would surely fail the test for obviousness.

      • Craig Trunzo

        Kind of like how Apple won a patent dispute against Samsung for both phones being "rectangled with rounded corners".

        That didn't get snipped for obviousness because apparently rectangles with rounded corners are a completely novel idea.

        Then there is Candy Crush getting a copyright for the use of the word "Candy" in a game title. That didn't get crushed for obviousness (Or prior art) considering Candy Land has been around for 60 years.

        Whether you like it or not, Pressy made something that had not been made before. Now matter how "obvious" it seems NOW, it was not obvious enough for someone else to have created it in the 30 years the 3.5mm plug has been standard or the 5+ years that smartphones have been able to utilize a product like this.

        • h4rr4r

          That is a design patent. They are not evaluated on obviousness, only on if the design is the creative vs functional.

          Candy crush is a trademark issue not copyright.

          Pressy did not invent anything new. Tasker could already do this.

    • andy_o

      If by "implementation of the concept" you mean that the app listens to headset button presses, there were already apps that did that. If fact, I'll bet those apps work with Pressy just as well as they do with the headset button.

      • didibus

        Well, it's not really headset button presses. I think the headset button press is like a weird standard where you have current inversion and what not. And it works differently on iphone, which allows them to use 3 buttons.

        What I meant more by implementation is since they do not need audio, they might do something like sending a precise frequency, and interpreting that frequency as a button press. I thought they might not even be using the actual button press system. Normal headphones can't afford this, but who knows. I might be wrong.

        Anyways, my point was more that patents have their purpose in situations where a small inventor finds a new way to do something that no one thought of and managed to make work before. That's when you'd like for this inventor to be able to patent his work, so that, even though he does not have the production mean to make it happen, he get's his share of the pie by licensing it to whoever can.

        • andy_o

          What I meant more by implementation is since they do not need audio, they might do something like sending a precise frequency, and interpreting that frequency as a button press. I thought they might not even be using the actual button press system. Normal headphones can't afford this, but who knows. I might be wrong.

          It works exactly as a headset button press. That's why it works with headsets, where you don't even have to connect the button.

          • didibus

            Oh does it lol, well then...

  • JB

    Legal Action in the US might work but what good would it do for a product that has not even launched yet and has no funds of its own.
    Additionally they may only block the product in the US, the rest of the world would still prefer to buy the cheaper chinese version for less than a $ instead of $ 5-20.
    The patent system in the rest of the world is not as strong as it is in the US.

  • vyktorsouza

    wait, lemme buy it

  • Mikeb3ll

    I backed Pressy and there have been many delays on getting it out so I hope this helps get their butts in gear.

  • zorvalth

    Why all the fuzz?? There kind of product is on aliepxress since a last December, example:http://goo.gl/DoD8Q7

    • Owen Finn

      That is the rip-off one featured in the article.

      • efan

        no it isnt

        • Owen Finn

          Yes it is - look at the "carrying case" compared to the picture above - other than the colour, it's the same product.

  • qu4ttro

    Guess they should have gotten off of their collective asses and shipped their product. Trying to stop a chinese company from knocking you off is pretty pointless.

    • MyLeftNut

      Seriously. If Disney couldn't do it then I don't know how Pressy stands a chance. Should have shipped it in a reasonable time and gotten their brand name out there to the average American consumer. Doesn't make a difference in China, cause most people there would buy the cheaper Xiaomi version even if Pressy anyway.

  • hurr
    • Dumbfuck

      The sooner we get rid of this scum, the better.

  • RiTCHiE

    Well if they didn't rip off people for 27 dollars for some retarded metal plug with a button this wouldn't have been a issue.

    • mike921

      yea, here in China, at the Miui store, it's <$1.

  • Matthew Fry

    I don't know how I feel about this. Yes, it's certainly a knock off. Yes, it's certainly made in China where knock offs are common. Yes it's an original idea. So I think that this is what the patent system is in place to protect. I'm ok with that.

    Putting that aside for a moment, how does one make something like this that doesn't look exactly the same? There are probably 3 components (plug, button, headset component) and you're constrained by the shape of the plug. I honestly cannot think of anything that is so constrained in its design.

    • h4rr4r

      It is not an original idea. Triggering an app via the handset button is old hat.

  • slick8125

    Aaand everyone is a lawyer now. That's interesting

  • fonix232

    To an extent, it's understandable. Pressy has been "around" for about a year, with Kickstarter, hype, everything but a solid product. They are selling for 20$ (bit steep in my opinion, it's just a button and a jack plug after all), and while it is a good idea, it's not unique.

    On the other hand, we have the same product, for exponentially lower price, from a relatively big name on the phone market. And unlike other chinese manufacturers, Xiaomi actually has interest in the international market - they would not risk a lawsuit and long legal battles over a patent if they weren't sure about the outcome.

    Many would say it is again the typical "big company buys/steals idea of small startup", but let's be realistic. Pressy has been unable to bring what they signed up for, they're pushing back the deadlines, and just delaying. There's no point in going all Apple over this, we have two companies who are to serve a public need, at their own price, and from here it's their own responsibility to serve the need. If one can't, they die, that's business.

  • John Smith

    If Pressy would have hurried the fuck up... they can blame themselves for being so slow to deliver a basic push-button

    • DonPorazzo

      yeah, I was waiting for this pressy, but 27 bucks for this little sh*t? Waay too much!

  • Daniel Koman

    nimrod back would be wise to wait until xaomi has a chance to profit off the sales of it in america, then sue their asses off for lost profits. it's like free marketing. why not let the upcoming giant xaomi do all the legwork, then reap the benefits?

  • Amer Khaznadar

    If it's still unnamed, I vote for calling it Pushy.

  • cy_n_ic

    You realize china does not abide by any western patent laws? Legal action would be futile. You would be money ahead if you move your production there as well and match their sale price

    • PacoBell

      They do have their own patent system, though. My sister-in-law used to work in their patent office as an examiner.

  • Rob Johnson

    I don't see how anything like this is going to work, on (atleast)my phone, when something is plugged into the headphone jack, i get no sound from my phone at all.

    • andy_o

      Presumably the phone knows an actual headphone is plugged in depending on the impedance of whatever is connected. For instance, the phone won't recognize the mic of a headset if it's not within a certain Ohm range.

      • Rob Johnson

        The thing that was plugged in was one of those plastic figures you have dangling from your phone

        • andy_o

          ??

  • dentou

    I don't think Xiomi copy Pressy, you can buy similar product for far less than a Pressy.

    the author of the article could have done a quick google search for the product similar

    http://www.dx.com/p/3-5mm-plug-shortcut-key-for-android-cell-phone-silver-black-304463#.UzxNmXWj2jE

    • it’sthatusualjournalism

      It's that usual journalism. "Just take from the other sources, cite them, BAM ! "It's my article now, suckers ! "

      I wish there's a tech news equivalent of Polygon. Polygon investigate and analyze them unlike others.

  • gmaninvan

    When I read this, I assumed that pressy was involved. Wow Xiaomi, this is greasy. Stealing IP from a startup? I bet they would have been happy to license it to you. Hugo, I thought you were better than that.

    • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

      So Pressy invented the headphone jack?

      Seriously this isn't a new product it's available in many places in Asia.

      • gmaninvan

        No but pressy is the first known product to utilize a multifaceted button for the headphone jack and has stated that they have the corresponding patents to back it up. Of course, these patents are irrelevant in China.

        • Alexey Golyshin

          First? What about headsets with additional buttons and software available to create shortcuts for it?

          Or mb what about simillar devices available for order since december?
          Is PRESSY already available to order (not PRE-order) atm?

          • gmaninvan

            So let me get this straight. You are drawing comparisons between inline audio controls on a pair of earphones to a configurable button for your smartphone? This is a completely different product.

            "Or mb what about simillar devices available for order since december?"

            Great, so I guess since the fast moving Chinese manufacturing industry beat them to the punch with use of their patented tech, that should negate it right? And you have to be the first person I have ever seen too lazy to type "maybe".

            "Is PRESSY already available to order (not PRE-order) atm?"

            How is this even relevant? Let me explain how patents work. They don't grant them if there is prior art. Pressy owns the patent, who knows when they filed it, therefore they own the intellectual property to the technology. Just because some company in China caught wind of it and produced a knockoff in a country that doesn't respect IP, that makes the product no less Pressy's. This is also likely why these are only sold in China.

          • Alexey Golyshin

            >>So let me get this straight. You are drawing comparisons between inline audio controls on a pair of earphones to a configurable button for your smartphone? This is a completely different product.

            No it's the same, take yr headset, remove earplugs and wires, u will get "pressy" concept, so pressy is a much more simple (and cheaper for sure) than headset, but the concept IS THE SAME.

            Mb u don't know - but pressy app also can be controlled by the headset.

            >> Great, so I guess since the fast moving Chinese manufacturing industry beat them to the punch with use of their patented tech, that should negate it right? And you have to be the first person I have ever seen too lazy to type "maybe".

            So u think it's better to earn 700k to develop "jack with a button", and do nothing for 9 months? And what are they expected? Any other company (not so huge as xiaomi, ust ANY) will make it for a month with much less money, it's a shame.

            >>How is this even relevant? Let me explain how patents work.

            There is nothing to "patent". Closing the circuit is known since the Ohm's Law.

          • gmaninvan

            Hey, I don't like the patent system either but this is legit.

            http://rootzwiki.com/news/xiaomi-apparently-copies-kickstarter-product-pressy/?utm_content=buffera5e00&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

            Pressy:

            "Though the knock-off versions were anticipated, we did not expect to see it from such a respectable and known company … We have IP rights for the design and functionality of Pressy, and are considering our next moves to handle the situation.”

            Apparently there is something to "patent"

          • Alexey Golyshin

            Ok, do you know the diff between IP and patent?

          • gmaninvan

            I think the real question is, do you?

            Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

            IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.

            Therefore, if they have IP rights, they have a patent

          • Alexey Golyshin

            No, IP _CAN_ be protected by patent, but if they are registered it.

            And actually at this time they only THINK they have an IP, cuz the court can decide it.

          • gmaninvan

            Ummmm no. They didn't say IP, they said "IP rights"

            This means that they either have a patent pending or a registered patent. Otherwise they wouldn't be deemed to have the rights to the intellectual property.

            The only other thing he could be referring to is the trademark on the pressy name. This, however, in the context of the question would not make sense.

          • Alexey Golyshin

            IMHO if they have a patent, they have to say PATENT, not IP rights, in terms of law we all have "IP rights", but most of us don't have IP to use such rights :) so in this way i can decide they only have a thought they have an IP.

            Ok, will see.

          • Jesus H. Christ

            Oh my God dude, stop. You are an idiot who is angry on the internet with topical ignorance topped only by the confidence you have in your misunderstanding.

          • HAROLD PECTIN-SMYTHE

            Whatever, dude, they're already selling theirs and have been for quite some time and Pressy hasn't delivered ONE GOD DAMNED BUTTON YET.

            They're only 3 months late. And pushed the delivery 3 times, but hey - we're still hoping that maybe SOMEDAY we might be able to have a PATENTED button.

            Maybe.

          • gmaninvan

            lol someone is a little fired up. You are missing the point though. Doesn't matter when they produce it, what matters is when it was patented. If the patent was granted before Xiaomi started selling it, they owe for IP use. Simple as that.

          • gmaninvan

            lol no need to get angry dude. It is a simple fact, if they hold the patent, this is blatant infringement. If they don't, then Xiaomi beat them to the punch.

            I agree they have taken their sweet ass time but that is pretty irrelevant to the point I am making.

          • HAROLD PECTIN-SMYTHE

            How can someone who started selling the item a YEAR ago be infringing on a product that hasn't even sold/delivered ONE GOD DAMN WORKING ITEM YET?

  • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

    So having a 3.5mm headphone jack plugged into a phone without headphones connected to it is ripping off some kickstarter campaign now.

  • James Sterling

    Is his name really nimrod?

    • Yoelsd

      Common Israeli name.

  • ee

    Since Pressy will probbably US only, and Xiaomi like most Asian comapnies will release their products worldwide, Pressy can go fuck themselves.

    • Alexey Golyshin

      Successful end for Pressy campaing, 700k$ is a very nice profit.

  • Alexey Golyshin

    Pressy just stealed money of backers. Cuz no one will buy dust plug for 27$.

  • IndieDev

    Xiaomi has been always publishing apps and games without developers consent, especially from IndieDevs, now they just moved onto hardware accessories . . . Not surprised

  • IndieDev

    Xiaomi has been always publishing apps and games without developers consent, especially from IndieDevs, now they just moved onto hardware accessories . . . Not surprised

  • PressymorelikePussies

    http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Klick-Quick-Button-3-5mm-Headphone-Dustproof-Plug-for-Andriod-Smartphones/104710_1632515676.html Looks like Pressy copied it off this instead. Fucking thieves took the opportunity to register the patent while they're at it.

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blor.quickclickgold blor

    QuickClick allows you to Start any Action with a
    sequence of Volume Buttons clicks.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blor.quickclickgold

  • roide
  • HAROLD PECTIN-SMYTHE

    And they pushed delivery yet AGAIN.

    Maybe if Pressy got their asses in gear and got them sent to their customers, they'd not need to worry about third-party knockoffs.

  • cwjuhl

    The question is who is ripping off who? The "redesigned" Pressy looks exactly like the 80 cent clone, not the other way around.

    I purchased one of these Pressy "clones" through a Chinese distributor on eBay. It was rebranded "Klick" but it appears to be identical to the new Pressy design. It has an app and it works very well. BTW, the "redesigned" Pressy looks identical to the Klick and the MiKey, which makes me wonder who exactly is cloning who. I backed the Pressy kickstarter campaign, but requested (and received) a refund after the delays and discovering that apparently Pressy had decided to either clone or rebrand the MiKey instead of manufacture their original design.

    Someone really needs to investigate the people behind the Pressy kickstarter campaign. There are a number of troubling questions. For instance, they have stated that they have an international patent on the device, but my IP attorney could not find it, and the Pressy founders have refused to provide a PTR number or a date of filing. Also, the company making the "clone" is a well respected Chinese device maker unlikely to blatantly infringe on a PTR, and the "redesigned" Pressy looks exactly like the MiKey and Klick, not the other way around.

    Given that the manufacturing cost of the device is obviously significantly less than $1 US, and that the redesigned "Pressy" looks to be the same device as the so-called "clones" it seems very apparent that Nimrod and his cohorts pulled a fast one and took their Kickstarter backers for a very expensive ride.

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