Did Gigabyte Brazenly Rip-Off An Innovative Maingear Patent With Its Project Stealth PC?

Gigabyte Aorus Project Stealth PC
A picture shared to Twitter yesterday by Gigabyte’s Aorus France division is producing some buzz and pleasure amongst PC builders, because the design has the potential to vastly enhance cable administration and, by extension, airflow of recent gaming PCs and workstations. Whereas extremely nifty, there’s only one potential drawback—Gigabyte could also be infringing on a decade-old patent held by the favored boutique system builder, Maingear, particularly its CEO, Wallace Santos.
We’ll get to that in a second, however first let’s discuss Undertaking Stealth. The majority of what we’ve to go on proper now could be a teaser by @AORUS_France, which posted the above render on Twitter. In case you look carefully, you will discover there are not any motherboard connectors seen on the entrance of the board. That is by purposeful design.

Gigabyte relocated all of them to the bottom of the motherboard in order that storage, energy, cooling and different cables might be extra simply routed behind the motherboard tray. This facilitates a cleaner wanting construct, no less than within the entrance facet, and frees the principle motherboard compartment of cables that might attainable intervene with the circulation of air over toasty parts.

Undertaking Stealth Pictures Counsel An Precise Prototype Exists

Gigabyte Aorus Project Stealth Case And Motherboard Tray
Click on to Enlarge (Supply: GinjFo)
A neat render is one factor, however there’s proof to counsel Gigabyte additionally designed and manufactured an precise prototype. The parents at GinjFo posted a few product photographs obtained from certainly one of its sources, as proven above. Assuming the photographs are actual (and we predict they’re—the identical AORUS France account retweet their article), we’re taking a look at a few customized designs associated to Undertaking Stealth—case and motherboard.

Within the image on the fitting, we are able to see fastidiously positioned cutouts within the motherboard tray for the varied headers and different connectors. Most of them are on the underside, however we are able to additionally see just a few different protrusions on the left facet and up high. Even the CMOS battery is seen, and accessible from the bottom of the motherboard.

Gigabyte Aorus Project Stealth PC Renders

Click on to Enlarge

The results of the design modifications is a gorgeously clean-looking construct. Solely the tubes from an all-in-one liquid cooler (or customized loop, if going that route) would keep on the entrance facet. In any other case, the completed construct is barren of any muddle and completely stunning, with RGB lighting including some aptitude. Take a look at these neat renders above.

Talking of, renders are simple and quite inexpensive to generate, whereas there’s a a lot greater funding that goes into prototypes and bodily ideas. Bodily designs additionally counsel a extra critical degree of funding and dedication. Not each prototype turns into a transport product, however they definitely have higher odds than a render alone. We deliver this up as a result of if the product pictures are actual, they might point out Gigabyte has future plans to productize this idea. That would probably embrace an unveiling on the Client Electronics Present (CES 2022), subsequent month.

Maingear Patented A Motherboard And Case With Hidden Connectors In 2011

Maingear Motherboard and PC Patent
Click on to Enlarge (Supply: Maingear Patent Submitting)

This is the summary from Maingear’s patent:

The disclosed expertise describes a motherboard with an association of parts that’s aesthetically pleasing and allows ease of servicing. Internal parts, corresponding to add-on playing cards, reminiscence slots and the CPU on the motherboard, are simply accessible by a detachable facet of the pc case. The cable connectors on the motherboard for inner parts are hidden from view when the detachable facet of the pc case is opened or can’t be seen if the detachable facet of the pc case is translucent. As such, no less than a portion of cables which join between the motherboard and different gadgets, corresponding to disk drives, the ability provide and LED (Mild Emitting Diodes) is no less than partially, principally or absolutely hidden from view when the detachable portion of the case is eliminated. Additional when servicing the pc, the cables are out of the way in which of the varied microchips and add-on playing cards which connect with the motherboard. Thus, the looks of the pc case and motherboard of the disclosed expertise is visually engaging and the unit is total simpler to service than these obtainable within the prior artwork.

To be clear, we’re not saying Gigabyte positively did or didn’t rip off Maingear’s 2011 patent. Nonetheless, we spoke to Maingear CEO, Wallace Santos, concerning the Gigabyte design that’s nearly equivalent to the illustrations in his decade previous and granted US patent, and he had this to say.

“Whereas I’m not blissful to see Gigabyte productized one thing based mostly on my patent with out correct licensing, particularly since we reviewed our new design method with them immediately years in the past, I’m extra involved with ensuring we proceed to take the trade ahead with this new design innovation and its apparent benefits,” Wallace mentioned. “Our motherboard and case with hidden connectors design provides far superior cable routing and administration, with higher airflow throughout the entrance of the motherboard space. We might like to see the trade get on board with the design, so all PC OEMs can profit, in addition to DIY fanatic PC builders.”

Wallace tells us he was slightly stunned the USPTO granted the patent so utterly, however when it did, he shopped the design idea round to a number of corporations, together with ASUS, MSI, AMD, Intel, and sure, Gigabyte. He describes the response he obtained as luke-warm to positively on the time. Nonetheless, this was not as a result of it is a dangerous concept—fairly the opposite, really—however as a result of it will require a disruptive change in case design, although much less so for motherboards. And so it by no means gained lots traction.
Maingear Motherboard Patent Sketch

Click on to Enlarge (Supply: Maingear Patent Submitting)

It is a intelligent design, although, and never only for higher aesthetics and airflow. Wallace says shifting the connectors to the again of the motherboard might vastly scale back construct occasions, as a result of much less time and vitality would have to be put into intricate cable administration. By how a lot, who is aware of—corporations like Maingear satisfaction themselves on clear builds in each a part of the PC, not simply the part that’s seen.

So, did Gigabyte rip off Maingear’s design? We’ll allow you to resolve on that one. It definitely seems strikingly related. From the skin wanting in, it is fairly damning that Maingear particularly approached Gigabyte (and others) about this, and now a prototype exists. Possibly it was a special staff again then, and the present staff had no concept concerning the patent. We have reached out Gigabyte for remark and can replace this text when/if we hear again.

Within the meantime, Maingear CEO, Santos tells us that, as a refreshing change of tempo relating to patents, he is extra involved with advancing the trade along with his new innovation and invention, quite than with submitting lawsuits. Nonetheless, defending your mental property is what submitting with the USPTO is all about within the first place. If that is certainly patent infringement, hopefully Gigabyte AORUS does the fitting factor and involves an settlement with Maingear.

Additionally, Wallace can be becoming a member of our Two And A Half Geeks webcast on Wednesday, December 15 at 5:30pm ET (2:30pm PT) to speak about this and different subjects. So make sure you be part of us!

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