Boeing patents concept for vertical take-off commercial jet

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Boeing has been awarded a patent on a vertical-take-off and landing commercial jet, capable of carrying 100 passengers.

If built, the jet would be aimed for the regional small airport market.



  • All such propeller and rotor driven craft will soon be obsolete:

    Carbon nanotubes for “Ionic Wind” Craft or “Ionocraft”.
    Clark R*

    Bob Clark

  • PeterF

    So… it looks a lot like a commercial variant of the V-22 Osprey. How did they justify a patent on something that already exists?

  • Garry

    PeterF, the patent system is pretty complex, and in many cases it doesn’t take much to find something that’s patentable. I’ve worked in the patent field for 20 years (for part of my work), and passed the Patent Bar Exam.

    Any improvement on a product, process, or substance can be patented, if it’s indeed new. In fact, most patents are for fairly minor improvements (in each of several fields, I’ve handled literally hundreds of patents that are variations on a theme, such as steels with very subtle differences in composition).

    One misconception is that a patent gives you the right to make something, but in fact it doesn’t; it gives you the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling it. You can only make, use, or sell something that isn’t covered by someone else’s patent that hasn’t expired. In effect, a patent is a contract between the inventor and society; the inventor discloses the technology, which potentially stimulates further development of technology, in exchange for controlling the rights to the patented technology for 20 years.

    Say you invent the pencil and patent it. When using your pencil, I get irritated because it keeps rolling off my desk, until I cut it into a hexagonal cross section, which I then patent.

    Since you hold the patents on pencils, I can’t make my pencil until your patent expires (or I get a license from you). Since I hold the patent on the hexagonal cross section pencil, you can’t make my pencil until my patent expires (or you get a license from me).

    If other people invent other improvements (such as an eraser, a new type of lead, etc.), it can get very complicated, and if we can’t get the cross licenses set up, nobody can make a pencil with all the patented features until the patent rights expire.

    Many of the patents that led to the Osprey probably apply to this new design as well, but have expired (under the current system, patent rights expire 20 years after application). Using VTOL for a large passenger jet presents challenges beyond those met by the Osprey, which requires new technology, which is where the new patent comes in.

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