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Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment

Calix Networks has made many claims about the capabilities of its multifunction telecom access system. Now it looks like it has at least one patent in its corner.

Is the patent for a customized ASIC? A new-fangled line card? A clump of software code?

No. The patent -- the company's first -- was for a beverage holder. Awarded to the Petaluma startup in late May, the patent covers a cupholder fitted on the door of its remote cabinets, the self-cooling enclosures Calix sells to carriers.

So why would someone need a beverage holder in an outdoor telecom equipment cabinet?

In detail, the patent explains: "A worker opening the door of the outdoor enclosure can unfold the tray into an open position, then place his coffee cup in the tray before commencing work on the electronic components. While working on the electronic components, the worker can drink his coffee or other beverage from the coffee cup." [Ed. note: emphasis (hic!) added.]

Now, of course, Calix's invention isn't as much fun as a butt-kicking machine (Patent #6293874) nor is it as impressive sounding as optoelectronically controlled camouflage (Patent #5307162). But who can blame them for trying to protect a dandy of an idea?

Obviously Calix's competitors don't. Light Reading pinged a few Calix rivals in hopes of getting some saucy quotes and all we got was the brush-off. Picture them now: sitting outside a remote cabinet, fending off calls from reporters, and trying to get a good day's work done while having to reach up to get their coffee (or other beverage) which is so inconveniently sitting on top of the cabinet.

The granting of Calix's cup holder patent won't be nearly as interesting as any steps the company may take in the future to defend its patent. Indeed, the telecom industry is one of the worst in terms of patent lawsuits that end up sounding as if they're the product of too many nights spent consuming "other beverages."

SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), for instance, once tried to convince the world that any Website that used HTML frames to display documents was in violation of its patents for a structured document browser. British Telecommunications plc (BT) (NYSE: BTY; London: BTA) sued several ISPs claiming that the ISPs should pay BT each time their customers clicked on a highlighted word because BT allegedly invented the concept of hyperlinking.

More recently, BT has claimed that at least six U.S. carriers are treading on its patents because the carriers allegedly constructed their networks by using "a gaseous medium" to propel fiber through conduits (see BT Says US Carriers Full of Hot Air).

Calix declined to comment on its patent activity.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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lightreader 12/4/2012 | 11:54:07 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment where all those millions in VC funding went!
netpert 12/4/2012 | 11:54:07 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment
Couldn't beleive till I checked the real patent?

so what is next - a shoe with double heels to save an engineer from slipping on the floor when above cup holder fails to hold the liquid, or the said cup has a leak at the bottom?


lightmaster 12/4/2012 | 11:54:01 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment It's not that it's a totally bad idea to put a cup holder in the machine. What's stupid is that they would take the time and effort to apply for a patent for it. This eats up time, money, and focus.

Most companies are very selective on which inventions they attempt to patent, only choosing the ones that are strategic. If this is Calix's strategic competitive advantage, God help them.
DKP 12/4/2012 | 11:54:01 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment you know, as funny as this story is, I think it is not a bad idea. I have seen people who buy $50K cars make decisions based on cup holders.
Upside_again 12/4/2012 | 11:54:01 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment So when the network goes down due to harold the tech spilling his redbull in the box, he can have something to wipe himself before he tells the VP of NOC ops that all is screwed. Pure dopey.

Sibylle 12/4/2012 | 11:54:00 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment
This ain't no ordainary cupholder. This one's a Calixholder.
Lightreading - you self-proclaimed punsters extraordinaire - you missed a big one ! Can't believe you did that ! Back to creative writing 101 !!

Far as the Calixholder goes - its a great idea. I mean someone gotto hold them you know. Or things can get really messy !

They can extend the concept a bit further too. Remove them line-control-switch cards power supplies blinken-lights and all them electronic gizmos. Keep the cooling - crank it up too. And what do you have ? A very cool useful mackhine ! One for the mass market. One you can actually sell !! Lets see whad are ve gonna callit ? How about a reffregeratore ?
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 11:53:57 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment Many countries of the world do not recognize the US patenting process. It is a talk of the rest of the world as to how it awards patents on less than trivial items.

It is really stupid on the part of Calix to seek a patent on a cup holding device. God save America.
diag_eng 12/4/2012 | 11:53:56 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment Just another example of a startup taking a Bic to VC money. Patent lawyers aren't cheap.
diag_eng 12/4/2012 | 11:53:55 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment "you know, as funny as this story is, I think it is not a bad idea. I have seen people who buy $50K cars make decisions based on cup holders."

---------------------------------------------
Must've been the Calix Management :).
OSPGuy 12/4/2012 | 11:53:55 PM
re: Calix: First in Liquid Refreshment So Calix has gone from nothing to 70+ customers and 700 systems in-service in about 18 months. And they rolled out OC48 (customers love it) when the rest of the DLC engineers were too busy scoffing at even an OC3. And now we're making fun of them for a cup-holder (which their customers just love).

Ha Ha Ha..... Oh, excuse me, I have to take this call from my bankruptcy lawyer. I'll be right back and we can make fun of Calix some more.
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